Member Profile: Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR

July 9, 2012

Check out the inside scoop on your current FPRA-OAC President.

Name: Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR

Years in FPRA: 8 years

Favorite FPRA Event: “On our chapter level, I’d have to say Media Roundtable. It’s such a unique opportunity where the roles are reversed and you have the opportunity to ask reporters the questions for a change. It’s an energizing setting in that everyone, practitioners and journalists alike, are there to help each other and take the steps necessary to educate and ensure our profession shines. On the state level, I’d have to say the Reception of the Presidents / Champagne toast at annual conference. It’s a great networking opportunity and there’s such contagious camaraderie.”

Favorite Benefit of FPRA: “Networking with professionals from throughout our region and across the state. Can’t get much better than that.”

Explain my job: “Ha! The age ol’ question. I work for Fry Hammond Barr as a Senior Account Executive in the Public Relations Department. I report directly to the VP of Public Relations and Social Influence. In this role, I am tasked with managing accounts and leading a team in various service offerings from media relations to social media and just about every discipline in between. Working in an agency setting also offers great synergy and allows me to interact and collaborate with other departments like Interactive, Broadcast Production and traditional Advertising. I also run our Internship Program and serve as Mayor of our neighborhood Starbucks.”

Exciting Achievement: “You mean besides becoming President of the Orlando Area Chapter? I’d have to say personally it was my recent wedding. That one will go down in the history books for sure.”

Final Thoughts: “For the past year it has been an honor to serve as your president. I am filled with gratitude – to the Orlando Area Chapter Board of Directors, whose dedication and commitment to the organization is infectious and without whom tough decisions, and spectacular events would not have come to fruition; to my husband Alex, who supported me with no hesitation; to my parents whose examples have provided me with strength and conviction; to my employer, who allowed me to spend countless hours of time during the work day on FPRA business. And above all, to the members of the Orlando Area Chapter for the trust, confidence and support you have given me. Thank you all. It has been a privilege.”

Contact info:

P 407.849.0100 x239

Be Calm and Stay Focused: The Student Perspective of Crisis Communications

July 5, 2012

By: Ivan Hernandez, Director of Outreach & Affairs, Quotes, UCF’s PR Club

I look back at the events that have come up during my own life, and I shudder at the fact that in less than 20 years, major crises have occurred. From the side effects of hurricane Katrina, or the tragedy of 9/11, it’s important for students aiming to become PR professionals to realize that handling a crisis is a part of the job description. However, between what students may see on popular shows like Sex and the City or movies that depict public relations to be a career that simply talks to the media, it’s easy to forget what the true industry of public relations involves and requires. Yes, it’s fair to say that the industry is full of wonderful opportunities, but it is not always as glamorous as popular culture has it portrayed. I realized this fact at the June workshop hosted by the Florida Public Relations Association Orlando Area Chapter. The topic discussed? Crisis communications.

As a student, crisis communications is a sector of public relations that always tends to slip my mind – a habit that I realize now, needs to be broken. A crisis can happen any day at any given moment. I know that if I want to be successful in this industry, I need to be aware that there is always the possibility of being met face-to-face with an unfortunate situation which may require timely and accurate communication. With this in mind, I knew that this FPRA workshop would be beneficial in developing my PR skills. I became even more excited for the event when I learned that program speaker was Susan Vernon-Devlin of Massey Communications, a PR professional who goes into work knowing that managing a crisis is just another part of the work day.

Before this workshop, I didn’t know what my role as an intern would be in the event of a crisis. Coming out of it I learned that it doesn’t matter what your job description is, rather that everyone remembers their role on the team. From the smallest to the more pressing tasks, every person on the team needs to do their part in order for everyone to ride the storm out as peacefully as possible. I learned it’s important to stay informed with the facts rather than to believe any rumor that may be circulating in the area. Susan mentioned that as PR professionals, we know how to fake confidence but one can never fake competence. Knowledge is power and when combined with sincerity, it can lead a company to success in a time of crisis. It is imperative that as a member of the team, one must be quick to respond, honest in their answers, and crafted against manipulation.

Once all has been resolved, Susan gave us suggestions as far as what to do post-crisis. The first point she made is to maintain and rebuild relationships. Another point she made is to gather everyone and assess the communications in the company. The most important note she stressed was to never assume that the crisis won’t happen again; therefore one must always be taking the proper precautions and steps to be fully prepared for the next time.

Susan Vernon-Devlin was the perfect speaker for the workshop, and it was a pleasure to hear her points for success in an area as sensitive as crisis communication. As a student, the education I received in the few hours of the event is priceless and I feel more prepared to enter this industry.  So to my fellow students and PR hopefuls, I ask you to remember the mantra: “Be calm, stay focused and do your job. Everyone has a role, even interns.”

