Barbra Hernandez, APR, CPRC is the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Pinellas County Government. She is also the President of the Tampa Bay Chapter.
Tucked in my comfort zone back in 2011, for months I rejected the notion that I was ready to belong to a professional organization. My colleague, Peveeta Persaud, insisted over coffee and lunch that I needed to strongly consider membership with the Florida Public Relations Association. I was not a PR major in college, much less a communications expert. What could someone like me find in membership?
For several months, I attended a few FPRA events with the Ocala Chapter and always felt I got something out of it – a tip on how to write better, advice on how to manage a crisis or an introduction to another PR practitioner.
I finally joined in May of that year, with my colleague affirming her success at persuasion by officially “pinning” me in front of my peers. Shortly after, opportunities to serve starting finding me. Through the years, I took on various board roles: hospitality, membership, programs, president-elect and then, in 2016, president of the Ocala Chapter. A change in jobs ended my tenure ahead of time, but FPRA would soon find a way to get me back into leadership.
This September, I became president of the Tampa Bay Chapter. During the installation event, a familiar face made it into the crowd. My friend Peveeta was there once again, smiling and encouraging me as she did on my first day of membership.
I have been a member for seven years now, and can truly say there is much to be found in FPRA: inspiring mentors and supportive colleagues; APR and CPRC credentials; Annual Conference; endless professional development resources; state and local recognition; and opportunities to lead through board service.
Collectively, they have contributed to my greatest FPRA find: a better version of myself.