Demystifying the APR Computer-Based Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations: From Blueprint to Publication

APR

“The Examination is outdated!”

Have you heard that? Thought it? Said it? All of the above? We have too. “We” being the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB); and we have begun the very lengthy process to significantly update the Examination to ensure that all questions are current, relevant to the profession, accurate and valid. I’ll walk you through the process of how we are doing that, but first let me dispel the misconception that the Examination hasn’t been updated in years. We actually update the Examination in small ways throughout the year. More on that in a minute.

Let me start with the framework for the questions. We have a document called the blueprint. The blueprint lists each of the KSAs — the areas of knowledge, skills and abilities — that a candidate needs to successfully pass the Examination. And each of the KSAs has specific learning objectives — specific statements about what we are going to ask a candidate in this area.

For example, under the current KSA of RPIE, one of the learning objectives is Audience Identification and Communication. What we are trying to determine here is if the candidate can identify appropriate audiences and the opinions, beliefs, attitudes, cultures and values of each, and if the candidate can prioritize and properly sequence communications to different audiences.

Under the current KSA of Ethics and Law, one of the learning objectives is Integrity. Here the questions are going to be written to determine if the candidate recognizes and deals professionally with ethical and legal issues.

The current blueprint has 10 KSAs and a total of 43 objectives. Each objective has approximately three to five questions on the Examination. The proposed changes reduce the number of KSAs to six, and once approved, the number of objectives also could be reduced; however, the number of questions on the Examination will fluctuate very little, if at all.

Once we know what areas are going to be tested, we begin the process of item-writing, literally soliciting potential Examination questions. We seek input from subject matter experts and invite them to submit potential questions. In the past, questions were submitted by “the usual suspects” — current and former UAB members, those who had participated in the past, and Accredited friends and colleagues that we persuaded into volunteering a few hours of their time. In an effort to expand this pool of usual suspects, we’ve put a link on the Mentors/Teach section of the UAB website (PRAccreditation.org) that allows all practitioners to submit potential questions.

Item-writing sounds easier than it is, which perhaps is why the group willing to participate has remained small over the years. Each question needs to be supported through a reference in one of the books on our bookshelf. That not only validates the questions, but ensures that each question can be legally defended if we ever were challenged by someone who didn’t pass the Examination. To defend a question and its answer by saying, “Well, everyone knows that,” doesn’t quite cut it.

Once questions are written, they go through a technical review process. We assemble a panel of six to eight APRs to review each question and the answer options. We want to ensure that each question meets its objective; that it is clear and unambiguous, that it is challenging enough so that a person who is qualified to pass the Examination will answer it correctly, but a person who is not qualified to pass the Examination usually will not answer it right. We want to ensure that the correct answer is clearly right and the wrong answers are clearly wrong but not implausible. If a particular answer is too ridiculously incorrect, then no one will choose it. Likewise, providing choices with two answers that both could be right would not make a good question.

Each technical review session is booked for two hours, and we typically complete four to six questions per hour. (If this interests you, the volunteer line forms to the right.)

Once the questions are written and reviewed, they go into the testing cycle as beta questions. About a quarter of the Examination’s questions in any administration are in the beta phase. The candidate answers the question, but the answer — right or wrong — does not factor into his or her final score, because we don’t know yet if it is a statistically valid question. Of the 194 questions on the current Examination, there are 54 beta questions.

After at least 100 administrations of the Examination, our psychometrician conducts an in-service analysis of the entire Examination to provide statistics on how each question scored. The technical review panels are convened again to review the beta questions, but this time we have statistics behind them. For example, if few of the people who passed the Examination got a particular question correct, then that question is probably poorly structured or simply too hard; or if many of the candidates who failed the Examination got a particular question right, it’s probably too easy; or if most of the candidates who took the Examination did not select answer option D for a given question, that could be a bad distractor or a bad wrong answer. The technical review team might tweak the question a little bit — make the wrong answers more wrong, the right answers more clearly right, reword it entirely or throw out the question.

If a question is edited enough to influence how the next candidate would answer it (more than just making AP Style or similar corrections), it goes back into cycle again as a beta question. If it tests well, it can become a scored question.

This process of statistical validation occurs after at least 100 individual administrations of the Examination for all questions, not just the betas. A question that could have tested well for years, and many 100-application cycles, could begin to show poor results, perhaps because it’s no longer relevant or the aspect of the profession that it addresses has changed to the point that the question no longer is accurate. That question would be flagged for the technical review and be subject to revision. This is what I referenced when I mentioned early on that we do review and update the Examination in small ways on an ongoing basis. The Examination is always in a state of review and revision and being updated in small ways.

So if the Examination is always in a state of review and revision, what’s the excitement about this year?

