Insight from longstanding FPRA members: Dr. Bob Davis, APR, CPRC and Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC
Compiled by Nancy DeVault
In honor of FPRA celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Orlando Area Chapter (OAC) is pleased to share insight into the history of our chapter. In 1956, the Orlando Area Chapter (formerly known as the Orange Blossom Chapter) was among the first to be established – a founding year for fellow chapters Tampa, Jacksonville, and Capital. Special thanks to two dedicated members for sharing their insight into Orlando’s success: Dr. Bob Davis, APR, CPRC, retired division head of the Advertising/Public Relations program at UCF, and Roger W. Pynn, APR, CPRC, president of Curley & Pynn.
Reflections of Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC:
In the early to mid-70s, the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter (then known as the Orange Blossom Chapter) was comprised of a few true public relations practitioners and a variety of sales/marketing representatives from hotel/hospitality, retail, real estate organizations, and some retired journalists. Many of these members had some “community relations” responsibilities, yet few were the specialized PR professionals that we encounter in our association today.
As years past, OAC member Dr. Bob Davis spearheaded a group of PR leaders in an effort to expand the ranks of FPRA locally, restrict membership to appropriate PR professionals, and build a profile for the association within the business community. This re-organization led to the change of chapter name (from the Orange Blossom Chapter to the Orlando Area Chapter), rapid membership growth, and the development of key projects that became the centerpieces of our ability to engage prospective members. Some of the association-changing activities included:
- The Orange Blossom Roasts & Toast (original title), with OAC member Joe Curley, APR, CPRC serving as the first chairman in 1978. The event objective was to demonstrate that PR could be a powerful tool to unite the community in support of higher education. Specifically, the proceeds provided scholarships to future PR practitioners at the University of Central Florida and eventually Rollins College. In addition to raising funds for higher education, the Roast & Toast proved to be the catalyst and model for what became a statewide network of dinner functions to honor community leaders. Honorees included FPRA Founder Dick Pope, Sr., golfing legend Arnold Palmer, various mayors, bankers, theme park executives, and many others. Contributions from the Dick Pope Roast were used to establish the forerunner of the Rosen School of Hospitality at UCF by creating the Dick Pope Institute for Tourism Studies.
- Professional development workshops, which continue within the association today, became the heart of our programs, to put emphasis on continuing education for our members. Specialized workshops now also offer insight into the role of public relations for non-profit managers and others.
- Member communication was not an initial priority for the OAC, but it became the central theme of FPRA efforts to build a dynamic chapter. Joe Curley stepped up and said “if you are willing to be the first ‘new era president’ I’ll give you a newsletter that gets the members connected and excited.” He kept his word to establish such communication. It was that FPRA partnership that led to the development Curley & Pynn Public Relations Management…a company that lives on today more than 28 years after we jumped corporate ship in 1984!
As I recall, people who were critical to our success during that ‘new era’ were: Truman “Duffy” Myers, now retired VP of PR at what was Y Partnership – a former Disney PR exec who made things happen; the late Nick Gornell (one of those old time “sales” members who also had PR experience) – who pitched in tirelessly to manage projects, including the Roast of the late Frank Hubbard; Jean Glascoff, former PR director for a local savings & loan and the Orlando Regional Chamber — though now living in Atlanta, Jean was an energetic force behind membership development; Dave Wilson, partner in Fraily, Wilson, Shadduck & Roether…and other committed advertising and public relations firms that poured resources into FPRA and specifically the Roast & Toast program.
There were so many more FPRA game changers and successful, plus countless stories to tell; but, my personal favorite was the “wine we kept on drinking.” At the Orlando Area Chapter’s first Roast & Toast, a local wine merchant – a client of one of our members – donated 50 cases of red wine (a kind none of us had ever heard of before called “Zinfandel”). The host hotel waived the corkage fee and allowed us to make a huge profit on the event because we didn’t have to pay for liquor or even a fee to bring it in. The event had so much wine left over, that our members drank it like soda pop at that year’s holiday party. We still had several cases left that finally ended up gifting bottles to chapter officers. I still have one bottle of that 1974 Sonoma Zinfandel in my wine cabinet! It turned out later to be a classic California Red Wine featured in the Wine Spectator as the best Zinfandel ever (thanks FPRA). I’m sure it has turned to vinegar by now, but it’s kept as a memory of what my fellow FPRA members and I created all those years ago.
Of course, the story has continued, as did our FPRA-OAC successes. Joe Curley went on to become FPRA State President. Since that time, the Orlando Area Chapter has won countless awards, provided association leaders for decades, and remains a powerhouse resource for professionals.
Take a look at all 30 years of Orlando Area Chapter Roast & Toast!
“The Roast & Toast event was held annually until 2008, an impressive accomplishment for FPRA as not many fundraisers in Greater Orlando have lasted 30 years,” explains Dr. Bob Davis, APR, CPRC. Dr. Davis, who worked on all Roast & Toast Committees, also served as the advisor, from 1981 to 2008, for the Quotes, the FPRA student chapter at the University of Central Florida.
Reflections of Dr. Bob Davis, APR, CPRC
When I left UCF in 2008, we had awarded 214 scholarships through this program to impact future PR practitioners. In recent years, the Orlando Area Chapter transitioned the Roast & Toast program into the MERGE Networking & Scholarship Series. Though less formal, this program effort still continues to engage members and award student scholarships.
Quotes started as the Ad/PR club in 1981. In 1983, the board voted to affiliate with FPRA and with Orlando Area Chapter as sponsor and FPRA chartered the club. Kay Bartholomew, APR, was the state president and an Orlando Member and presented the charter. The club grew to become the largest chapter in FPRA (150 members). During the period when I advised the club (1981-2008), the total membership reached 1,586!
The club created Intern Pursuit, Communication Day, and the Knight Images Awards. FPRA-OAC members, many of whom were alumni of both Quotes and UCF, came to campus to present programs to students. Quotes members enjoyed the opportunity to serve as volunteers on Roast & Toast and Image Awards. Eventually, many of these students went on to join FPRA-OAC committees and boards following graduation, and several even become chapter presidents.
View images of Quotes through the years with this slideshow!