Chapter Rewind: 2017 Annual Conference

August 15, 2017



The President’s Award for Student Development and Accreditation and Certification was presented by State President Terri Behling, APR, CPRC to Orlando Area Chapter President Alayna Curry, APR and Lindsay Hudock, Orlando Area Chapter President-Elect.

State President Terri Behling, APR, CPRC presents Chris Gent, APR, CPRC and Kayla Stanley, APR, Kissimmee Utility Authority with the 2017 Grand Golden Image Award.

Grand Golden Image Award
2016 Osceola Hurricane Handbook
Chris Gent, APR, CPRC and Kayla Stanley, APR
Kissimmee Utility Authority

Golden Image Award
Judges’ Award and the Golden Image Award
2016 Osceola Hurricane Handbook.
Chris Gent, APR, CPRC and Kayla Stanley, APR
Kissimmee Utility Authority

U.S. Launch of EA “Play to Learn” Digital Education Initiative
Curley & Pynn

Golden Image Award
Florida High Tech Corridor Council’s florida.HIGH.TECH 2016
Curley & Pynn

Award of Distinction
KUA 2015 Annual Report – Gather Round
Chris Gent, APR, CPRC and Kayla Stanley, APR
Kissimmee Utility Authority

Award of Distinction
Cemetery Balloon Safety News Release
Chris Gent, APR, CPRC and Kayla Stanley, APR, Kissimmee Utility Authority

Award of Distinction
Transportation Disadvantaged Program Video
Mary Ann Horne and Cynthia Lambert, APR of MetroPlan Orlando

Judges’ Award and the Golden Image Award
Arnold Palmer Hospital’s Good Night Lights video news release
Orlando Health Media Relations

Award of Distinction
The New Metro Plan
Cynthia Lambert, APR, Mary Ann Horne and Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC

Judges Award
Love and Courage: UCF Unites in the Aftermath of Pulse
UCF Communications & Marketing

Judges’ Award
The Grads Are Back
Orange County Public Schools

Golden Image Award
Orange County Utilities – Automated Curbside Collection Program
Jamie Floer, APR, CPRC

Award of Distinction and a Judges’ Award
Fighting DUI: Using Partnerships to Create Awareness
Courtney Gilmartin and Amanda Sellers 

Golden Image Award
SCPS Website
Seminole County Public Schools and SoloDev

Click here to see Golden Image Award photographs.

Chapter Rewind: 2017 Annual Conference

Susan Vernon-Devlin

Fireside Chat – The Value of Communicators During the Pulse Nightclub Tragedy

By Susan Vernon-Devlin

Tragedy! It’s a defining moment that forever changes the way we communicate. With the Pulse nightclub shooting Orlando joined the list of cities like Paris and Sandy Hook. Mayor Dyer took this tragedy very personally. Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC’s introduction of the Mayor and his Deputy Chief of Staff Heather Fagan was interrupted by an explosive mic squeal leaving us feeling shaken…briefly. It appears that even a year after Pulse we are still all on edge. And so the Fireside Chat began.

Read more.

Building the Pitch on Research & Technology

By Katarina Dos Santos


No, according to AAA’s Senior Public Relations Program Coordinator Mark Jenkins who reports that the company still has success with traditional releases.

Strategic distribution that is timely and localized and includes multi-media attachments to help bring the press release to life (sound bites, infographics, photos) account for AAA’s increase in story coverage.

Read more.

Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds

By Maria Isabel Sanquirico


Just like a speed dating, or dating in general, it doesn’t work, so why should it work with the media? Developing strong and mutually beneficial relationships with reporters is crucial to being successful in media relations and it can make your job easier.

According to Michelle Leff Mermelstein, PR Manager for Sprint Nextel, putting yourself in the shoes of the reporter is key. Imagine if day in, day out, you picked up the phone or checked your email only to get a constant barrage of messages relating to subjects that had nothing to do with you. It could be overwhelming and the probability of your pitch ending in the trash folder is high.

You must spend time cultivating meaningful relationships and show genuine interest in the reporter’s work. Follow them on Twitter. Share their stories. Engage with them.

Read more.

Selling The Intersection of Branding and Digital Communications

By Laura Kern, APR

Ensuring your brand is relevant in digital communications happens when you shift your consumers’ mindset, own your funnel, and enter the future of customer experience.

