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Sorting out the ABCs of professional organizations

Posted by Natalie Spindle on Apr 3, 2018 10:27 AM

As someone who is still early in my career, I quickly learned the value professional organizations provide. After working at Brunet-García for a year and a half, I learned many of my coworkers share the same idea. Team members at our agency are deeply involved in organizations that provide professional development, volunteer, and networking opportunities. We all have our own specific reasons for being part of our respective organizations, but we share the same passion for being part of a group that supports our personal and professional growth. Learn more about our involvement and consider checking out an event for yourself.

American Advertising Federation (AAF)

What they’re all about: AAF Jacksonville is the local chapter of the American Advertising Federation within the AAF Fourth District, which includes Florida and the Caribbean. AAF Jacksonville provides the local advertising, marketing, and public relations community with education, competitions, and networking opportunities. They strive to offer insights into industry advances and a forum to engage with other professionals in the industry.

Our members: In Jacksonville: Associate Creative Director Aerien Mull and Business Development / Contract Administrator Leslie Lalonde. In Washington, D.C.: Senior Marketing Strategist Angel Fernandez-Clark serves as co-membership chair for the Baltimore chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and is a member of the AAF D.C. chapter. Media Director Lani Camacho is membership chair of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Advertising Federation. 

Describe an especially enjoyable event that you were part of and what made it so valuable for you.

Aerien: The ADDY Awards hold a special place in my heart. As an employee of Brunet-García, I have been involved with submitting entries for nine years and counting. Once I got involved with the AAF board, I have witnessed the demanding work and very long hours necessary to host the competition and put on the awards gala. The community sees the sparkle of the party and feels the recognition from an award but not the behind-the-scenes work of finding and flying in judges, managing the submission software, sorting hundreds of entries, sourcing awards, creating an awards reel, and the list goes on. Being involved with both sides of the event over the years has been very rewarding and has helped me learn how to think on my feet!

12657834_10156410214760858_4686245998831847542_oAerien Mull presents at the 2016 Jacksonville ADDY Awards.

What recommendations do you have for others looking to get involved in your organization or any professional group for that matter?

Leslie: JUST COME! JUST REACH OUT! JUST MAKE THE MOVE! Any professional organization in Jacksonville would be happy to have you. Network, send an email, join an event, attend a board meeting, just jump in and get started.  

2018-01-25Leslie LaLonde and Aerien Mull celebrate at the 2016 Jacksonville ADDY Awards.

American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA)

What they’re all about: The Jacksonville chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts boasts around 200 members—graphic designers, interactive designers, illustrators, copywriters, educators, and design students, as well as professionals in related fields such as printing, prepress, and photography. AIGA Jacksonville hosts a variety of programs throughout the year that emphasize both professional and educational development. Some events promote excellence in design, but all AIGA events offer both students and professionals a prime opportunity to network. Ultimately, AIGA Jacksonville strives to position Jacksonville as a leader in the field of design.

Our member: Art Director Cassie Deogracia

Do you hold a leadership position?

Cassie: I’m currently serving as community ambassador. I wanted to really be a part of the action and help make a difference for AIGA. The best part of my position is that I get to bring the community together and work to ensure that we’re inclusive and engaging in all our initiatives and events. I am working to expand out attendance beyond only graphic designers to share the value of our work with the community at large.

What types of events does your organization host and can anyone attend?

Cassie: We host a variety of events, such as our monthly networking mixer known as Cocktails & Creatives, and annual events including, the Always Summer Poster Show, I Love Design speaker event, pre-graduation portfolio preview for design students, and other design-related events throughout the year. Many of our events are open to the public, but we mainly host events that cater to the overall design and creative community.

35939753960_55e5a3061d_oCassie Deogracia and the AIGA Board at the 2017 Always Summer’Poster Show.

Cathedral Arts Project Young Professionals (CAPtivators)

What they’re all about: CAPtivators is a young professionals group that exists to raise awareness and money for the local nonprofit, Cathedral Arts Project (CAP) and advocate for arts education in public schools.

