Archive for Devon Chestnut

Congratulations New CPRC’s!


Congratulations to the following public relations professionals who recently earned their CPRC.

Certification is a unique, second tier credential offered exclusively to FPRA members. Candidates must have previously earned their APR and have ten or more years experience in the field of public relations. Though it is a second tier credential, it is not APR 2.0. This exam is a subjective exam that requires candidates to draw from their experience to solve problems and present solutions. Earning the CPRC credential involves passing a written exam (16 essay questions) and an oral exam (presentation of a public relations program or project).

Earning professional certification in public relations and receiving the designation of Certified Public Relations Counselor (CPRC) from the Florida Public Relations Association:


Holly Boldrin

Holly Boldrin, APR, CPRC
Director of Public Relations
Priority Marketing of Southwest Florida
Southwest Florida Chapter






Melissa Cofta



Melissa Cofta, APR, CPRC
Marketing and Public Relations Account Manager
Priority Marketing of Southwest Florida
Southwest Florida Chapter







About CPRC

To earn the CPRC credential, candidates must have 10 years of experience in the field; have earned the first tier of accreditation, the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential; successfully completed a verbal presentation; and passed a five-hour written exam.

For more information on Accreditation and Certification, as well as any available chapter or State Association rebates, please contact your local Accreditation and Certification Chair or Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC, VP Accreditation/Certification at



2015-2016 APRs & CPRCs

Congratulations to the FPRA members who received credentials this year*!
*as of the FPRA 78th Annual Conference

2015 – 2016 APRS

  • Ginger Broslat, APR (Ocala Chapter)
  • Cristina Calvet Harrold, APR (Orlando Area Chapter)
  • Rebecca Crisafulli, APR (Space Coast Chapter)
  • Alayna Curry, APR (Orlando Area Chapter)
  • Francesca Donlan, APR (Southwest Florida Chapter)
  • Julie Primrose Hall, APR (Orlando Area Chapter)
  • Dayna Harpster, APR (Southwest Florida Chapter)
  • Rhonda Leiberick, APR (Central West Coast Chapter)
  • Alyson Lundell, APR (Orlando Area Chapter)
  • Laurie Michaelson, APR (Gainesville Chapter)
  • Randall Mitchelson, APR (Southwest Florida Chapter)
  • Leslie A. Moland, APR (Northwest Florida Chapter)
  • Joanna Newton, APR (Tampa Bay Chapter)
  • Gabrielle O’Boyle, APR (Southwest Florida Chapter)
  • Jenn Petion, APR (Gainesville Chapter)
  • Stephanie Pettis, APR (Northwest Florida Chapter)
  • Scott Schroeder, APR (Gainesville Chapter)
  • Tiffany Whitaker, APR (Southwest Florida Chapter)

2015 – 2016 CPRCs

  • Ginger Broslat, APR, CPRC (Ocala Chapter)
  • Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC (Ocala Chapter)
  • Heather Danenhower, APR, CPRC (Ocala Chapter)
  • John Fleming, APR, CPRC (Capital Chapter)
  • Barbra Hernandez, APR, CPRC (Tampa Bay Chapter)
  • Jordan Jacobs, APR, CPRC (Orlando Area Chapter)
  • Alyson Lundell, APR, CPRC (Orlando Area Chapter)
  • Chad McLeod, APR, CPRC (Tampa Bay Chapter)
  • Karen Morgan, APR, CPRC (Tampa Bay Chapter)
  • Jay Morgan-Schleuning, APR, CPRC (Capital Chapter)
  • Gordon Paulus, APR, CPRC (Pensacola Chapter)

Opening Session: Leadership + Communications: The New Competitive Advantage

Blogger: Susan Verrnon-Devlin (Orlando Area Chapter)

Opening Session: Leadership + Communications: The New Competitive Advantage
Jamey Peters, Partner and Ketchum South Director & CHris Thornton, SVP and Director, Ketchum Change

FPRA is focused on leadership. Ketchum is also focused on leadership. Jamey Peters and Chris Thornton from Ketchum Change shared insights on the new face of leadership, Leading at the Speed of NOW!

After having the audience of conference attendees stand up and a stretch to start the day off right, the discussion on the leadership crisis began. The data that was presented was analyzed for five years. And still the study continues. What makes a leader shine? How do they communicate? All of this is being analyzed on a daily basis, and will continue to be up for discussion as people question leaders and look more to the rank and file for answers and communication. What a leader says, how they shop, what they do is all being analyzed today. Are they Hyper-connected and Hyper-kinetic? Those things make a difference.

