FPRA Tampa Bay Keynote Address

Danny KushmerThank you very much. It’s an honor to speak with the Tampa Bay Chapter of FPRA. Today, I would like to spend a few minutes on what FPRA has done for me. More specifically, what I have gained by being involved with FPRA! We all know; the more you are involved in an organization, the more you get back.

But first, let me give you a little background on myself. Growing up as a farmer I would’ve never imagined “one day” I would have the opportunity to speak to such an exceptional group of PR professionals. However, I can say growing up on a farm probably prepared me for this day more than anything else.

Though, it was not always easy, especially for my Dad. I use to drive him nuts with crazy comments like: “You know a chicken is the only animal we eat before it is born and after it is dead”.

Of course, his comeback was always, “get to work boy”. My dad was a simple man, he expected you to work hard. But, he only expected me to work half a day and he didn’t care which half, 5 to 5 or 5 to 5.

Being a farmer, I learned early on that you could not live in your own little world. At the time, outside forces existed that wanted to put many farmers out of business. Cattle, dairy, sugar, tomatoes, citrus, and strawberries (just to name a few) all had challenges to deal with.

Many of these challenges came in the way of local, state, and federal regulations brought on by un-informed activists. In order to stand up for what I believed, I had to get involved. Just having a membership in a local, state, or national commodity group was not enough.

While my membership paid to have my views represented, putting a local face to the cause was always more compelling than having my message relayed by a lobbyist in Tallahassee or Washington.

When time permitted, I travelled to Tallahassee and Washington in order to spread the “good” news of the farming community. I would write editorials and speak to local business leaders and key organizations all to educate them on how a farmer is a good steward of the land.

Now, some 20 years later and as a government affairs manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, all the skills I’ve learned are put to good use spreading the news about water.

Today, my job mostly involves talking, which I have become pretty good. In fact, while travelling around Central-Florida speaking the good news of water conservation I realized I may have missed my calling.

Just like Jerry Clower, a fertilizer salesman turned comedian and storyteller I too could become famous. So, I decided to cut a deal with HBO.

Yes HBO. I pay them $30 dollars a month and I get about 15 channels. Nice deal huh?

While I felt prepared to take on this new role, I soon realized the world of water management is even more complicated than farming. You may have heard………….

A Pessimist believes the glass is half empty. The optimist thinks the glass is half full. But have you heard? In the world of water management, the engineer believes the glass was “over-engineered” for the amount of water in the glass. The hydrologist is trying to figure out where the water came from. The geologist is trying to figure out how old the water is. And at the water management district, where all just trying to figure out where the other half went.

That is the world I live in now!

So how can I do my job better? I work in the Office of Chief of Staff and I am so fortunate to have a boss that understands the need for PR skills and professional development. In fact, within the office of Chief of Staff including myself, we have 6 members of FPRA. The District is represented in 4 chapters, the Central-West Coast Chapter, the Nature Coast Chapter, (my chapter) Dick Pope/Polk County and of course, the Tampa Bay Chapter.

2013 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Florida Public Relations Association, the nation’s oldest PR organization providing professional development to over 1,000 members statewide. FPRA may not be the largest in the country but we are well respected.

Six years ago and at the urging of the District’s current Chief of Staff I became a member of FPRA. At first I felt like a fish out of water. I wondered how “I” could fit in with all of these great PR minds. Well, two things happened!

First, the members of the Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter reached out to me. They welcomed me and made me feel a part of this great organization. Second, I knew from my work with previous organizations, if I wanted to really learn from the best and maximize my membership I had to get involved.

I made sure I attended all the meetings, I volunteered on various committees, and I began to read up on the organization. After two years I was asked to sit on the board as secretary. I figured this wouldn’t be so hard, I can take notes; then I was told the position was also in-charge of writing press releases. WHAT?

I may have previously written editorial content, but a press release affecting an organization. Then it hit me, how else will I learn. So I reached out to a member that had previously held this role and enlisted his help.

That first year on the board was a tremendous learning experience. The next year I moved up to vice-president (which meant, I would soon become president-elect and then president). Oh my.

But each step in the process I gained more and more experience and confidence to take on each role.
And, once I became president I was ready for the challenge. I knew I had a passion for FPRA and to learn more and more, but what about my board? My leadership style was (and is) simple: CREATE PASSION!

How can you create passion among your peers, volunteer leaders, and within the “C” suite? First, be excited yourself while being contagious and competitive, then share with others. These are just a few traits I brought to the position of president during my leadership. And, I am happy to say it yielded rewards.

During my year as president, the Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter created a long-term fundraising event called the Carillon Classic 5K Run & Walk at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. The 5K brings much needed funds for professional development to our members as well as supporting the George W. Harris Jr. Runaway Youth & Crisis Shelter serving the teens of the Heartland. This year’s event is scheduled for May 25th and you can register online at Active.com.

Because of the CC5K and a passionate board, last year I was recognized as Chapter President of the Year and received the President’s Crowning Achievement Award for Financial Development. And, I was also honored to be elected to the State Executive Committee as Vice-President for Chapter Services.

Webster’s describes “Passion” as: Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling. One having a “Fervor”, “Zeal”, and “Ardor” Are you passionate about your job, FPRA or more importantly, your life?

While today’s entries into the Local Image Awards are diverse they all share one thing in common, they are all submitted with a passion. They all have a passion to share the fruits of their labor. The Local Image Awards is just the beginning. I trust each entry here today will also be entered into the State’s Golden Image Awards.

And for those that did not submit an entry today, you still have time. As mentioned earlier, FPRA is celebrating 75 years of promoting the field of Public Relations in Florida. And for 56 years we have been celebrating the Golden Image Awards!

On Tuesday, August 6th across the Bay at the Vinoy FPRA will feature “GOLD DIAMONDS are Forever”. Be a part of history and be recognized for your hard work in making your employer and organization stand out as the Diamond it is. But time is running out! Friday, May 17th is the deadline to submit your project to be eligible for 2013.

As we’ve learned here today, The Image Awards have become the standard of public relations excellence in the State of Florida. They are designed to recognize outstanding public relations programs and to encourage and promote the development of public relations professionalism in our state. Winners demonstrate the very best examples of innovation, planning and design.

As a member of the State Executive Committee I am very excited to be a part of today’s celebration. Whether I’m speaking on water conservation, flood protection, water supply, FPRA, or my family (which I am honored to have two here with me today) I speak with Passion.

Passion is driven by: Appreciation, Recognition, and being a part of things – involvement. FPRA’s Golden Image Awards bring together these three elements that help drive “Passion”. Be a part of it and drive your passion.

Finally, I want to thank each and every one of you here today for being involved in this great organization. If you are a seasoned member, then you know the value of FPRA. If you are a new member (like my daughter) I stand here today without any reservations in saying. You get more out of this organization than you will ever put in.

But you have to be involved. Be involved! Thank you very much!

Kaylie, Me and Cally

Danny Kushmer

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0 Responses to FPRA Tampa Bay Keynote Address

  1. well, nice post, thanks for share

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