Quotes Corner

November 2, 2018

An Open Letter to 18-Year-Old Me

By Stefi Markowicz, Director of Communication for Quotes, the PR Club at UCF

College Decision Day, 2016

Everything I wish I knew then, now.

Dear younger me,

If you’re reading this letter, I have successfully transcended the scientific laws of the universe and traveled back in time to get this communication to you. It’s me, Stefi. Just a little older and a little wiser. I’m here because I know you have a lot of questions. I know how nervous you are about starting college. You can’t predict the future, and I know that that scares the heck out of you. But I also know that everything is going to be all right – take some advice from the future 20-year-old, about-to-graduate-from-UCF you.

I just want to start off by telling you that you did a pretty good job at this whole life thing. Navigating college on your own away from home is no small feat. Maybe next time, try not to procrastinate on your assignments as much, and try to balance your meals a bit better, but overall, a pretty dang good job.

Speaking of jobs, you got a whole lot of ‘em since you started college. I mean, c’mon, seven internships in two-and-a-half years? Girl, you’re crazy. But in all seriousness, that’s an incredible accomplishment. You sacrificed so much of your own free time to advance in your professional career and create a personal brand. For that, I’m so proud.

Also, good on you for joining Quotes your freshman year and making it all the way to the executive board. This experience will help you meet so many fantastic people, and you might just win yourself a couple of awards and scholarships along the way.

Looking back, however, you might want to consider setting some time aside for yourself. Trust me, I know it’s hard when you have to juggle four classes, multiple jobs, an officer position, homework, friends, and family, but one of the key lessons you’ll learn soon is balance. Work hard, but also make time for self-care. Maintain your happiness and keep your well-being in check.

And don’t sweat the small stuff. I promise it’s not the end of the world if you get a ‘C’ on a test. Those things might seem dauntingly important right now, but no one is ever going to ask you why you don’t have a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Network as often as you can, no matter how tiring it gets. The connections you make now will create the foundation that will support you throughout your career. You might not see results right away, and this might make you feel like giving up – don’t.

Some more miscellaneous advice: Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Be hungry for knowledge. There are resources on campus for you – use them. Try to get more sleep. Don’t let the fact that the class starts at 8:30 a.m. deter you from taking it. Get involved in as many extracurriculars as you can. Take a weekend trip every once in a while. Make an effort to get to know your professors. Change is OK, and often, it’s a good thing. Always buy your textbooks used and then sell them. Strive to learn something new every day. Never stop applying to scholarships. And lastly, college goes by quickly … enjoy every second of it.

Well Stefi, you’ve handled this wild ride like a champ. I might have been able to travel back in time to get you this letter, but I definitely don’t have a crystal ball to be able to tell you your future. I just really hope that you’ll make use of all of the lessons you’ve learned throughout your time at UCF.

So here I am, writing to you, almost a college graduate. If nothing else in this letter sticks with you, I want you to remember one thing: you are an intelligent and resourceful young woman with an incredibly bright future. Dream big, because no mountain is too high for you. Love yourself for who you are every day, and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve. And when you lose yourself in other people’s expectations, forgive yourself and find your way back to you.

You’ll thank me later.


Future you

Chapter Rewind | Management 101 with HR Pro Mark Havard

October 5, 2018

By Elizabeth Lytle

Whether you’re a seasoned public relations professional, a practitioner just breaking into the field or a student looking to land the perfect internship, navigating the competitive job market, or the ins and outs of your workplace, can be a daunting task. At FPRA Orlando’s September professional development breakfast held at the beautiful Hub 925 co-working space, Mark Havard, director of human resources for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, shared key insights to help members take their careers and leadership skills to the next level.

Mark Havard
Director of Human Resources, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

Crafting a Standout Resume

On average, each job posting attracts 250 applications. And, despite the hours you’ve likely spent crafting your resume, hiring managers spend mere seconds scanning it. So, how do you ensure your resume catches the eye of a potential employer? Havard shared several tips – utilizing white space, keeping design simple and tailoring your objective to the position you’re applying for – but stressed one key point: show, don’t tell.

Anyone can say they are motivated, dedicated or passionate, so it’s crucial to back up these claimed qualities with real-world examples. Potential employers are not interested in the responsibilities you’ve been tasked with; they’re interested in the results you achieved while managing those responsibilities. Students seeking their first internship can take advantage of this advice, as well. Highlighting academic accomplishments, accolades and community involvement can effectively illustrate initiative – a sought-after trait in internship candidates.

Acing Your Interview

According to Havard – who has interviewed countless candidates in his career – the best way to make a lasting impression in your interview is to do your homework beforehand. Knowing the company’s mission, purpose, vision and values is key and will help you tailor your answers in a way that personally resonates with the interviewer. Plus, your interviewer is investing time in you, so it’s important to return the favor.