Two key questions of effective leadership today are:

  1. Is your leadership balanced?
  2. Does your leadership lead others to seek the roles of leadership?

The research involved conversations with more than 25,000 people on five continents. The results showed there is a low trust level and high expectation gap when it comes to how people perceived their leaders. Who’s leading the pack in high trust and high expectations:?:

  • Brewing and spirits
  • Business technology
  • Hotels, travel and tourism
  • Consumer technology
  • Professional and business services

Who’s struggling?

  • Mining
  • Insurance
  • Oil & gas
  • Banks
  • Utilities

If you’re involved in one of these industries its really up to the leaders to foster good will among their employees and their clients to get back on track.

Across the 22,000 industries that were researched quality of products and services and customer focus were #1 and #2. Trustworthiness is #3 and Customer Service dropped to #4.. Companies today are being punished severely for poor leadership. This hits sales harder than ever. Sixty percent of consumers have either bought less or worked with a company less because of poor leadership. Is your industry feeling the backlash due to poor leadership. According to the Ketchum study communication is critical for getting back on track.

A great individual leader:

  • Leads by example,
  • communicates openly,
  • admits mistakes,
  • handles controversy and makes tough decisions.

What type of communication matters most?:

  • in person communication is tops,
  • formal announcements are next,
  • followed by TV interviews.
  • Earned media trumps pain media.
  • And social media, though it has its skeptics can be a great tool, it allows for an authentic voice.
  • Advertising has fallen to #16 when it comes to communications and radio advertising is #19

Opportunity for communication can arise from crisis. The team from Ketchum used SeaWorld as an example. They took advantage of damaging incidents to communicate their message. Their new leader Joel came to the table with a fresh vision to cut programs to gain back favorable impressions from the company’s detractors. His decision to cut the Orca program illustrates a moment where a CEO admitted mistakes, handled controversy and made a move to make a tough decision to make things right.

As a leader, make certain you look at your own ethics and don’t compromise them when communicating. Jamey personally left business behind that he felt compromised his ethics. Tough decisions but in the end he felt they were the right decisions.

Chris took over the presentation to discuss internal leaders and how they have risen in the ranks over the past years. In a study, respondents felt that leadership should come mainly from the organization and its employees, rather than from the CEO, There has been a rise of the title-less leadership. We trust our friends and neighbors who are doing the work rather than messaging from the C-suite. A whopping 38% preferred to hear what the rank and file thought of a company’s news and were more likely to listen to how it was communicated. The trust factor was high when it came from the title-less leaders.

Organizations need to modify their methods of communication to match what their consumers expect. No longer is the solid state (not adaptable) acceptable. Consumers want a company that is in a liquid state (readily adaptable, open to constant change). Company in gaseous state (those that change too often) could face a loss of trust just like those in a solid state. In the liquid state, you’re agile, dallied-in, transparent, pioneering. It’s essential to make sure your employees accept the liquid state. Employees who act as communicators, ambassadors in fact for their companies, are 10X more trusted than the press release that comes from a sole source of communication within the company.

When employees and your company are dialed-in they:

  • Anticipate and influence the marketplace
  • Dialogue with customers/consumers
  • Develop intimate relationships and influence key stakeholders.

Transparency is also a great tool:

  • It allows for proactive alignment
  • Engages both sides in open conversation
  • Makes things personal and human

And being HUMAN is essential to end the communication crisis when it comes to leaders. Look inside your organizations to see who’s good at holding the attention of others when they tell a story, that person may hold the elements to solving your leadership communication crisis. The Ketchum team left us with these touch-points for establishing and maintaining a leadership advantage:

  • Say what you will do, do what you say, and set realistic expectations
  • Be genuinely willing to listen, uncover audiences’ definition of transparency
  • Deliver in vision, acknowledge mistakes, and commit to continuous improvement
  • Collaborate, celebrate employees and deliver leadership at all levels
  • Advocate and diversify leaders.

Leadership and communication has changed. Will we change with it or be left behind?

PetersJamey Peters, a partner and director of Ketchum South, is an award-winning communications leader, trusted by clients for his strategic and creative counsel since he joined the agency in 2004. In his current role, Peters leverages his 23 years of PR experience to craft and implement communication programming across sectors such as energy, retail and health technology, with an emphasis on corporate and brand issues, communication programming and stakeholder relations. Peters holds six PRSA Silver Anvils, two Silver Cannes Lions and two PRWeek Awards.


ThorntonChris Thornton is a SVP, Director in Ketchum Change’s New York office. He has more than 15 years of experience leading change management, engagement, internal branding and communications activities for a variety of organizations. Since joining Ketchum in 2012, Thornton has worked with companies including Michelin, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cox Communications and The Hershey Company to improve employee engagement and successfully execute strategic communication and change programs. In his previous experience, he led the internal communications function at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the global technology communications team at Pfizer. Thornton has served in communication roles at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Arthur Andersen, and worked as a senior consultant at Right Management. Chris began his career as a high school teacher.


