Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dillin Keynote Address: Disney’s Approach to Corporate Responsibility

By Armando Diaz, Quotes treasurer

Walt Disney World has become a staple in not only the American culture, but internationally as well. The Disney name and brand is perhaps one of the most recognized names and logos world-wide. With world-class adventure theme parks, first class hotels/resorts, and thousands of employees, remaining an important role in the local community and effectively running all aspects of Disney become major tasks of its corporate leaders.

Eugene Campbell, vice president of community relations and minority business for thee Walt Disney World Resort, discussed the many intricate ways in which Disney strives for high employee relations and community involvement. Effectively managing 60,000 employees can bring many challenges. In order to deal with these challenges, Disney requires that all newly hired employees attend Disney University. Disney University ensures that all employees learn the core values that Walt Disney himself developed in the early stages of development. While corporate leaders work hard to instill the initial work ethics Walt Disney established, they also strive to meet all of the needs of their employees by offering free programs and incentives. Campbell and the Disney Corporation try to set the golden standard in employee affairs and relations.

Campbell also spoke about the major role Disney plays in the Central Florida community and all throughout the State of Florida. Corporate officials become responsible for staying involved in all community relations. Within the Central Florida community, this can be seen by numerous scholarship funds given to local foundations, such as the Boys & Girls Club of Orlando. Statewide, Disney Resorts play a large role in turtle conservation. Many of their coastline resorts near the Vero Beach area have programs set up in order to facilitate the turtle population. The corporate offices designed rides and informational sessions in order to discuss the dangers turtles face. Whether on an international level or even in their own back yard, Walt Disney World Resorts strives to remain a world-class brand by promoting extensive employee relations and community involvement. Corporate responsibility and involvement heightens with the continued growth and success of Walt Disney World Corporations.

Breakout 2C: Nuts and Bolts of Social Media

By Lauri Gagnon, Quotes vice president

As the associate PR director of Kidd Public Relations in Tallahassee, Fla., Kelly Robertson, APR, delivered a very informative presentation on the basics of social media. These online tools were a reoccurring theme throughout the conference and Robertson was very knowledgeable and experienced on the topic. Reviewing the basics such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging, may seem simple and obvious for college students but it is clearly making huge waves in the PR community. These days anyone can become a reporter with a microblogging or Facebook update by endorsing a product, service or company. Having knowledge of these sites can greatly improve a possible job candidate's edge, so Robertson encouraged everyone to become familiar with these tools.

As an emerging technology, PR professionals are still trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of analyzing its impact. Tools such as Google Analytics and Insight for Facebook aid in unraveling the mystery of finding its place in the field. Despite the rising popularity of sites such as Twitter and Facebook, it is important to remember that they may die out in the future. The ideas behind social media will continue to evolve, so I wouldn't marry my Twitter account yet.

Breakout 1A: Social Media and Press Releases

By Dana Bakich and Jennifer Garvin, Quotes members

Our first morning breakout session began by entering a room filled with PR professionals. Laura Sturaitis, Senior Vice President of Media Services and Product Strategy from Business Wire spoke on social media and press releases. She focused her presentation on communicating effectively and how to tighten up your message to the public. Laura stressed the “3 E’s” which are

  1. Enhancing the release with formatting links and clever tag lines.
  2. Expanding your posting, delivery and reach through a push and pull format.
  3. Evaluate and measure your results- always look for ways to improve!

She also touched upon creating authority with Google. To ensure efficiency, index your captions and reinforce keywords related to your topic. Next, Laura moved onto search engine optimization. (You can use this to your advantage guys!) Blog it! Tweet it! Interestingly enough, the average “Googler” uses more than three words for their search. With that in mind, it is vital to identify keywords, link appropriately, podcast as much as possible and use social networks as a communication tool. Visuals and multimedia are the new key to successful releases and retaining the publics attention.

General Session A: It’s Not Web 2.0. It’s Not Web 3.0. It’s Simply Life.

By Michelle Khouri, Quotes President

Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO), presented the first session titled, “It’s Not Web 2.0. It’s Not Web 3.0. It’s Simply Life.” Shankman is a lively, passionate man whose life centers around social technologies. His presentation offered three main pieces of advice:

Transparency. As students, we come across the issue of transparency on a daily basis. From something as simple as “Why did I get this grade?” to a more weighted issue like “How will budget cuts affect my education?” we all just want to know what’s going on. Shankman jokes (more like a half-truth) that social media lets you screw up with a larger audience in a shorter amount of time. When you make a mistake, as a student, professional, or just on a personal basis, be transparent. Let people know. As Shankman puts it, “If people see you learning from your mistakes, they’re much more likely to forgive you.”

