Category Archives: CBR Public Relations

AP Style, The Mother Tongue of Journalism

A couple of recent experiences here at CBR reminded us about the importance that journalism training plays – or should play – in public relations careers.

The first was a post on noting changes in the 2013 Associated Press Stylebook. That brought back a vivid memory for me from my days as a freshman journalism major.

On day one, our wizened journalism department dean gave us one assignment — memorize the AP stylebook. He was the first of many instructors and editors to refer to the stylebook as the journalist’s bible. Of course, that would be bible with a lower-case “b”. The word Bible is capitalized only when making reference to Scriptures in the Old Testament or the New Testament — it says so right there on page 31 of  the AP Stylebook (2011 edition).

The newest stylebook edition, published May 29, 2013, tells us, among other things, that it’s now okay to use numerals for all references to distance and dimension, e.g. a 3-mile stretch of road, a 9-pound hammer.

So why should the public relations industry care about such minutiae?

The answer is as simple and fundamental as anything we do. In order to communicate our clients’ key messages effectively, we must connect with our target audience. Just as we must learn the ins and outs of effective social media communications, we also must learn to speak the native language of the newsroom, and that’s AP style.

Reporters and editors often look for any excuse to spike (trash) a news release, and finding a glaring AP style mistake provides an easy one.

The second thing that got us thinking about the symbiotic relationship between journalism and public relations was our realization that some college public relations programs do not require a journalism course as part of their core curricula.

We’re back to basics on this one, too. Despite the ever-changing media landscape, there is a set of standards and ethics at the core of the journalism profession that defines news and drives day-to-day operations at every television news station and newspaper. Public relations professionals must have a working knowledge of those core standards and ethics.

As Florida’s premier media relations firm, we understand that public relations professionals — new and old — benefit from knowing as much as possible about the journalism side of the equation. Providing newsrooms with what they are looking for — timely, newsworthy, relevant, quirky items — written in their language improves our chances of getting our clients’ stories told.

It’s an integral part of our job here at CBR and one we do well.

Robert Perez is vice president at CBR.

New Facebook Design Rolls out for Brand Pages

After months of waiting, brand pages are now able to convert to the new Facebook design. All pages will automatically get the new design March 30. The new design brings many added benefits – including a more visually appealing design – for businesses.

Here’s what you need to know:

Preview your page before it goes live. Now through March 30, page administrators can preview their page and publish it right away. While you are working on it, any changes you make to the page will only be visible to other page admins. And, if brands are not ready to transition just yet, they can wait until Facebook automatically does it for them.

Cover photo now spreads across the top of the page. Brand pages now have the ability to include a cover photo, or a billboard that stretches across the top of your page. It’s the first thing people will see on your page, and it should make an impression. This photo will speak volumes about your brand. However, Facebook has set rules for what these photos can be. The photo has certain size limitations, but most importantly, it cannot include price or purchase information, contact information that belongs in the About section, references to like or share, or a call to action. So take note when selecting your image.

Tabs go away, apps menu now below the cover photo. Photos, likes, events and apps are now at the top of your page, just below your cover photo. Photos will only show in the first spot but you can change the order of everything else so people see what matters most.

Timeline gives managers ability to rearrange posts. Timeline displays all your posts in chronological order, but page administrators can rearrange their page’s timeline by “pinning” or “highlighting” posts.  When you “pin” a post, it moves to the top left of your page. This allows managers to prominently display relevant posts even if it is not the most recent one. Notice in the image below there is a tiny orange flag in the top right corner of the post. This means the item has been pinned successfully. The post will stay at the top of the page for seven days and then return to its original posting date. Want to remove it before then? Don’t worry. You can “unpin” it at any time.

Managers also are able to expand – or highlight – a post to make it wider. Below is an example of this. Notice the top post is wider than the   bottom two – giving more prominence to the top one.

One last thing on Timeline, admins can add “milestones” to a brand’s page. Milestones are prominently shown and can include a photo. This is just another feature of the new design that really allows a brand to tell its story.

New admin panel makes managing page easier. Brand admins will find managing their page gets easier. Everything – from latest insights to comments on your page – are all in one place.

Followers can now communicate with pages privately. This is by far one of the best features Facebook has given brand pages – the ability for followers to connect privately with your page. A “message” button will now appear on your page, allowing followers to contact you with questions or concerns. However, it does not appear brand admins can initiate conversations privately at this time.

There are many changes you will find with the new design – both big and small – but I think the few I’ve highlighted here will get you on the right path. If you’re not quite ready to convert to the new design, play around with the preview options and get to know the new layout. Strategically think through what your cover photo should be and which posts you want to highlight or pin on your page. I think you’ll agree it’s a great way to tell your company’s story.