Breakout 2B: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and into a More Balanced, Purposeful Career & Life

Blogger: Erin Knothe (Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter)

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and into a More Balanced, Purposeful Career & Life
Presented by: Jessica Lawlor, Communications Consultant, and Founder, Get Gutsy Blog

The mindset blogger, freelancer and yoga instructor Jessica Lawlor lives by is inspired by Neale Donald Walsch’s quotations, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

The internet and the bookstore are filled with articles and books centered around work-life balance, but few of us feel like we’ve actually achieved it. How do you feel on a daily basis? How would you like to feel?

A study in 1908 found that relative comfort created a steady level of performance. Comfort is acceptable, but pushing outside of what your regular actions can result in great performance. Stepping outside your comfort zone to live a life that makes you happy is what Jessica calls, “Getting gusty.” To do this, search for optimal anxiety, which is finding the right level of pushing yourself to be better without pushing too far and feeling terrified. Benefits of pushing yourself include being more productive, dealing with change better, handling change easier in the future, and being more creative.

Jessica shared five things to know about stepping out of your comfort zone.

  1. It means getting uncomfortable.

  • You can feel rewarded when you do something that makes you uncomfortable.

  1. It doesn’t mean doing something crazy.

  • Jessica shared how she took trapeze lessons so she could write about the experience for her first blog post. While she did step outside her comfort zone, she realized small things you do on a daily basis, like meeting someone new at a conference, can qualify.

  1. You need support.

  2. You have to get out of your own way.

  • Think of the quotation, “If we would only see that all limitations are self imposed and chosen out of fear, we would leap at once.”

  1. It’s not easy.

Stepping outside the comfort zone looks different to everyone. How do you know if you’re pushing far enough? The quotation, “If it scares you it might be a good thing to try.”, is a good way to think about your actions.

Jessica cautioned that some of the tips for stepping outside our comfort zone might not fit everyone, but use what works for you. Here are her 10 tips.

  1. Be present.

  • Instead of worrying about things that have happened or things that are to come, embrace the present.

  • Tools, like the meditation app Calm, or classes, like yoga, can help you focus.

  1. Big goals, small steps. (Work backwards)

  • Listing out steps and setting deadlines can make goals achievable.

  1. Develop a beginner’s mindset.

  • Jessica used the example of her sister trying yoga for the first time to explain how beginners are generally wide-eyed and open to believing that possibilities are endless. How can we bring the same mindset to things we do every day? What if you applied that to hobbies, relationships, work?

  1. Practice energy management.

  • Energy management is doing things at the time of day that matches your energy level. For example, you might feel the most awake and energized in the morning, so use that time to do important work and leave your time in the afternoon for menial tasks. For effective energy management:

    • Experiment to discover the times you’re most productive.

    • Accept that you only have so much energy in a given day.

    • Be strict with your schedule.

  1. Form and stick with habits.

  • It takes 66 days to form a habit, so stick with it.

  1. Say no. (Create a reverse to-do list.)

  • By creating a reverse to-do list, you can see what you are eliminating out of your life. You can still use those “no’s” to create other opportunities. For example, Jessica receives emails asking advice on various topics, so sometimes she’ll write a blog post about the topic. She’s still helping the person, but she’s being resourceful with her time.

  1. Find someone to hold you accountable.

  • Accountability buddy – one person to check in with you to make sure you’re on track.

  • Mastermind group – four or five people to help you make decisions or garner ideas.

  1. Let go of what no longer serves you.

  • Protect your energy.

  • For Jessica, her goals related to this tip are avoiding:

    • Doing things the way they’ve always been done

    • Feeling like I need to follow a certain path just because that’s what’s expected of me

    • Overscheduling myself

    • Being a slave to my inbox

  1. Trust your instincts and LISTEN.

  • Sometimes events unfold that make life difficult. Take a step back and slow down to get back on the right track.

  1. Celebrate your wins.

  • Acknowledge the good that you’ve done. If you’re climbing a mountain, stop and take in the view instead of planning of climbing the next mountain. Similarly, take the time to celebrate and enjoy your victories when you’ve worked hard. Leaders especially can benefit from acknowledging the work of their team.

Jessica closed with the caveat that the aforementioned tips are simply tips. It’s up to you to do the hard work and figure out what stepping out of your comfort zone looks like.

Her final inspirational quotation from Margaret Shepard summed up what it takes to step outside your comfort zone: “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”

LawlorlJessica Lawlor is the communications consultant behind and founder of Get Gutsy Blog. She is a communications professional, writer, personal branding expert and speaker in the Philadelphia area. After six years in the corporate PR world, Jessica left her job to run her own communications agency, blog/brand and teach yoga. She blogs about getting gutsy: stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes your truly happy.