David Capece began his talk by asking the audience to identify their target audience in three words. What are your three words?

Our brands have multiple audiences, which makes this so hard and the complexity of audiences continues to grow in the more diverse our organizations become.

Digital communications allows brands to target their audiences to such a sophisticated degree that the spend in digital will overtake television spending within the next few years.

Read more.


Quotes Corner

August 15, 2017

Daniel Diab
Quotes, the PR Club at UCF

by Daniel Diab

Passing Barriers and Borders

Traveling from your hometown to go start university has had an effect on us all. The idea of leaving our friends and family comes with both fear and excitement because of the challenges we face in our new lifestyle. When I traveled across seas from Lebanon to Florida my first semester, I faced a huge culture shock and wondered if this would make me stronger or beat me down.

If I had to choose one thing I love about America it would be the diversity – being able to meet someone with such differences in perspective, but still being able to find things in common. The way I see it is, we could stay in our comfort zones, or learn something new.

I moved to the University of Tampa my freshman year at the age of 17 with no idea of what I wanted to do. I was part of the swim team that was training 11 times a week and trying to balance that with school work and social life. Over the next few months of what I considered hell, I learned how to study and improved my English skills thanks to my roommates and people I met along the way. Still, my major was undecided, and although I enjoyed talking to different people, I couldn’t think of something that would pay me to do it.

Before my sophomore year, I was traveling to New York when I met an interesting man on the airplane. The man was my father’s age, and we passed the time talking about our hometowns and his work. When I told him my major was undecided, he told me that he thought I was in public relations because of my conversational attitude. It must have been then that I knew I wanted PR as my major since it hadn’t crossed my mind ever before. Finally, I had found something that pays you for talking! My sophomore year, I transferred to Valencia to pursue my AA degree with the idea of entering PR at UCF. I even applied to the major beforehand, but later figured out that I wasn’t allowed to apply before being a student.

Taking the first advertising and public relations classes has had me hooked since day one. As a junior I wanted to get in the major as fast as possible, so I joined the Quotes PR club. During the first meet and greet, I began meeting people and felt welcomed as a member of the group. I immediately joined and began participating in the events. The Ad/PR entrance exam eventually came along and I could not have been happier to make it. Soon after, the executive board graduated and I was lucky enough to become
more invested in the Quotes PR club by becoming vice president. The events we host are as fun for us as they are for the members and the connections are right ahead of us. Opportunities are simply the possibility of a greater future or the tools to create one, and by joining Quotes I believe I gained the opportunity of a lifetime.

Fall APR Sessions Start Next Month

August 15, 2017

Earn your APR: Information Session on Accreditation is September 11

Interested in earning the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)?  Now is your opportunity to learn more about the process and decide if you want to take your professional development to the next level.

On Monday, Sept. 11, the Orlando area chapters of PRSA and FPRA will kick off a free, nine-session workshop series to help you navigate the accreditation process, organize your portfolio for your panel presentation, and prepare for the APR examination. Workshop topics are based on the APR Study Guide and cover broad, foundational knowledge, strategic perspective, and sound professional judgment.

The Fall Workshop begins with an information session from 6-7 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2017, at HD Supply (501 West Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805 one block from Amway Center; free parking).

The full workshop series will continue Monday evenings from 6-7 p.m. from Sept. 18 through November 2017.

Earning the APR credential is a mark of distinction and demonstrates your commitment to the public relations profession and ethical practice. Practitioners who have earned their APR say the process helped them develop both their skills and professionalism, receive bonuses or salary increases and even has been the deciding factor between two similar job candidates. Military public affairs practitioners planning to earn their APR+M may also benefit from attending the workshop.

Don’t miss this chance to learn and network with local, practicing colleagues.

For more information, contact our FPRA APR Coach:

Mandy Kimmer, APR, CPRC:

Member PRofile: Jennifer Cook

July 19, 2017

Jennifer Cook
Director of Communications, Education & Engagement

Give a brief explanation of your job. 
I manage all internal and external communications, including WUCF TV’s print and electronic newsletters, press releases, on-air promotion, web site and social media. I manage promotional production and campaigns along with station education initiatives and community engagement events. I also do work on the national PBS level as a member of the PBS Communications Advisory Council, the PBS Brand Council & the PBS Digital Advisory Council.