Relevance. “The media is NOT dying. It’s fracturing,” says Shankman. “The Grand Canyon was created by rocks fracturing. And some people say it’s kind of cool to see.” Making your news relevant is key in a time when “news outlets” can be anything from The Wall Street Journal to to The big question is, “How do I make my news relevant?” It’s all about listening, says Shankman. In a “me, me, me” society, PR professionals need to take a “you, you, you” approach. “The second you start doing it for someone else is the second you get remembered, not recalled.”

Brevity. “LEARN TO WRITE. Social media requires us to write well. When you have less time to do it, you have to do it better.” Shankman emphasizes that in a time when media outlets are strapped for journalists, your audience has an average 3.7-second attention span and people only have a tolerance for 140 characters, being lengthy just isn’t a luxury. Being a good writer is more than just writing a good press release. It’s the ability to convey the message concisely -- in 3.7 second if you have to.

Breakout 5A: The AMMMO Approach to Strategic Communications

By Alexia Penna, Quotes member

In this session,
Jack Levine focuses on the AMMMO approach. Through knowing your audiences, messages, how to utilize the right messengers, and methods, you will reach your desired outcomes. You are the voice behind your company, products, and ideas. In order to get those “decision makers” to buy into your products and ideas you need to “build a bridge” between the two.

It all starts with your audience. You can’t afford to reach the general public. You will be way more effective if you target your audience. When it comes to donating money, you are better off targeting those over the age of 50 who have the means and are more willing to donate. In other words, college students should not be your target audience to try and get donations for your company.

Another important step to getting your desired outcome is your message. You have to make your message relatable to your audience as well as impactful. Different generations can watch the same commercial and if you are not the targeted audience, you will not understand what the message is saying

When it comes to getting your message across, you are more than likely to be heard if it is coming from the right messenger. If you’re a non-profit company, trying to get people to donate, you can't speak to the subject you are representing. It‘s just not that effective. Taking classes on a particular subject and receiving a degree in that subject doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. You should utilize those who are actually experiencing the situation. For example, you should let a foster child tell his or her story if you want credibility. Let them share the hard times as well as those who have positively impacted them. If the social worker speaks on his or her behalf, they will lack credibility.

The way you express your message should depend on the situation. Of course, face to face interaction is better than a phone call. Utilize all the media that you have available as well as the social networks to distribute your messages effectively.

Your outcome should be positively related to how well you execute each of the letters in AMMMO. Non-profit is all about doing the right thing towards the community. But if you are doing the right thing and not communicating it to the public, you are not maximizing your full potential as an organization.

Breakout 3C: One Size Does NOT Fit All: Cultural Influences in CSR Decision-Making

By Michelle Khouri, Quotes president

In her presentation, Leticia Solaun, CH2M HILL international PR liaison, touched upon the cultural aspect of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). According to Archie B. Carroll ("the father of CSR," according to Solaun), CSR is "the social responsibility of business that encompasses the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary expectations that society has of organizations at a given point in time." Solaun's presentation makes the point that CSR is not a blanket strategy that should be to all clients, countries, and people. For instance, Solaun gave the example of the Hispanic culture. Solaun is Cuban and has focused her doctoral thesis on Hispanic culture with regards to CSR. "It's the Cuban paranoia," she says. Hispanics will almost never donate actual money to organizations, but will rather spend time and energy to donate physical items to help advance the given cause.

I bare witness to this on a personal level. My mother, a native of Colombia, has never donated money (to my knowledge) to a charity. However, she spent many years collecting old clothes and toys from our neighbors, family, and friends and would ship them (instead of her own luggage) to Colombia. We would personally distribute the items to orphanages around Bogota. In my mother's case, she grew up in a time when the Colombian government was struggling and corrupt. She is n
ot trusting
of large entities, and, like most Hispanics, wants to see where exactly her help is going and how it is being used.

The most important part of "glocalizing" a CSR program is making sure you understand the client's perspective of themselves, their culture, their business, their beliefs. Culture is a huge part of each society and it, many times, dictates how business within that society operate, what their customs are, and how they perceive community service and giving.