Agencies, companies and PR departments always have their clients top-of-mind, so Havard advised kicking your background knowledge up a notch by researching issues affecting the industries the company serves. With client-specific questions at the ready, you’re guaranteed to make a unique impression.

Another reminder from Havard: relax! Break the ice, establish a rapport and treat your interview like a conversation.

Leading With Success

Nearly every public relations practitioner reports to a boss, but how many can say they follow a leader? According to Havard, you can clearly differentiate between a boss and a leader by assessing whether your supervisor is working above you or working alongside you. Noting that engaged employees are proven to go the extra mile, he covered his top tips for leading with success, including being visible and accessible, clearly communicating expectations and making a concerted effort to publicly celebrate employee achievements and accomplishments.

Regardless of where you are in your career path, commitment, passion, empathy and dedication are crucial to your success. Havard’s insights underlined the importance of these qualities and we would be wise to keep them in mind as we work toward becoming effective leaders within our organizations and community.

Quotes Corner

October 5, 2018

Six Tips on Using Your Personal Social Media for Professional Growth

By Maddie Kjosa, Quotes UCF

Maddie Kjosa

Maddie Kjosa

Social aptitude (almost) looks better than a resume.

For anyone in the Communications/PR field, having a strong social presence goes a long way in establishing yourself as a professional. It indicates dedication to digital, adaptability, creativity, and ability to tell a story through something other than press releases or news articles. Having a strong presence also eliminates the struggle that many college students or fresh graduates face in getting a job with no prior experience.

With dedication and creativity, you can enter an interview with skills in content creation, analytics, SEO, CMS, and more, all without interning or spending money on courses/conferences.

This is something I’ve seen clearly in my time as a Communications student at the University of Central Florida. Across campus, I see students of every major focus more on their digital presence, whether it be via blogging, vlogging, becoming a micro-influencer, or having Instagram photoshoots with friends. Call it a trait of our generation.

Yet regardless of how old you are or how much you know, it is never too late or less important to have a strong social media presence. This is a field new to everyone. Therefore, it is paramount that we as communications professionals know how to use it, and moreover, use it well.

So, whether you’re fresh out of college or years into a career, here are some tips to get you started on using your personal social for professional growth:

  • Find what you love. It’s much easier to focus on one or two major aspects of your life in creating a digital presence.
  • Find the medium that best serves telling the story of that love. It can be slightly depressing to see people who seem to do it all, but there’s always one platform they do the best. Determine what “the best” is for you; videos, writing, photography, etc. After doing this, mainly use that medium in your social media to continue improving your skills.
  • Get a support network. Some of the best communications professionals got their start by connecting with others of similar goals. Being in FPRA is a HUGE start, but also seek locals or friends who love what you love and create content together!
  • Learn about social media tools by using them on your personal accounts. Interested in social analytics? Sign up for a free Hootsuite account and connect your accounts to it. You can also browse the in-program analytics offered by Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see what metrics matter on each platform.
  • What about website analytics? Create a free Google Analytics account and connect it to your website like I did for metrics like bounce rate, user data, and more.
  • Take advantage of mobile apps! The App Store is filledwith a variety of apps that social media professionals use to create content. Some of my favorites are Canva, Unfold, Adobe Spark Post, Adobe Lightroom and PicPlayPost. Tip: I always test apps out on my personal social before using them professionally.

While more exist, these are all really easy and beneficial ways to start improving your professional social media skills with personal accounts. For all of my fellow UCF students who plan to attend Intern Pursuit and similar job fairs, remember that any skill you learn personally can and should be on your resume, portfolio and mentioned to employers. For example, explaining how you used Instagram Analytics and engagement tactics to increase your following by 500 accounts in six months. It doesn’t have to come from a job to be valid experience!

Due to the nature of social media itself, I offer one final word of advice: stay current. You never know when the next big thing will hit, and staying current will ensure that your social strategy is too.

Member PRofile: Brian Hutchings

October 5, 2018

Brian Hutchings
Senior Communications Specialist, Central Florida Expressway Authority

Give a brief explanation of your job.
I’m the main point of contact for the agency for the media and general public, often referred to as the agency spokesperson. My particular focus is on construction projects as well as future projects that are in the planning and design stage. I also spend time marketing E-PASS, the agency’s electronic transponder (save time and money at GetEPASS.com!). What I love about my job is I get to work with great people and that no two days are alike.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?
I joined in 2018 – I’m a newbie to FPRA. Why? Because Jeff Grainger encouraged me to join! Honestly, it was not a tough sell. I saw the value in joining FPRA and I was certain that I would gain both personally and professionally from the experience.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?
Media Mash Up, and as a bonus I get the honor and responsibility of helping to organize this year’s Media Mash Up event.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
I am an avid runner and will be competing (and hopefully COMPLETING) my 13th ½ marathon. That said, 13.1 miles is plenty for me, I have no desire to double the distance by doing a full marathon – that’s just crazy.

