Tag Archives: Florida

Sunshine – Yes, please

This week is National Travel and Tourism Week. It’s something I might not have given much thought to before I lived in Florida, where the industry has a tremendous impact on the economy, but travel and tourism is in fact one of America’s largest industries. According to 2012 data reported by the U.S. Travel Association, the industry generated $2.0 trillion in economic output, with $855.4 billion spent directly by domestic and international travelers that spurred an additional $1.1 trillion in other industries.

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As if anyone needs convincing that vacations are a good idea, you can add helping our economy thrive to the list of benefits! Uncle Sam not only wants you, he wants you to lounge on the beach and hike in the mountains.

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So where will you go this year? Here are three beautiful Florida beaches you should consider — and I should know. I’ve been to each of them and I wrote these stories:

Panama City Beach
Perdido Key
Rosemary Beach

If you go or if you’ve been before, what do you love about these beach towns? Enjoy the sunshine!

Pensacola PR Professionals Host Annual Networking Gala

If you will be in the Pensacola area this Wednesday night, grab a friend or co-worker and join the fun at the FPRA Pensacola Chapter’s annual Making History Networking Gala. There’s no cost to attend, just come ready to network and bid on some fantastic auction items to benefit our local Florida Public Relations Association chapter!

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Amy Minchin Creative is proud to be a part of this event. For the silent auction, we’ve donated 2 tickets to the University of Alabama Crimson Caravan event in Orange Beach, Ala., featuring Head Football Coach Nick Saban and the 2013 BCS Championship Trophy. (Read about the Crimson Caravan on al.com) If you are not as obsessed with Alabama football as we are, that’s okay, too. There are many other great items to bid on, including valuable ad space donated by various local media outlets.

All proceeds benefit the Florida Public Relations Association – Pensacola chapter, which funds student scholarships annually and supports professional development opportunities for local members.

Been There, Done That, Bought the Wine

TJs bagWalking out of a new Trader Joe’s store in Gainesville, Fla., I told my husband, “This may be the trendiest thing I’ve ever done.” Considering the fashion misdeeds of my youth included parachute pants and bubble suits, this was saying a lot.

Like many of my friends in Southern cities that aren’t named Atlanta, I appreciate when brands and retailers renowned in other parts of the country finally make a foray into Dixie. Thus, it was a given my holiday visit to Gainesville would not be complete until I walked through the doors at TJ’s. And walk I did, along with what seemed like at least half the population of this college town, all for an experience – one not previously available to us.

I had just left another grocery store. I didn’t go in with a particular list of items to purchase, nor did anyone else if the number of shoppers browsing aimlessly was any indication. We were all there for the experience. That and the obligatory bottle of $2.99 wine, also known as Three-Buck Chuck. Several minutes later, my curiosity quelled and impulse buys completed, I went home.

What struck me about the store (besides the quirky atmosphere and wanna-be hipster shoppers) were the low prices, many of which were for Trader Joe’s private label products. Even organic items and foodie favorites were available for less than I’ve seen in any other store. Almond milk priced at just $1.69, for example. This undoubtedly is the draw for the Trader Joe’s fanatics I know.

Ironically, selling store brand products at low prices (albeit less original and gourmet) is an art perfected by big bad Wal-Mart, which many in Gainesville vehemently opposed allowing in its fair city a few years back. Although both promise everyday low prices, these two retailers couldn’t be more different – at least that is the perception. At the risk of over simplifying the role of the two companies’ business practices and operations in defining their brands, consumers’ perceptions hinge largely on the shopping experience. Or, the previous lack thereof, in the case of Trader Joe’s stores in new markets like Gainesville. TJ’s definitely has the IT factor and it will be interesting to see whether the demand for IT is lasting as the chain grows its presence across the South.

(Now, off to meet Chuck.)

Want Your Business to Stand Out? Join the Crowd

Find common ground with others and grow business together. In one Northwest Florida county, that connection is the beauty and diversity of the natural environment.

There is strength in numbers when it comes to capturing the attention and more importantly the business of your customers and prospects.

Sure, big numbers in your marketing budget can help, but not everyone has that luxury. By numbers, I’m referring to your organization and those around you — peers in your industry, in your neighborhood, in your target market. By identifying others who share something in common with your business and creating opportunities to work together for your mutual benefit, everyone wins.

I recently had an opportunity to do some writing for a print publication promoting a Santa Rosa County, Fla., tourism program, the Beaches to Woodlands Tour. The Beaches to Woodlands Tour encompasses more than 40 events taking place across this Northwest Florida county along the Gulf Coast. It offers something for everyone — locals and tourists alike — every weekend in October. There are marine life encounters, running and cycling events, a golf tournament, hay rides and a corn maze, tiki carving, an automobile show, and dozens more activities. There is even a fox hunt (a subject of which I’d have no knowledge without the Beaches to Woodlands Tour).

Many of the events are fundraisers for local non-profit organizations. Individually they might not garner the publicity that a county-wide program with a concentrated marketing effort is able to achieve. Tour coordinator Karen Harrell does a great job of organizing and marketing the Tour for the Santa Rosa County Tourism Development Council. She utilizes traditional media, the Tour website and social media. You’ll find information here on Facebook, for example.

The organizations’ collective participation makes it a low-cost, high impact strategy to raise awareness for their individual businesses and events, while also promoting the diverse geography and cultural opportunities of the area.

So what does this mean for you? If you want to stretch your marketing and PR dollars, look for opportunities to come together with those around you. Businesses can join with other merchants nearby to lure current and potential customers to a special event. Your local Chamber of Commerce or Economic Development Council may offer these avenues. Conferences and festivals need vendors and sponsors, and they often provide an affordable way to get in front of your target customer base and showcase your organization alongside others in your community. If it’s a cause you’re advocating for, find others who share your position and team up to spread the message. Industry associations and lobbying groups do this daily on the federal and state levels. Whether it is sales you’re after or the hearts and minds of your stakeholders, you never have to go it alone.

How has your business or organization taken advantage of joint marketing or public relations opportunities? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Conference in Review: Florida Public Relations Association

Public relations and communications professionals from across the state of Florida gathered in St. Augustine this week for the 74th Annual Florida Public Relations Association Conference. As a first-time attendee, I was impressed with the hundreds of professionals who dedicate their time and energy to this organization. Past, present and future state and local board members took part in the event and shared multiple stories of how FPRA membership has enhanced their professional and personal life. They also were just a fun bunch to hang out with.

Members of the Pensacola and Northwest Florida Coast Chapters of FPRA

Over three days, I attended educational sessions covering online newsrooms, PR research and measurement, content marketing and brand journalism, special interest communications, grassroots campaigns, crisis management and much more. I made new friends and contacts who I look forward to working with in the future.

Whatever job you do, I highly recommend participating in an organization like FPRA. For me, the conference was a way to refresh my skills and renew my enthusiasm for the profession. Many years ago, through membership in a similar organization I learned about a job opening that turned into a 13-year career for me.

Courtesy of FPRA Gainesville


Some organizations are even cool enough to have their own red Solo cups. Cheers!

Check out my Flickr Photo Stream below for more pictures from St. Augustine.