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By: Samantha Scott, APR
Grand Poobah / Owner
WOOT! Oh, sorry… that was our excitement sneaking out. I am so pleased to share with you the news from the recent Florida Public Relations Association Southwest Florida Chapter 2013 Image Awards… We won four Awards of Distinction and a Judges’ Award!
This is the sixth year in a row that our firm has been honored for outstanding communications campaigns bringing the award tally to twenty-four. We won Awards of Distinction for the following programs: West Marine’s Fort Myers Flagship store grand opening, Blue Ridge Harley-Davidson’s Grand Reopening in Hickory, North Carolina, international publicity efforts on behalf of Specialists in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery and the company’s second annual food drive benefiting Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI), the CAN IT! Campaign. The Judges’ Award was also given in recognition of the CAN IT! Campaign.
An Award of Distinction highlights an outstanding public relations program while a Judges’ Award signifies maximum client exposure was achieved through the public relations program for the least amount of money.
The Florida Public Relations Association is a statewide organization designed to promote professional and ethical public relations through professional development and community involvement. For more information about the local chapter, please visit fpraswfl.org.
Congrats to all the entrants and all the winners! We were among great company and so proud of all of our fellow chapter members, entrants and winners.
By: Samantha Scott, APR
Having been on a number of non-profit boards and helped many others with public relations, I understand there is a need for information in this industry about 1) what public relations is and 2) how non-profits can use it.
As part of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association, I prepared a presentation outlining these two points. It includes some tips on what YOU can do if you work for a non-profit and some tips for using the resources available to you.
I’m including this presentation for your review. Just click the link to download it. Check it out and see what might apply to your situation. If you have questions, please feel free to leave your comments below!
Many professionals have credentials or letters after their name, but what do they mean? Do they even matter? This week’s blog post is going to discuss one such situation – the APR.
APR means Accredited in Public Relations. For those of you who read our blog regularly, you know that I (Samantha) recently received my APR. For members of FPRA, PRSA and other professional public relations organizations, you probably understand the significance. It’s an earned designation that is received after completing a peer-hosted readiness review (or case study presentation) and passing an in-depth exam. It sets the recipient apart as someone not only skilled in the field of public relations, but also in leadership, financial responsibility and management.
The question, I really want to focus on is from the client’s perspective. Does it really matter if the public relations professional I work with has his or her APR?
As the owner of a public relations firm, I’ve done proposals for many companies of the years and met with many business owners who were looking for assistance in communications. Price, team size, location and experience in the industry or location are all areas of interest. What the potential client really wants to know is how well you, the agency or public relations professional, can do the task at hand. Having someone on the team, or better yet, the leader, with their APR offers a leg up – but only if the potential client understands what it means.
Coordinated by the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), “APR is a mark of distinction for public relations professionals who demonstrate their commitment to the profession and to its ethical practice, and who are selected based on broad knowledge, strategic perspective, and sound professional judgment.”
Currently, there are 5,000 public relations professionals worldwide who earned this voluntary certification. Its fundamental purpose is to unify and advance the profession by identifying those who have demonstrated broad knowledge, experience and professional judgment in the field.
The APR exam draws its questions from all areas of the public relations body of knowledge, including:
- Research, planning, implementing and evaluating programs
- Ethics and law
- Communications models and theories
- Business literacy
- Management skills and issues
- Crisis communications management
- Media relations
- Using Information Technology efficiently
- History of and current issues in public relations
- Advanced communications skills
As you can see, it’s a powerful way to measure a public relations professional’s skill set and knowledge base. I am proud to say that I have my APR because it proves my level of knowledge and experience. My work is a testament to that and now I have credentials that are as well. I am thankful to my local FPRA chapter for their support and guidance, as well, which without would have made this process significantly harder.
For more information on how you can become accredited, visit the UAB website or talk to the credentialing chair at a local FPRA chapter.
I am as eccentric and high-energy as they come. I have a habit of looking overwhelmed on the outside (I talk too fast, trip over things, drop things, and even turn red when I’m nervous) but on the inside I have a great sense of what’s going on. I am so eager to please that sometimes my enthusiasm hinders rather than helps. Here are a few mistakes that we all (or at least, I) make when landing our first big internship.
The first day is, to put it simply, not easy: new wake-up time, unfamiliar route the office and the inevitable anxiety that seems to sneak up on you. Here are a few mistakes I’ve made in the past that can be easily overturned.
Mistake #1: TOO Much Coffee
Overloading on the caffeine to make up for one’s lack of sleep is overcompensating at its finest. Sleeping in is one of college student’s most priceless perks but it must be let go if you want to succeed in the internship real world. Guzzling mass amount of java only left me jittery, anxious and sweaty (August + Florida + hot coffee = sweat). Rather than coming off as a composed and focused intern I seemed frazzled and overwhelmed. When it comes to that 6am wake-up call, start with ONE cup and sip slowly. The caffeine will hit you before you know it and you will avoid looking like a hot mess.
Mistake #2: Skipping Breakfast OR Not Packing Lunch
I am as guilty as they come when it comes to skipping breakfast–the mornings are hectic! Adjusting to the early mornings is hard enough but you will be kicking yourself when you’re in the middle of a meeting and your stomach growls are the main topic of conversation.