Breakout 1A: Why Lawyers Nix Your Awesome Marketing Ideas (and How to Change That)

Blogger: Susan Vermon-Devlin (Orlando Area Chapter)

Why Lawyers Nix Your Awesome Marketing Ideas (and How to Change That)
Presented by: Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, Attorney, Podcaster and Senior Program Manager, MarketProfs

“What you don’t know can absolutely hurt you.” That’s the first thing that Kerry O’ Shea Gorgone said to start off her conference session. She then told a story of a Peace Corp volunteer who challenged a black mambo snake because he did not know what it was, the most deadly snake on earth. He stabbed it to death with an umbrella and only later did he realize the danger he could have faced if the snake had bit him. That’s like not knowing the pitfalls of law when you do your job as a PR professional.

Kerry is an attorney licensed in two states; her charge is to help people to make things legal. She doesn’t practice anymore, so she can’t help you with any legal issues you’ll encounter at conference, so stay legal.

“Most lawyers are not evil, we just want to keep you from danger.” Kerry stressed that point and shared a presentation filled with humor for very serious and expensive situations.

Problem #1: Using copyrighted content is risky. 1 picture X 1 use =$4000.

Problem #2: Your giveaway might actually be an illegal lottery. 1 giveaway = $102,000 fine. Pay to play is illegal and are only legal if the state is running them. “No purchase necessary should be stressed.”

Problem #3: Streaming video without planning.

Problem #4: Influencers don’t always disclose.

Use of memes can cause you to risk copyright infringement. Keep things in context when you use them, and be careful that you’re not risking a lawsuit. “Creative Commons” content might be stolen. Though someone may state it’s free to use, 71% of content on YouTube is stolen. Because you can’t know for sure, it’s very risky to use “Creative Common’s” content on your clients social media or website.

Solution #1: Create Your Own Content.

Take a look at what you’ve posted on Instagram or Snapchat. People love low quality, original imagery so use what you have to create your own content. It’s the safest option.

You must stress the no purchase necessary option to not be considered a lottery. Giveaways aren’t legal in Canada. Void where prohibited language is important. Know the difference between a giveaway and a contest. A giveaway is a game of chance. A contest involves skill. It doesn’t have to be an amazing skill, like whistling with your belly button, but it does involve some sort of skill. In a giveaway or sweepstakes, winners are selected at random. Lotteries are pay to play. Pay doesn’t have to mean money. Pay means giving something of value (your time, data, or even a Like). Picking a winner at random is potentially bad. Contests are easier to manage than giveaways, because it’s about skill. Giveaways are about “luck”.

A conference participant shared an example from real life giveaway, to which Kerry responded first by putting her fingers in her ears and saying “lalalalala”, (remember she doesn’t practice law anymore), then she provided the reason why the conference participant was at risk.

The disclaimer of “no purchase necessary” must be prominent.

Using the Iron Man competition as an example, Kerry interjected she of course does not run the Iron Man, however if Iron Man had their members pay additional fees for a “contest” which was actually a “giveaway”, that would be illegal.

Asking for basic contact information is fine in a giveaway, but anything beyond that is risky and could throw you into legal hot water.

Has anyone ever purchased coupons? You can from vending machines in Maryland. It turned out this was an illegal lottery. Pay to play, for coupons.

Solution #2: Use Contests of Skill not Games of Chance.

You can use the term “Skill” loosely. From a legal standpoint “Liking” is still doing something so be careful

Periscope and Facebook Live can be risky.

Solution #3: Plan your live stream the same way you would a produced video shoot. Storyboard! Look for hidden, or not so hidden noises (music, conversation), images you would not want to be seen, logos that you don’t own, Post crowd releases before streaming if you are working in a public setting. Get signed releases from interviewees. Check what’s happening in the background too. You don’t need permission to show trademark items, unless you’re saying something bad about them, but be careful anyway. Try not to use minors, or ask permission before you do.

Solution #4: The 4Ps of Disclosing: Placement, Proximity, Prominence, Presentation

Disclose in plain language. Its “free”, this is an “ad”, this was “sponsored”. Lose the hashtag when you’re talking about things you’re getting for free or sponsored. Put the disclosure near the top (don’t make me scroll to find it). Make it pop (use bold text). Make it unavoidable. Put it on the top of the page, in the shopping cart, everywhere you can to have the viewer see it and understand, this is an ad, or sponsored.

To avoid the legal pitfalls “Actively look for Potential Problems Ahead of Time”. It helps you avoid the danger that may be lurking like the black mambo snake.