How long have you been a part of FPRA? Why did you join? #myFPRA
I have been in FPRA for two years. I have previously worked in media relations before a long career in the Orlando news world. Moving over to more of a PR role was a bit of a change, so I really wanted to reinforce my skills and expand my support system with the wonderful people at FPRA. While in news, I was often invited to Media Mashup, and I have always enjoyed those experiences with such a great group.

What was your favorite FPRA event?
Media Mashup – for me it’s like a reunion with lots of old friends in the news world along with all my new friends in the PR world!

Tell us about an exciting achievement.
I have the best of both worlds. WUCF is a university licensed PBS station. Therefore, I am a UCF employee and have access to a wide variety of experts, research and visionaries. But as a PBS station, I also have access to PBS stations and resources from across the country. I’m proud that in just over two years at WUCF, I have been appointed or elected to three different national boards within PBS. Now, I get to have a voice at the table where decisions are made that will impact the entire system of stations.

What was your first job?
My first job was working at my high school television station. I helped organize the school’s audio/visual gear and helped teachers produce video content for them to use in the classroom. I got paid $10/hour and that was in the early 90s. I thought I was a rockstar.

Tell us something people may not know about you.
Most people know that I am a pop culture junkie and Disney addict. But what most people don’t know is that I am also a member of the Orlando Curling Club. Yes, we curl in Orlando and it’s awesome. Perhaps one day you’ll see me in the Olympics.

Contact Information:

Quotes Corner

July 19, 2017

Randi Rioux
Quotes, the PR Club at UCF

The New Kid in Town

I remember the jittery feeling I had moving from a small suburban town to this massive, fast paced city. I felt completely out of my comfort zone, yet at the same time, I was beyond excited. I jumped right into my classes, got a part time job at the happiest place on earth, and quickly settled into this new life I made. However, as my senior year of my undergrad is fast approaching, I can’t help but still feel a little new.

When I moved to Orlando, I started my journey at Valencia College where I earned my associate’s degree in Fine and Studio Art. I was extremely proud of this accomplishment considering since I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was draw. I always imagined becoming an illustrator for a production company or a book publishing studio. I was feeling on top of the world the day I got handed my first degree, but then something very interesting happened that I believe changed the way I looked at the path I was so set to walk on.

I received an acceptance letter from the University of Central Florida just days before Christmas of 2015, with it, a pamphlet about a few programs that would best suit me- one of which came from the Nicholson School of Communication. I scanned through the pages and quickly became interested in the Advertising and Public Relations program. That same week, I toured the school and the rest is history. I applied to the program and was accepted the night before my birthday- needless to say, there was a lot to celebrate! However, my journey didn’t end there.

Sitting in my first Advertising and Public Relations classes, I couldn’t help but feel like a total fish out of water. From the conversations I heard, nearly everyone around me had been set on this amazing program; I just got in! I felt like I had a ton of catching up to do! I needed to figure out ways to get more involved so I could immerse myself and learn even more. I was quick to join Quotes soon after, which was one of the best decisions I made. Quotes helped me find solid ground in this new program I was in. Everyone at the first meeting was so kind and helpful. I remember feeling like I could breathe easy because a lot of students shared the same experiences with me and walked on all different kinds of paths to get here; for the first time that semester, I didn’t feel alone.

As the months went on, I made some vital connections and attended some amazing events all thanks to Quotes. As Spring came to a close, I got invited to the final board meeting and was asked to become the graphic designer. I was nervous but beyond honored to accept. My classmates and colleagues have some incredible experience and I can only hope to meet their expectations for the upcoming fall semester. Though I’ve only been in the program for one semester, it feels like I’ve been there much longer. A year ago, I would have never thought I’d be sitting here writing a blog post about the time I took a leap of faith to change the path I was walking on and be so happy I did. I still feel like I have a lot to learn, but I’ve never been so eager and ready to do so.

Chapter Rewind: 2017 Central Florida Media Mashup

July 19, 2017

Chapter Rewind: By Gabriel Soltrén

Congratulations to our newly pinned APRs Jed Dunstan, APR, Dan Higgins, APR, Christopher Patton, APR, Tom Morrissey, APR and Kayla Stanley, APR.

