Chapter Rewind: December Charity Event

December 30, 2014

By: Gabriel Soltren

Raul Romero is not from the United States, but that did not stop him from passing a National Board test and getting his U.S. Citizenship. Romero spoke with FPRA Orlando members as they worked to develop a public relations plan for the Adult Literacy League (ALL) in Orlando. As a dentist with more than 30 years experience in a Spanish speaking country, he found it difficult to pass the National Board exam in the English language for his profession. “The school helped me a lot and it is still helping me,” said Romero. “It also helped me to obtain citizenship.”










Members of FPRA Orlando met at the ALL on Dec. 16 for a hands-on public relations workshop. Workshop organizer, Laura Kern, APR, introduced Gina Berko Solomon, director of education with the ALL. She shared that there are more than 900 active students in the Orange, Osceola and Seminole county coverage area and about 60 students waiting for volunteer tutors. “Our capacity for marketing is about zero,” said Jennifer Grozio, development director. She asked for help with creating a plan that volunteers could follow. About 300 instructional volunteers provide 37 classes held mostly at local libraries in the three-county area.











Chris Gent, APR, CPRC and Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC worked on a corporate partnership building plan for the ALL. The proposed plan would enlist the support of organizations that need literate workers and that have access to potential volunteers.











María Isabel Sanquírico,  Jeannette Rivera-Lyles and Jennifer Grozio developed public relations and volunteer recruitment strategies. The strategy would re-introduce the organization to members of key Hispanic organizations in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. More than 60 percent of the students served by the ALL are English language learners.











FPRA Orlando members Katarina dos Santos, Amanda Higaldo and Michael McCarthy worked on a social media strategy. The social media strategy included setting up Google Alerts and provided sample postings such as, “What was the first book you ever read?” Chad Binette and Kacie Boniberger worked on a media relations strategy, which included identifying and pitching human interest stories about the ALL students and volunteers. For example, a student recently won an employee of the year award at the University of Central Florida.











FPRA groups reunited at the end of separate brainstorming sessions and shared the ideas developed during the workshop. The ideas developed will be used to create a public relations plan for the ALL to use year-round.


Member Profile: Nadia Vanderhoof

September 9, 2014













What is your title and company name?
Public Relations Specialist
Orange County Government’s Communications Division

Give a brief explanation of your job.
I implement public engagement initiatives and external communications on behalf of Orange County Government, an organization with an annual budget of more than $3.3 billion, with 80 divisions and 7,445 employees. I am responsible for the management of Orange County’s online newsroom, the OCFL News App, the development of persuasive public engagement messages, official county photography, news articles, columns, e-newsletters, social media, creative branding ideas, web content and other internal and external outreach materials consistent with Orange County’s brand, values and culture. I encourage you to download the OCFL News app to stay connected and informed with Orange County! (Android | Apple)

How long have you been a part of FPRA? Why did you join?
With a background in business reporting and print journalism, I joined FPRA Orlando in July 2014 to learn more about PR best practices from my fellow colleagues in communications. I work with some of the most seasoned PR veterans in our region, including Ann Marie Varga and Lisa Nason who are actively involved in FPRA Orlando, and they really know and understand public relations and communications inside and out. They have always spoken very highly of the caliber of the organization. Networking and brainstorming with the best of the best of the industry is one of my goals.

What was your favorite FPRA event?
Although I haven’t attended the Orlando Area Chapter Image Awards, it’s certainly one of the most talked about and widely attended ceremonies in our industry. I look forward to attending this fantastic event in the future.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
Our team just found out that our 2014 State of the County Social Media Ambassadors Campaign made the final round in Ragan’s PR Daily’s Digital Awards 2014. Our campaign is one of seven finalists in the category of Best Community Engagement. The initiative was one of the most successful digital outreach initiatives in Orange County’s history and achieved nearly one million (956,387) total online impressions on Orange County’s official social media pages. Other FPRA members who were part of the campaign include Orange County Communications Manager Ann Marie Varga, APR, Kat Dos Santos and Laura Kern, APR who is one of our Social Media Ambassadors and part of Orange County’s Technology and Social Media Workgroup.

Tell us something people may not know about you.
My father has worked for the United Nations since I was born and I attended a British middle school and high school while overseas. I still say some words with a British accent or use British terminology. For aluminum, I say “alu-min-euum”  and I always pronounce the “h”  in herbs. My husband helped me lose the term “car park” so I always say “parking lot” now.

Contact info:
Orange County Government
201 S. Rosalind Ave. 3rd Floor
Orlando, FL. 32801
Office: 407.836.5464
Mobile: 407.616.7316

Chapter Rewind: April in May

June 3, 2014

Jamie Floer

By: Jamie Floer, APR, CPRC

FPRA-Orlando welcomed April Salter, APR, CPRC to our morning breakfast meeting in May. April, president and COO of Salter>Mitchell and a long-time FPRA colleague of mine, traveled from the FPRA Capital Chapter in Tallahassee to share her expertise. A packed house of PR professionals filled the University Club to hear what I will call “April-isms.”