OSheaKerry O’Shea Gorgone develops marketing training programs in her role as senior program manager of enterprise learning at MarketProfs. She’s also a speaker, writer, attorney and educator. Kerry hosts the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast for MarketingProfs, and is a contributing writer for numerous sites, including The Huffington Post, Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog, Social Media Explorer, Entrepreneur, Spin Sucks and


Breakout 3B: Become the Storytelling Hero: Literally!

Blogger: Brittany Jackson (Tampa Bay Chapter)

Become the Storytelling Hero: Literally!
Presented by: Lisa Gerber, Founder and President, Big Leap Creative Integrated Communications 

When session presenter Lisa Gerber’s dog, usually a playful pooch, couldn’t even lay down due to problems with canine hip dysplasia, she did what any loving pet owner would do — she Googled a solution. The first hit was a story published in a Seattle newspaper more than a decade ago. It was about a man whose dog had a similar ailment and the great lengths he went to ensure his pup received the best care.
Inspired by the story, Lisa took her dog to the same vet hospital mentioned in the article. After a minimally invasive surgery, Jackson was as good as new.

The moral? Stories done the right way generate awareness, influence action and have a significant impact.

Lisa gives these key tips to master the art of storytelling:

  • Get the protagonist right. We’re often tempted to tout our organization’s accomplishments in our PR or marketing materials, but Lisa’s advice is to put yourself in the mind of your target audience. Don’t always make yourself the hero, but focus on your consumer.
  • Remember, these are real people with real problems. When telling your story,  speak directly to the problem. Your target audience will not always seek out your organization, but they will always search for solutions to their problems.
  • Have a happy ending. There are no mysteries in brand stories. Be sure to let your readers know up front how you can help them.
  • Provide context. This gives your readers a richer experience and helps them make corrections.
  • Create emotional impact.  This doesn’t mean your copy has to tug at heartstrings. But, it does mean that your voice and tone should be clear and authentic. Don’t write what you wouldn’t say in person.
  • Get others to tell your story. Repurpose your online reviews into downloadable case studies and use hashtags to encourage your audience to share their experiences in their own words.
  • Walk the talk. The best stories fall flat if a consumer’s overall experiences don’t support it.

For more info, follow Lisa on Twitter @lisagerber and check out her blog at

GerberLisa Gerber is the founder of Big Leap Creative Integrated Communications, an agency focused on helping companies reach their business goals by providing content strategy and execution. She is a speaker, blogger and mountain girl with more than 15 years of PR experience in urban and resort development, financial services and the destination and outdoor industry.


Breakout 2A: Today’s Newsroom: Navigating the New Media Minefield

Blogger: Lori Hagey (Central West Coast Chapter)

Today’s Newsroom: Navigating the New Media Minefield
Presented by: Ernest Hooper, Columnist/Bureau Chief, Tampa Bay Times

Getting Picked Up 101:

It’s important to understand the media’s changing mission and appeal to those changes. Craft your pitch in a way that demonstrates your knowledge of the individual media professional and your respect for their area of interest. Generalized pitches and mass email blast tend to get overlooked. Mr. Hooper offered his insight and specific tips on what a public relations professional should do to get their story or client picked up.

  • Be a media consumer, envision your coverage and stay current on what your targeted reporter(s) covers
  • Read and watch websites, blogs and videos… EVERYDAY
  • Connect with media professionals though social media
  • Have a plan… you can’t just wing it

A Note About Emails:

To put things in perspective… Mr. Hooper provided a few astounding facts about emails:

  • 100 billion work-related emails sent everyday worldwide
  • People spend 28 percent of their work day dealing with emails
  • In the time it took you to read this sentence, 20 million emails were written
  • By 2016, 143-million emails will be sent or received every day

Let’s Get Personal

Never underestimate the size of a journalist’s ego. The primary objective of a news release is to influence coverage, but the first goal is to make sure it’s read. The content in the email should be direct and personable. In Mr. Hooper’s case, anything with the subject line: Beyonce, BBQ or Luther Vandross will get your story noticed. In the event that the media professional you are trying to target isn’t a fan of any of these then remember the following:

  • Connect months in advance, meet way before the pitch
  • Send emails that reflect consumption
  • Help when it’s not your client that you are pitching
  • Use social networks
  • Don’t tell a journalist what’s news worthy
  • Be respectful, smart and honest

Contact information for Ernest Hooper:

Email: Phone: 813.661.2440 Twitter: @Hop4U

HooperOver the span of his award-winning career, Ernest Hooper has covered prep and college sports, the NFL and TV/radio sports. In his current role with the Tampa Bay Times, he oversees coverage of community news in Hillsborough County while writing community columns for the paper. He also hosts his own public affairs television show on WEDU, Tampa’s local PBS affiliate.