The excitement is that we are proposing fundamental changes to the KSAs for the first time. When the KSAs change, the objectives must be revised. When the objectives change, all the existing questions must be realigned with new objectives so that their statistics match. Some questions might not align with a new objective, so they would need to be eliminated. And there could be new objectives that don’t have enough questions in the bank, so they would need new questions.

In addition to this realignment, the UAB’s Examination work group conducted an exhaustive review last summer of all of the scored questions to determine if they are current, relevant and accurate. Many that have been testing well were determined to need updating or serious rewriting; and when we make changes to a question, we’re back to beta (see above).

We’re talking about a significant number of new questions being offered this year, and with considerably more than one-fourth of the Examination having new, untested questions, we’re no longer looking at the existing Examination. We’re looking at an entirely new Examination, which translates to a full-on beta.

So once we get to this point of having a full beta Examination, we submit that new Examination to the testing center, which needs 90 days to prepare it for testing. This is called the publishing phase. Once it’s been published, we need another cycle of 100 candidates to take the beta Examination. Unlike the “regular” Examination in which none of the candidates have earned their APR, we need about 50 already-Accredited candidates to take the beta Examination to help validate the questions. Once we’ve completed the 100-application cycle, our psychometrician conducts another in-service analysis, we convene new technical review panels and tweak the questions, and we republish. Again. In between these phases, we also set the cut score, which is the threshold at which we determine what will be a passing score.

During the beta-test phase, the current Examination still will be available for candidates to take. Once the beta Examination is ready to be republished as the new APR Examination, we will have a temporary blackout window in which the Examination will not be available. This likely will be in the fourth quarter of 2015.

There are considerable steps in the process, some of which are controlled by the UAB (item-writing, technical reviews) and some which are not (in-service analysis, publishing). We’ve set an ambitious goal of having all of this completed in 2015 so that a new Examination can be ready by January 2016. And this just covers the Examination itself. In order for candidates sitting for the new Examination to prepare adequately, we need to update our study guide, the online course, Accreditation chair resources, and so on …

Hopefully I’ve demystified at least a few aspects of the Examination for you and shed some light on why we can’t just put out a new Examination sooner than 2016. In the event I’ve gone further and inspired the writer/editor in you to want to be part of the item-writing or technical review processes, please let me know. The invitation is open, and the UAB welcomes you to participate in this process.

 

Kathleen M. Giery, APR, CPRC
Chair, Universal Accreditation Board Examination Work Group
gieryk@lifequest.ufl.edu

Top 10 Reasons to Renew Your FPRA Membership

#FPRA Renewed_ standing ladyr

#FPRArenewed… Did You Renew?
By Mary Dorn, APR, VP Member Services

At 993 professional members and 173 student members, FPRA’s fiscal year is off to a great start in membership, with the Pensacola Chapter taking the lead at a more than 70 percent renewal rate. Thanks, Devon Chestnut, APR, VP of Technology, for our outstanding social media renewal campaign, #FPRArenewed. Soon, she will announce the $50 gift card drawing winner from the renewed members who used the special hashtag before October 31.

If you haven’t updated your membership, it has expired. There is still time to renew before December 31, when FPRA’s State Office removes non-renewals from its database, and to save money by avoiding the additional $25 reprocessing fee after that date. Please don’t wait until the busy holidays. Renewal online is easy at fpra.org.

Still undecided? Here are the Top 10 Reasons to Renew, provided by the Ocala Chapter:

  1. Network of public relations professionals (the #1 reason why recent survey respondents renew annually)
  2. Annual State Conference
  3. Regular chapter meetings
  4. State/local professional development meetings and state Webinars
  5. Local chapters throughout Florida
  6. State/local recognition
  7. Resourceful websites:  fpra.org and chapters’ sites
  8. Exclusive access to Professional Resources:  the White Paper, e-newsletters, etc.
  9. Counselor’s Network (which recently took an insiders tour of Universal’s Hallowscream)
  10. Professional Accreditation (Including a $100 testing fee rebate exclusively for FPRA members! If a professional is using the APR designation after her name, she must be a member of one of the UAB approved associations).

Congratulations to Immediate Past President Chris Gent, APR, CPRC!

Osceola Business Awards

Congratulations to immediate past president Chris Gent, APR, CPRC, who was one of three finalists for Osceola County’s 2014 Business Person of the Year Award. The award honors the achievements of an individual in Osceola County who exemplifies exceptional leadership within his or her business and beyond, and who has given of his/her time and expertise in making a better community. Chris serves as vice president of corporate communications for Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida’s sixth largest municipally-owned electric utility.

 

Renew Your Membership & Win!

Have You Renewed Your FPRA Membership?

If so, tell us one reason why. Post your reason on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Make sure you tag FPRA and included #FPRArenewed. All eligible entries will be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift card!