Katarina Dos Santos, Susan Vernon-Devlin, Nathalie Almonte, and Ivan Hernandez

Member News: July 2012

July 5, 2012

Nancy DeVault will join Orlando Family Magazine as Editor. In this role, she will drive and craft editorial content and manage magazine/website layout. Nancy will continue to serve some clients through DeVault Communications LLC as a freelance PR consultant and writer.

Orlando Family Magazine is a free, trusted resource designed to inform, serve and enrich local families and parents throughout the greater Orlando area with parenting ideas, fun family activities and a wide variety of invaluable resource guides. Orlando Family Magazine offers editorial coverage on a range of topics that are on the minds of today’s parents. Most of the articles are locally angled to providing our reader with useful information to help them raise healthy, well adjusted children.

Wendy Jo Moyer, APR has accepted a new role with Wyndham Vacation Ownership as a senior hospitality content specialist. She is responsible for strategy development and execution of owner communications.

Kristin Rothbauer has joined Visit Orlando as Community Relations Manager. She is responsible for developing, managing and communicating programs regarding the travel tourism industry and Visit Orlando’s involvement in key community issues and initiatives. Prior to joining the Visit Orlando team, Rothbauer oversaw public relations for various clients in the travel industry at Anson-Stoner as well as managed and executed media relations for the Florida Department of Health – specifically the statewide Faces of HIV project. Additionally, she had previously worked as a communications specialist for Enterprise Florida, the state’s primary economic development organization, as well as account manager for Pecora & Blexrud. Rothbauer is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Central Florida majoring in Ad/PR with a minor in hospitality management. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Florida Public Relations Association, and sits on several industry committees as a representative for Visit Orlando.

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Apply to Win Scholarship to FPRA Annual Conference

July 3, 2012

Apply to win a scholarship to this year’s Annual Conference, A Treasure Trove of PR Strategies & Tactics, at Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine, which will be held Sunday, August 5 through Wednesday, August 8.

The Orlando Area Chapter of FPRA will award up two scholarships to local chapter members.  Each scholarship will cover the conference registration fee of $595.  To apply, please respond to the questions below and email your responses to Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR, at by Thursday, July 12.  Please limit your answers to 50 words or less for each question and be sure to include all information outlined below.

*   Name:

*   Company:

*   Title:

*   Years in public relations:

*   How long have you been a member of FPRA?

*   In what ways have you been involved with FPRA? (Committees, events attended, positions held, etc.)

*   How will the conference scholarship benefit your career and current job?

*   What do you hope to learn by attending conference, and how do you intend to incorporate it in your daily position?

To be eligible you must be an active member in good standing with the Orlando Area Chapter. Your chapter involvement and financial need will be considered.  Please note that the scholarship covers the $595 conference registration fee and excludes lodging, food outside of meals included in the regular conference registration, reception and all other related expenses. All scholarship winners will be required to participate on the conference blogging team and to write a short article for PRoclaimer discussing what they learned and how it enhances their profession.

Orlando Area Chapter Member Awards: Call for Nominations

July 3, 2012

The Orlando Area Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association is now accepting nominations for its two annual awards: Member of the Year and the Bob Davis Award.

The Member of the Year award recognizes one member of the Orlando Area Chapter who has made a significant contribution to the Association through outstanding leadership, demonstrated enthusiasm, extraordinary involvement and loyal support

The Bob Davis Award is named in honor of Dr. Bob Davis, Ph.D., ABC, APR, CPRC, retired professor from the University of Central Florida who has given tirelessly to our Chapter and FPRA for over three decades. The Bob Davis Award honors an individual who has worked behind the scenes in the past year to support FPRA. It’s our way of recognizing an “unsung hero.”

Candidates must be nominated by someone in the profession. Please include a written narrative of no more than 500 words detailing why the person should be recognized, the accomplishments/contributions that illustrate why the candidate warrants consideration, and the inclusion of committee work and/or other FPRA involvement. Nominees must be active FPRA members in good standing. Individuals may not endorse more than one candidate per award. Nominations for members of our Board of Directors are appropriate.

Nominations should be sent to Orlando Area Chapter President Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR at no later than Friday, July 27.

Past winners:


Member of the Year – Stefanie Macfarlane, APR

Bob Davis Award – Jennifer Gammage


Member of the Year – Doreen Overstreet

Bob Davis Award – Rachael Gmerek


Member of the Year – Jamie Floer, APR

Bob Davis Award – Tami Karaba


Member of the Year – Keith Salwoski

Bob Davis Award – Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR


Member of the Year – Chris Gent

Bob Davis Award – Cynthia Lambert


Member of the Year – Bob O’Malley, APR

Bob Davis Award – Rachel Kingston Steele


Member of the Year – Bonnie McGuire

Bob Davis Award – Sheridan Becht, APR


Member of the Year – Brie Turek

Bob Davis Award – Chris Gent


Member of the Year – Jeni Hatter

Bob Davis Award – Trent Flood


Member of the Year – Bill Randolph

Bob Davis Award – Doreen Perez