Board Member Spotlight – Russell Tuff “Don’t sell the stuff, sell the benefits…”

russell_tuff_social_impactWhy are you involved in the PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter board?

I’ve been in business in the area for years doing a variety of things. When I decided to start a PR company that specialized in internet technologies, I also decided to join the PRSA chapter to become involved and make friends with PR people in the community. I didn’t think I would gain that much at first, but I made new friends and found real value in the National and International PRSA offerings. As PR professionals, we all have areas where we excel and the local chapter facilitates collaboration rather than competition. The educational opportunities through PRSA are outstanding. For example, I attended the PRSA international conference last year and it reinforced my own practices, confirming that I am doing the right thing. I learned a few tips as well.

What is you day-to-day like?

A company will call me and tell me they want to introduce a new product, or increase their business with an effective website. I try to demonstrate people using their product or service and enjoying it, rather than selling just the product itself; don’t sell the stuff, sell the benefits for what it does for you. For instance, take the story of how it benefits their customers and show others its benefits through a personal story. I try to catch the human emotions – whether it’s overcoming obstacles or how their life got better, etc. I help the company gain exposure for the product through the actual human person, not the product itself. Company website is Social-Impact.

What are some of your first real jobs?

I had many odd jobs when I was young. such as mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, cleaning fish at resorts,  US Forestry, worked at Hardee’s flipping burgers, Zales Jewelry, and investment adviser and field trainer with IDS American Express. I started working in the newspaper business in 1965, sweeping floors in the offices of my parents’ weekly paper in Blackduck, MN. I continued to grow in the industry. After graduation from college and an investment adviser career, I went back to the newspaper business for about 25 years.

Where do you currently work and how did you end up there?

I currently run a company called Social-Impact. At first, I tried teaching business people how to make their websites and social media platforms work for them. They just couldn’t do it. They couldn’t keep up with running their business and taking the necessary time to manage their web presence.  That said, I saw that businesses needed to make money from their web presence and decided to help them market themselves and manage their sites. That was the birth of Social-Impact, a PR company specializing in the internet. My job tittle there is the Managing Partner.

What is a typical day like in Russell Tuff’s shoes?

A company will call me and tell me they want to introduce a new product, or increase their business with an effective website. I try and demonstrate people using their product or service and enjoying it, rather than selling just the product itself; don’t sell the stuff, sell the benefits for what it does for you. For instance, take the story of how it benefits their customers and show others its benefits through a personal story. I try to catch the human emotions – whether it’s overcoming obstacles or how their life got better, etc. I help the company gain exposure for the product through the actual human person not the product itself.

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy outside of work?

I’m in all kinds of stuff in the community, like a lot of nonprofit groups, civic associations, church groups, and more. I enjoy helping people improve their personal performance and satisfaction in life. I even go on weekend retreats with folks to turn their lives around! You can visit my personal web page at

Emergency & Crisis Communications in Collier County – Past, Present and Future

Join us for our June PRSA Lunch N Learn, Tuesday, June 25th, at the Naples Hilton.

stephanine-spell-prsa-speakerYou will find our June topic very timely as hurricane season is upon us.  No – this isn’t a hurricane awareness seminar. It’s about vital Crisis Communications Management. We have secured two experts in Collier County who definitely have outstanding crisis communications skills and can provide cutting edge information and techniques critical to successfully managing the most challenging situations.


Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, June 25th for “Emergency & Crisis Communications in Collier County – Past, Present and Future” presented by Chief Stephanie Spell, Chief of Community Engagement Department – Collier County Sheriff’s Office  and Jim von Rinteln, Emergency Recovery Coordinator, Collier County Government.


john-von-ritelnYou may not need to tangle with a hurricane, but chances are good that you will need these techniques for you and your key stakeholders at some point.  Be prepared!  We’ll see you on June 25th!

To Register – Click Here!

Chief Stephanie Spell Biography

Chief Stephanie Spell heads the Community Engagement Department within the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.  As a member of Sheriff Kevin Rambosk’s executive command staff, she provides leadership for several law enforcement bureaus, including Public Information and Media Relations, Crime Prevention, Crime Analysis, Planning and Research, Victim Advocate, Senior Services, Minority Affairs and Volunteers.

