Chapter Rewind: Publix: Community Relations and Customer Service

June 19, 2017

by Gabriel Soltren

Publix: Community Relations & Customer Service

Brian West and Alayna Curry, APR at the Publix Aprons Cooking School in Orlando.

From the start, the founder of Publix believed in treating people like “kings and queens.” Publix founder George W. Jenkins, also known as Mr. George, once took out a loan to buy stock options for employees because he believed his associates should have ownership in the business. At the June breakfast held at the Publix Aprons Cooking School, Brian West, media and community relations manager, explained that the name of the store was inspired a long, long time ago by the Publix Theaters in Florida. Their founder loved the name of the theater and opened the first Publix store when he was 23 years old. He later funded a charitable foundation with company stock.

According to Brian, part of his public relations role is to share the positive contributions that Publix has made in our community. He shared how the foundation provided millions in grants and how associates volunteered through the Publix Serves community service program. For example, associates gave the gift of time and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. In 2016, Publix gave $5 million to the Feeding America Network. Food donations of fruits and vegetables have provided for more than 200 million free meals to needy persons since 2009. Visit for more information.

Brian West at the Orlando – Dr. Phillips Cooking School in Orlando.

Are you looking for a fun night out in Orlando? There are more Publix Aprons Cooking Schools in Orlando than in any other city in Florida. Bill recommended the demonstration cooking classes. At the school, you can have a cook’s night out, learn a new recipe and enjoy a delicious meal.

Click here for more photographs.

Member PRofile: Mandy J. Kimmer, APR, CPRC

June 13, 2017

Mandy J. Kimmer, APR, CPRC
Public Relations Information Officer, Community Relations & Marketing, Orange County Parks and Recreation

Give a brief explanation of your job. 
As public information officer for Orange County Parks and Recreation (the original theme parks of central Florida!), I promote various special events – such as Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ Jazz in the Park and Fish4Fun, maintain 130 web pages, write weekly internal and monthly external e-newsletters, handle social media, reply to news and public inquiries, and work with the Mayor and County Commissioners for ground breakings, ribbon cuttings and grand openings (I’ve done about 35 total). Additionally, I founded the LGBTQ Pride & Allies of Orange County, and serve on the executive committee of Orange County Government’s United Way campaign (which raised $574,000 last year) and as the County’s team captain for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

How long have you been a part of FPRA? Why did you join? #myFPRA
In 1983 I attended my first FPRA seminar, “Public Relations on a Shoestring,” in Orlando. In 1991 I became a member of the Central West Coast Chapter, where I earned my APR (1993) and CPRC (1994) designations, and later worked my way up the ladder to president of the Tampa Bay Chapter 1998-1999. I’ve been in the Orlando Chapter since 2007.

Professional development and connections have been the key to my success in this field for 34 years: writing, media relations, crisis communications, web site content and social media, as well as knowing other pros to team up with or consult when I need to solve a problem or develop an idea.

What was your favorite FPRA event?
In my office from the 1998 state FPRA meeting is a photo of me flanked by the two greatest mentors a girl could ever have: the late Edie Anson, APR, and Ginnie Duffey Troyer, APR, CPRC.

Tell us about an exciting achievement.
In 2014 my BFF Karen Castelloes (a retired Orange County teacher) and I co-founded and now co-chair the Jefferson R. Voss Education Fund for the Zebra Coalition – a network of organizations which provide services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all youth (LGBT+) ages 13 – 24. Our fundraising efforts have endowed a scholarship for LGBTQ students and allies at UCF from which we have awarded $4,000 in the first two years; a generous donor also provided funds for GED, vocational training and other colleges.

What was your first job?
My first job was working for a retail warehouse; my first real PR position was assistant director of Central Florida Health Fair in Orlando.

Tell us something people may not know about you.
I’m a five-year breast cancer survivor. I’m the proud mom of two sons: Matthew is a U.S. Marine, stationed in North Carolina for Cobra helicopter mechanics, and Andrew just completed his second year at USF – Tampa for mechanical engineering. I play flute, piano, tennis and golf!