General Session C: Green Marketing Communications

By Jennifer Garvin, Quotes member

Wendy Cobrda and Amy Hebard, co-founders of EarthSense, LLC, illustrate the environmental, behavioral, social and public attitudes of the GREEN phenomena. They start off with the Eras of Green which are:
  1. Do no harm (environmentally)
  2. Doing well by doing green
  3. Using green as a strategy
Essentially, most consumers believe manufacturers are not taking enough responsibility for their harmful effects on the environment. According to data research by EarthSense, consumers choose not to participate in the green movement because they find it to be inconvenient and not accessible enough for their lives and daily occurrences. With that said, the goal is to fill the gap between consumer skepticism and confusion while enhancing a positive attitude and motivating actual behavior.

Wendy and Amy touched upon the 7 Sins of Greenwashing
  • Hidden trade offs (94%)
  • No proof (43%)
  • Vagueness (57%)Worshipping false labels (39%)
  • Irrelevance (11%)
  • Lesser of 2 evils (4%)Fibbing (0%)
These are the 7 sins and the percentage of products committing each sin. Scary.

Earthsense conducted a "biz indicator" which analyzed the "the corporate reality of consumer perceptions." The top ranked companies were:
  1. Amazon
  2. Apple
  3. Benjamin Moore
  4. Burt's Bees
  5. Discovery
Influencing these decisions are current trends, celebrities, social media, and general "buzz."

But more importantly, what does "Green" really mean? These factors determine a product's true green-ness:
  • What the product is made of (Compostable)
  • How the product is made (Production)
  • How the product is packaged (Packaging)
  • Where the product comes from (Distribution)
  • The environmental impact on the product (Consumption)
  • How the product is disposed (Disposal)
Being aware of these factors can greatly influence our understanding of the green movement and can hopefully make Americans wise consumers for many years to come. To learn more about EarthSense and the research they conduct, visit

General Session D: Re-branding the Tampa Bay Rays: New Name, New Logo, and New Attitude

"Batter up!" In this session, Tampa Bay Ray's VP of Marketing and Community Relations Tom Hoof began his lecture reflecting on the nostalgic experience of recreating the Rays' image and turning a broken brand into a championship team and company.

In 2006, the Rays went through an "Under Construction" campaign. They researched their previous name, " Tampa Bay Devil Rays" and realized a strong negative assocation between their name, "Devil Rays" and how fans spoke of them. When the fans spoke highly of the team they would exclaim, "Go Rays!" or "The Rays were great when... ." This led to the name change, "Tampa Bay Rays" and the new sunburst logo (a ray of light). To properly announce and educate the public on this new change they held a concert with Kevin Costner and his band; which inspired the "Summer Concert Series." They flooded the crowd and media with the new logo and name. To help the public engage the new brand a "Street Team" of college students was created, who were able to interact with children, as well as talk ball with season ticket holders.

The Rays campaign also featured (and currently features) promotion through different mediums, including:
  • TV, print, and radio
  • Outdoor
  • New media
  • Social networking
  • Experiential marketing

In addition to being active within the community, the players themselves dedicate time to the community on a personal level. Upon signing with the Rays, each player must agree to a contract requiring them to donate a part of their salary back to the community. They are also given the opportunity to use their donations towards their own pet project. Overall, the campaign Hoof and his team designed was very successful. (The winning season helped!) Ticket sales increased 40 percent from their media campaign and the morale of the fans grew tremendously in the past few years.

As students with a passion in the sports marketing and community relations industry we greatly enjoyed this session. For more information on the Tampa Bay Rays visit

Closing Session: Coming from a Position of Strength

By Michelle Khouri, Quotes president

In the last session of the day, presented by Carolyn Shaffer and titled “Coming from a Position of Strength,” we learned valuable lessons on how to grow by working on our natural talents. Shaffer started her presentation with a story about a rabbit that goes to school. The rabbit is enrolled in swim class, climbing class, and running class. Naturally, the rabbit excels with running, but fails at climbing and swimming, even after repeatedly trying. The moral of the story: the rabbit was made to run and was naturally good at it. Shaffer teaches about the strength movement, where the saying “You can be anything you want to be if you try hard enough,” shifts to the more realistic saying, “You can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be more of who you are.”

First, Shaffer offered definitions to the following terminology:

  • Knowledge: what we know (transferrable)
  • Skill: what you can do (transferrable)
  • Talent: natural way of thinking and behaving
  • Strength: the ability to consistently provide near perfect performance
  • Weakness: anything that gets in the way of excellent performance

The most important part of the strength movement is knowing exactly what is a strength and what is not. Something is most likely not your strength if:

  • It doesn’t come naturally
  • It is consistently difficult, sometimes even seemingly impossible
  • It is energy draining
  • It is confidence-reducing
  • Repeated experience shows little improvement

Some tips she offers us for how to work from a position of strength is to spend some time observing ourselves and others to figure out what makes us or them tick; link strengths to performance goals, and leverage them accordingly; reevaluate so-called weaknesses in order to see how to best manage them; and finally, keep the focus!

