public relations

4 PR Tips from NASA’s Lisa Malone


UF PRSSA was honored to have guest speaker Lisa Malone, the director of public affairs at NASA, speak about her experiences and share some of her wisdom. Malone spreads awareness across the country of NASA’s latest projects, launches, live shots and more through both traditional and social media. Malone was a journalism major and wrote for her university’s newspaper, started as an intern for NASA and got hired afterwards.

Here are 4 public relations tips that Malone suggested for college students entering the real world:

  1. Internships. Internships. Internships!

Launch your college career with an internship; it’s all about the real-life experiences you have rather than learning something in a classroom. Recruiters want to see that you can apply what you learned in a professional setting.

  1. Always come prepared.

Anytime you have a meeting during an internship or a job always come prepared! Be ready to deliver the right answers and ask the right questions.

  1. Be professional and don’t lose your cool.

When working with the media, everyone has some deadline whether it’s at noon or midnight. There are times when you will be asked the same question multiple times as well as questions that may be out of line. Having patience is crucial to working in such a fast paced environment like this as well as acting professionally.

  1. Establish a rapport with the media and develop a good list.

Get to know the fellow reporters, bloggers etc. Find out who they are and be sure to keep in touch with them by responding to their emails or phone calls. When they call up to ask to get an interview, interview THEM.

  • Who do they want to talk to?
  • What’s their angle?
  • Do they need any press release information or photos?

It’s always a good thing to establish solid relationships with professionals you’ll be working with in the future.

Be sure to check out NASA’s upcoming unmanned flight test for spacecraft Orion on December 4th 2014.

No 'Faults' in my Blogging Adventure

By Sarai Cruz Interviewing Nat Wolff, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort at “The Fault In Our Stars” fan event in Miami. Photo: Gustavo Caballero / Stringer

This summer was a summer of hard work but also fun. In June 2013, I joined a friend in creating a blog about the book and movie, “The Fault in Our Stars.” We had a huge passion for the story, along with brewing excitement and nervousness about our favorite book being turned into a movie. Not all book adaption films do justice to the original material. We decided that the best way to deal with the excitement was to follow every single step of the process.

Needless to say, we were successful with more than 1 million views, 100,000 followers on Twitter and 50,000 followers on Tumblr. Filming started August 26, 2013, coincidentally the first day of class. I remember being in class and on Twitter and ready to retweet any tweets or news from set (sorry, professor!).

With this blog I was able to apply skills I learned in my public relations classes. In my head I could hear Ann Christiano, professor of PR strategy and public interest communications, going over engaging with our audience and understanding what they need and want. I also learned a lot of new things that you can only get from actually doing. I learned to use social media as more than a personal tool of socializing, but also as a way to inform and communicate with others who care about the content you put out. I did a lot, and I mean a lot, of writing. I collaborated with a graphic designer in making original graphics for the website. I was interviewed by Yahoo! Movies and the Los Angeles Times to discuss the blog and the passion behind this amazing story.

I attend the red carpet world premiere of "The Fault in Our Stars" in New York City. Photo: Sarai Cruz

This blog was a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, a lot of late nights, but it was a joy. We were fortunate to work with 20th Century Fox and attend events as press. In Miami, I got the chance to talk to John Green, Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley and bond with Nat Wolff over the Floridian heat. I was also able to travel to New York for the world red carpet premiere and talk to cast and crew.

It was a once in a lifetime experience, personally and professionally. I look back and I am amazed at what I and the team, who were so passionate about a story, accomplished on our own. I am and will forever be proud of this project. I don’t know what is next for me, but one thing is for sure, I can only go up from here.

New Position Opening- Director of External Relations

Want to get more involved in UF PRSSA?

We have an opening available- Apply to become our next Director of External Relations today!

Some responsibilities of the position include:

  • Working with Executive Board to strategize semester recruitment
  • Assisting VP of Chapter Development in reaching out to other organizations on campus and planning class visits for recruitment
  • Strategizing with executive board to determine sources of potential new members
  • Maintaining relationships with campus organizations
  • Communicating and collaborating with College of Journalism and Communications organizations

For the general application, click here.

For the election packet and requirements, click here.

Applicants can email the application materials to Sara Jane Wilder at

Fun, Fear and Falafel: A Summer Adventure in NYC

By Elizabeth Boone Living in New York has been exhilarating. The stakes are high, the people are intense, and, sometimes, you just want a pool and your puppy.

But you have to keep going. As is so in ANY place or profession!

