Quotes Corner: The value of a PR internship in a social world

December 2, 2011

By: Amelia Guldi, Account Management, IZEA – Innovations in Social Media

They say the key to our industry is networking, and I look at my experience at IZEA as a direct result of that vital tool. A coworker at my part-time job referred me, handed my resume over to her supervisor and I was asked to come in for an interview. I was hesitant initially because I didn’t know much about IZEA or what the company did, so like any savvy PR hopeful, I did some research. I stalked their website, followed their CEO Ted Murphy on Twitter, and checked out their blog.

What did I discover? Their site fascinated me. I was captivated by their fun message, forward thinking and of course the work they do; I felt completely in my element. As I walked into the office for an interview, I noticed the culture reflected exactly what I saw on their website and I was hooked. I suspect the interview went well, because I have been with IZEA since August and will continue my internship into spring – the final semester of my senior year.

I know I am preaching to the choir, but many are aware that PR is being redefined – literally, according to an article from the New York Times “Redefining Public Relations in the Age of Social Media.” The work I do integrates exactly what I am studying in the Ad/PR program at UCF. IZEA is a hybrid of the industry, using word-of-mouth marketing as a tool to generate buzz on the web through social media channels.

My PR skills are put to the test when I work with the publishers in our system; building positive relationships in order to maintain a strong and lasting publisher ecosystem and essentially build our brand. I was also given the awesome opportunity to be a publisher for our blog. I write articles called “casting calls” that discuss our upcoming campaigns that prompt our current publishers to take part and recruit new ones. In these casting calls, I am encouraged to be witty, fun and really just take it and run. I have writing samples being displayed with my photo, name, and best of all they are on a blog in real time. My writing is blasted on our social media accounts and read by thousands.

Although I love the work I do, I have to say the people I work with are what truly make this experience what it is. I never feel like just an intern. I attend the company meetings, celebrations and discussions. I give my opinions, brainstorm and help strategize. I even won a costume contest because my love for Justin Bieber (as displayed on my T-shirt) was apparently welcome with open arms!

You know you love what you do when you don’t have to hit snooze, when you come in early and stay late because you want to, when you instant message with your boss about how much the industry has changed and about how sometimes we miss the sound of dial up…until we realize we have our lifelines…I mean iPhones.

IZEA has been more than an opportunity; it has been an all-encompassing experience. I am psyched to stay on for another semester and learn even more about the company. Social media is here to stay and I’m stoked to be a part of a company that recognizes that.

Member Review: Perspective on WKMG backstage event

December 2, 2011

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By: Devin Shoemaker, Quotes Member

As any Public Relations student or professional knows, to be successful, it is imperative that we are able to effectively interact and communicate with media outlets. In order to do this, we must promote positive media relations that benefit our final product and encourage growth in their goals as well. However, unless a personal relationship between a journalist, newscaster, or blogger, is held, it is a rare occurrence that public relations practitioners are given insight, background knowledge, and the opportunity to speak candidly with these people, whom we often view as obstacles.

On Wednesday, November 16, 2011, Florida Public Relations Association Orlando Area Chapter offered its members, including those of the student chapters, a unique opportunity rewarding to PR hopefuls like myself and my fellow students. Alongside many established professionals in PR, we were given a backstage pass of WKMG Channel 6 News, the number one news station in the Central Florida market. Our tour included everything from observing engineers behind the screens to meeting newscasters themselves. We were shown green screen technology, and the final completion and placement of a news section on the air. Along with this we saw rows and rows of archives from years prior. Being immersed in a news studio, like that of Channel 6, it is very evident that time is of the essence and that things must always be done on a time-pressed schedule for the show to run smoothly.

