Dan Grech of BizHack knows your future

Left to right: Teana McDonald, Tasha Yohan, Dan Grech, Victoria Miklausich, Victor Aimi

Dan Grech came over @PRSAFTL’s usual hangout last July 31st for a session on “The 5 defining trends in Digital Communications in 2019”. Dan is a reporter who has been a foreign correspondent for the Miami Herald and NPR, and a former news director for WLRN. He still has his radio voice, but what made the session really special for us is Dan’s latest experience as the founder and lead instructor of BizHack, his digital marketing training startup. 

Dan started BizHack after trying to learn more about digital marketing and realizing there were no formal, comprehensive training options available. He found out he enjoys training others while making his own way. “I have never worked so hard to make so little money”, he says about starting BizHack (and he was a reporter!). But he says journalists and communicators are forced to skill up like he did if they want to stay on top of a marketing industry reshaped by digital.

Which brings us to Dan’s five predictions for digital communications. He put them out for ComNet in 2018 and updated them for us. For context, his first advice for us as communicators is to think of Facebook as an advertiser, not as a user. Same with Google. For example, as a user you might think that Facebook “is dead”. He explained how this feeling is related to Facebook’s “Houdini trick”: organic (non-paid) reach all but disappeared to less than 2% of the feed’s content. Facebook has replaced it with advertising and is doing an excellent job of selling it. But they are not alone.

Recap of Dan’s top five:

  1. Amazon now has 4% share of the advertising market, expected to grow to 7% share in 2020. Why? We visit Amazon to buy stuff, and advertisers want to be there for us. Even if they are not selling on Amazon. Dan did a great job predicting this last year: Amazon was on the news for it in July.
  2. Attack of the Messenger bots: turns out you can use Facebook Messenger for marketing. Try it yourself: load the Messenger app on your phone, tap your face, and then tap “code” and “scan code”: point your camera to the BizHack Messenger code below to subscribe to their chat service. Dan shared the example of a dentist using Messenger to target 55-year old people without dental insurance.BizHack Messenger Code
  3. WhatsApp sells its soul: you liked that Messenger code? Facebook has announced advertising is also coming to WhatsApp, initially to your “Stories”, like in Instagram (another Facebook property).
  4. Martec mashup: remember that map showing all the companies, apps and services in digital media? It has now passed 7,000 logos, from 150 logos in 2011. It’s a mess. We are all confused: reports say that CMOs have now the shortest tenure of any role in the C-suite, at less than 2 years.
  5. Storytelling: as everything changes, the ability to tell a story about your business is more important than ever in marketing. Dan recommended two books for inspiration: Seth Godin’s “All marketers are liars” and Simon Sinek’s “Start with why”.

Here’s the deck if you want to have a look:

BizHack PRSA FtL The Five Defining Trends in Digital Communications in 2019 07.30.19

Five trends D Grech Bizhack Cover

Dan finished the session on a bright note: “You in PR are in a good position to get digital marketing because of your focus on audiences”. That’s the first pillar in BizHack’s training courses. Next course starts September 9th in Miami. You can apply here.


APR Intro Session on Video

Last June 5th, the accreditation chairs from PRSA Miami and PRSAFTL got together online for an intro video conference on how to become Accredited in Public Relations (APR). Here’s a recording of the session, “Five Steps to Lifelong APR”, by Annabel Beyra, APR and Victor Aimi, APR. Read on for a few helpful links to get your APR journey started:


Five Steps to Lifelong APR:

  1. Apply: use this form and pay $385 (PRSA Miami and PRSAFTL members get reimbursed in two parts once they pass the panel and the exam)
  2. Study: here’s the study guide
  3. Panel Presentation: start by filling out this questionnaire for your panel
  4. Computer-based examination: once you pass the panel, you can take the exam at one of dozens of examination sites near home. These are some sample questions. And we now have a live demo of the test!
  5. Maintenance: use this form every three years to stay accredited

Remember to ask for help! Email Annabel, Victor, or accred@prsa.org with your APR doubts, concerns, and needs.

Board Member Highlight: Amy Goldberg

Amy Goldberg serves as one of our four Directors and leads the Communications Committee as the Communications Chair. She is the Marketing Manager at Conceptual Communications in Fort Lauderdale and has been a member of our chapter for a couple of years. As a huge advocate of recycling and being passionate about the environment and keeping our planet clean, one of Amy’s favorite campaigns was the City of Wilton Manors’ recycling campaign. The campaign reached the 12,000 residents that live in Wilton Manors and further educated them on proper recycling and its benefits.

One thing that she is glad that she did in her career was participate in a crisis management workshop, which later prepared her for working through a crisis with the City of Parkland over the last year. It’s a piece that hits close to home for Amy as she was able to help her hometown through a tough time.

Amy receives her news through Twitter, since she is able to follow many news outlets that cover everything from politics to celebrity gossip. She is able to stay up to date on different topics like current events, pop culture, trends and more. It’s the easiest way to gain a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Member Highlight: Merrie Meyers, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA

Merrie Meyers, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, is one of our longest standing chapter members having joined in 1983 and has been a national member since 1979. She served as our chapter president in 2006, and was the co-chair of the first national APR Accreditation Task Force and Marketing Committees and from there went on to represent PRSA on the Universal Accreditation Board for 6 years.

One of the memorable campaigns she has worked on was Broward Schools, Teacher of the Year campaign, “Teaching is Hot”. It was so effective that the state adopted it as a teacher recognition program and ultimately transformed it into a national recruitment effort, Teaching is Hot in Florida.

She worked for Broward County Public Schools for more than 25 years. During her tenure, they developed a strong business partnership program which at its height raised more than $5 million in cash and in-kind donations annually that went directly to schools.

