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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
They say that local government is the bright spot in our country’s politics right now. Andrea Knowles, Executive Director of the Broward Legislative Delegation, stopped by for lunch with PRSA on September 20, 2018 to help us make local government work for us. If you ever voted on a midterm election you know there are dozens of elective positions on the ballot, none of which are POTUS. Take out pen and paper and see if you can name the eight people filling the key roles in the four layers of government that make a difference in your life. Chances are you will need Google, so you get bonus points if you find out your district number in the process:
Once you know your elected officials, you can get them to know you. Asking your mayor for help should not be hard; there are 24 incorporated cities in Broward county, and less than 20,000 people voted in the last election for mayor in the biggest of them. Your county commissioner is one of nine in the Broward County Commission. It might be trickier to understand how to make things happen at Florida State Capital level. Enter Broward Days, an organization that advocates the interests of Broward County to the state legislature. Broward Days is organized around a yearly two-day meeting in Tallahassee, and a series of local events of groups with similar interests or “impact teams”. For example, the marine industry is one of 13 impact teams. The price to join Broward Days is $260 per year per person. Next Broward Days in Tallahassee are on March 12-13, 2019.
Florida State Representatives serve 2-year terms, and State Senators serve 4-year terms. Just keep in mind that the Florida legislative session is only 60 days long. That is because your state senators and representatives are filling part-time jobs. They get back home to their day jobs once the session is over every year. Essentially, states representatives, state senators, and other local officials are taking time away from their business to work for us. That alone is a good reason to know them and making sure they know you.
We dedicated our August 16th luncheon to welcoming recent PR and communications graduates to Fort Lauderdale. PRSAFTL membership chair Tasha Yohan and chapter president Victor Aimi met with a lively group of new graduates from Nova Southeastern University, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida Gulf Coast University, among others. Members of local PR agencies and faculty also attended. We discussed some tips about looking for jobs in our area that should apply to both graduates and current students:
1 – Based on chapter membership data, PR agencies employ the most communication professionals in our area. In fact, Matt Levinson from O’Connell Goldberg and Robbin Lubbehusen of Red Banyan were present at the meeting. Other industries employing the most PRSA members are educational institutions, government, non-profits, healthcare, and transportation/tourism. The full list of industries paints a compelling picture of the diversity and growth of the communication job market in the Broward County area—let Victor know if you need help meeting members in any of these industries:
2 – If you are a communication student, it is great idea to join the PRSSA chapter at your school. PRSSA is the student arm of the Public Relations Society of America. It will help you make connections with the industry while you are in school, so that you are better prepared to enter the market when you graduate. FIU Professor Hugo Ottolenghi, an advisor of the PRSSA chapter at FIU, attended our event along with graduates Michelle Kwong and Meredith Marseille, Meredith being a former president of the PRSSA chapter at FIU. Professor Ottolenghi recommends PRSSA to his students to help them get closer to the actual practice of the profession while studying. This a list of PRSSA chapters in Florida, with links to their contact information—a special shout out to the recently started chapter at NSU:
3 – As a recent graduate or former PRSSA member, you have the most convenient door into PRSA: remember to join! If you need financial help to join PRSA, or have any questions, please contact Victor or Tasha for assistance. See you at our next meeting!
On July 19, 2018, PRSAFTL was joined by Dave Aizer for a session of “Media Training Tips & Tricks.” Aizer is a host, head writer and executive producer for South Florida’s CW affiliate, WSFL-TV, as well as a media coach, public speaking coach and on-camera coach. Some attendees remember him as the host of Nickelodeon’s hit game show “Slime Time Live.” He distilled his years of experience to just “5 keys to glory”:
Aizer’s approach is based on thorough preparation, followed by a confident, high-energy delivery. He advised to focus spokespeople on what’s unique in their content, making sure they select the talking points that are most relevant to the audience of each piece. He emphasized the importance of using B-roll, pre-recorded video segments that can be inserted, with the speaker as a voice-over, to illustrate the main takeaways. He also recommended having an “active rehearsal,” or the actual recording of speakers as part of their prep. Once it’s time to perform, Dave explained that it’s crucial to keep spokespeople free of distractions, arriving well in advance, and never stressing them out with additional advice just before going on camera: all the tips and talking points must have been covered beforehand.
A couple of attendees then sat with Dave for mock interviews. There was no preparation this time, but participants quickly showed the value of sharing a story to connect with the rest of us, sharing something new about their lives. Dave was an engaging host, and even left a flier to remind us of the importance of being ready for our next time on camera.
On June 21, 2018, PRSAFTL welcomed Ari Lisjak from Virtual Bird and Jay Miolla from Gramercy to our “Reimagine Storytelling with AR/VR/MR” meeting. Treasurer Britt Peemoller interviewed both speakers on stage, following the five Ws to gauge the actual impact of these up and coming technologies in the communication field.
Why: Both speakers emphasized that Virtual Reality (VR) presents the opportunity to create content that connects emotionally. The reason is that the technology enables full immersion in content. This can be hard to describe, but luckily our speakers came well equipped with all the latest VR gear to try on. With a VR headset on, attendees were able to experience a video shot at night, followed by a video with bright natural light, instantly changing their mood, regardless of the fact that it was 8 p.m.
Who: The race is on between all players in the tech, entertainment, and gaming industries to see who can find the best every day applications of VR. Whoever breaks the code will lead the way to an entirely new market. Currently, speakers explained that VR production is a mix of art and science. A typical project takes a team of five to seven people: a project manager, a 3D artist, a 3D animator, a technician, a sound engineer, voice-over talent, and—crucially—a storyteller to write the script.
How: As with other communications disciplines, you need to understand the strategy and how you will properly use the technology. Is there any benefit in using this technology for your project? Is it a good fit into the overall communications strategy? How will you measure results? The advice is to approach VR as another tool in the toolbox. 3D modeling and 360-degree videos take time, so planning is essential. Once production is done, it’s very common to use the assets for multiple applications. For example, 360-degree video can be used at a live event, and then reused for mobile purposes. It pays to scope carefully so that you can pay for projects. Budgets typically start at about $20,000 and projects can take months to complete.
Where: Retail, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, real estate, tourism, and other industries where training and showcasing are critical, are early adopters of VR. Ask PRSAFTL president-elect Victoria Miklausich, of Ryder, who tried on a headset for a demo of a warehouse training class, an example of VR that would apply to her industry. Product launches and Snapchat filters are also common everyday applications today. Jay explained how having an abundance of data helps the necessary modeling. For example, MRIs are detailed 3D models of the human body. This data makes it possible to use VR for remote diagnosis and surgery, bringing about a “rebirth of medicine.”
When: Ari explained that there is an 18-month window of opportunity to reach first-time users of VR. Some everyday applications are already happening, in gaming, medicine, and other areas. For everything else, Internet bandwidth is still a limitation. Gear pricing is coming down: new headsets go for $200. Once certain scenarios are better exploited, like connecting people over social media, the uptake could be quick. The VR market is expected to go from $13 billion in 2017 to $143 billion in 2020.
A big part of the experience was really being there to try on the new technology, but here’s the presentation if you want to catch up with this amazing new technology.