“How would you like to spend your day? Playing with your strengths or wrestling with your weaknesses,” asks Shaffer, “It’s a rhetorical question.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Breakout 2B: Meeting the Challenge: Employee to Employer!

By Armando Diaz, Quotes treasurer and Denise Galang, Quotes director of special events

Every day many people wake up to the same routine working a 9-to-5 job while they secretly wish they had the courage to plunge into their dreams of owning and running their own business. The session we just attended addressed the questionable risks involved in taking this big leap while also calming the nerves of those professionals ready to take their career to the next level and into their own hands.

Joe Curley, APR, CPRC, senior corporate communications council, Universal Parks and Resorts International and Jackie Kelvington, president of Kelvington consulting group, gave an insider's point of view on opening your dream public relations business. They mentioned the many reasons why current public relations practitioners decide to leave the comfort of their offices for the freedom of a self-owned business. For Kelvington, spending more quality time with her family and friends had the largest impact on becoming a self-employed public relations practitioner. Kelvington mentioned a her top three reasons for opening a self-operating public relations consulting group:

  • You set your own work schedule/hours

  • The possibility for more money

  • You chose your own clients

However, Curley also mentioned the downsides one may face when taking this risk. Some of the more important risks current public relations entrepreneurs must keep in mind are:

  • You lose the daily “office” environment

  • Paying for your own health care/memberships

  • You may have to rely on sales in order to meet and work new clients

  • A large individual workload may hamper your overall success and income

This panel discussion filled the voids of curiosity for the many professionals who are ready to invest in a challenge as well as those whose never considered of becoming their own boss. Whichever category you belong in, the session was definitely beneficial to all public relations professionals. As students, we learned about both being in a company and being the company -- good knowledge to have for the future!

Breakout 3A: PR is Not Always Loved by Management: Ten Ways to Earn a Position on the Management Team

By Lauri Gagnon, Quotes vice president, and Amber Bloom, Quotes member

Joe Curley, APR, CPRC, a 35-year PR veteran, past state FPRA president and winner of the 2009 Past President's Award, delivered an applicable and enlightening presentation on how to create a "romance" between PR and Management in his session. Noting that "true PR is about satisfying the annoyed without annoying the satisfied," Curley emphasized PR as personal relationships.

His ten strategies to elevate PR to a valuable contributor to the management team included:
  1. Don't wait to be asked
  2. Know what keeps the CEO up at night
  3. Analyze the big picture, not just the snapshot
  4. Get involved in the company's policy making process
  5. Lead the function of environmental scanning
  6. Serve as the conscience of the organization
  7. Develop and present action-oriented "decision making" information
  8. Know everything you can about your company's operations
  9. Monitor the direct competition and the marketplace
  10. Focus all of your PR activities

Curley closed his session with a personal case study. One of his clients, Universal Studios, was on the verge of opening their new attraction, Twister, when disaster struck Central Florida. Forty-one people were killed when tornadoes tore through a local town. Curley and his client were forced to face a difficult decision: should they go ahead with the opening of the natural disaster-themed ride or postpone it? He discussed the ethical dilemmas he faced in making his recommendation to postpone the opening. Even though the company would lose the movie stars for the opening, they decided to suspend it temporarily. The story was picked up by news outlets around the country and Universal Studios secured more publicity than they had anticipated. The end result was a positive image for the company, which saved more than $1 million on the opening of the ride and were left with a clean conscience.

Breakout 5C: Today's Public Relations Agency: Partner not Predator

by Amber Bloom, Quotes member

Deirdre Breakenridge is youthful and well-known in the industry; an accurate representative for what she's presenting, social media. The president of PFS Marketwyse agency and author of numerous books, Breakenridge speaks about putting the public back in public relations. The vastness of the Internet and constantly-growing plethora of networks only allows for a brief introduction into this subject. She offers solutions through changing professionals' attitudes, education and technology. The more PR professionals can adapt, the more valuable they become to their clients and their company; this helps in the constant struggle to prove PR's worth to top management.