#FPRA Renewed_ sign up lady

How to Participate:
•Renew your FPRA membership by Oct. 31, 2014
•Share one reason why you renewed by posting on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. You can earn up to three (3) entries by posting to all three social media channels.
•You must tag FPRA in your post and include #FPRArenewed
•#FPRArenewed contest ends on Oct. 31, 2014

Chapters can win too:
Chapters with at least 50% of their renewed members participating in the #FPRArenewed contest will earn 2 points towards the Chapter Challenge.
Example: If your chapter has 50 renewed members and 25 participate in the #FPRArenewed contest, your chapter wins 2 points towards the Chapter Challenge.

Renew online at fpra.org or by sending in your completed renewal form.
Deadline: October 31, 2014

Tweeting Out the Love! A Collection of #WeLovePhotoJoe Tweets

When we honored “Photo Joe” Gallagher at this year’s annual conference, attendees showed their love by tweeting with the hashtag #WeLovePhotoJoe. We’ve made it easy for you to read the tweets by compiling them here…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closing Session: Power Branding: Leveraging the Success of the World’s Best Brands

By Ginny Cooper

Steve McKeeProclaiming he “comes in peace, even though he is from the world of ads,” author Steve McKee discussed “Power Branding: Leveraging the Success of the World’s Best Brands” in the closing session.

Why should we care about branding? The usual response is often that branding is the frou-frou, the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.  McKee contends that brand is the single most valuable asset any company owns. It’s unique, unlike any other asset. Other assets depreciate over time, but a brand, properly managed, need never depreciate; it appreciates. People misunderstand what brands are. The brand and the business are inextricably intertwined.

Cautioning the audience that he was “going to say nothing new today, nothing you don’t already know,” McKee shared his Power Branding Principles. Here are excerpts from three of them.

Meta Principle 1 – Power Brands Employ Insightful Analysis

It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what they think. We are not rational beings, we are emotional beings, and we “think” with our emotions first. McKee uses the acronym CERT to explain how we analyze and make buying decisions.

Context: the purchase process itself can change the purchase process.

The example McKee gave was a personal one, of buying a basketball shoe for his son. His son chose a Nike shoe promoted by Dennis Rodman. Wanting his son to emulate a better role model, McKee steered him toward a Grant Hill shoe.

Car purchases are another good example of how a purchase decision is driven by emotions.

The context sets the expectations.

Expectations: research is a compass, not a map

A study conducted at the University of Michigan proved that the expectation of a Hershey’s Kiss being the “last” piece of chocolate to be eaten was more enjoyable than the “next” piece of chocolate to be consumed.

A study conducted at CalTech proved that price influences perception when three kinds of wine were poured into five glasses and assigned five different price points.  Participants rated the highest-priced wine as the best, regarding price as an indicator of value.

Endeavoring to prove that mind-set matters, Harvard conducted a study of hotel maids, giving each maid a physical exam. One group was told how many calories they would burn with each task they accomplished; the other was not. When the groups were re-examined, the first group (told how many calories they would burn) had lower blood pressure readings, lower body mass index, and other indicators of better health.

Risks:  expectations set our risk profile

Trust is built on familiarity and destroyed by exploitation. Branding is built on trust.

If you know it and they know it, admit it. Examples given: Avis rental cars’ iconic “We Try Harder” campaign; fictional spokesman Joe Isuzu, a pathological liar used in a series of television advertisements for Isuzu cars and trucks.

Tradeoffs:  try to mitigate risk by tradeoff; people don’t always know why they do what they do but that doesn’t mean they don’t do it

  • Shortcuts – complexity is the enemy of comprehension
  • Don’t use bullet points!
  • People settle on the middle
  • Brand = shortcut
  • Operate within their context

Meta Principle 2 – Power Brands Pursue Transcendent Relevance

  • The way it has always been done is not the way it always needs to be done
  • The Internet of things…1 percent of what can be connected IS connected – Cisco
  • Good intentions don’t justify bad strategy
  • You have two minutes to cut your rates and two years to get them back
  • In the price/value equation it’s the denominator that counts
  • Raising your price may actually enhance your appeal (Example: Michelin tires)
  • Your most important target audience is the people who have your brand on their name tags (employee culture); “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker; “Control the media and you’ll control the culture” – Francis Schaeffer
  • Contradiction kills credibility – You can’t be a luxury brand and set up outlets

Meta Principle 3 – Power Brands Use Executional Inventiveness

  • Be careful that your promise isn’t seen as a dare
  • The lines between journalism, advertising, and  entertainment are becoming increasingly blurred
    • American Idol is a 17-week long ad
    • The Lego Movie is a 90 minute commercial
    • Farmed and Dangerous on Hulu is Chipotle Mexican Grill’s webisode series
    • If you have to offer someone a discount to do business with you, that’s not loyalty. Good examples of brand loyalty:
      • HOG (Harley Owners Group)
      • Chick-fil-A
      • Win the heart and the mind will follow; the emotions outlast the events that generate the emotions. Good examples:
        • Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World”

McKee closed by asking and answering three questions:

What is branding?