Fireside Chat:: Communications Professionals: The North Star of Any Organization

Blogger: Susan Vernon-Devlin (Orlando Area Chapter)

Fireside Chat: Communcations Professionals: The North Star of Any Organization
Lauren Worley, Artist and Talent Director, The ONE Campaign

A little heat (from an on-screen fire), two comfy chairs, Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC, and Lauren Worley of The One Campaign, sat down to share a little about how Lauren, a Kent State grad got to where she is today.

Inspired by the West Wing television series, Lauren followed her dreams to be a press secretary. She called up a NASA colleague for whom she had interned with 15 years prior and that started it all. To have them think that a girl from Ohio could work with the greats like Neil Armstrong was a dream come true.

Prior to NASA there was work with political campaigns. The great think about a political campaign is it’s 170 days, you can sprint to the finish line. It’s a new challenge every day. You may not have a job at the end, but it’s a sprint, so there is an end. With the NASA job, it’s a marathon and you have to come in with the same enthusiasm every day to do the job. “The best part of the campaigns for me is that I love eating pie, “ said Lauren. “ I don’t know about the candidates, but eating pie on the campaign trail is my favorite.”

If her life was a movie, Lauren would love to have Kristen Wiig play her. A few years ago it would have been Angelina Jolie, but the role Kristen Wiig played in the movie “The Martian” really showed how it’s done.

Lauren had always wanted to be a doctor; she had those parents who made her get a job in a hospital one summer and she got sick every day. She was a junior in high school, she was all set to be a doctor, but her high school anatomy teacher recommended journalism school. That sent Lauren to a job at the local radio station, “less blood and guts”, but very fulfilling.

Lauren offered this broad perspective on our profession: As communication professionals we get to see all sides of an organization. We get to work on internal and external communications and at some point what makes us the heart of the organization is the fact that we will have to explain things to the general public and what the decisions the organization makes can affect peoples’ live. Our job as PR professionals is “trying to get people on the train with us.” That’s why you see so many PR professionals become the chief of staff; they have that 30,000 foot view of the organization so it’s a natural progression to move forward to leadership positions.

How do we become C-suite professionals? It’s always about authenticity and credibility. Whether we are writing a press statement or an email. We need to find the right people to share our messages so that people will get on the train.

The toughest feedback that Lauren ever had to give happened when she was chief of staff for the Lt. Governor of Ohio. The Lt. had hired a friend of Lauren’s. This friend found herself in a situation where she was not showing up for work. It’s hard to correct a friend, especially if there are political ramifications. Ultimately the person was fired and there was an inspector general investigation. The toughest thing was to go to my boss and say I made a mistake. Then going before the staff was equally hard. People did not crucify Lauren for her choice, they stated that her friend was an asset, she was caring and they wanted to keep in touch with her even after the incident.

What’s the thing that Lauren is most proud of? A press conference pulled off with a lack of technology. She was down at the external tanks assembly building. They planned for a press conference after a huge success. At 8:45 a.m. the boss wanted to take the communication into space, and talk to the International Space Station. He added elements that would involve the space station and connecting with NASA TV. Lauren could have panicked, as technology was not readily available, but the people on site worked hard to make the phone lines accessible and get things going. The phone lines did not work at the time of the press conference, so Lauren’s boss decided to call them on his cell phone. He called the International Space Station on his cell phone. Amazing! It ran live on NASA TV, and she received praise that her press conference was great. Lauren was relieved and hoped for liquid libation to celebrate the success.

Lauren now works with The ONE Campaign, with Bono. The decision to leave the job as press secretary at NASA was not an easy one, but she knew it was time to move on. “When you look at your North star, you will know when it’s time to choose a new job that fits your life at a particular stage and time.” She wrote a list of pros and cons to decide how to move on. She wanted a smaller company, closer to earth, no more political campaigns and something that would challenge her. She followed The ONE Campaign on social media, and wrote to their recruiter to see if they would have a job for her. They did.

Now Lauren manages the people that Bono recruits to work with his organization. She’s gone from working in the stars, space, to working with the stars, luminaries and celebrities, on earth.

A side note: being a good PR person means answering the question you want to answer, not the one that you were asked.

Lauren once managed her own PR firm for 11 months. It was the hardest job ever and she was constantly hustling for work. She’s had clients fire her and that’s really hard. When you’re fired it does not mean you’re not a good person, it just means you’re not good at that and that there is something else you should be doing. Losing political campaigns is also hard. When you’re down and lose an election it’s hard. You need to recognize you’re not going to be great at everything. My job isn’t me. That’s sound advice from Lauren.

The government job was a reliable source of income, an interesting industry and something that she could really grow her career from. The ONE Campaign is a new journey. All the roads she’s traveled have added to who she is and who she will be in the future.


