Feature A

Francis McMichael gives insight to public relations.

Francis McMichael discusses her past and present public relations experiences as she reflects on her 30-year public relations career.

LAKE WALES, Fla. – Francis McMichael, community outreach coordinator for the Lake Wales Charter Schools, discusses her experience in the public relations field and offers advice to those pursuing a public relations career.

McMichael posts new releases to the Lake Wales Charter Schools Facebook page.

Community outreach coordinator for the Lake Wales Charter Schools, Francis McMichael, posting her news releases to the Lake Wales Charter Schools Facebook page Oct. 21, 2009 in Lake Wales, Fla. McMichael finds Facebook as a great means of communication. (Photo/Ashley Callender)

“My major was journalism. I was really good at it but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to,” said Frances McMichael, community outreach coordinator for the Lake Wales Charter Schools.

“I had an opportunity to switch into a public relations job so I did.”

After numerous internships at newspapers during college at the University of Florida, McMichael realized that newspapers did not give her the opportunity to reflect on what she had done. She was able to switch into the public relations field with her excellent writing skills and knowledge of media relations.

At her current job she is responsible for the media relations of the six schools located within the Lake Wales Charter School system.

“The six schools want as much publicity as possible, so I try to generate as much publicity as possible,” McMichael said.

McMichael is also responsible: for taking pictures, writing and sending news releases, updating the webpage and facebook, sending thank you letters, coordinating mail campaigns, working with community groups, and organizing events as needed.

No two days are the same for McMichael, but she likes that.

“It can be a little frustrating. You find that you don’t get things done, but most days I’m in the office,” she said.

With over 30 years in the public relations field, one specific moment sticks out in her head.

Ten years ago, when she was the community relations director for Polk County Public Schools, the superintendent made a last minute decision to impose mandatory school uniforms for all Polk County elementary and middle schools starting in August.

“I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown,” she said as she reflected back on that trying time in her career.

From tip sheets sent home to parents to radio PSAs to interviews, she covered every angle she possibly could to get the word to the public.

“In the end it went really well,” McMichael said.

McMichael described technology as one major change in the public relations industry throughout the years.

She remembers typing news releases on an IBM selectric typewriter and then distributing them through the mail. Now she can type a news release and distribute it to multiple people through her e-mail, Facebook and company website.

McMichael believes that reading the newspaper daily is a great way to stay in the know. Aside from reading newspapers she feels that anyone in the public relations field should have decent photography, organization, design and writing skills.

[ By ASHLEY CALLENDER ]

Nov. 7, 2010

Keywords: public relations, Lake Wales Charter Schools, Polk County School Board, Facebook


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