She started by giving a shout-out to some FPRA all-stars, including our own Chris Gent, APR, CPRC, and her extensive network of industry contacts. Then, she proceeded to impart pearls of wisdom based on her experiences as a PR professional. From jovial moments like the discussion of performance issues to somber reflections from the days of crisis communications following the sudden passing of former Gov. Lawton Chiles, April filled the session with plenty of ideas for the young and young at heart. Thank you to April for sharing your time and talents with our members.

Check out a few tweets from the event:

. stresses importance of in . Make sure you know the Code of Ethics:

Don’t work 24/7, but have your clients back and make sure your relationship let’s them know you’ll be there! Agree!

: . and strongly recommend APR when you are ready to go for it in your career, contact us for more!

. “How do you get to the next level? Start with listening and asking questions: analyze the big picture.”

: You must anticipate and move ahead of change. practitioners must embrace and steer their org for change ~

Agree with that PR folks need to be present, be in the mtg, focus, listen, don’t let mind wander

Member PRofile: Courtney Austin

April 29, 2014


What is your title and company name?
Vice President
KAptiv Marketing, LLC

Give a brief explanation of your job.
I am very fortunate to be in business with a great PR practitioner, Laura Kern, APR. I help to manage our clients’ brand online via social media channels, website management, SEO, content creation and blog postings. Most of our clients are from the ever-growing Orlando tech industry and have a B2B focus. In my career I have been fortunate to work with many consumer-based organizations and I plan to use that experience to help develop KAptiv’s B2C clientele.

How long have you been a part of FPRA? Why did you join?
Four years off and on. I became involved with FPRA as a student member in college which continued into my professional career. I then left Orlando to be with my husband in California while he served in the Marines, and just recently moved back from Austin, Texas. I’m excited to be part of the association again, it has consistently provided me with resources, continuing education and great peers to brainstorm with and provide advice.

What was your favorite FPRA event?
The Roast and Toast was my favorite event. It was an amazing event for the Orlando business community and provided scholarship opportunities for students.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
Back in Austin, I had the opportunity for my first social media campaign focusing on a limited edition breast cancer awareness product. With the support of a strategic partnership within our audience, we reached our sales goal within a month and under budget. Personally, I’m excited to embark on my first entrepreneurial venture with Laura with KAptiv Marketing.

Tell us something people may not know about you.
In February my husband and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 19,341 feet. It was a once in a lifetime experience and was the most physically challenging adventure we have taken together.

Contact info:

Member PRofile: Laura Kern, APR

March 10, 2014

Laura Kern


What is your title and company name?
Communications Brand Consultant
Agency name to be announced in April

Give a brief explanation of your job.
My team and I manage a brand’s online presence, including strategies surrounding engagement through various social media platforms, blogs and website content. Our involvement in various industries, both B2B and consumer, and our passion for online networking combine to guide our development of brand messaging to engage their audience in conversation and ultimately conversion. The majority of our clients are local tech brands, from start-ups to established innovators, as well as economic development-related organizations.

How many years have you been a part of FPRA? Why did you join?
I joined Quotes as an Ad/PR student at UCF because I knew early on that networking and internships would be key ingredients to my success as a PR practitioner, thanks to my professors Dr. Bob Davis and Frank Stansberry. After graduation, I immediately joined FPRA and the Orlando board to continue my professional development and network with peers. Outside my 2.5 years in California, I’ve been a continuous FPRA member for eight years serving on the Quotes board, then Orlando’s board as VP of Roast & Toast and Treasurer. Currently I serve as VP of Interactive Media, which includes website updates, social media marketing and helping manage FPRA Orlando’s marketing strategy with my co-VP, Alayna Curry.

What was your favorite FPRA event?
Roast & Toast. I managed the last Roast & Toast event to raise scholarship funds in 2008, where we raised more than $33,000 for PR student scholarships. The Roast & Toast evenings were so much fun, full of laughs from our roasters and roastee, excitement at the silent auction tables and fantastic networking for the Orlando business community.

Tell us about an exciting achievement (personal or professional).
I’ve been very fortunate in my career, from working with some of Orlando’s most respected brands to now taking the leap to go out on my own and build a business. Earning my APR and being awarded FPRA’s Dr. Bob Davis Award are also on my list of favorite professional achievements. At the end of the day I’m extremely grateful to work with the amazing people that make up Orlando’s PR and business community. And lastly, my favorite campaign was the Orlando brand ambassador initiative I reignited while at the Metro Orlando EDC under the hashtag #WhyOrlando. 

Tell us something people may not know about you.
My personal interest in tech and love of Orlando have melded into a passion I’ve integrated into my professional world with my support and involvement in the local tech community. I am privileged to work with OrlandoiX, a five-day international digital festival coming to Orlando in 2015, and Canvs, Orlando’s newest co-working space whose mission is to help cultivate Orlando tech companies opening this Summer in the Church Street Exchange Building. Looking forward to Orlando’s bright future!

Contact info:

Member News: Board Update

July 10, 2011

Rachael Gmerek would like to say farewell and thank you to everyone she’s worked with over the years in the Orlando chapter! She will be moving to Chicago toward the end of July.

To fill her position on the FPRA-OAC Board, Laura Kern of Florida Hospital East will transition from assistant treasurer to treasurer, allowing Megan Licata of Fry, Hammond, Barr to fill the assistant treasurer role.