Save yourself the discomfort and plan ahead. Pack your lunch the night before so you can grab it and go. I’ve also learned to always have a granola bar or some sort of snack in my purse for an impromptu breakfast on the drive to my internship. It seems simple but preparing my food the night before has saved me time and helped keep me focused on long days at the office.
Mistake #3: Slacking on Staying up to date – The PR world is ever-revolving
Joining PR associations like the FPRA is a great way to stay in touch with the PR world. Attending conferences, receiving newsletters, etc will keep you in the loop and the networking opportunities are endless. Put yourself out there and make your name known in the PR world. You will learn a lot by reaching out to your PR peers and colleagues. Being an intern gives you the advantage to ask questions and allows you to find your place in the PR world. Every ounce of experience is helpful and organizations like the FPRA are a great way to get started.
Brush up on the latest versions of vital writing guides like the 2011 AP Stylebook. Writing is essential in PR so when you write your first news release or feature release be sure to have the latest version of the AP Stylebook an arm reach away. PR writing rules are always changing and being added (i.e. social media section in the 2011 AP Stylebook). You don’t need to memorize the book from start to finish but at lease show some type of initiative. It will benefit you in the long run and save your co-workers time when they are editing your work.
Side note: I’ve also learned that having a thesaurus nearby (I use the FREE dictionary app on my iPhone) is always a plus. You want to stand out in your news releases. Avoid cliche wording at all costs. Search for new words if you can’t come up with anything off the top of your head. Expanding one’s vocabulary is never a bad thing.
I’m looking forward to seeing this internship through and learning a lot. I hope these tips help you make your internship the best experience possible too!
It’s official – I’ve changed my name. It’s now Samantha Scott, APR. For those of you in the public relations field, you know what this means and what a process it is. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it stands for Accredited in Public Relations – and it’s a big deal!
The Public Relations Society of America with the Universal Accreditation Board facilitate the process. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in honing and expanding their public relations skills and knowledge. What an eye opener!
The process took six months, many hours of reading, 10 weeks of study sessions and one grueling test, but it’s all worth it! As my fellow APR credentialed professionals can attest, becoming accredited proves you know what you’re doing.
I couldn’t have done without the support of the fantastic folks at my local Florida Public Relations Association Southwest Florida chapter including, but not limited to – Kara Winton, APR, CPRC and Mary Briggs, APR, CPRC.
Now it’s time to put all the training to good use!
It’s that time of year again – award entries. Seemingly endless details crunched into just two pages combined with mounds of supporting material… what does this equal? An Image Award entry for the Florida Public Relations Association. It’s a lot of work, but we enter at the local level through our Southwest Florida Chapter every year. This year, the fourth year in a row we’ve entered, we’ve won – this time, four awards!
We were honored to be able to enter three projects this year and each one won! Our work with Scott Fischer Enterprises and their Rocket Harley-Davidson dealership won an Award of Distinction and a Judges’ Award. Additionally, the work we did with the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida and their Literacy Buddies program as well as our social media efforts for California Closets Southwest Florida each won Awards of Distinction!
An Award of Distinction highlights an outstanding public relations program while a Judges’ Award signifies maximum client exposure or success through a public relations program for the least amount of money.
We are very excited to have received these honors and look forward to entering the FPRA Golden Image Awards next. Wish us luck!
This is part 3 of our 3 part series covering lessons learned and tips gathered at the recent FPRA Annual Conference.
Peter Hollister, APR, Fellow PRSA, CPRC of Hollister, Trubow & Associates, offered a lecture on strategic communications during the conference. Before you start yawning (no offense Mr. Hollister), as we all know strategy talk can sometimes be dry, this was a powerful presentation.
First of all, there has to be an understanding that communications plans (or really any marketing plans) must have a long range view that relates to the company or organization’s brand and branding efforts. Additionally, we have to “get” that this not something that will be developed then put on a shelf or adhered to the same way now as it will be 5 years or even 2 years. With the ever changing media and communication landscape, we have to move forward and design our strategic plans in such a way that they are flexible and a living document.
- Strategic Planning vs Long Range Planning
- A strategic plan does not have an ending. It’s a dynamic, living thing. Components within have an ending, but not the plan.
- A strategic plan has evaluation built into it. Benchmarks, etc. so you can tell as you go along if you are making the expected progress.
- Strategic planning is participative. You must be involved in it, not invite an organization in and hire them to do it.
“Strategic management provides guidance, direction & boundaries for operational management.” – George A. Steiner Strategic Planning
A strategic plan encompasses all aspects of an effort or initiative and is people and customer centered. This is of the utmost importance! Now, with social media and consumer driven/derived media we (communicators) are considering this more. Before there was a push mentality.
We would push information out. Send our messages where we thought our target audiences were. Now, we can ask them. Listen and find out what they want and communicate WITH them, not AT them. It’s really relationship management. We have to be constantly thinking about ENHANCING RELATIONSHIPS.
Every strategic plan must take this into account. And, as Mr. Hollister pointed out, this change in thinking and way of designing a strategic plan explains what PR and communications is and does for those not in our industry.