Manhattan Theatre Club

New York Manhattan Theatre 2014 Public Relations Interns

My experience interning in marketing with Manhattan Theatre Club has an incredible a non-stop adventure with new things every single day. The job varies depending on the department’s needs, but I usually work with tickets, advertising and customer relations with audience members. On top of this, I also help run a private lounge where major donors visit before the shows. In my spare time, I like to explore the city with friends, and, on rare occasion, sleep in.

PR Lessons

Specific to public relations, I've learned so much about networking and social media for theater. Networking is truly what makes the world go around and what can absolutely give you your next job! In terms of marketing, social media is used to engage our audiences and fans, and is an excellent tool for building good relationships.

Fantastic Fun

I make it a point to see/do/visit everything I can. I've tried amazing foods (Get falafel from a food truck. You won’t regret it.), drinks (can be expensive unless you know where to go…), and seen some killer shows (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder won four Tony Awards for a reason!) AND all within a budget: I just made sure to do my research!

Big Picture

Overall, working here has been an overwhelmingly amazing learning and living experience. I recommend it to all who have any inclination to work here. See for yourself what the environment is like before committing for good because you’ll never know what you’ll learn.

I can’t wait to return one more year as an even more experienced Gator!

Elizabeth Boone is a rising senior studying Public Relations and Theatre at the University of Florida and is a member of the Online Strategy Committee at the University of Florida. 

Walmart's PR Team Uses Twitter in Unique Way

By Kristina Florio
If you have ever tried to follow Walmart on Twitter, you have probably realized that Walmart has a different approach to Twitter than most corporations.

Walmart has seven Twitter accounts.

“As you can imagine, we talk about quite a few things at Walmart, and our biggest fear in using just one handle was audience fatigue,” said Chad Mitchell, senior director of digital communications for Walmart, in an interview with Arik Hanson. “With initiatives ranging from veterans hiring to domestic manufacturing to sustainability, we simply couldn’t manage an editorial calendar covering so many topics.”

Deciding that one Twitter handle would not work for the corporation, Mitchell and his team created the following seven accounts:

  • @WalmartNewsroom: issues press releases and other announcements; the official “corporate spokesperson handle”
  • @WalmartGreen: addresses sustainability issues.
  • @WalmartGiving: highlights the corporation’s philanthropic efforts.
  • @WalmartAction: focuses on public policy and supports their efforts in the communities where they serve.
  • @WalmartHealthy: shares news about ongoing efforts to get customers fresh and healthy foods at great prices. Some of their best content has been recipes, Mitchell said.
  • @WalmartVeterans: focuses on the corporation’s support of veterans hiring and other veterans-related issues
  • @WalmartHub: the “parent” hub; “utilizes a retweet strategy where all of the best performing content pushed out from the sub-handles mentioned above is surfaced with our biggest following,” Mitchell describes.

Additionally, the corporation has the account @Walmart that is managed by the marketing team with more of a focus on product and store related news.

Mitchell describes that such an approach takes team effort, a lot of work (they manage approximately 60,000 mentions a day), flexibility and willingness to experiment. They believe that multiple accounts facilitate their effectiveness in sharing news, giving updates, protecting/enhancing their reputation, responding to criticism and preventing crisis.

As PR professionals, we are always trying to find new ways to be innovative and effective. Do you think that this innovative idea is a good strategy for Twitter relations?

Recap: Gary McCormick's "Top 10 Things I wish I'd Known"

gary By Adriana Di Graziano

Network! No other word can best summarize what Gary McCormick, APR, and Director of Partnership Development for HGTV, said during his speech at the UF PRSSA meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

Entertaining as well as instructive, McCormick's presentation Top 10 Things I Wish I'd Known took the audience through some really interesting facts on how to build a career in public relations, as well as some timeless classics that McCormick renewed with his personal experiences.

Three points in particular seemed to stand out from the others, all orbiting around building relationships and networking:

- Knowing how to use your network is as important as creating one.

- Building relationships is more about giving than taking.

- There's a time and a place for everything.

"Your network is your lifeline to getting a job and being better at it when do land one,"  McCormick said. "People who are getting a job are people who are networking."

Any PR freshmen knows that creating a professional network is important, but McCormick took the game a step further. "Think about your father, your mother; Who are they? Who do they know?"

McCormick pointed out that, in fact, everyone of us has a solid network made of family, friends, relatives, teachers and so on. What matters now is how we use this network. As McCormick pointed out, people know people who know other people.Perhaps a teacher of yours knows a person working for that company you love, or maybe your mother went to the same class as the person responsible for HR at that same company. The takeaway? Know the people you know, who they know and use your network to connect to your dream job.