And, if you need help learning the new layout and getting your brand to stand out in this digital world, contact our team of experts.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

Ringing in the New Year at CBR

CBR staffers have a little extra pep in our step. Why, you might ask? Well, let’s just say Santa was really good to us. Not only is CBR the public relations agency of record for two more national accounts, but our role is expanding with a NYSE-traded national account we’ve been privileged to serve for nearly two decades. And the year has barely begun!

Now, we don’t like to brag, but we just had to share. 2012 is starting off right for us and we hope for all of you. Despite continued economic uncertainties, we are optimistic that 2012 is going to be a stellar year for the industry and for our wonderful clients. Cheers!

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

The Other Side to Orlando

Oct. 15-18, Orlando will welcome the largest gathering of public relations professionals in the world at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) 2011 International Conference. Now, I know when most people think of Orlando, thoughts of roller coasters and  character meet-and-greets dance in their head. But there’s another great side to Orlando, and I’d like to share with you  what mostly only locals know.

A few miles east of the theme parks down Interstate 4 is Downtown Orlando (client). And what better way to kick back and relax than in the DTO.

After a long day at the conference, I’m sure you will have worked up an appetite, and you won’t want to miss some of the fine food Downtown has to offer. From Irish pubs to upscale restaurants, there’s a wide variety to appease any appetite. Hungry yet?

Under the bright city lights is when you really can feel the pulse of Downtown. Historic Church Street and Wall Street Plaza are home to a number of great spots, but there also are other top entertainment spots, including dueling pianos, a comedy club and theaters, to fit any mood. And, with Halloween fast approaching, check out Downtown’s Ghost Tour for some real spooky encounters. There’s even a Haunted Pub Tour. Think you can handle a drink with the paranormal? I’m already starting to feel the chills. Let’s move on…

Photo Credit: Orlando Downtown Development Board

Unlike many downtowns, don’t worry about parking here. Covered and surface lots are easy to find and conveniently located just a few steps from Downtown’s hottest spots. There’s even a parking app called Orlando parkIN’. (Download it in the iTunes or Android store.)

If you’re here before or after the conference, the DTO is just as fun during the day as it is at night. Check out the Lake Eola Farmer’s Market on Sunday or get your tickets to Sugarland’s concert on Oct. 20 and experience the state-of-the-art Amway Center. Maybe you’d like to indulge your senses at A Taste of Thornton Park or explore your creative side at the Third Thursday Gallery Hop, also Oct. 20. It’s OK. You can do that, too.

Want some laughs? Check out SAK Comedy Lab. Tired yet? There’s much more to do!

In the center of Downtown is the iconic Lake Eola Fountain at Lake Eola Park. Did you know you can rent swan-shaped paddle boats? The fountain recently underwent a major renovation and now, when the sun goes down, the majestic fountain lights up and music can be heard throughout the park.

Photo Credit: Orlando Downtown Development Board

What’s more, you can get a great view of Lake Eola and all of Downtown with a skyline tour. This takes you up 16 stories to the top of The Plaza and provides a 360-degree, bird’s-eye view.

It’s all right here in the DTO.

I could go on and on. There’s just so much to see and do. But, let me leave you with this: You won’t experience Orlando unless you go to the DTO.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

Remembering 9/11 as an employer, consultant . . . and as a mother

Last night, I watched several television news anchors try to describe what it was like to be live on the air when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. They each sifted through their memories with the facial expressions of victims recalling a crime. They described how their minds fought to process the events as they unfolded and how there was no frame of reference to tie it all together and make words come out – words which didn’t reflect their inner turmoil and dawning terror. Handling media and public relations for clients in Orlando and beyond,  I’ve stood countless times before news cameras. I know what it’s like to suddenly have your words fail on live television or radio. But I doubt I will ever feel the weight these journalists felt trying to make sense of something so outside the realm of our then reality.

Like most people, my eyes were glued to the television that morning, horrifically mesmerized by the repetitive images. The skyscraper burning. People leaping for their lives. Another plane strikes the towers. Then something else hit:  the realization that I needed to respond to the roles in my life:  employer, consultant, mother.

I gathered CBR’s employees around the conference room table. People of various faiths joined hands and our agency vice president led us in prayer for the victims, for our country and for our families. We had never prayed together before, and I glanced around the table to make sure everyone was comfortable with this.  We were all in unchartered waters that day. Prayer did help. We caught our breath and talked next steps.