Our member: Senior Account Manager Kate Jolley

What have you found to be most beneficial about your experience with CAP?

Kate: I was introduced to the group when Brunet-García refreshed CAP’s brand identity in 2011.  I love meeting other young professionals who share the same love for the arts, and CAPtivators has given me that opportunity. I can network and raise money for a worthy cause. Additionally, I find it important to find a cause separate from my regular day-to-day focus to expand my reach and horizon.

Do you hold a leadership position?

Kate: 2017 was my third and final year as president. It was important to me to leave my mark on the organization because I truly believe in the importance of arts education. It is my hope that our efforts build a network of invested leaders and donors.

14902765_1465024853513734_4125074755351950384_oKate Jolley and the CAP Board at the 2017 Diner en Noir fundraising event.

Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA)

What they’re all about: FPRA has chapters all around the state of Florida that aim to provide public relations professionals with opportunities to hear from leaders in the industry, learn best practices, and network with colleagues.

Our member: Public Relations and Social Media Strategist Natalie Spindle

Describe an especially enjoyable event that you were part of and what made it so valuable for you.

Natalie: Hearing from the Orlando public information officers involved in the Pulse Nightclub event response has been the most profound FPRA event I have attended. I have barely scraped the surface of crisis communications in my career, so hearing from people who managed such a tragic event was very valuable and memorable for me. You can’t really prepare for an event of that scale just by reading case studies, so hearing a first-hand account really helps to put things in perspective. I appreciate all the opportunities to hear about real experiences from communications professionals in the field; it’s what makes FPRA so invaluable to me.

D5C61023-Natalie Spindle at a 2017 FPRA event with the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field.

International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)

What they’re all about: IABC is an international network of 15,000 communication professionals in more than 80 countries with members in corporate communications, internal communications, social media, and public relations from large companies, small businesses, communication agencies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, as well as freelancers, sole practitioners, and consultants. IABC Jacksonville represents professional communicators in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Fernandina Beach, Gainesville, and South Georgia, and holds monthly professional development meetings, hands-on workshops throughout the year, and quarterly networking mixers open to members, nonmembers, and students.

Our member: Senior PR Manager Denise M. Reagan

IABC panel David DeCamp Jamie Thibodeaux Tayloe McDonald 3

David DeCamp, corporate and marketing communications manager at Crowley; Jamie Thibodeaux, a nurse manager at Nemours; and Tayloe McDonald, vice president of strategic partnerships at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, appear on a panel at the March IABC meeting on "Creating a Company Culture That Attracts Customers and Employees."

What’s the most valuable part of membership in IABC?

Denise: The monthly programs cover some of the most valuable topics for people who work in all areas of communications. I’ve learned about what body language tells people before you speak a word, how to become a valuable strategic adviser, useful tips for telling stories, and much more.

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

What they’re all about: PRSA represents more than 30,000 communications professionals spanning every industry and offers professional development, celebrates innovation and excellence within the industry, upholds principles of ethics, and acts as one of the industry’s leading voices. The North Florida Chapter, called PRville, represents Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee, and St. Augustine, as well as Valdosta, Georgia. The region also includes Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapters at University of Florida, University of North Florida, Florida A&M University, Valdosta State University, and Flagler College. PRSA organizes professional development activities, monthly luncheon programs, accreditation sessions, socials, and other activities.

Our member: Senior PR Manager Denise M. Reagan

Why did you join PRSA?

Denise: When I worked at Folio Weekly, PRSA invited me to speak at a couple of events. When I moved into the communications role at MOCA Jacksonville, Bonnie Upright recruited me to join. I’ve been attending local PRSA events regularly ever since. I even attended a district conference in Naples, Florida. I have found the topics helpful and informative, and I enjoy the opportunity to meet others in my field.

Mary Kelli Palka Editor The Florida Times-Union PRSA

Florida Times-Union Editor Mary Kelli Palka shares insights at a 2018 PRSA meeting attended by Denise M. Reagan.