Now, you might think that this all sounds great, but so far it sounds more like we are taking from our relationships; where does the giving and listening part come in? Well, the listening and giving part comes into play in getting to know your connections.

In this regard, McCormick talked about mentors and how to use them. When you go to someone for help, you cannot expect them to know what you need and do it for you. A connection is created in the moment you approach someone with a clear question and objective. After you establish that, a relationship can be built, and you can work together on clear objectives.

The same applies for a company you might want to work for. Get in contact with people there, ask them about the company and learn more and more about them. In any relationship, he added, "you'll only get what you put into it."

Finally, McCormick touched on a rather odd point that we seldom hear. He talked about relationships in the workplace, putting great emphasis on how there is a time and a place for everything.

"Share your success with friends and family and not in the workplace" McCormick said.

Through the personal experience of a coworker, he showed how sharing your successes in the workplace could hinder your relationships. Particularly when it comes to a promotion people in the workplace might resent you, he added. In the same way, he advised the audience to avoid the office gossip because you can always be the next topic of conversation.

Laughter and hilarity concluded the presentation as McCormick shared some PR horror stories and answered the audience's questions.

So next time you are going through a job listing, or are wondering how to even start your search for the perfect job, remember that your search should start with people. If in doubt, remember that people like Gary McCormick, Champions for PRSSA, are there for students. The effort needs to be yours to get in contact with people, but as McCormick himself said "when you're going to call'em up, they'll help you."

UF PRSSA does nonprofit PR with UF Donate Life

By Savanna Wood, UF PRSSA memberImage

UF Donate Life is a college branch of the statewide nonprofit organization Donate Life Florida, which aims to saving and enhancing lives through the promotion of organ and tissue donation. The main purpose of the UF organization is to encourage UF students and Gainesville residents to sign up for the online organ and tissue registry. UF PRSSA's University Service Committee provides UF Donate Life with its public relations and communications services.

ImageThe committee plans and executes a yearlong campaign with the organization in oder to achieve its purpose. Members who are a part of the committee draft press releases, compile media kits and launch grassroots marketing campaigns for UF Donate Life on campus.


According to Donate Life Florida, there are roughly 7 million registrants as of October 2013. More than 4,500 Florida residents need organ transplants. No one is ever too old to sign up to be a donor, and every registrant can make a difference. Someone loses a loved one every day because of the organ and tissue shortage, but the passing of an organ donor can bring a positive light by saving the life of someone in need of a transplant. UF PRSSA and UF Donate Life are helping to make a difference.


UF PRSSA University Service Directory Barbara Dimajo oversees the committee and works exclusively with UF Donate Life to help expand the organization. Her committee helps with branding and events around campus.

“This year we have set a goal of 100 organ donor sign-ups each semester,” said Dimajo.

This goal is higher than last year’s, but Dimajo is confident in her team’s abilities.  The committee also helps in the planning of UF Donate Life’s most important event at the end of the year.

The biggest event UF Donate Life puts on every year is Life-A-Palooza, which takes place in April during Organ Donor Awareness Month, is a night filled with food, giveaways and musical performances. Dimajo said the organization also brings in speakers ranging from organ recipients, to organ donors’ families and others who fight for the cause.


Being involved with UF Donate Life can be very beneficial. Dimajo said that working in public service public relations, like she does with UF Donate Life, is a great way to help prepare her to work in the government sector after graduation.

Visit Donate Life Florida to register as an organ donor. When asked how you learned of the organization, please make sure to choose “College Campaign” and then “UF” from the drop-down menu.

For more information on UF Donate Life and how to join the University Service Committee, please email Barbara Dimajo at

North Florida PRSA Luncheon Experience


By Jessica Albert, UF PRSSA Member PRVille

I had the opportunity to “Meet the Media” at a luncheon with the North Florida PRSA chapter in Jacksonville on Wednesday Oct. 16. Our parent chapter invited leading people in the media so practitioners could develop contacts with the people that they could potentially pitch ideas to for their clients.

The event was extremely beneficial to me as a public relations senior because I was able to see how I could connect with local media in my career. I gained valuable insight and was able to network with local professionals who actually practice the skills I’m learning about.

During the session, I heard a number of ways the media likes to receive pitch ideas and how we could effectively send out press releases.  Public relations is such a diverse field that we as future practitioners should prepare to expect almost anything.

After graduating, I would strongly consider joining a chapter of PRSA. The meetings are usually scheduled once a month, and the networking opportunities are truly amazing. Just at the one luncheon I met so many interesting people and talked with fellow Gators. I heard personal experiences and found that my public relations degree can take me anywhere.