First, we reached out via email to our fellow IPREX partners around the world. If this was the beginning of a war, how many of my colleagues would be impacted? If I sent the staff home, was it more dangerous on the streets? Reasonably assuming that Maitland, Florida, was probably not on the top ten list of targets, we then offered our assistance to our 60 fellow firms on six continents. We offered to handle forwarded phone calls and emails, draft press releases, serve as a check-in office for their employees, to assist in any way we can. We thought about our friends at Makovsky & Company, our IPREX partner with offices in Manhattan. We prayed for a client with offices in the second tower.

Then we thought about ourselves.

Calls to spouses and children lit up the outgoing phone lines. I jumped in my car and dashed off to my daughter’s high school across town while my husband sped to our twins’ preschool, only to be met at the door by a team of heavily armed police officers in flak jackets. Yes, the war had touched down in our small hometown. Attacks by unknown forces required that Maitland’s finest immediately protect the building where our children attended preschool:  the Jewish Community Center.

I found the halls and classrooms at Trinity Preparatory School to be eerily empty and quiet. I tried to calm myself as I searched for my 13-year-old daughter. Nearly out of breath, I finally found all of the students and faculty in a packed auditorium with the headmaster, alone on stage talking in a calming voice. Frantically trying to locate Christi in the crowd, my eyes set upon a slightly built small boy, probably a sixth grader, wearing a silk white yarmulke. On the other side of the auditorium was an older child wearing a white, cotton turban. The school represented a cross-section of the diversity of our community.

The lone voice of reason from the stage was saying things like, “What happens today, right now, defines our school. We don’t know who was responsible, but we know it was not the people in this auditorium. We are Trinity Prep. We are this school, this community. Do not make rash accusations and speak from hate or we are no better than the people who hurt our country today. We are better than that.  We are still the people we were yesterday. We must join together and remember who we are and stand together as our nation and our school deals with this tragedy.”

The scene was eerily familiar. It reminded me of that poignant scene in the old Charlie Brown Christmas show, with Linus standing under a single spotlight on an empty stage reading from the book of Luke. It was that quiet. That moving.

Until I noticed that the same little boy’s shoulders had begun to shake as he sobbed. Sniffles erupted throughout the auditorium. Teachers tried to hide their own tears as they forced assuring smiles to the students who looked to them for strength.

And there was Christi, who seemed to sense that I was nearby. She turned to the back of the auditorium and all was right with her world, and mine, for one brief moment that only a look between mother and daughter can bring.

Lori C. Booker, APR, is founder and CEO of CBR and is a respected media commentator.

Orlando internship to new hire

CBR Public Relations offers paid internships for college credit and I should know – I was a summer intern at CBR in 2009. Obviously, I’m not writing this as a current intern, but as a full-time employee. So, how can you make the transition from intern to hire? Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Put a smile on your face. OK, I know this sounds cliché. But employers want to know you have a good attitude, show enthusiasm for your new position and most importantly, show a willingness to learn. If you’re constantly looking at the clock, making comments about how long the day has been or complaining about not getting the “fun” assignments, you might as well keep your desk as plain as it was when you arrived. Throughout your internship maintain a positive outlook and use the time as a learning opportunity.
  2. Showcase your strengths. The public relations industry is constantly evolving and as professionals, we tend to take on new responsibilities as the client needs them. Tell your new employer how proficient you are in design programs or how much you enjoy – well, you fill in the blank. This could be your opportunity to bring something new to the company and most importantly, to the client.
  3. Be professional. You are now representing the company you work for. As an intern, you will be asked to join client meetings, listen to conference calls and actively participate in staff meetings, but you might also be given some not so glamorous assignments. Treat each task as a learning opportunity and a chance to show your employer how well you handle yourself in any situation. Believe me – it will pay off in the end.

While these are only a few tips to help put you ahead, they don’t necessarily guarantee a full-time position. There are a million factors that come into play and you should be prepared for any of them – good or bad. My advice would be to make each day count. Show your new employer how well you complement his or her company. It might count for more than you realize at the time.

If you would like more information about CBR Public Relations’ internship program, please visit our website or send your resume and two writing samples to

Brittany Hobbs, Business Development, CBR Public Relations

CBR wins Statewide award for PR excellence

CBR Public Relations is proud to announce its most recent honor – the 2011 Award of Distinction in Public Affairs, presented this week at the FPRA Golden Image Awards in Naples. The FPRA Golden Image Awards is a statewide competition recognizing outstanding public relations programs throughout the state.

The honor is the second for this particular grassroots campaign. CBR received an Image Award earlier this year from FPRA’s Orlando-area chapter.

CBR salutes its team of professionals for continuing to raise the bar and exceeding clients’ expectations. For more information about CBR, please visit our website or check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Achieving my APR: No Visa Required

This January, I decided to take a step forward in my career as a public relations professional. After reading up on the process and having a moment of panic over the intimidating journey before me, I took a baby step and went to a seminar about how to achieve Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). Surrounded by other Orlando professionals who had accomplished this distinction, my competitive side kicked in and I resolved to forge ahead.