  • Establish an honest relationship with your bosses so that you can always be honest with them and champion their causes.
  • Know your constituents and talk their language so that they understand your message.
  • Offer up unconventional solutions; things that make sense or crazy ideas may lead to success.
  • Whatever the challenge is, push yourself to try, you can always come back home.
  • Authenticity and credibility go hand in hand.
  • We are given much, when much is required.

WorleyCommunications directors provide the conscious for every organization. Lauren B. Worley, former press secretary and senior advisor at NASA, has more than a decade of experience guiding organizations toward their respective North Star. In this session, Lauren discussed the leadership qualities required of communications professionals, and how public relations professionals pilot organizations to maintain credibility, authenticity and originality.


Breakout 1D: Social Media Use in the 2016 Presidential Campaign: What’s Worked and What We Can Expect

Blogger: Amanda Handley (Capital Chapter)

Social Media Use in the 2016 Presidential Campaign: What’s Worked and What We Can Expect
Presented by: Lawrence J. Parnell, Assocate Professor and Program Director, Master’s in Strategic PR at The George Washington University

Larry Parnell, from George Washington University, opened his session by joking that he was “far away from Washington to be an expert” on all things politics.  His discussion of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and their use of media in the 2016 Presidential Campaign primarily focused on the results of two research efforts. One study is from Pew and the other is the PEORIA Project (Public Echoes of Rhetoric in America). The PEORIA Project’s goal is to understand how voters react to campaign messages. As a side note, Parnell recommended Pew Research as a free resource as all of the studies they conduct are free to the public.

Website Content:

The Pew research referenced in this session showed that Trump is relying heavily on earned media (holding many press conferences, etc.) with the vast majority of his content connecting to news articles and video clips published by traditional media outlets. Clinton is focusing her efforts on owned media (her website and social media pages). In fact, 80 percent of the links on Clinton’s site connect to campaign-produced content, most of which is written by former journalists. One commonality, though, is that like President Obama, both camps are relying on social media to control campaign outreach.

How this election looks different:

  • Unlike the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, this election is focused on a controlled message, which means that there is very little dialogue on the websites – there are no calls for comments on articles or for feedback about how stances impact.

  • None of the campaign websites have pages set up specifically for demographic groups (Latinos, African-Americans, women, etc.) Instead, campaigns are letting voters research issues that are important to them (instead of assuming that all women are concerned about healthcare and so on).

  • The use of video is dramatically increased from previous election cycles. Clinton is posting up to five videos daily, and Trump posts at least one. There are several factors influencing this change:

    • Today’s technology makes it easier to create and edit your own videos. You no longer need a full production team to produce a video. Anyone can shoot one and post it online.

    • Campaign staffs are more tech-savvy.

Social Media:

Although both Clinton and Trump are actively engaged on social media, there are some significant differences in how they use social media. Parnell focused mainly on the differences in the utilization of Twitter. Items of note:

  • Only Trump actively retweets other content. And 78 percent of his retweets were from the public and his supporters.

  • Both Trump and Clinton had millions of followers when they announced their respective candidacies, putting them well ahead of the other candidates.

  • Since early May, Trump’s social engagement has mirrored his earned media coverage numbers.

  • Twitter followers can be an asset. Trump used his Twitter to close the gap between him and Hillary Clinton and to get ahead of the rest of the GOP primary field. Additionally, Bernie Sanders effectively utilized Twitter to spread his message and close the gap between him and his primary opponent, Clinton.

Application to Strategic PR:

  • Sponsored content is growing in use. It’s extremely low cost, making it an effective play for many candidates.

  • There is a reduced dependency on traditional media to communicate messages and to impact public opinion. This has real implications for media relations and the media itself.

  • Engagement and followers are key measures for success. However, it is imperative to assess why they follow you and determine if they support you or are just curious.

  • The increased use of video is an effective means of message delivery. It reduces dependency on traditional broadcast media, and consumers (voters) accept it and share it with friends, creating a viral impact.

  • Twitter is a valuable means to offset a strong, well-funded opponent or competitor. (See: Bernie Sanders.)

  • Media coverage shared on Twitter can build followers.

Use Caution:

  • Retweeting requires extra diligence. Retweets imply endorsement, so it’s imperative that you vet what you retweet.

  • Don’t confuse followers with supporters. Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean they support you.

  • Avoiding the media and relying too heavily on sponsored and owned content is a calculated risk.

    • The media will defend itself if you ignore it or challenge it. They may pile on when the opportunity presents itself. (See: Trump and Washington Post, Clinton and the email catastrophe, Clinton and Benghazi, and Trump and questionable business dealings.)

Final Thoughts:

Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary, has said that as a public relations professional, it’s your job to advocate for your client to the media. But it’s also your job to advocate for the media to your client. You need to help your clients understand that the media can be helpful. After all, media relations is about relationships.