  • What ISN’T branding? Nothing is not branding.

Who controls the brand?

  • Nobody

When is branding done (finishes)?

  • Never

We have our work cut out for us!

s-mckeeABOUT STEVE McKEE

Steve McKee is the president of McKee Wallwork & Company, an integrated marketing firm that specializes in revitalizing stalled, stuck and stale brands.

A columnist for Businessweek.com since 2003, McKee is also the author of When Growth Stalls: How it Happens, Why You’re Stuck and What To Do About It, an award-winning business book now published in four languages. His new book, Power Branding:Leveraging the Success of the World’s Best Brands, was released by Palgrave Macmillan in January.

A marketing strategist for nearly 30 years, McKee has held executive positions at notable agencies including NW Ayer, Della Femina and a division of McCann-Erickson Worldwide. McKee Wallwork & Company has made the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America and has twice won the prestigious Effie Award for marketing effectiveness from the American Marketing Association. McKee has been published or quoted in The New York Times, USA Today, Advertising Age, Adweek, Investor’s Business Daily and The Los Angeles Times, among others, and he has appeared on CNBC, ESPN2, CNNfn, Bloomberg and network television affiliates across America.

 

The 2014 Golden Image Awards

FPRA celebrated the best of the best in public relations programming at the 2014 Golden Image Awards on August 12, 2014. Below is a list of the winners. Photos from the awards gala can be viewed here. Congratulations to Suzanne Sparling, APR, CPRC on wining the 2014 John W. Dillin Award; Laura Puerto, APR on winning the Doris Fleischman Award; and to Tina Banner, APR, CPRC on being named the 2014 Member of the Year!

DIVISION A

PUBLIC RELATIONS PROGRAM

Dick Pope All Florida Golden Image Award

StarMetro Electric Bus Campaign
Kelly Robertson; Tom Derzypolski; Amanda Handley

COMMUNITY RELATIONS

Golden Image Award

KUA Cumbie Canine Court
Chris M. Gent, APR, CPRC; Kayla Torpey; Kissimmee Utility Authority

Award of Distinction

NMEDA National Mobility Awareness Month Campaign
evok advertising; National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association

Flowers for Alzheimer’s Fundraiser
Lila Ivey; Lisa Varner

Judges’ Award

Flowers for Alzheimer’s Fundraiser
Lila Ivey; Lisa Varner

PUBLIC SERVICE

Golden Image Award

Don’t Miss the Signs Campaign
Sachs Media Group

Change for Change Campaign
City of Tallahassee

Award of Distinction

I’m In Campaign Launch
Moore Communications Group

Community Conversations on Transportation
Cynthia Lambert, APR; Mary Ann Horne; MetroPlan Orlando

INSTITUTIONAL

Golden Image Award

StarMetro Electric Bus Campaign
Kelly Robertson; Tom Derzypolski; Amanda Handley

Award of Distinction

SWFAS and Lee Mental Health Become SalusCare
Kevin B. Lewis, SalusCare, Inc.;
Todd Cordisco, SalusCare, Inc.;
Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

CareerSource Florida Rebrand
CareerSource Florida Region; Moore Communications Group; Team Ideas

Judges’ Award

SWFAS and Lee Mental Health Become SalusCare
Kevin B. Lewis, SalusCare, Inc.;
Todd Cordisco, SalusCare, Inc.;
Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

Healthy Minds. Healthy Community Mental Health Awareness Walk
Jessica Boles

PUBLIC INFORMATION

Golden Image Award

Florida KidCare Back to School Campaign
Sachs Media Group

Award of Distinction

Celebrating UCF’s First Doctors
UCF News & Information

CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS

Golden Image Award

Mass Killing Averted: Communicating a Campus Crisis
UCF News & Information

Florida High School Athletic Association
Sachs Media Group

Judges’ Award

Mass Killing Averted: Communicating a Campus Crisis
UCF News & Information

INTERNAL

Award of Distinction

CR3 Retirement Announcement Internal Communications Plan
Duke Energy Corporate Communications; Crystal River Nuclear Plant

Health First Fights the Flu
Jeni Hatter; Laura Manning; MTN Advertising

The Branding of the REALTOR® Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach
Samantha Scott, APR; Tiffany Whitaker

PROMOTIONAL / MARKETING

Golden Image Award

The Porch Light
Jerry Haag; Bryan Gunn; Katy Martin

Award of Distinction

Mega CPE Conference
Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Rock & Roll Heaven Self Promotion Campaign
Sachs Media Group