The grand opening of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) national campus in Lake Nona was on center court at Media Mashup. Grand Slam winning professional tennis players Jim Courier and Chris Everet attended the opening of the Home of American Tennis USTA National Campus in Orlando. Trina Singian, Director of Corporate Communications announced that the facility with 100 tennis courts will also be the home of the University of Central Florida tennis teams.

Keynote speaker Jennifer Wakefield, APR, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Orlando Economic Partnership and Alayna Curry, APR, FPRA President. Orlando Rocks, #WhyOrlando and You Don’t Know the Half of It were the names of initiatives developed to promote the City of Orlando by the Metro Orlando Economic Development Corporation renamed Orlando Economic Partnership in 2017.

Our members also enjoyed breakout sessions on improving media pitches, media relations basics, public relations video skills and media training top executives. The event featured a speed networking session where attendees got to meet and pitch local reporters one-on-one.

Obassador Panel

  • Brendan O’Connor – Bungalower – @bungalower
  • Whitney Gonzalez – &Barr @citywhit
  • Jon Busdeker – The Collective – @jonbusdeker
  • Jen Vargas – Central FL Top 5 – @jenvargas

Pump Up the Pitch

  • Mark Schlueb – UCF
  • Heather McPherson – RockawayPR
  • Dana Jay – Fox 35 Orlando
  • Elisha Pappacoda – Lake County Government

Breakout Sessions

  • Joel Staley – Media Training for the C-Suite
  • Jenny DeWitt – UCF PR Pro to Video Pro

Back to [Media] Basic

  • Jennifer Cook – WUCF TV
  • Michelle Burdo – Media Trainer
  • Paul Brinkman – Orlando Sentinel
  • Aaron Sanders – WESH 2 News

Headshot Photography

  • Thalia Bunch

Speed Networking Roundtable

  • LaFontaine Oliver – WMFE
  • Paula Machado – InfoMas
  • Aaron Sanders – WESH 2 news
  • Michelle Burdo – Media Trainer
  • Joe Ruble – WDBO
  • Ginger Gadsden – WKMG anchor
  • Emilee Speck – WKMG digital
  • Jen Vargas – Central FL Top 5
  • Barry Glenn – Orlando Magazine
  • Scott Fais – Central Florida News 13
  • Jon Busdeker – The Collective
Thanks again to our Central Florida Media Mashup Sponsors!

Click here for 2017 Central Florida Media Mashup photographs.


Call for Nominations: 2017 Chapter Awards

July 11, 2017

The FPRA Orlando Area Chapter is now accepting nominations for its two annual awards. The Member of the Year Award recognizes one member who has made a significant contribution to the Association through leadership, enthusiasm, involvement and support.

The Bob Davis Award is named in honor of the late Dr. Bob Davis, Ph.D., ABC, APR, CPRC, retired professor from the University of Central Florida who gave tirelessly to our chapter and FPRA for over three decades. This award honors an individual who has worked behind the scenes in the past year to support FPRA.

Candidates must be nominated by someone in the profession. Please include a brief 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 Chapter President Alayna Curry, APR no later than Friday, August 4.


Member of the Year – Heather Smith, APR
Bob Davis Award – Lauren George, APR

Member of the Year – Jeff Grainger, APR
Bob Davis Award – Julie Hall, APR

Member of the Year – Alayna Curry
Bob Davis Award – Nicole Huie

Member of the Year – Sara Channing
Bob Davis Award – Laura Kern, APR

Members of the Year – Cassie Roach and Brian Craven
Bob Davis Award – Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC

Member of the Year – Stefanie Macfarlane, APR
Bob Davis Award – Jennifer Gammage

Member of the Year – Doreen Overstreet, APR
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, APR

Member of the Year – Chris Gent, APR, CPRC
Bob Davis Award – Cynthia Lambert, APR

Member of the Year – Bob O’Malley, APR
Bob Davis Award – Rachel Kingston

Member of the Year – Bonnie McGuire
Bob Davis Award – Sheridan Becht, APR, CPRC

Member of the Year – Brie Turek
Bob Davis Award – Chris Gent, APR, CPRC

Member of the Year – Jeni Hatter
Bob Davis Award – Trent Flood, APR

Member of the Year – Bill Randolph
Bob Davis Award – Doreen Perez