  1. Is Trump’s constant retweeting strategic or just laziness?

    1. Likely laziness. However, he does have a very small staff. And, Trump also appears to only be concerned about being in the news, not what the sentiment of those stories are.

  2. Are you seeing a shift/trickle-down in local elections?

    1. Yes because it’s a really cost-effective way of reaching people.

    2. However, people will still be doing town halls etc., because this provides them with content.

  3. Does paid media placement matter? Do you need to place your ads in reputable sources like the New York Times?

    1. He doesn’t know for sure, but it doesn’t appear to matter. People do not appear to be vetting the sources of where they get their “news.”

  4. Do you think Trump’s advisors cringe when he speaks or do you think it’s part of their strategy because it seems to work?

    1. Not sure, but the biggest challenge in our profession is finding the right way, time, and place to say, “That wasn’t good.”

  5. Do you think it’s calculated that their messaging appears to be aimed only at their base?

    1. Yes, but it’s a dangerous choice because – as of right now – Trump’s base alone isn’t enough to get him elected. He’ll need more voters than just his base.

  6. Is this election an anomaly or an indication of where we’re going as a nation?

    1. It depends on the results of the election.

ParnellLawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A., is an associate professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program, named the best PR Education Program for 2015 by PR Week. During a 34-year career in the private and public sectors, he has worked in government, corporate and consulting segments, and national political campaigns. He was recognized as PR Professional of the Year in 2003 by PR Week, and was named to the PR News Hall of Fame in 2009. In addition to his work at GW, he operates Parnell Communications, a boutique consultancy specializing in executive communication, strategy development and organizational effectiveness.


Breakout 1B: Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website

Blogger: Brandi Gomez (Pensacola Chapter)

Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website
Presented by: Nicole C. Yucht, Assistant Vice President, UF Communications, University of Florida

In the breakout session Feeding the Beast: Launching a Content-Hungry Website, Nicole Yucht shared the knowledge and process of planning and creating the University of Florida’s new and improved website.

The University of West Florida had what was described as a “dated” and “non-user friendly” website used primarily by students and faculty. Realizing the end goal of appealing to prospective students and parents, the University of Florida took to researching and starting the process of launching a new website.

They first identified their end goals. What did they want the main focus of the university website to be about? They decided on the three S’s: Stature, Students, and Support. During the entire planning process, if an aspect or idea did not fit into one of these categories, then it was not going to be included on the site. In the end, everything needed to link back to the mission and goal…To engage prospective students and highlight successes of the university outside of football. Then the fun began….

DISCOVERY –  Researched and spoke to current users to identify issues

  • Talked to intern audience about what they used the site for
  • Spoke to parents, prospective parents, alumni

  • Through study, they found that their site currently focused 75% on internal audiences and 25% on external audiences

STRATEGY – Identifying audiences and focus sectors

  • Had to make sure the content fit the audience

  • Shift in focus: Their new focuses would be 85% external and %15 internal

  • Identified two different audiences: Explorers (prospective undergrads, parents, guidance counselors, and families) and Familiars (current student, faculty, staff, etc.)

CONTENT PLAN – How often content is updated

  • Primary News – updated weekly

  • Secondary News – daily

  • Social – live

As we all know in public relations, results are key…and preferably positive results. When Nicole looked at the analytics of the newly launched site for the University of Florida, she found their usage went down in views by 18 percent. Feeling discouraged, Nicole said she remembered the initial goals she made to shift the focus to more on external audiences like guidance counselors and prospective students and their current analytics did just that. Users of the were now engaged in content and pages more applicable to their needs. Guidance counselors were able to quick navigate due dates and students were able to easily look at grades and success stories amongst alumni.

Through research, trial and error, and a concrete plan, the University of Florida successfully launched a content-hungry site in August 2014. Since then, they have continued to provide quality images, excellent blogs, and inform all publics.


  • Know your audience

  • Focus your messaging

  • Stay relevant

  • Live by code orange and blue

  • Be ADA compliant

  • Launch at good (not perfect)

  • Have fun

YuchtNicole C. Yucht joined the University of Florida in 2014 as director of marketing in university relations, and within 14 months was named assistant vice president of UF communications. She is responsible for the institution’s marketing and identity standards, media and public relations, social media, web and campus outreach. Among her major accomplishments was launching the Gator Good branding campaign and overseeing the relaunch of the university’s homepage in November 2015. Yucht has 25 years of experience in marketing and communications, most recently working for Community Health Systems based in Franklin, Tennessee, where she was responsible for the marketing strategy of 14 hospitals in five states. Prior to joining CHS, she was the director of marketing and referral services for UF Health where she helped lead the marketing efforts for the opening of the $388 million Shands Cancer Hospital.