Judges’ Award

Mega CPE Conference
Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants

PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Award of Distinction

Opposition to Florida Speed Limit Legislation
Karen Morgan, APR; Kevin Bakewell, APR

SPECIAL EVENTS

Golden Image Award

Drive Electric Orlando Launch Event
Curley & Pynn

Award of Distinction

Ford ARTcycle
Moore Communications Group

Running from the cops never felt so good!
Marie Kennedy; m.creativepr; Sixth Annual Cops & Joggers 5K

Footsteps to Freedom Event
City of Tallahassee; Leon County

Judges’ Award

Running from the cops never felt so good!
Marie Kennedy; m.creativepr; Sixth Annual Cops & Joggers 5K

OTHER

Award of Distinction

PACE Love That Dress! 5
CONRIC PR & Marketing | Publishing; Connie Ramos-Williams; Kendra Sutton

DIVISION B

PRINTED TOOLS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Grand Golden Image Award

Savor South Walton Champion Awards
Angela Vaughn, Jon Ervin

ANNUAL REPORT

Golden Image Award

Florida Healthy Kids Annual Report
Sachs Media Group

Award of Distinction

Rayonier Sustainability Report
Taproot Creative; Rayonier

BROCHURE

Golden Image

Goodwill Manasota Veterans Resource Guide
Yen Reed

Award of Distinction

Meet YOU in South Walton
Carley McMillian; Pamela Watkins; Shannon Hagen

Judges’ Award

Meet YOU in South Walton
Carley McMillian; Pamela Watkins; Shannon Hagen

Goodwill Manasota Veterans Resource Guide
Yen Reed

MAGAZINE

Golden Image Award

Florida A&M University: A&M Magazine
Alonda Thomas; Kanya Stewart; Charles Collins

Award of Distinction

florida.HIGH.TECH 2013
Curley & Pynn

LCBA Res Gestae Magazine
CONRIC PR & Marketing | Publishing; Connie Ramos-Williams; Nanci DuBois

Judges’ Award

Florida Hospital Best in Care Magazine
Florida Hospital Best in Care Team

NEWS RELEASE

Golden Image Award

SWFAS and Lee Mental Health Become SalusCare
Kevin B. Lewis, SalusCare, Inc.;
Todd Cordisco, SalusCare, Inc.;
Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

Community First Cares Foundation News Release
Maria Coppola, APR, CPRC

Award of Distinction

I’m In News Release
Emily Read; Terrie Ard

Nik Wallenda Grand Canyon Training
Visit Sarasota County

Judges’ Award

NETC Navy College Office Survey Release
Ed Barker

SWFAS and Lee Mental Health Become SalusCare
Kevin B. Lewis, SalusCare, Inc.;
Todd Cordisco, SalusCare, Inc.;
Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

Reginald Hardee News Release
Chris M. Gent, APR, CPRC; Kayla Torpey; Kissimmee Utility Authority

SPECIALTY ITEM

Golden Image Award

Savor South Walton Champion Awards
Angela Vaughn; Jon Ervin

Award of Distinction

Don’t fear the Finger – Three Year Campaign
Ginya Carnahan, APR, CPRC

Catch the Rhythm
Sandra Manning; Lavonia Jones; Lorin Pratt

Judges’ Award

Don’t Fear the Finger – Three Year Campaign
Ginya Carnahan, APR, CPRC

Savor South Walton Champion Awards
Angela Vaughn; Jon Ervin

Catch the Rhythm
Sandra Manning; Lavonia Jones; Lorin Pratt

OTHER

Golden Image Award

Lucy & Leo’s Brand Style Guide
Taproot Creative; Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery

Award of Distinction

2013 Business Ethics Award Application for Ted Todd Insurance Agency
Gail M. Dolan; Ted A. Todd

Judges’ Award

2013 Business Ethics Award Application for Ted Todd Insurance Agency
Gail M. Dolan; Ted A. Todd

Brightway Insurance Pitch to Kiplinger’s
Marjorie Comer; Jason Mudd, APR; The Axia Public Relations Team

Lucy & Leo’s Brand Style Guide
Taproot Creative; Lucy & Leo’s Cupcakery

NMEDA National Mobility Awareness Month Dealer Toolkit
evok advertising; National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association

DIVISION C

AUDIO / VISUAL / ONLINE TOOLS OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Grand Golden Image Award

Change for Change PSA
City of Tallahassee

ONLINE AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

Golden Image Award

Ocala/Marion County VCB Social Media Engagement
evok advertising; Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau

Award of Distinction

Springs Instagram Contest
Michele Sager; Allen Yarbrough; Robyn Felix

PlayStation 4 Launch on SCEA Blog Wins the Hearts and Minds of Gamers
Rebeca Mueller; Voce Communications