What was your first job?
Member Services Coordinator with the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives

Fun fact:
When I left my job at the PA State House of Representatives, I took off and traveled the U.S. and Mexico by myself for two months before relocating to Washington D.C. It was a great adventure with lasting memories.

Contact Information:
Brian Hutchings, 4974 ORL Tower Road, Orlando FL 32807

Quotes Corner

September 14, 2018

Did Quotes Help You Get Where You Are?

By Jonathan Gabriel, VP of Student Outreach, FPRA Orlando Area Chapter

Jonathan Gabriel

Jonathan Gabriel

If you went to UCF and studied public relations, you likely were a part of Quotes. You’d be proud to see what our students are doing with it now.

In the past two years, the club has doubled its membership and been recognized at the state level. It’s been really exciting to see the chapter’s growth.

I was at our Quotes kickoff event this past month, gazing around the room and marveling at the many new faces I was able to pick out in the crowd. The kickoff always brings a packed house. Some students were already Ad/PR majors, while others were still contemplating whether the program was right for them.

This is a moment in time that’s ripe with possibility for them. But often it’s hard for them to see clearly what lies ahead. You could be the voice that affirms that the path they’re on is a solid choice.

Our Quotes student executive board wants to hear from you. They’re putting together short videos, no more than a minute in length, in the weeks leading up to Intern Pursuit in October. These videos will feature local PR pros, like you, talking about how being a part of Quotes helped them get where they are today.

Perhaps you met your future employer on a tour. Maybe you served on the Quotes board, or got your first internship opportunity at Intern Pursuit.

If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to me at jonathan.gabriel@ucf.edu.

Oh, one more thing – Intern Pursuit is October 11 at UCF’s Pegasus Ballroom. This is a great opportunity to look for that next stellar intern who can help your organization. Click here to register now.

Member PRofile: Maya Givon

September 14, 2018

Maya Givon
Reputation & Social Specialist, Adventist Health System

Give a brief explanation of your job.
As a reputation and social specialist, I work with my team to monitor our brand online. Together, we work to identify and respond to any positive or negative sentiment we find in the digital space that surrounds our brand. We not only work to mitigate any crises that may surface online, but also identify brand trends of negative sentiment and work with internal teams throughout the organization to rectify those issues.

How long have you been a member of FPRA and why did you join?
I’ve been an FPRA member for about a year now and joined because I saw the benefit of being a member as a student who attended only a few events. So far, I’ve been able to connect and learn from so many different skilled professionals and am excited to continue to grow that network.

What has been your favorite FPRA event so far?
My favorite would have to be the Sip & Savor event that took place in May 2016. I attended as a student to complete an assignment for school and ended up meeting seven incredibly talented and knowledgeable individuals that made up the CCH Marketing team. After staying in touch with CCH, I found myself interning and then working full-time for the team.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
After taking the Public Relations Certification course at the University of Central Florida, I was able to pass the Public Relations Certification exam last April.

What was your first job?
My first job was as an account coordinator at CCH Marketing where I helped manage the blog and social media for a healthcare client.

Fun fact:
I love being handy and challenging myself to learn new everyday skills. So if anyone ever needs help putting together something from IKEA or hanging a shelf on a wall, just let me know!

Contact Information:

President’s Message

August 14, 2018

Lindsay Hudock

With conference in the review mirror and bags finally unpacked, the reality of this being the last month of my tenure as Orlando Area Chapter president is finally sinking in. The year has flown by, as everyone warned me it would. It has been every bit the opportunity for growth that everyone said it would be. And everyone who told me it would be both intensely challenging and incredibly fun, well they were right too. But to those who told me it would be rewarding – you are masters of the understatement.

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career, a point driven home at annual conference when our chapter claimed statewide President’s Awards for both Leadership Development and Student Engagement. The truly surreal moment was seeing my name on the plaque for Chapter President of the Year. We left that room with an armful of plaques that stand as testament to the caliber of the team that came together this year to serve on the Orlando board. Some were brand new to leadership roles. Others had been working diligently behind the scenes on behalf of the chapter for years. It’s entirely possible that some of you have never met them, but you should know how hard they worked this year and I’d like to share their success with you.

Members of the Orlando Area Chapter at the 2018 FPRA Annual Conference

Kacie Escobar and Katarina Dos Santos are the treasury team. Going into this board year, we were committed to reinvesting in our members. This meant more giveaways, more raffles, and especially more scholarships – membership, Leadership FPRA, annual conference, etc. However our members were looking to grow, we wanted to support them. Kat and Kacie made it happen. They knew the budget inside and out, kept us on track and accountable all year, and in their spare time even managed to research and test a new registration platform to streamline finances and the member experience.