For someone who had previously never stepped foot in a news station, you can imagine my excitement throughout the tour, however I found myself wondering at the end how this would affect my blossoming PR career. My questions did not remain unanswered. At the end of this extremely informative tour, we were given the opportunity to speak with a couple of head honchos at WKMG Channel 6 News. All the media relations training ingrained in our heads specifically applies to our interactions with them. They offered incredible insight for Public Relations professionals at all levels to think about when sending in a press release. These have resonated with me and are things that should continually be done in all engagements with the media. My takeaways include the following: 1) when contacting a media outlet – emails over phone call are preferred; 2) you must have patience with the media – they will get back to you if they are interested; 3) be accessible, tell the truth, and be available.  As a student, to hear these guidelines outside of the classroom was a refreshing change of pace and reinforcement of the best techniques to being successful in media relations. What also left a lasting impression was how to frame a press release. I learned that the media looks for stories that they do not have to alter. Ones that are newsworthy and unique will stand out more than the dull ones. Stories that are relevant and important locally will generate news coverage first. Frame your press release for the easiest translation into a news story – give all relevant information you have and offer it all upfront, be straight and to the point.

My experience at WKMG Channel 6 presented lasting lessons. Maybe I could have learned all of these things in the classroom, but I know for a fact that what I gained from this experience was more than information. It was priceless connection with the media, background information and insight into news rooms operation, and countless tips from the source themselves. None of which would have resonated with me as much as they did during my time at WKMG. Being at Channel 6 put a face to the “media” which is so ingrained in my mind as an “obstacle” to overcome in public relations. What I now know, is that media is simply attempting to put on their best show. As Public Relations practitioners, it is our job to give them the most exciting acts.

FPRA Board Member Profile: Ryan Sheehy

December 2, 2011

Title: Advertising & Public Relations Instructor, UCF Nicholson School of Communication

Years in FPRA: Member of FPRA for eight years, on and off.

Favorite FPRA Event: When Ryan worked heavily in media relations, she enjoyed the Media Roundtable and benefitted greatly from the annual event. Now that she works in academia, she looks forward to Intern Pursuit because so many of her former students are now professionals. As the adviser of Quotes, it gives her great joy to see FPRA student members coordinate such a large-scale event, which helps launch so many students’ careers. 

Favorite Benefit of FPRA Membership: The greatest value of FPRA to Ryan is staying connected to so many of her friends in the field and keeping her finger on the pulse of the industry.

Explanation of Ryan’s job: Ryan Sheehy, APR is a dynamic marketing communication professional with more than a decade of experience. With a diverse career path in both academia and entertainment, her expertise lies in strategic planning, media relations, writing and social media.

Within the Nicholson School of Communication, Ryan teaches Ad/PR Campaigns, Public Relations, PR Case Studies, Visual Communication and Writing for PR. Next fall she will introduce a brand-new course – Social Media as Mass Communication. The course will provide an overview of social media and its role in mass communication and contemporary society. It will introduce students to core principles and best practices. Social Media as Mass Communication will be the first course of its kind and will be a requirement for all UCF Ad/PR majors.

Exciting Achievement: Traveling abroad is one of Ryan’s great passions. Just last month, she announced a new endeavor called PRO Summit Abroad. In partnership with the Public Relations Institute of Ireland, Ryan developed a brand-new program to introduce professionals to strategic communication planning for international business. The 2-week Dublin-based seminar will cover the international perspective of journalism, brand strategy, public relations and social media. It will equip professionals with a toolkit of tips on how to analyze and connect with diverse audiences, develop communication strategies and execute creative tactics that resonate with individuals around the world.

Contact info:





Ryan Sheeh, APR

Orlando Area Chapter’s Backstage Pass at WKMG-TV

November 29, 2011

By: Amanda Forbes & Nancy DeVault

FPRA – Orlando Area Chapter members enjoyed access behind-the-scenes at one of Orlando’s top news stations, WKMG Local 6 (CBS).  This member’s only event (capped at 40 attendees due to stationrestrictions) offered participants a tour of the facilities, admittance to the studios, newsroom and a glimpse at the TV action in the making. Members gained an understanding of the evolving production aspects of television news including robotic cameras, computer generated technical directors, and self-controlled teleprompters run by anchors. This professional development event also included a luncheon Q&A session with news director, Steve Hyvonen, and managing editor, Raquel Giorgio, who offered tips of the trade, insights on how to get your story heard and described memorable news stories that impacted their media careers. Roughly 10 students were in attendance for this exclusive opportunity.

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