MID-FLORIDA LOCAL IMAGE AWARDS sPRing Training

Research/Situational Analysis:

Submitted by Allison Campbell, APR

The Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) has always had a small but mighty membership.  Founded in 1980, the Ocala Chapter has hovered anywhere from 25-45 members with some years reaching close to 60.  One of the benefits of being a member includes participation in the state Image Awards competition, as well as in a Local Image competition that is conducted annually by chapters throughout the state.  The competition recognizes public relations programs and encourages and promotes the development of public relations professionals. In 1995, the Ocala Chapter hosted its first Local Image awards and did so for two more years.  In 1997, the last year the chapter hosted its own awards, they received eight entries.  Due to the small chapter membership it was hard to get more entries and find volunteers to continue the program.  The Ocala Chapter decided that it would participate and learn from other chapter’s competitions in the future.  From that point forward, the Ocala Chapter promoted to their membership the Gainesville Chapter’s Local Image awards located 50 miles north of Ocala.  In 2003, the Gainesville Chapter, that always had strong themed awards competitions, approached the Ocala Chapter about a partnership.  For two years  the Ocala Chapter didn’t partner, but in 2005, the Ocala Chapter started contributing a cash sponsorship that lead the Gainesville Chapter  to rename the awards the “North Central Florida Local Image Awards” and add “in association with the Ocala Chapter” to the Call for Entries.   In 2005, Ocala Chapter members entered 11 of the 39 total entries.  In 2006, Ocala had five of the 26 entries.  In 2007 and 2008 Ocala had nine entries both years and walked away, in 2007, with 16 awards including the three biggest awards and nine total awards in 2008.  Ocala members’ talent was definitely gaining ground in awards recognition.  Unfortunately, the partnership took a turn for the worse in 2009-2010, when the Ocala Chapter wanted to share in the revenue of the event since a majority of its members was coming away as winners.  The Gainesville Chapter felt otherwise, nevertheless, Ocala members had 15 entries that year and came away with 11 of the 19 awards, including the three biggest awards.  The 2010-2011 Ocala Chapter board decided that Ocala should part ways with Gainesville and conduct their own Image program for the Ocala members.

Objectives:

The overall goal was to increase the Ocala Chapter’s awareness and member participation in the Local Image Awards. Objectives included:

  1. To receive 20 entries from Ocala Chapter members, a 33 percent increase over the prior year.
  2. Receive three entries from members who had not competed previously in Image.
  3. To raise $650.00 in revenue for the Chapter treasury.
  4. Receive positive comments from 75 percent of closing ceremony attendees that indicated an exciting theme was created and infiltrated into every aspect of the promotion, program, and awards program.

Implementation:

During the first planning meeting, the co-chairs selected the name “sPRing Training” utilizing a baseball theme.  A committee formed that month, and Chapter members learned the theme at the October monthly meeting. Monthly member newsletters included baseball-lingo write-ups encouraging “players” to get in “game shape.”  The program was named “Mid-Florida Local Image Awards,” because the Ocala chapter invited a neighboring small chapter to participate in their competition. The Call for Entries went out in December with a logo featuring a baseball player catching an Image emblem in a glove.  Save the date baseball cards were distributed to members at the December and January meetings that included pertinent dates like Image workshops, entry deadline, and the awards celebration.  Three Image workshops assisted eight to14 members, veterans and rookies alike, in the Image process. Typically, Image Award celebrations are additional events for chapters.  The committee decided to incorporate the awards into a regularly scheduled monthly meeting as well as provide a professional development topic to encourage exposure to the Image process, calling it the “Season Opener.”  They selected a member of the Tampa Bay Rays management to speak on “Keeping Morale among Stakeholders When Key Figures Leave.”  Celebration invite postcards were mailed to Chapter members and sponsors. At the Season Opener, guests dined on concession stand fare: hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, peanuts, and soft pretzels while listening to stadium organ music overhead.  Event programs included a line-up of activities spelled out by inning and a scorecard to write-in winners’ names.  Attendees stood and sang “Take me Out to the Ballgame” during the “7th Inning Stretch,” and participants received souvenir mini bats with the Image emblem on them.

Evaluation:

  1. We received 25 entries from Ocala Chapter members, exceeding our objective by 25 percent!  It was the most entries ever submitted to Image in the Ocala Chapter’s 30-year history! The other chapter we invited did not participate in competition.
  2. We received entries from four members who competed for the first time.  Two of the first timers won awards.   Plus, 20 attendees noted in post-event surveys that they were interested in Image, and 18 said they would like to participate in the future.
  3. The original budget included another chapter’s participation, but in the end the Chapter still made $722.06 for the treasury (an 11 percent increase over our objective!)
  4. Fifty percent of members and prospects attending the Season Opener completed a Survey Monkey survey where we received 90.9 percent excellent marks with over 80 percent stating the theme was very effective.  Some noted: the theme was “carried out in every aspect,” a “Home run” and “will be hard to top next year.”  We efficiently exceeded chapter member’s expectations and surpassed our objective.

Budget:

The committee donated 43 hours of time. Through in-kind sponsorships of $1,300, a $500 cash sponsor, and Image entry and “Season Opener” fees, we exceeded budgeted revenue by $75!

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