UCF Ad/PR Alumna Talks Networking & Entrepreneurship

Laura Kern

Laura Kern, APR, ’06, credits UCF’s advertising-public relations program for leading her down an amazing career path. Years of interning, volunteering, and networking, partnered with her hard work and dedication, has lead Kern to a successful career in marketing and public relations.

Two years ago Kern left the comfort of her corporate job to start her own company, KAPTIV Marketing. The Orlando based company works with clients to engage their audiences through strategic online communications. As members of Orlando’s business community, Kern and her team call themselves avid “Orlandoans” with a passion for all things local, from products and local faire to acting as ambassadors for the city’s growth and economic vitality.

Kern explained that her entrepreneurial journey has been a learning process and an exciting adventure fueled by her passion for communication.

“Whether it’s good or bad, it has constantly been a learning experience. And the fact that it relies solely on me, is exhilarating. Through the past two years I’ve made good calls and I’ve made bad calls, but even the wrong turns taught me a ton. I learned from them, picked myself up and kept moving. I love my job,” Kern said.

Apart from running her own business, Kern stays busy as a board member for the Florida Public Relations Association, Orlando Area Chapter, and the Orlando Tech Association.

Kern also credits her networking experiences for her success.

“Networking and professional development is directly tied to each promotion, new job and new client I’ve ever received. In person and online networking is what breeds leadership and a strong support base for your next move, idea, or project,” Kern explained.

Kern talks more about her UCF experience, her company, and shares some fun facts in her spotlight responses.


Why did you choose to attend UCF?
After high school, I wanted to be an air traffic controller like my dad. So I applied and was accepted to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Then, I realized I wanted a different future and started thinking about advertising. At this point I decided to meet with a UCF professor and talk about the program, so I reached out and sat down with Frank Stansberry who sold me on UCF’s advertising-public relations program. He wound up being one of my biggest inspirations and, along with Dr. Bob Davis, helped shape me into the professional I am today.


Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?
Yes! My favorite extracurricular activity at UCF was serving on the Quotes board, the Florida Public Relations Association Orlando student chapter. I served as the vice president of public relations, which meant working to get students out to the FPRA professional events. It was fantastic, because it made sure I was networking, which lead me to establish lasting relationships with mentors, many of whom I wound up working for or helped me get my jobs.


Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation? If so, how?
The opening of the Bright House Networks Stadium after my graduation has had me coming back to campus every year for football season. I’ve also been a guest speaker in a digital marketing class and at the Blackstone Launch Pad, and an advisor for students going for their certificate in principles of public relations. Anytime I’m asked to come back to UCF I jump at the opportunity.


What is your best UCF memory?
Too many to choose from! Walking through campus on those beautiful sunny days, attending almost every football game at the Citrus Bowl, friendships, learning new things and always feeling a sense of belonging and excitement.


What is your most memorable experience on the job?
As far as PR goes, here are my two most favorite campaigns I’ve worked on:

When I was working at the Orlando Economic Development Commission, I created a social media ambassador program called #WhyOrlando. It was slow growth at first, but I remember in the third month of the campaign I started seeing people I didn’t know using the hashtag and sharing cool stuff on social media about why they love to live in Orlando. It was an awesome feeling! Now, three years later, people still use the hashtag! Makes me smile every time I see it.

One of my favorite clients since I started KAPTIV Marketing, was Canvs, a coworking space in downtown Orlando focused on helping tech startups. I worked with their team six months prior to opening and managed all their digital marketing through opening. It was so much fun to have a brand that the community immediately took ownership of and engaged with us online. The PR and digital success for that campaign helped me gain a ton of self confidence and new clients!


What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?
Network! Networking and professional development is directly tied to each promotion, new job and new client I’ve ever received. In person and online networking is what breeds leadership and a strong support base for your next move, idea, or project.


Kern answered some more questions in our get-to-know-you portion of the spotlight.


What do you do for fun?
Work on my Chevy Camaro. I love my car!


What/who makes you laugh out loud?
My husband can make me laugh at the drop of a hat.


What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?
An old boss made me try sea urchin at a sushi restaurant once…never again! Eww!


What or who inspires you?
Orlando’s Tech community. I started networking with this crowd when I was still at the Orlando Economic Development Commission. The entrepreneurs who demoed at the Orlando Tech Meetup and the startups that supported them were/are so inspiring that this was one of the main ingredients to me starting my own company. Almost three years later of me attending their events, I am now serving as their Secretary and Co-Chair of Communications. I am constantly amazed at how willing everyone is to pitch in and make amazing things happen for Orlando. 

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