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PRSA Tampa Bay Member Spotlight: Elizabeth Watts

June 3, 2014

Every two weeks, we put a spotlight on a PRSA Tampa Bay member to learn more about their public relations background, advice on best practices and why they love working in the field.

Next up in our #PRSATB Spotlight is Elizabeth Watts, director of media & community relations at Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. Elizabeth is a firm believer in life-long learning and says, “The PR field always presents the opportunity to grow and develop new skills.”

Beth Watts

Beth Watts

Name: Elizabeth Watts

Title: Director of Media & Community Relations

Company: Bloomin’ Brands, Inc.

Connect with Elizabeth on LinkedIn.

1)    Tell us a little bit about your career, educational/professional background and how you got to where you are today.

Probably like many others fresh out of college, I knew exactly what I wanted to do – or so I thought! I was ready to begin my journey in television news, armed with an undergraduate degree in Mass Media Arts (Broadcast Emphasis). Over the next eight years, I had the opportunity to work in several markets, covering some major stories and earning a few Emmy newscast nominations. However, after all types of hours, always working holidays and cancelling vacations, I felt it was time for a change. Hello friendly field of PR with normal hours and holidays off! Okay, do any of us really have that? I didn’t think so (nonetheless, that’s probably what keeps us going).

Next stop: I accepted a job with local government as a Public Information Officer. I was a spokesperson for a police and fire department. This was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything – 3am callouts and all. I grew leaps and bounds professionally. I learned how to manage critical incidents at a moment’s notice, carefully deciding what details to release, while protecting sensitive investigative or patient information.

Last year, I had an amazing opportunity to join Bloomin’ Brands (parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar and Roy’s). Although I loved what I was doing and the people I worked with, it was the right opportunity at the right time – and it’s been a truly amazing experience. As part of the Corporate Communications team, I oversee local media relations nationwide for the company’s founder-inspired brands, including crisis communications and brand reputation management. I also lead the company’s community relations initiatives.

I am thankful for my professional journey and while I know everyone has a different path, I encourage people to take good opportunities when they present themselves and learn everything you can along the way.

2)    What do you wish someone had told you when you first started your career in PR?

Don’t be a workaholic! I have learned that work-life balance is essential for longevity (really in any career). No one can be “on” 24/7 and be exceptional at what they do. Give it your all and do your very best – but also take time to recharge. Always make time for yourself and for your family – life is short and there are some things that you can’t get back.

3)    What do you love most about working as a PR professional?

You never know what a new day will bring. New challenges keep things interesting and keep you on your toes. I am a firm believer in life-long learning and the PR field always presents the opportunity to grow and develop new skills.

4)    Do you think it takes a certain kind of personality to thrive in PR? What traits are most important?

Definitely! I believe some of the traits or mindsets that can help someone excel in PR include:

  • Flexible/Adaptable
  • Inquisitive
  • Ability to anticipate
  • Business-minded (see the big picture)
  • Thick-skinned (everyone gets shot down)

5)    What’re some of your personal hobbies outside of work/PR?

I am a beach bum! I try to take full advantage of living in Florida on the beautiful Gulf coast. My beach excursions are as frequent as possible, not to mention elaborate with chairs, shade, food, music and activities. We can spend the entire day out there and probably night too!

If you are interested in being featured in a “PRSATB Member Spotlight,” please reach out to Jenna Stock.

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