I first learned about the Florida Public Relations Association about 18 years ago as an undergrad at FSU. Professors encouraged all PR majors to join one of the largest student chapters in the state – it was promoted as a great way to find internships and explore potential career paths. At the time, I remember thinking how cool it was to have club like FPRA! So I joined and quickly realized the value of membership was in the amazing networking and professional development opportunities.
Fast forward through an unexpected transfer to my alma mater, UCF, then a brief career as newspaper reporter and I eventually landed back in the PR field. I rejoined FPRA as a professional member of the Space Coast chapter because I had craved the type of professional development programs I remembered from FSU and wanted to build more relationships with like-minded pros in my community. I never imagined the association would become such a big part of my life. I’ve spent the past four years serving on the local board in various roles, working alongside some of the most talented professionals in Brevard County to create meaningful opportunities for our members. While it’s been a lot of work, I think all of my fellow board members will agree – it is a labor of love to serve the association. Many senior leaders at the state level jokingly refer to this as “drinking the Kool-Aid.”
Despite the reference, FPRA isn’t a cult. Nor is it a club. It’s a professional organization dedicated to helping PR professionals do their jobs better. The Space Coast Chapter was founded in 1985 by Dick Baumbach, a PR agency owner who still passionately supports our chapter. In fact, Dick is re-joining the Space Coast chapter board of directors as a member at-large for the 2021-2022 membership year! When I asked him why he founded the chapter and what FPRA means to him, he told me this: “It was the right time and the right place. FPRA is about success and support of each other in the world of public relations. It’s been a wonderful journey to get to know so many strong, good people who want success for their companies as well as the association.”
I share all of this with you because I believe history and tradition are important. We need to understand where we came from to figure out where we are going. For FPRA, this means that our experiences can help us navigate toward the future and continuously improve on what we do to help professionals in the community. If there is anything the events of this past year have taught us, it’s the importance of our ability to innovate and change to meet our members’ needs. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, so it’s hard to predict what the future of our chapter’s programs will look like. What I do know is that if we can survive 2020, we can survive anything. I’m excited to see what the 2021-2022 membership year will bring.
As my term as Space Coast FPRA president comes to a close, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported our events and programs this past year. It’s truly been an honor. I have made the difficult decision to step down from our board to focus on professional and personal goals and spend more time with family. But I’ll still be around and would love to stay connected, so feel free to contact me directly any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Autumn Shrum, APR, President