Disney Parks Blog Live Coverage of the Monstrous Summer ‘All-Nighter’ 24-hour Event
Rebeca Mueller; Voce Communications

Get on the Love Boat
Tiffany Whitaker; Matt Mernin; Samantha Scott, APR

I Love Perdido Key Facebook
Perdido Key Chamber & Visitors Center; Ideawörks

Judges’ Award

BEach Social
Angela Vaughn; Jon Ervin

ONLINE PROMOTION

Golden Image Award

Ricky Carmicheal Racing Social Engagement Campaign
Sachs Media Group

ONLINE NEWSLETTER

Award of Distinction

FCCI Corporate Citizenship Report
FCCI Insurance Group, Marketing & Corporate Communications

VIDEO – INTERNAL

Award of Distinction

Health First Associates Go Kung Flu Fighting
Jeni Hatter; Laura Manning; MTN Advertising

VIDEO – PUBLIC SERVICE / MORE THAN ONE MINUTE

Golden Image Award

Footsteps to Freedom Documentary
City of Tallahassee; Thomas Bronakoski; Leann Watts Williams

VIDEO – PUBLIC SERVICE / ONE MINUTE OR LESS

Golden Image Award

Change for Change PSA
City of Tallahassee

Award of Distinction

SWFAS and Lee Mental Health Become SalusCare
SalusCare, Inc.;
Waterman Broadcasting;
Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

Judges’ Award

SWFAS and Lee Mental Health Become SalusCare
SalusCare, Inc.;
Waterman Broadcasting;
Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

Change for Change PSA
City of Tallahassee

VIDEO – INSTITUTIONAL

Golden Image

“Goodwill Thanks You” Video
Communications and Development Department, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida

Award of Distinction

CS&L CPAs Recruiting Video
CS&L CPAs

Judges’ Award

“Goodwill Thanks You” Video
Communications and Development Department, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida

CS&L CPAs Recruiting Video
CS&L CPAs

VIDEO – PROMOTIONAL / MARKETING

Golden Image Award

StarMetro Summer Wheels Pass
City of Tallahassee

Judges’ Award

StarMetro Summer Wheels Pass
City of Tallahassee

WEBSITE

Golden Image Award

CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion Website Redesign and Rebranded Redesign
Laura Byrnes, APR; CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion

Award of Distinction

Southwest Florida Water Management District Springs Website
Carrieann Adkins; Don Weaver; Robyn Felix

PRESENTATION

Award of Distinction

CFWI Webinar
Southwest Florida Water Management District; Mary Margaret Hull; Danny Kushmer

OTHER

Golden Image Award

DCPS Flexible Benefits Plan Reference Guide
FBMC Benefits Management

Award of Distinction

The Hipp Goes Digital
Alisha Kinman

DIVISION D

STUDENT PROJECTS IN PUBLIC RELATIONS

PUBLIC RELATIONS CAMPAIGN

Golden Image Award

Rebranding Campaign for the Imogene Theatre
Eileen Perrigo; Wellspring Public Relations Staff

PR Students Get Behind-the-scenes Look at PR Disney-style

By Heidi Taulman, APR

PR_Students_Go_To_Disney

For an hour and half, 45 students learned from eight top Walt Disney World public relations professionals in Celebration, FL at the business center that houses the public relations and sales teams for Walt Disney World Resorts.  Discussion was led by International Public Relations Director Todd Heiden, who has been with Walt Disney World Resorts for 24 years.

The message was clear – it is all about the strategy and Walt Disney World Resorts focuses on the details.  Guidelines, rules, strategy meetings, several layers of editing and more ensures that the Walt Disney World Brand is received the way it is intended.  All of the public relations teams work together to make sure all communications are consistent, goals are strategic and messaging is consistent throughout every facet of the parks and stakeholders.

The backdrop of the presentation was two recent media events including the Grand Opening of Fantasyland in Dec. 2012 and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Event in May of 2014.  The grand opening event for media had 950 international, domestic and local media attendees and garnered more than 4K hits across broadcast and online mediums. They used video and photos to continue the rollout for the general public.

One of the challenges of the new Fantasyland shared by PR Social Media Manager, Jennifer Fickley-Baker, was the fact that the initial release about the new Fantasyland was five years before construction was to be completed.  Strategy discussions included how to keep audience engaged and excited about the new parks.  Cast members created a weekly blog series that revealed first rides, construction drawings, construction sites and videos, special props and more, that became the #1 blog in Walt Disney World Resort history.  Leading up to the grand opening press event, the social media team incorporated sneak peeks for community groups, live chats and character meet ups and other digital content to generate interest, engagement and excitement.

