The nation’s oldest PR organization in the nation’s oldest city, from the perspective of one of our chapter’s youngest professionals
By: Alayna Rivera
As we kick off this new board year for our local chapter, we also celebrate the 75th anniversary of the state association of FPRA. Next August, professionals from across the state will gather at FPRA’s 75th annual conference to learn, network, and further develop their skills as PR practitioners. The buzz for next year’s event was already growing at last month’s 74th annual conference, of which I had the pleasure of attending.
At the ripe, young age of 24, this was my first opportunity to participate in a full-fledged professional development conference. With only two years of experience under my belt, I eagerly applied for and was granted a scholarship from our Orlando Area Chapter to attend. I had already enjoyed my previous active participation which developed in 2011, when I joined the board of directors as the VP of Image Awards. I’ve just been reinstalled as the board secretary.
This year’s conference was held at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine. Such a historical location was fitting, given that FPRA is oldest PR organization in the country. It might just be a first-timer perspective, but I thought the interactive sessions and speakers at the conference were fantastic! The topics ranged from leadership development and social media, to PR storytelling and media relations. All of which taught me valuable lessons that I (am trying to, at least) put into practice in my own career.
One thing that was extremely memorable for me was attending the Golden Image Awards. My co-chair and I spent nearly seven months putting together the Orlando Area Chapter Image Awards Banquet earlier this year, so I can only imagine how much work it took to put on the statewide competition. We even had a number of our local winners go on to win state awards. I’m also proud to say that our chapter was honored by the state association as the best local Image Awards gala in Florida.
An unexpected benefit from the conference was the chance to build friendships. Even if you attend all of our chapter’s events, it’s often difficult to break the ice and really get to know your fellow members. However, being away at the conference for a few days gave me the opportunity to truly get to know those in our chapter. Especially in this profession, networking and developing relationships with others is invaluable at any stage of your career.
So if you’re on the fence about attending next year’s conference – from one newbie to another – I say go! It was both an amazing learning experience and a fun time to come together with other PR professionals under a common goal – to better represent our companies, clients and ourselves.
The 75th annual conference will be held at the Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg from August 4-7, 2013. I hope to see you there!