And what is she doing now? She tried to retire, but failed. She is an adjunct for NSU in the Communications program and works with a few clients on writing projects.
She’d tell her 22-year-old self: Breathe! 

Here are the 2018 PR Wizards!

December 13, 2018, we hosted our 2018 year-end meeting and announced a new edition of the PR Wizard Awards. Tip of the hat to Wizard Creations for presenting our awards, and to JM Family Enterprises for sponsoring the event. These are the individuals and organizations with the magic touch in 2018:

jeremy and tasha

2018 Communicator of the Year:
Jeremy Katzman

2018 New Professional of the Year:
Tasha Yohan

conceptual comms

2018 Agency of the Year:
Conceptual Communications

gfl alliance

2018 Department of the Year:
Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance

2018 Outstanding Journalist of the Year:
Trina Robinson



2018 President’s Award:
Kirk Englehardt

The full list of 2018 nominees:

  • For Communicator of the Year: Todd Templin, Don Silver, Jeremy Katzman and Whitney Lehmann
  • For New Professional of the Year: Tasha Yohan, Juan Diasgranados, and Amy Goldberg
  • For Agency of the Year: Goodman & Associates, Boardroom Communications, and Conceptual Communications.
  • For Department of the Year: World Travel Holdings and Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
  • For 2018 Outstanding Journalist of the Year: Brittany Wallman, and Trina Robinson

We’ll call for 2019 nominations in the fall: stay tuned!

US Indie PR is on The Move

On November 15, 2018, our own J.W. Arnold joined us for lunch to present results of the most recent “State of Indie Business” national survey run by the PRSA Independent Practitioner Alliance (IPA) professional section. You may know J.W. as the 2019 PRSA Sunshine District Chair, but he also was 2018 Immediate Past Chair of IPA and has been an independent practitioner himself since 1999. Over the years, he has helped many people starting out on their own as PR consultants. They have all asked him the same question: “How much should I charge?”

That is one of the key questions that the anonymous State of Indie Business survey sets out to answer in a systematic way every year as it tracks all the relevant trends in the independent practice of PR across the country. In 2018, 162 people completed the survey out of around 250 members in the IPA section, plus PRSA general membership and members of the Solo PR Pros group. Some of the answers continued to describe indie practitioners in the same way as previous years: a majority female group of people in big media markets in the West and Northeast of the country. There were also a few surprises.

Let’s start with the answer to that key question: rates are going down. The average rate in the survey is now $124 per hour, down from the $130s in previous years. Answers were spread between $25 and $300 per hour, denoting a very broad array of working arrangements. Projects in the corporate, SMB and nonprofit business sectors, still the majority, have gone down, while projects in agencies and other organizations have gone up. “Media relations” was the key service provided, followed by the more general “Communications.” 57% of participants are hiring subcontractors. The information left us scratching our heads.

One theory is that, as newsrooms continue to shrink, media relations services become less effective, pushing indie practitioners into new service areas to help their customers retool their communication plans. That could explain why rates are going down while services spread out. One bit of data that matches this theory is that more indie practitioners have talked of using coworking spaces, the typical work environment of the “gig economy.” The resulting innovation should be good for PR. Whether that theory proves true or not, future “State of Indie Business” surveys should help us continue to evolve PRSA offerings to match the upcoming needs of independent practitioners.

Florida: The Future Is Here

Sean Helton visited us for lunch On October 25, 2018 to cover how Enterprise Florida, the state’s principal economic development organization, has worked to market Florida as a top business location over the last three years. Most of us arrived at Sean’s session knowing that hospitality is one of the most important industries in Florida, and some might have known that the state’s population keeps growing each year. Before the session, we were excused to think that people come to Florida as tourists, experience sunrise in Fort Lauderdale, and never leave again. After hearing Sean out, we learned a new story.

Sean started with a surprising bit of information: 20% of all exporting companies in the US are based in Florida. The state exports to more than 190 countries in the world. You may be wondering how is that possible if the main export is oranges, but no, the main export is commercial aircraft. Are oranges the second most important export then? No, that’s phone equipment. In fact, oranges are not in the list of the top 50 Florida exports. The reason why international trade is such an important part of the Florida economy is not what made the state famous 100 years ago, but an impressive infrastructure of ports, airports, and roads, which makes it ideally suited for international logistics.

Top 10 Florida Exports:

top 10 fl exports

Source: Florida International Business Highlights, Enterprise Florida

Another important Florida industry was also a surprise: sports. 16 million people invested $12 billion in the sports industry in Florida last year. Is sports the second industry in Florida, after hospitality? No, that’s defense. There are 20 military bases in the state, plus the top space port in the country: Kennedy Space Center. Construction is another industry that you might have guessed was important by looking at all the building cranes over the Fort Lauderdale skyline. It is true that the construction industry employs over 6 million people in Florida. But construction is not the reason why Enterprise Florida says that the future is here.

kemet building sign


Kemet, a technology company, relocated its HQ to Florida in 2018 Photo: Art Sign Company

When you add up all the innovation flowing through the state because of international trade and aerospace, it makes Florida the ideal place for the next headquarters of any company. Enterprise Florida has boiled it down to the “boundless” concept: Florida will give you easy access to international markets, the freedom to innovate, and the potential of a growing population to expand your business without limits. The campaign was broadly picked up by media despite a somewhat limited investment and a team of just three people. Sean learned that “it’s OK to be basic” when you have a powerful story. LinkedIn and some strategic media investments have helped. Let the “Florida Man” memes go viral and focus on being the HQ for the future: a story with more juice than all of Florida oranges.