The new hybrid of PR roles include: social media professional, market analyzer, web marketer, customer service representative, relationship marketer, viral marketer, conversationalist and listener. There is more emphasis on sociology than technology to customize consumers' outlets. For more information about Breakenridge's information, click on the "Partner Not Predator" link under FPRA Conference Resources in the right column of this blog.

Breakout 2A: APR -- Your Future, Your Career, Your Opportunity

By Michelle Khouri, Quotes president

In this session, presented by Jeff Nall, APR, CPRC, vice president of accrediation and certification for the FPRA executive board, I got to learn about the intricacies of becoming Accredited in Public Relations. Nall opened up the session with a short game of "Who Wants to be an APR?" a fun PR-oriented take on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The information session taught us about the process of studying for and obtaining the APR.

To obtain an APR, PR professionals must refer to the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which is responsible for granting accreditations. APR is currently the only accrediation available for PR professionals. You'll be happy to know that the APR title is a lifelong designation with minimal maintenance quizzes every three years.

As students, we may consider anything past undergrad or even graduate school as a distant future. The truth is, the PR field is becoming more competitive by the year. As stated in an earlier post, this past year has proven to have the most accredited and certified members of FPRA in history. The following benefits of becoming an APR might persuade you to consider it as an eventual step upward:

  • The APR designation shows knowledge, skills and abilities in key PR areas.

  • Employers prefer you have the designation, as it shows professionalism and expertise.

  • Let's face it, the APR designation is an incredible personal accomplishment, and can add to a long list of personal achievements you are already compiling.

An important note is the suggested time at which we should pursue this title. About two years ago the UAB required that applicants have five years of professional experience. You might be happy to know that this requirement is no more, although it is suggested that you have three-five years of experience.

So what is involved with pursuing your APR?

  • Application: $25 application fee, $385 one-time payment, or two installments of $205

  • Preparation: study, study, study

  • Portfolio: this is one campaign or project that shows the depth of your experience

  • Readiness review: you will present your state of "readiness" to a panel of three APRs about a month before your exam. They will dissect which areas need more attention, and which are ready to go!

  • Exam: self-explanatory

For more information about APR, go to or

Breakout 1B: Setting Up Online Press Rooms as Part of Your Company's Web Site

By Lauri Gagnon, Quotes vice president

Online press rooms are often a company's first line of defense for communicating with the media. Ninety-eight percent of surveyed reporters attested to the importance of a press room. Their job is to find the facts for their story and, just like us, seek speed in obtaining it. How many times a day do we go on Google and expect to get lucky on our first search? For the media, checking a company's web site is easier than picking up the phone; therefore, we must ensure the information there is both accessible and clear when they don't come to us directly. A well composed site can become respected by journalists and, more importantly, viewed as a valuable resource or expert source for the subject.

Caron Sjoberg, president of Ideaworks, a marketing consulting group, imparted her advice on the subject during her session titled, "Setting Up Online Press Roomsas Part of Your Company's Web Site." She noted that online press rooms can often be a journalist's best resource because they are available around the clock, can target specific industries, provide story ideas and facts, include archives and can be their first resource to find an expert in a crisis. Ten of the essentials to include on either the home page or within one click (to avoid excessive navigation) are:

  • Contact information

  • Search archives

  • Background information

  • Product information

  • FAQ

  • Photos

  • Crisis communications

  • Events/calendar

  • Executive bios

The site should be easy to find and avoid any sign-in access to the news room. The most insightful suggestion I saw was to provide an expert finder window to build credibility for clients. The overall concepts that everyone can come away with are keeping any content current, succint and to the point.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Welcome to the 71st Annual FPRA Conference, PR on F.I.R.E.!

By Michelle Khouri, Quotes President

Karen Smittle, Accredited Public Relations (APR), vice president of conference planning, made a grand entrance with the 2009 FPRA conference committee. Holding a fake torch with the letters “PR” on it, Smittle jogged into the ballroom to the sound of pulsing music, her committee following her. They all lined up on the stage, and so was marked the beginning (although not officially) of the 71st FPRA Annual Conference.

After introducing her committee, Smittle welcomed FPRA State President Lanette Hart onto the stage. Hart conducted the business of a usual meeting, including officially commencing the conference, giving highlights of the past year (fun fact: this past year held a record-breaking number of newly accredited and certified members), disclosing financial information (FPRA is going strong!), and inviting Executive Directors Cheray Keyes-Shima and Christopher Carroll, both APR and CPRC, to the stage for a quick report about the state of the board. Finally, the incoming board was sworn in and the conference was ready to roll!