Facebook to Launch Social Search Engine

     Suppose you’re in New York City for a job interview, and you’ve never been there before. You’ll only be there one night, and you want to find somewhere nice to eat during your visit. With more than 4,200 restaurants to choose from, how do you decide where to go?
     Before the Internet existed, you could talk to friends and family for references on where to dine. Now, you can simply search “restaurants in New York City” on Google to find a destination. If you wish to further investigate your restaurant choice, you can even read restaurant reviews on sites like Yelp, Zagat or Urbanspoon.
     Facebook’s Graph Search, announced Jan. 15, will soon offer another yet another option.
     Graph Search is a search engine that gathers results for users based on their friends’ likes, photos, check-ins and more. It combines the ease of an Internet search with the unique make-up of a person’s social network to provide instant results to a search as specific as: “restaurants my friends have been to in New York City.”
     Facebook presents Graph Search as an important addition to its website, labeling it as the “third pillar” next to its Newsfeed and Timeline. If Graph Search is as big a deal as anticipated, businesses may have to adapt their branding strategy on Facebook.
     According to an article in The Huffington Post, Graph Search has the potential to cause brands with multiple locations to find their Facebook strategy “turned on its head.” Corporate pages will decrease in value because Graph Search is geared to provide practical, nearby results, which increases the influence of local pages.
     Graph Search is being tested for user feedback so it can be refined before its release to the general public. It will initially offer basic search categories such as people, photos, places and business pages, and it will be continuously adapted to include more.
By: Rachel Stephens, University of Florida PRSSA Communications Committee 

2012 PRSSA National Conference in San Francisco: Bridging the Gap

 This year PRSSA held its National Conference in San Francisco with the motto “Bridging the Gap.” The whole point was to bridge the gap between pre-professionals in public relations and others who are already working in the industry. Needless to say, the 2012 National Conference did that – and so much more for me.
       The first day of sessions started off with Timothy Jordan, a senior developer advocate for Google, as the keynote speaker. His speech gave insight into what the future of online communication can be and why it’s important to use online tools to promote business while still maintaining a close connection with friends.

     After this, it was time for roll call of all the attending PRSSA chapters. While standing on ballroom chairs, UF PRSSA did a cheer and gator chomped, finally finishing it all off by Tebowing. That’s one of the great things I noticed about going to National Conference: it brings your chapter together and you learn to support each other.
     The fantastic thing about how conference works? There are several sessions at a time and you get to choose to go to the ones that best fit your interests and curiosities. Oh boy, was I glad I chose to go to Media Training featuring President and CEO Trahan Associates, Joseph V. Trahan III.
     Trahan was so enthusiastic. He spoke about his career in the military and handling public affairs in government. He also gave tips on how to direct to the media and how to prep others to do the same. Some of his advice was to always show sympathy/concern in times of strife and to never settle for a generic phrase that just any spokesperson can say. He remained animated throughout his entire presentation and that allowed me to retain so much of his information. I was really glad I chose to hear him speak.
     I could go on and on about every speaker, but the main aspect of National Conference is that you truly learn so much in so little time. There were also joint sessions with PRSA where you have a chance to mingle and network with professionals already working in the field. I didn’t mind that I would wake up at 7 a.m. and put on business clothes because it was a sneak peak into what I would have to do if I want to be a future professional.
     All the people I met at conference were what made the experience so worthwhile. I met other PR students from different universities and got to experience a fantastic city, San Francisco. Conference was about personal growth and going to all the sessions made me realize how much I can do with a degree in public relations. Sessions ranged from sports management, to hospitality, to tourism and crisis management. There is something for everyone, and I really hope that all of you can make it to next year’s conference in Philadelphia on Oct. 25 -- 29, 2013.
     I leave you with a quote of one of the keynote speaker at a joint session with PRSA. Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, said, “In order to succeed spectacularly, you need to be willing to fail spectacularly." What the 2012 PRSSA National Conference was all about: taking risks and believing in yourself.
By: Ana Gomez, University of Florida PRSSA Online Strategy Committee 