Stephanie has been with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office since 1987. A Naples resident since 1977, she is originally from Woodstock, New York and Block Island, Rhode Island.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Administration and is currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program at Barry University.

A graduate of Leadership Institute (2006) and Leadership Collier (2010), Stephanie is a CALEA assessor, past board member of Collier 4-H and Grace Place, and currently serves on the editorial board of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce magazine publication, Business Currents.

Jim von Rinteln Biography

Jim von Rinteln, Emergency Recovery Coordinator – Collier County Government, is a member of Collier County’s Growth Management Division working with the Operations and Regulatory Management team on community development issues, including the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Damage Assessment and Disaster Recovery initiatives.


Jim served as the Emergency Operations Coordinator for the County from 1997 – 2010, where he was involved in every disaster that affected the community during that time.   Additionally he was the lead in designing and building the County’s new Emergency Services Center which has received recognition for best practices at both the State and National level.  From 2010 – 2011 Jim served as the Regional CEO of the American Red Cross for both Lee and Collier Counties where he successfully consolidated their disaster services support to the Southwest Florida region.

Jim holds an MA in Resource Management from Hawaii Pacific University.  He is certified in the following areas: Florida Professional Emergency Manager (FPEM); International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) as a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM); by FEMA as a Professional and Advanced Professional in Disaster Operations, and by the State Association of Floodplain Managers as a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM). Jim is a proud graduate of Leadership Collier 2012.

Jim is originally from Maryland, where he attended the University of Maryland in College Park and received his BA in Political Science.  Upon graduation, he entered the Army where he spent a career as a helicopter pilot and senior staff officer prior to his retirement in 1996.  During his military career he was involved in several disaster recovery operations assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including Hurricane Iniki and Andrew in 1992, which lead him to his post military career as an Emergency Management professional in Collier County.

In 2006 Jim received a Distinguished Public Service Award from the Naples Chamber of Commerce; the 2008 Emergency Management Award from the Governor of Florida and in 2011 was named a James V. Mudd Fellow for his contributions to leadership in Collier County.

May PRSA Membership Specials

During the month of May, any new PRSSA graduates with less than 2 years PR experience receive a free 1-year “New Professionals Section” membership when they join National as an Associate member ($60-$155 annual dues). Chapter and other section dues are additional. When completing the application, you must refer to promo code AM13.

During the month of August, new members receive a free 1-year Chapter membership with they join National as a regular member ($255 annual dues + $65 initiation fee). When completing the application, you must refer to promo code AUG13.



Member Spotlight – Barry Nicholls “Life is Good”

Barry Nicholls – Paradise Jewelry

What is your favorite aspect about owning a jewelry store?

I love getting to be creative and deal with happy people, and it’s a fun business! There’s a lot of magic and romance involved that I get to share with people. It’s a very special place. I get to see their faces light up and share in their personal triumphs and reasoning behind the gifts (birthdays, anniversaries, etc). I help them pick it, design it and everything has our personal touch. We also redesign jewelry; therefore, we regenerate and renew old jewelry and give them the original excitement. We sometimes even write people a check after we charge them for their design because we buy the old scraps of jewelry. When they walk out with jewelry that matches their personality and with a check in the other hand, it doesn’t get better than that!

What was your least favorite aspect about owning a jewelry store?

The American dream is opening up your own business.  At first, when you open a business, you start out working more hours, because it’s your business and you want to see it succeed. For the first 10 years I was working over 100 hours a week! But now, I have a fantastic team in my store and they’re good people that I trust to run the store.

Do you wear/own any of the jewelry you are currently selling?

Yes. I try to showcase my designs for a while before they go in the case.

What is your favorite type of jewelry?

I love all kinds and have a special affinity for colored gemstones.

Why are you involved with the PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter?

Because I do all of the PR for my store (the PR dept so to speak) and my
membership helps me to keep up with the latest goings on as well as finely
tune my professional side. As an entrepreneur, I have to be well versed in
every aspect of making a business successful. And I really like the people I
see at the meetings.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

A variety of things; I used to throw knives a long time ago, but now I enjoy reading, I love fishing, sitting on my lanai and watching my butterfly garden, dancing, and I’m working on some books. My friends wonder how I can keep up with myself, but I make time to do other things that I enjoy besides work.

