Carolyn Rogers, APR, CPRC, CFRE and principal of SimplifyPR presented “Putting the ‘Special’ in Events” at this month’s luncheon. Ms. Rogers is the event and PR coordinator for the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, Lee County’s all-time largest netting fundraising event, and one of the top 10 wine auctions in the USA.

Carolyn’s top tips to make your events special are:

1.  Don’t rely on corporate sponsors.  Individuals make up the largest portion of donors.
2.  Pause for the cause. Highlight the reason for the event in a memorable way.
3.  Find a common passion that brings people together: Wine, Food, Dresses, etc…
4.  Have Fun!

Built on a platform of proven fundraising techniques and a strong public relations plan, the year-long planning for the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest involves the oversight of a cadre of grassroots supporters and incorporates the generosity, teamwork, skills and contacts of numerous bidders, volunteers, donors, and sponsors. During the last four years, the event has grown from netting $750,000 to $2.3 million. Part of its legacy is the Fund-a-Cause auction lot that this year raised $400,000 to purchase nine incubators for The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, adding to the seven incubators purchased in the prior three years cumulative.
With more than 25 years of experience in public relations, marketing, advertising and nonprofit fund development, Ms. Rogers holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications with a specialization in public relations from the University of South Florida, Tampa. She has achieved Certification as a Public Relations Counselor (CPRC), and the Universal Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), and is also a member of FPRA’s Counselors’ Network. As former development director at both The Children’s Hospital and Canterbury School, she has also achieved certification in professional fundraising through CFRE International.

Ms. Rogers’ work has been recognized by the Florida Public Relations Association with Golden Image Awards for best public relations program in the state for special events in 2010 and 2009, and for best community relations program in 2008. Her work has also received local awards including recognition by the Southwest Florida Chapter of FPRA for public relations programs, special events and printed tools, and a 2009 Silver ADDY awarded by the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Advertising Federation for best brochure/sales kit. SimplifyPR is a full-service marketing and public relations firm located in Fort Myers, Florida.