Becoming an APR is a true mark of professionalism in the public relations field. The designation has been earned by just 5,000 PR professionals nationwide since it began in 1964 – less than three percent of the total PR professionals in America. Following months of studying and a two-part examination process, I’m happy to report that as of June, CBR boasts two APRs.

The APR credential is overseen by the Universal Accreditation Board, a group operated by the Public Relations Society of America. Candidates must successfully complete two phases – an oral presentation of a personal case study to a group of accredited peers and a very lengthy written test – before the UAB will grant accreditation.

What exactly does having the letters “APR” after my name mean (besides that I passed)? According to PRSA, these top professionals have a “fundamental knowledge” of communications theories and strategies, they are well-versed in strategic planning and implementing PR programs, and have a “commitment to professional excellence and ethical conduct.” For our clients, it shows not only that I will think strategically and put together measurable, successful public relations programs for them, but that I have clearly demonstrated this ability to the leaders in my profession.

Or, if you ask my parents, it means that I’m now “certifiable.”

Martha A. Gaston, APR, is an account executive with CBR.

Live from the Final Space Shuttle Launch

No words.

There are no words to express how it felt to experience the last space shuttle launch nearly three miles from the launch pad. Not on TV but actually smack dab in the middle of more than 2,000 journalists and other media representatives. The only thing separating us from the launch pad was the Indian River Lagoon. And it’s hard to express what it felt like to stand right before the launch pad just one day before Atlantis would rip through the skies.

OK. There might actually be one word, “Wow.” That’s really the only word heard after the countdown ended and the shuttle blasted into space. There were cheers and hugs all around. So much excitement that when the launch was replayed on a monitor inside the NASA Tweetup tent, a new round of applause broke out.

For many, including me, this last space shuttle launch is the culmination of a long and emotional journey.  My journey wasn’t quite as long as others, but as I stood in a restricted area only open to Tweetup participants, press and NASA families, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am and how lucky we are to have been a part of history. And this is only the beginning. Space exploration will continue, and I have a feeling the United States will continue to be at the forefront.

Simply put, the NASA Tweetup was eye-opening. The shuttle is a mammoth beast, and we designed it. Somehow, everything seems so small now. I don’t think you can really grasp that fact until you are standing inside the Vehicle Assembly Building or watching a launch.

I encourage you to visit our Twitter page (@CBRPR) for a recap of my experience, and if you haven’t been to the Kennedy Space Center, go. Even without a shuttle launch, the visitor complex will have you saying “Wow,” too.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media with CBR.

Countdown to Space Shuttle Atlantis

10, 9, 8…

Those are the words every Orlando resident, and many across the world, is eager to hear: the final countdown of the last space shuttle mission. Space shuttle Atlantis will take to the skies Friday, July 8, and CBR Public Relations has a front-row seat.

I’ll be attending on behalf of the agency, as a NASA Tweetup STS-135 participant, for what is to be my first and last shuttle launch experience. (Follow my experience on Twitter at @CBRPR.) It’s a coveted spot, with more than 5,000 people applying from across the world and only 150 people selected to participate.

It’s an exciting time for our agency, and it’s an exciting, and bittersweet, time for the Space Coast. But what does the final shuttle launch really mean?

A Reflection on CBR’s Long History

The launch is a historic moment for many people and for various reasons. For CBR, it’s a piece of our long history. Its significance not fully apparent to me until a recent staff meeting when our CEO Lori C. Booker shared her favorite CBR moment:

“CBR promoted Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s 25th Anniversary of Man’s Last Walk on the Moon, which generated international media attention. The night of the event I had the goose-bump opportunity to stand next to NASA Astronaut Gene Cernan outside the Saturn V building. I looked up and saw puffy clouds parting to slowly reveal a full-harvest moon in a star-filled sky. In awe, I asked him what it was like – this view from earth of the moon he walked on – and his eyes filled with memories he didn’t share. He cleared his throat and just quietly said, ‘Magnificent.’”

 A Time for the Space Coast to Shine

With all the media attention and the hundreds of thousands who will flock to the area to be a part of history, Brevard County and the Space Coast have an opportunity to shine in front of a global audience. It’s a new era for the Space Coast, one that it is ready and willing to take on. From pristine beaches to zip lining, there is plenty to do. You can sail the high seas out of Port Canaveral, test your swing at golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer and Joe Lee, or tackle the waves at some world-famous surf spots. I really could go on and on, but I’ll let you discover it all.

So, get ready. History is about to be made, and we are all a part of it.

3, 2, 1… Liftoff!

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media with CBR.