Why the long hair? Does it get difficult to manage sometimes?

My hairdresser kept leaving me voicemails. She was too busy to answer her phone or call me back, so I thought she was too busy to cut my hair and didn’t need my business. With that being said, I came to the conclusion that I don’t need a haircut. I used to have long hair in the 70’s, but people gave me a hard time about it back then. Now all of my guy friends give me a hard time about it, but the girls think it’s sexy! And nowadays, no one has really insulted me about it, it’s much more accepted. It does require a little bit of care but it’s fun! Sometimes strangers pull on my ponytail, but I get a kick out of the attention.

Just a few of Barry’s Mottos:

Attitude is a choice you make and I choose to be happy everyday.

Life is Good

Most people are happy when they come in, but if not, we make sure they are very happy when they leave.


Member Spotlight – Kylee Pitts “Always on the run…literally”

Kylee Pitts - Avow
Kylee Pitts – Avow

Where do you currently work?

I work at Avow as the Media Relations Specialist.

Why are you involved in the PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter?

I am involved in the PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter for a number of reasons. For example, I want to represent myself as a young, caring professional in Naples. I want to expand my horizons and knowledge of the PR profession and it’s a good opportunity to meet people in the profession. I look up to people in the industry. I’m 25 and have been in the industry for only 3 years. The people in PRSA have a lot of knowledge, and if I have a question, they are able to help me answer it. It’s also a great networking opportunity.

Do you currently hold a position on the board of PRSA?

Yes, I hold the position of Hospitality Chair. I greet people and collect money, check people in, etc. I wanted to be involved in PRSA so I decided to go for a position.

What is your day-to-day life like at work?

At work I update Facebook and Twitter, basically manage all of the social media. I also draft press releases, update flyers, anything promotion wise. I sometimes take pictures of us accepting a check, etc. With every day comes a lot of variety in my PR-related tasks.

What do you do outside of work? Do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy running half-marathons. I just did one this past weekend at Disney, which I would highly recommend! It was my 12th half-marathon and I’m still walking a little funny. I’m also working on getting my APR. I enjoy going to events for children’s organizations and volunteering for Naples Junior Women’s Club (serving on their board) and Youth Haven, where they have started a group of young professionals. I have a puppy named Lord Bentley; we chose to add some character to his name because he is a little character.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I know I will have my APR and I will still be at Avow and around locally. Hopefully I will be more seasoned than I am now and more knowledgeable about PR!

Kylee is well on her way to being a great PR pro!

PRSA – Sunshiners Helping Sunshiners!

by Diane W. Jones, MPA, APR

Chair, PRSA Sunshine District

Greetings fellow Sunshiners! I am so excited to be the Chair of the PRSA Sunshine District for 2012. For those of you who don’t know, PRSA National is made up of 10 districts that cover the entire country. One of those districts is the Sunshine District, which covers the entire state of Florida. Most districts are comprised of several states. However, the Sunshine District is the only district that represents just one state. I think this makes us special because it allows us to really know each other, both personally and professionally.

A great example of this camaraderie recently occurred between two PR professionals that worked over a hundred miles from each other. Their connection?  They are both PRSA members and they are both active in the PRSA Sunshine District. Here is their story.

The first communication came as a direct message on Twitter from an Orlando PRSA member to two PRSA members in the Tampa Bay Chapter. Orlando wanted to know if the two Tampa members could provide specific media contacts in the area for an event taking place in Tampa. Within just a few hours, Orlando had several very good media contacts that she could pitch. The result? Story placements in several excellent media outlets to promote her event.

I love this example of how members of the PRSA Sunshine District helped each other. And there are dozens of other examples like this that occur each month. I am proud to be leading a district like this. And I hope you all are just as proud to be members.



Don’t forget to Save the Date! The 2012 Sunshine District Conference is June 21-23 in St. Petersburg at the Poynter Institute. Bookmark for the latest information.