Manager of External Communications Andrea Finger discussed business corporate strategy and messaging to its community and government stakeholders about what the new Fantasy Land meant to the community.  The new Fantasyland would more than double the existing acreage from 10-21 acres, the largest expansion of the Magic Kingdom in history.  She discussed key messages such as job creation, gross domestic product and how expansion will affect local and state businesses.

PR professionals also shared their career paths and what lead them to Walt Disney World and away at times. They touched on the vast array of job descriptions that PR pros can expect, size of the teams, how they interact and working with nearly 70K cast members throughout The Walt Disney World family.

Many team members spent time in television and print broadcast before landing at Walt Disney World Resort.  There are several dozen team members with the public relations departments for Walt Disney World;  and the social media team also manages 90 contractor authors to help write materials.  There are also separate PR teams in each of the countries where Walt Disney World Theme parks exist.

Students engaged with questions about how Disney handles celebrities, media, story-telling, pitching media, bloggers and more.  FPRA Student members got firsthand knowledge and a firsthand look at a day in the life of PR pros with Walt Disney World Resorts.

See other photos from the trip here.

 

General Session D: One Woman’s War Stories in Media PR: How to Get to the Top and Stay There

By Devon Chestnut, APR

The last session of the day featured a fireside chat with Shirley Powell, Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Weather Channel Companies. The fireside chat was moderated by FRPA’s own Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC. Powell addressed a variety of topics during the discussion, fielding questions and comments from Pynn and from the audience. Here’s a snapshot of some of the points made during the conversation:

• Women make up a majority of public relations positions but many of the top positions still belong to men. For whatever reason, women continue to face challenges obtaining those roles.

• Powell’s advice for young women, especially those questioning how to balance work/life obligations: You can never really balance work and life obligations. You can’t look at any given day and decide if you are successful at it or not. Any given day can be disastrous. One day ­ work wins. The next day ­ family wins. Look at it in big chunks. ­ Is my husband still speaking to me? Are my kids still speaking to me? Is my boss still speaking to me? ­Iif yes, you’ve won!

• What was it like working for a media company full of media people? While at CNN, anytime an internal memo was sent out, reporters always thought there was more to it – ­ they reached out to get the “real story,” even though it was just a memo. When there was real internal news, her team made sure to get the information to the reporters so they could be the first to break the news. You can’t have an outside news source break the news before your own reporters.

• When asked about the retransmission dispute between The Weather Channel and DirecTV, which was a very public battle, Powell noted that no one wins in these types of situations. Although both parties are trying to do what’s best for their consumers, the consumer is in the middle and uninterested in the basis of the battle. In this situation, The Weather Channel pulled a small crisis team together, meeting twice a day, for seven days, for three weeks.

• Powell shared the story of her biggest crisis. While at Turner, Cartoon Network’s marketing team did a marketing stunt for a show on Adult Swim which featured “light bright” figures placed in various cities around the country. In Boston, people began reporting what they thought were bombs located throughout the city. The bomb scare appeared all over the news and caused a panic within the city of Boston. It turned out that the “bombs” in question were actually the Adult Swim marketing pieces. The crisis required Powell to work three days straight in order to address and rectify the situation ­ including numerous radio and print statements.

• Powell believes that a public relations leader should report to the CEO, ­ not to marketing or human resources.

• When it comes to talent, Powell looks for intangible qualities. A good resume is important but it is only a point of entry. One trait that is critically important is desire to continuously learn, read, study. Another trait is a strong knowledge of what is going on “outside of the building.” People should have a broader view than just a press release.

• Powell was asked about the placement of The Weather Channel staff, ­ specifically Jim Cantore. Powell shared that Jim is sent to areas expected to receive the greatest impact from a weather condition. If you see Jim in your town, assume a storm is about to hit. With regard to the viral footage of Jim kneeing a rowdy fan, Jim was initially embarrassed by the situation but once it became viral, he loved the media it generated.

• Powell’s advice on how to get to the top and stay there:
⁃ react quickly
⁃ juggle lots of things
⁃ maintain an intellectual curiosity
⁃ add value

• Powell’s best piece of advice? People join companies but leave bosses. Do as much research on your potential boss as much as you would do on the company. You need to know who you are going to work for.

Shirley PowellABOUT SHIRLEY POWELL

As executive vice president of corporate communications for The Weather Channel Companies, Shirley Powell has executive oversight of all internal and external public relations, communication and social media strategies for the company’s valuable portfolio of consumer and business-to-business weather businesses including The Weather Channel, weather.com, wunderground.com and WSI.

With more than 25 years in the media industry, Powell’s understanding and broad experience play a critical role in taking the company’s message to key constituencies. Prior to Weather, Powell served as senior vice president of corporate communications for Turner Broadcasting System Inc. overseeing the strategy, development and implementation of TBS’s external messaging and serving as its chief spokesperson for networks and businesses such as CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network. She was also responsible for internal communication, as well as government affairs, corporate contributions and community relations. In addition, she held senior communication positions with NBC Entertainment and Disney Channel. Powell led publicity and helped launch large projects, such as the launch of Cartoon Network, Toon Disney, Nickelodeon Studio and Universal Studios Florida. She started her career at Curley & Pynn Public Relations.

Session 5C: Writing That Works: Communicating in a World of Audience ADD

By Lila Ivey

Doug WiliamsAuthorities will tell you, “Writing is a cosmic art.”

“Nonsense!” says author Doug Williams, and he’s got the statistics to prove it.

Doug’s premise: It’s better to be effective than to be good. Follow a few rules and you can be effective. One of his keystones is “Cognitive Ease vs. Cognitive Strain” from the book Thinking Fast and Slow. When the brain is at ease, it smiles. The key is to be concise, clear and simple upon a single read.

The Research: In 1980, the average attention span was 22 seconds. Then came MTV, so by 2000 the attention span dropped to 12 seconds; in 2013 it was 8 seconds; and in 2014, it’s just 2.8 seconds. The Internet has contributed even more to our ADD with page views lasting less than 4 seconds. On YouTube you’ve lost your audience in 10 seconds.

KISS – More facts substantiate that rule: 75 percent of all words are one syllable, so use them. The brain will smile more if you use single-syllable words.

How about sentences? Readers assimilate in 18-word blocks, so average 15-17 words. Use the Breath Test. Read your sentences aloud. If you have to take a breath, insert a period. You will get 100 percent comprehension with even shorter sentences, such as eight words. Your goal is to write at the 6th to 7th grade level; 4th grade is even better, but that doesn’t mean you are writing for a fourth grader. It means you’re using words brilliantly to achieve the highest level of understanding.

Paragraphs? 1-4 lines; 1-2 sentences; 17-40 words. No such thing as a minimum length. Online? Just 40-55 characters per line. Big blocks of gray will never be read. White space and good line spacing will guide the eye and make the brain smile ever wider.

People don’t ready, they scan. The eye starts in the upper left and scans down to the lower right, so write for the eye with:

  • White space
  • Short text bocks
  • Bullet points (three is good, max out at 5; never 7)
  • Boldface value statement
  • Quote-outs
  • Subheads
  • Ragged right copy

Writing well is like writing in headlines. Study The New York Times. Every line is a headline.

Reading web pages. Studies show that the eye/brain reads the first paragraph, then the left side of the second paragraph, and then it “bulletizes” text and slides into the inverted pyramid of scanning. An infrared image of the brain reading a web page forms an F-shape.

Write like you speak. Be conversational.

  • Use contractions
  • Personalize
  • Loosen sentence structure
  • Read it aloud
  • Be audience appropriate

The best way to edit is to read your copy aloud. All the errors will show up. Doug also says it’s just fine to start sentences with “And” or “But.” He swears it’s okay…because that’s the way we speak. Doug says we need to forget about the Latin rules of not splitting infinitives and revering formalities created by 17th century British bishops.

The “elevator message” is dead. We have to speed it up:

  • One-word equity – find the one word that captures the essence of your message.
  • Rhymes e.g., Woes unite foes; life is mostly strife, if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit (this is called process fluency and the brain not only understands it, it also believes it)
  • Start with a question – engages the reader and makes them think
  • Frame the Message – once upon a time, every day, one day, because of that (repeat two or more times); until finally (this is the PIXAR six-part sequence) – leading to the conclusion.

 Seven writing mistakes:

  • Masked verbs – reach a decision; come to a conclusion, verbs are the pivotal part of a sentence so use strong ones
  • Problem structure – This is and There are – very weak ways to begin a sentence
  • Intruders – situation, conditions, schedule
  • Useless distinctions – avoid using vague words
  • Writer-centered words – use simple, not 50-cent words
  • Adverbs are not your friends…avoid words that end in  – ly
  • Prepositional phrases – delete!

Doug WiliamsABOUT DOUG WILLIAMS

Doug Williams is president of Fuse 5, a Houston-based marketing, public relations, writing, training and special events firm. His background includes writing in a comprehensive range of media in multiple industry sectors, and he is a frequent speaker and leads communication related training seminars throughout North America. He’s also a novelist, playwright, filmmaker and award-winning screenwriter. Williams is a former journalist, editor and columnist; worked as a press secretary in the U.S. Senate; and served as chief creative writer and senior vice president for public relations and public affairs at a large regional advertising agency. Additionally, he has managed corporate communications, branding and marketing functions in both the public and private sectors, representing for-profit and not-for-profit entities.