Julie Hall, APR, Jacqueline Kooser and Gabriel Soltren are the communication team. Member engagement was strong this year because this team made sure that communication was always flowing. With Gabriel at the helm, the website attracted roughly 30,000 page views this year. And Julie Hall worked tirelessly to gather our members’ stories, chapter events and industry tips for the newsletter each month, which consistently blew industry averages for open and click through rates out of the water. Jacqueline is the voice behind our social media channels. In the two years she’s served in this role, our impressions have increased by nearly 88 percent! And she’s led the charge in exploring new social avenues such as Facebook advertising and custom Snapchat filters.

Kelda Senior and Caroline Tanner are the membership team. You probably remember hearing from them at renewal time last year. They emailed, they called, they even met prospective members for coffee and they might have stalked a few on Facebook. You’d better believe we met our membership renewal goal and today we stand as the second largest professional chapter in the state.

And speaking of membership, have you checked out our student chapter lately? Jonathan Gabriel can tell you all about it. He’s served as VP of student outreach for two years now, and in that time the chapter has nearly doubled in size. He’s attended Quotes events, served as a speaker and coordinated tours that connected students with the professional community. He’s the first to introduce himself when a student walks into a professional chapter event and he follows up with each and every one of them afterward.  If you’ve had a strong intern or a great new hire in the last two years, it’s likely that Jonathan helped them along the way to grow in professionalism and maturity.

Alyssa Chandler and Bailey Morris are prime examples of the incredible professionals emerging from our student chapters. They served as VPs of Scholarship Fundraising this year and helped us completely reimagine what that would look like for our chapter. Moving our scholarship fundraising efforts from a standalone event to a silent auction at Image Awards allowed us to work smarter, not harder, in our effort to support students working to join us in the PR field.

Since Image Awards was our most highly attended event of the year, there’s a good chance you saw that silent auction, along with all the professionals being honored for exemplary work in the past year. It was a sold-out event in an interesting new venue with fabulous food, classy décor and one of the most diligent, hardworking event planners I’ve ever seen. If you don’t know Marc Espeso, VP of Image Awards, you’re missing out. He’s agreed to serve another year in the role and I can’t wait to see what he has planned.

Mandy Kimmer, APR,CPRC headed up the chapter’s accreditation efforts for the year, co-hosting APR study sessions, organizing panels and facilitating the CPRC process. Five chapter members have completed the APR panel process this year, three of whom have also already successfully completed the APR exam. And the Orlando chapter is home to a new CPRC this year as well. To date, an impressive 22 percent of our chapter members hold credentials.

Mark Schlueb joined the team this year to serve as the VP of Media Relations. His primary task was Media Mashup and he killed it. The event drew 110 attendees, connected them with dozens of representatives from local media, and featured keynotes on the media frenzy surrounding the hunt for the Tampa serial killer and the world class media relations efforts of the Daytona speedway.

Two members of the board that play important roles behind the scenes are Chapter Secretary Susan Vernon-Devlin and VP of Sponsorships Megan Paquin, APR. Susan is an FPRA board veteran whose experience has proven invaluable time and time again. She’ll be stepping away next year to serve in other leadership roles, but I have a sneaking suspicion she’ll be back in the future and we’ll all be better for it.

Megan joined the board last year in a brand new position, VP of Sponsorship. She’s worked to streamline the chapter’s efforts to secure sponsorships and given us much needed guidelines for sponsorship levels. She’s been a valuable partner to all board members responsible for events and has helped us take steps to continue to secure our financial stability. I’m so pleased to see her stepping into the president-elect positon next year.

Which brings me to Jeff Grainger, APR, who is nearly done serving his year as president-elect and will soon be inducted as chapter president. Jeff is also an Orlando board veteran, having served in a variety of positions. That depth and breadth of experience was evident this past year as he put together programing that really spoke to our members, covering a wide variety of topics, interests and experience levels. He also served as a strong advocate for our chapter on the state board.  I’m honored to be passing the gavel to him this month. The chapter will be in very capable hands.

And then there’s Alayna Curry, APR, who probably could have coasted through her year as immediate past president except that it’s not in her DNA. She was a resource to every member of the board this year, but she was also a catalyst for change. She drew the board’s attention to policies and practices that were no longer serving us and spearheaded the efforts to grow and evolve. When a board member had to step down unexpectedly, Alayna stepped up. And instead of sailing off into the FPRA sunset at the end of this year, she’s gearing up for yet another new position on the board: membership.

Many people will tell you that FPRA is a family. Never has that felt more true to me than it has this year. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with this team and to interact with so many of our members. It’s been an incredible chapter of #MyFPRAstory and I’m excited to see what the next chapter holds.