April 2011 | New Rules of Engagement: Communicating Transparency, Quality and Healthy Lifestyles

April 27-29, 2011 | Washington, D.C.

With health care reform in flux, along with increased focus on public reporting of data, quality outcomes and illness prevention, public relations and communications professionals are expected to have the knowledge to provide advice and implement strategies on these complex issues. Are you ready? Join your colleagues for the premier health care public relations and communications conference and:

* Examine policy and best practices alongside industry experts. Hear how the changes spurred by the health care reform legislation will impact best practices in the short- and long-term.

* Fine-tune communications strategies and vehicles for effective messaging to a variety of audiences, including health care consumers and the media.

* Expand your insight and professional network by connecting with health care public relations and communications professionals in the hospital, pharmaceutical, agency, payer and association/nonprofit sectors.

This year’s conference features dynamic programming including:

Elizabeth Cohen

Keynoter Elizabeth Cohen*, CNN senior medical correspondent, will share insight from her book, “The Empowered Patient: How to Get the Right Diagnosis, Buy the Cheapest Drugs, Beat Your Insurance Company, and Get the Best Medical Care Every Time,” which will be given to all conference attendees at no charge. You will learn how to:

* Set expectations and offer support for patients and their families.

* Position your organization to collect and respond to feedback.

* Integrate the communications tactics necessary to facilitate high quality care.

* Understand the “new rules” of communicating with empowered patients and caregivers.

Check out the PRSA ComPRehension blog post, “On the Pulse.” Roger Simon, Politico chief political columnist and Health Academy Conference keynoter, sits down with Health Academy’s Joyce Lofstrom, APR, to discuss a variety of issues, from what it’s like to interview President Obama in the Oval Office to how communicators can help shape the ongoing discussion on health care reform.

Hear a podcast preview: 2011 Health Academy Conference Co-Chair Ellen Beth Levitt speaks with Phair Advantage President and past PRSA President Judy Phair about her upcoming conference session, “Ethics and Today’s New World of Health Communications.”

A Community You Can Count On

Dear Chapter Leaders:

I am excited to provide you details for our upcoming Membership Campaign – “A Community You Can Count On” which offers new members a free Chapter membership when they join PRSA.

As you know Membership involves you. Once a month, I will send you  updates providing you with details to assist your Chapter.   Based off your feedback, I will be reviewing the content of these emails and update them to provide you with tips, tools and tactics to best lead your Chapter.  This month we will only discuss our Chapter promotion, but stay tuned as a new and improved forum is created to provide you with the tools you need. If there is additional information you think we should be providing – please let me know. In the meantime, enjoy the information about the promotion!


This offer will be the same as the previous free Chapter campaign we ran earlier this year. When a new member joins PRSA national they receive, a free one-year membership to the PRSA Chapter of their choice. PRSA National covers the cost of the first year Chapter dues!


In order to assist you we created a website that provides tips and tools to get the most from this promotion. For this promotion we created additional resources to expand our reach. The resources include:


In the next few days you will be receiving a packet from us that includes:

  • Offer overview and tips.
  • Promotional fliers.
  • Our generic membership application with a space for the promotion code in the payment section. We do encourage prospects to join online.

Additional Information

This offer is open to new members and reinstating members who have been inactive for at least one year and rejoin as regular members. (Associate members are not eligible).

Reimbursements are made with the monthly payments that National sends to Chapters for dues collected.

At the end of this promotion, we will award the Chapters who have:

  • Greatest overall growth during the promotion.
  • Most new members specifically from this offer.

Awards are reimbursements towards Chapter professional development expenses; the total number of new members from the promotion determines the award amounts.

What is National Doing?

In addition to providing Chapters with resources we will be doing the following as part of this campaign:

  • Direct email to prospects – people who have attended a PRSA PD Event.
  • Posting details on all of our social media channels.
  • Encouraging key leaders to blog about the value of membership!
  • Providing a prominent position on our website.


Your feedback is really important to us.  Please take one minute and click here to answer four questions about future promotions, it would be really appreciated.

For those of you who I am just starting to work with. I am really looking forward to growing our community together. Please contact me if you need anything or would like to share ideas, suggestions etc.


Mary Ann T. Green
Membership Chair, PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter