Women in Produce: Stephanie Barlow, National Watermelon Promotion

04/16/2012 04:57:00 PM
Coral Beach

BarlowShe admits she doesn’t have what it takes to win a watermelon seed spitting contest, unless a social media version is invented. In that case, Stephanie (Simek) Barlow would be a frontrunner.

As director of public relations and social media for the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Barlow has revamped the organization’s approach, integrating digital media with the board’s traditional efforts to increase its reach from its Orlando, Fla., headquarters.

“We need to offer our information in all forms because not everyone wants tweets. Some people still want to read traditional newspapers for their information,” said the recently married Barlow.

Although her duties include more than social media promotion, Barlow said that aspect of communication is growing at such a fast rate that managing it could be a full-time job by itself. The return on Barlow’s efforts has so impressed board members that they increased the social media budget recently to allow her to contract for some assistance with it.

“Stephanie has an excellent grasp of social media,” said Mark Arney, the board’s executive director.

“She has done a fantastic job retooling our website and launching our mobile Web, Twitter and YouTube sites.”

Arney said one of Barlow’s strengths is her ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.

He said when she first joined the board she had to work under two directors at the same time. In addition to handling two bosses at once, Barlow showed a knack for working with everyone in the industry from growers to retailers and consumers.

“Stephanie is a great communicator whether it be behind a podium, one-on-one or by pen,” Arney said.

In many ways Barlow is a perfect fit in her job, but she could have easily been a veterinarian in private practice instead.

As a 2002 graduate of the American University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in international marketing, Barlow had the revelation of a lifetime: “There is no such thing as an international marketing position,” she said.

“So I packed up and came back home to Orlando and did what so many people do. I went to work for the (theme) park.”

Barlow said a few months of helping solve the problems of unhappy vacationers honed her communication skills. Moving on, she took a job with Orlando City Walk and ultimately redesigned that organization’s website.

But the work wasn’t quite what she had hoped for, and Barlow was ready to quit the communications game and go back to school to become a veterinarian.


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Stephanie    
Orlando  |  April, 17, 2012 at 09:50 AM

Sounds like a super sassy, talented and intellectual young woman! *wink*

Lizzy    
Steamboat Springs, CO  |  April, 17, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Love hearing wonderful things about wonderful people. I would want to work with someone like this AND would want to be one of her best friends. The Renaissance woman! Is there anything she can not do????

Steve    
Lakeland, Florida  |  April, 17, 2012 at 03:14 PM

I agree with Stephanie's comments about herself. She does a great job for our industry and we are blessed to have her on our team.

Cristie    
Portland, Oregon  |  April, 20, 2012 at 04:52 PM

What an honor to appear on this list with you, Stephanie! Cheers!

Jean Marinaro    
Vero Beach, Florida 32960  |  August, 16, 2012 at 07:11 PM

What a professional person she is, sharp in every way. As a NWPB board member I can attest Stephanie has done an outstanding remarkable job for the board and the entire watermelon industry. Her work with all the state & national watermelon queens has proven to be very successful. Her knowledge and communication skills in the fast moving media world of today has taken the NWPB to the highest level. We are so lucky and proud to have a person like Stephanie Barlow working in the watermelon industry.

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