Diversity in the Workplace

 Diversity in the workplace is inevitable. At last Wednesday’s UF PRSSA meeting, Lori VanNess explained the role of diversity in the workplace and Jarrod Cruz related these roles to his position on campus.
     VanNess, the AT&T associate director of retail sales operations said her company defines diversity as “something you can see.” You can see when someone looks different, she said. She went on to explain the importance of making employees feel included through the company’s 11 employee resource groups.
     Cruz, the director of intercultural engagement within UF multicultural and diversity affairs, describes diversity as broad and complex differences between people. He said he believes these differences are brought on by the multiple identities that people can have. He said we maintain these identities through factors like family, values and religion.
     When asked about the different cultural subgroups at UF, Cruz explained the groups all come together under certain organizations. For example, the Institute of Black Culture tends to bring together the other black organizations on campus through communication. He stressed that the diverse organizations must communicate with one another in order for them to be productive. This is similar to in the workplace. VanNess explained AT&T employees come together during employee resource groups to discuss projects that include the other departments. This brings everyone together in an efficient manner.
     According to VanNess, as a part of AT&T’s goal to create a more diverse workplace, the company has been focusing on recruiting women and people of color from a regional level. “We just want to make sure that everybody is being represented,” she said. She said she sees how many of these people have been promoted. In the past, white males have seen more promotions, but the company is trying to create more balance and provide opportunity for advancement to all employees.
     Cruz’s take home piece of advice for students looking to be more diverse to employers is to immerse themselves in different cultures. He advised students to develop their multicultural understanding and competence through expanding their social circles. Cruz said in order to do this, students must step out of their comfort zone. For example, they could attend a meeting full of people who look different from themselves. He said this will help develop students’ cultural understanding. Cruz stressed that now is the time for them to take advantage of the diverse environment UF has to offer.
     VanNess advised students to get involved with different communities. She said this will help students get to know obstacles they could be faced with in bringing together people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. She said this will help you learn to adapt how you act no matter what community you work in.
     Both speakers brought great advice and insight to the panel. They encouraged students to get educated in diversity now, while they still have the opportunity take advantage of the diverse UF campus.
By: Annie Uzar, UF Public Relations Student Society of America Member

How Choice of Speakers at Political National Conventions Helps Reach Voters: A Lesson in PR Tactics

Every four years the atmosphere in the media takes a shift toward the impending presidential election. Two of the most anticipated events in politics are the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent or have another party affiliation: Watching both national conventions is a perfect way to not only get informed on pressing issues of the election, but also to watch public relations practices in action. In order for candidates to get their constituents’ votes, candidates must know their constituents and be able to appeal to a vast range of needs. The speakers at both national conventions were key in attempting to reach as many different demographics of voters, and especially important in tallying up the Independent vote. The conventions allow both parties to highlight their accomplishments and generate support in weak areas, using PR strategies is an integral part of this process.

     According to an article on, Hispanic voters hold the key in this year’s election. This isn’t just a matter of opinion; an appeal to Hispanic voters was evident at both the RNC and DNC. With minorities (especially Hispanic) leaning toward Obama in the polls, the RNC had to reach this demographic.  The choice of Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to speak at the RNC was a PR strategy by the GOP to identify with Hispanic voters, even more so after its anti-immigration stance in the primaries did not fare well with minorities.
     On the other hand: Since President Obama is up for re-election and under scrutiny from Republicans for not keeping his promise of change, it was in the Democrats best interest to showcase what he has accomplished during his four years in office. An example of this was Arizona mom Stacey Lihn speaking on how Obamacare is benefiting her daughter, who was born with a heart defect. She explained that the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance policies from placing a lifetime cap on most benefits, emphasizing that this will allow her daughter’s insurance to cover the surgeries she needs. She even stressed the fact that if Romney wins and repeals Obamacare, she doesn’t know how she will be able to pay off her daughter’s medical bills. This PR tactic appealed to mothers across the board (even those with healthy children), while it also appealed to people with hefty medical bills. Plus, it demonstrated Obama’s reliability against Romney’s criticism. It highlighted that he did what he promised in the healthcare sector, a huge platform point in his 2008 campaign.
       Both conventions gave plenty of examples that showcase the careful PR strategies behind political campaigns; choice of speakers was only an aspect of it. From camera cues and angles, to video montage filled with inspiring music and citizen testimonies, public relations continues to silently dominate the behind-the-scenes work in politics throughout this election.
Link to article:
By: Ana Gomez, University of Florida PRSSA Online Strategy Committee

How "social" is social media?

The managers of social media sites are trying to get people to become fans of their pages or follow their Twitter accounts. Once people start following Twitter and become fans of Facebook sites, the next goal is to get those users to read the content -- not just skim the content, but read and retain it.

That is a very difficult task. Some companies and organizations are using prizes to lure in users to "like" statuses or to comment on event pages. Other companies make competitions to see who can which users gain the most friends in the shortest time.

How "social" is social media though? Yes, everyone follows favorite people and looks at favorite pages, but how will companies get audiences to comment or respond, to get involved and feel attached to a company or organization.

The future of social media is unknown. Will there be regulation of social media or will social media continue to grow to be a bigger part of society?