Contact Information: /, cell/text 407-405-4579, @PRmandy

Chapter Rewind: Sip and Savor

June 13, 2017

By Jacqueline Kooser

The FPRA Orlando Area Chapter hosts an annual scholarship fundraiser each spring for students studying communication, public relations, and related fields. This May, members came together with student scholarship recipients in order to raise money and celebrate the public relations field here in Central Florida. Once the business day had ended, East End Market flocked with FPRA fun, from food by La Femme Du Fromage to an amazing silent auction featuring items from Rifle Paper Co., Orlando City Soccer Club, and more. As members enjoyed the variety of food and drinks, students were able to network with public relations professionals, learn more about the organization, and mingle amongst each other as well.

After the fun (yet competitive) raffle took place, chapter president Alayna Curry, APR presented this year’s scholarship winners to all of the attendees. Congratulations to Tiffany Boodhoo, Noelle Cheaib, Megan DeMisa, Turner Elliot and Arlene Roque, for taking home well deserved scholarships! After this successful Sip & Savor, the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter is proud to announce that over $1,500 was raised for the Bob Davis Scholarship! Thank you again to all of those who attended, donated, and participated in making this year’s Sip & Savor a huge success.

Click here for more Sip and Savor 2017 photographs.

Quotes Corner

June 13, 2017

Madi Crites, VP of Membership, Quotes UCF

Life’s weird. One minute you’re getting stickers for spelling your name right, the next you’re worried about getting a date to the prom and before you know it, you’re supposed to choose a college and a major, which will ultimately dictate the rest of your adult life.

No pressure.

My entire life I felt like I was really good at a lot of things, but I was never great at any one specific thing – I was a “Jack of all trades, master of none”, if you will. This left me feeling like I lacked purpose, like no matter what I did, there was someone else who could do it better because that was their thing. I didn’t have a thing.

I spent two years at a junior college to get my AA degree. Graduating as an “undeclared” major, I felt even more defeated, as my purpose was nowhere in sight. The size of UCF – and the culture shock I felt – didn’t help much either. Everyone seemed so driven, so focused and so purposeful in their actions. I came away from orientation overwhelmed by information and opportunities, but one major had caught my ear: Communications.

I knew I was a strong communicator, and I had no other fathomable headings as far as a major went, so I thought, why not? After diving into the intro classes, I had the Ad-PR fever. I was beginning to feel a sense of belonging, realizing that all of the people in my lectures were just as clueless as me if not more so. Soon everything in the lectures just clicked. I understood and had applied to my personal life most of the things we were learning.

Through countless lectures by the outstanding Professor Hudock and Professor McCain (that honestly felt more like pep rallies and TED Talks) it became clear to me that you can’t simply be one-dimensional. What a limited way to live! To succeed in this field, you must to be capable of juggling skill sets, be able to connect with different groups, demographics, classes and people in one-on-one settings, and most of all, do so in a timely fashion. I have never felt prouder to be a “Jack.”

I have no idea if this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I do know that this is an awesome beginning. This degree will open doors for me, and even if I end up taking a different route, the connections I’m making and the things I’m learning are helping me to become the person I want to become.

Your (slightly) bewildered Knight.

2017 Conference Scholarship

June 8, 2017

Conference Scholarship – Apply by July 1

2017 Annual ConferenceApply to win a scholarship to this year’s annual conference, PR It’s Personal: Research – Relate – Respond, to be held at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Orlando from August 6-9. This is a great opportunity to attend!

The FPRA Orlando Area Chapter will award up two scholarships to local chapter members for either the conference registration fee of $765 or the hotel accommodations. To apply, please email your responses to the questions below to Alayna Curry, APR at by July 1, 2017.  Please limit your answers to 75 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?
  • What is your greatest need, a conference scholarship or a hotel accommodations scholarship?

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 $765 conference registration fee and excludes lodging, food outside of meals included in the regular conference registration and all other related expenses. A hotel-only scholarship would include a reimbursement amount for three nights at the conference room block rate of $139/night including applicable taxes and fees.

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.