One of the best perks of my job is working in a location that is teeming with wildlife. The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute is located on Bayboro Harbor in downtown St. Petersburg, and each day we have a unique opportunity to witness something special. On my lunch break a few weeks ago, I was observing schools of tarpon rolling over the calm waters of the harbor when a bottlenose dolphin approached the seawall near our building in search of a quick lunch. The dolphin provided a solid 10 minutes of entertainment while chasing fish and playing hide and seek with its prey. A few of my coworkers were there to see it, and it was certainly a unique experience for all of us. We often find great stories when we least expect it, and having the freedom to grab a camera (or my phone in this case) and escape the confines of my desk is one of the best parts of my job. Seeing a dolphin in the wild is much more rewarding than seeing one behind glass, and I hope everyone has an opportunity to experience what we did that day.
It’s been over a year since my last entry, but for good reason! I’ve been working as a social media coordinator for almost two years now, building an online brand and reputation that has thrived since my humble start at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in August 2013. A job in social media may sound fun to most since it’s something we all use on a daily basis, but it takes an incredible amount of hard work, dedication, planning and strategy to manage social media for a company or organization. I’ve been fortunate enough to promote the great research being done at the institute via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram, and the most rewarding part of it all is getting to learn about Florida’s natural environment and the many fascinating marine science and research projects happening around the state. I’m learning something new everyday, and the knowledge I’ve gained over the last year and a half is something I never could have never imagined when I first started in this position.
One thing I’ve come to find out while immersed in a social media career is that the media no longer relies on the traditional news release for ideas and story leads. Reporters now have the luxury of scanning social media sites for story ideas, and the PR industry has benefited by reaching the media via different channels. On the institute’s Facebook page, print reporters and local, state and national television news stations track our content on a weekly basis, and our stories have gone viral from news outlets picking them up directly from our social media channels. As our audience has grown larger, we’ve become more aware that the general public is not our only target audience. Technology and the rise of social media has transformed the PR industry for the better, and it’s given us an opportunity to foster trust and good will with not only the public but with members of the media. The news release will always be a staple in our profession, but social media gives PR pros another avenue for reaching reporters at the right time, with the right message and on the right medium.
Social media is here to stay, and public relations professionals need to begin identifying how it can be best leveraged to achieve important communications goals for a client, company or organization.
I talk to a lot of my friends about their plans after graduation, and the one response I hear most often is an eagerness to leave the state of Florida. I’ve never quite understood it, but maybe that’s because this humid subtropical paradise is the only place I’ve ever known.
Growing up in the Florida Keys made a lasting impression on me, everything from exploring coastal mud flats with friends to witnessing the pristine beauty of coral reefs, remote beaches and abundant marine life. The fond memories of waking up at sunrise to spend a day with my family on our boat have been lost in the waves of urban life.
I consider myself lucky to have experienced such a unique childhood in a little place known as Cudjoe Key, Fla.
Some yearn for snow and others seek mountain terrains, but my loyalty will always lie with the sea. It’s something about the sun, sand and saltwater that’s engrained in my character and being.
If you’re thinking of coming down to Florida and you’re not going to Disneyland, take some time to explore the many other amazing places Florida has to offer.