Archive for Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter

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 3C: Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis

Blogger: Erin Knothe (Dick Pope/Polk County)

Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis
Presented by: Ike Pigott, Consultant, Positive Position Media Consulting

In his presentation, Five Key Tools for Surviving the Modern Crisis, Ike Pigott discussed how he discovered his gift was in helping people tell their stories better. There is no true special training or school for dealing with a crisis in your organization. Your experience and your knowledge of the organization is critical to survival, as well as knowing what outcomes you want.

Instead of five key tools, Ike shared six.


A crisis is when your organization’s reputation is at stake because of an action you did or didn’t take and public perception is negative. Similarly, a definition from the book, Overdrive, defines a crisis as a violation of your organizational vision. It’s something that violates the promises of your brand. Someone saying something nasty on Twitter is not a crisis, so don’t bring out a full scale crisis communication plan every time.


Make sure your organization’s leaders know:

  • You are not a miracle worker.

  • Your organization will not come out unscathed. One of the only reasons why someone stops talking about you is because they’re talking about the next scandal. You will still have a scar from the situation, but you survived.

  • Your goal is to be in as positive a position as possible at the end of the day.


Two types of triage:

  • Assessing the crisis itself – Set expectations for the future so your leadership can understand why you need to take the steps you are planning

    • How hard is the hit? (impact)

    • How deep is the wound? (scope)

      • How long will we bleed? (duration)

    • Assessing the feedback – You can’t address everything, so you need to use your time and effort to address the key messages.

      • Who is saying it? Random twitter user vs New York Times journalist (authority)

      • How far is its reach? Something with 1,000 retweets is more likely to be retweeted than a message you’re trying to get out in response. (spread)

      • How virulent is the claim? How likely is it that people will want to share it? People are likely to share bad news as a result of virtue signaling, which is the idea that you want to be seen as serious about a particular topic. Slate Star Codex has an article about the topic. (stickiness)

      • Assessing the feedback is something you can do all the time. Get your leadership used to you using authority, spread and stickiness to judge how to respond to a situation.


  • Who has the final word? Who is going to approve or veto your decisions?

  • Where does the person who does the approving or vetoing sit in a crisis? Your goal is make sure they know they are in the same room. No one is immune in a crisis, so they need to be a part of the process to expedite decisions and know what is going on.

    • Plan your messaging for one hour, eight hours and five years after the crisis hits.

    • Four questions to ask when developing messaging:

      • Who are you talking with?

      • What do you want them to know?

      • How do you want them to feel?

      • What will they do with that? What is their call to action? Understand the good and bad ways people can use the information you give them.


  • How many personnel do you have trained?

  • How many do you need?

  • Whole functions

    • Who will your vendors be? Determine what information you need to handle and what you can share with someone else.

Some of work that is easier to outsource is monitoring, including traditional, social and internal, or whole functions. Remember that insourcing is an option to quickly get more people working on work that needs to be accomplished.

To give an example of how a crisis can evolve, Ike used an example of a group of people clapping. When it starts, clapping is somewhat chaotic. As it continues, a rhythm develops and everyone will stop around the same time. In the same way, a crisis is chaotic and you are never going to control the conversation. However, you can guide it to an end.


  • The Tweet a Minute

    • You don’t have to have a unique tweet every minute. However, you should be retweeting, pointing back to something on your website or commenting back to a reporter every three to four minutes. People will be more likely to sit back and watch instead of trying to fill the void you’re leaving if you don’t say anything.

    • Make sure you don’t get in Twitter jail by tweeting too frequently during a crisis. Ask your twitter representative who you need to let know when you institute your communication plan so you can tweet uninterrupted.

PigottlIke Pigott is a Positive Position Media consultant. After 16 years in broadcast news, the Emmy-winning reporter branched out into crisis and disaster communications. In addition to consulting through Positive Position, Pigott was instrumental in bringing social media to disaster communications for the Red Cross, and works for Alabama Power in media relations and social strategy. He has presented at dozens of conferences in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.


Lunch Session: Listen to the C-Suite

Blogger: Erin Knothe (Dick Pope/Polk County)

Lunch Session: Listen to the C-Suite
Presented by: Alex Glenn, State President, Duke Energy; Moderator – Andy Corty, Publisher, Florida Trend

Note: Illness and flight challenges prevented two panel attendees from participating at the lunch session, but moderator Andy Corty from Florida Trend led an insightful discussion with Duke Energy’s State President, Alex Glenn.

How is public relations organized in the company?

The corporate communications team is centralized. Located all throughout the state, the staff directly reports to a vice president, but also communicates with Alex. They are an integral part of decision making. In addition to various regular meetings, Alex has Monday morning meetings with the Corporate Communications (CC) team and sometimes the Community Relations team to review what happened over the weekend, while also planning for upcoming events.

In regards to Florida’s severe weather, what types of communication plan does the company have?

Two general types of communication plans for emergencies:

  1. Strategic plans for large emergencies, like hurricanes

  2. Reactive plans for individual situations, like floods

    1. For these types of emergencies, tools such as media messages, question & answers, press releases, and specific communication to customers, are used on a situational basis.

How does the CC team work with other departments?

The overall view of the company is the more transparency, the better. The CC team will come up with the needed strategies and language, which is then brought to the Legal department  just to review that everything is up to regulations standards. Bad news is better in your own words than someone else’s, which is one reason why the CC Team is so valuable.

Who are your audiences?

First and foremost is employees. A great company has engaged and enabled employees. The easiest way to undermine that is to not communicate with them. Some of the mediums used are email, video conferences, meeting face-to-face, company intranet and social media.

What media do you use externally?

The types of media being used have changed. JD Power is an important voice to Duke Energy. When Duke Energy and Progress Energy were merging, JD Power said that Progress Energy was a quiet company and Duke Energy was a silent company. While being quiet is typical for the industry – you just do your job and keep the lights on – Duke Energy has worked on stepping out of that label. Now they use TV ads and create their own content on Using stories to humanize the company and encouraging employees to be social media champions has been a culture change.

While the CC team plays a role in publicly visible communication, do they have a role in behind-the-scenes meetings?

Government affairs is mostly present in those silent meetings, but the CC team’s messages are present in all meetings. The talking points they produce are the “north star.”

How has the 24 hour news cycle changed the way you communicate?

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. – Mike Tyson

The CC team monitors and reacts as appropriate all times of day. Instead of like in the past where you would gain one and lose one customer, now you can gain one and lose 1,000 customers based on one person’s bad experience that was shared on social media.

With the 24 hour news cycle, how do you prevent the story from getting ahead of you?

It depends on the issue. The first step is to know the facts. You might lose time, but you can’t lose trust.

What is Duke is doing about renewable energy?

Renewable prices are starting to come down, so solar capacity is more possible. In the middle part of the state, the most popular energy usage time is January during the morning hours. Unfortunately, the sun isn’t shining during that time. Solar is intermittent and works for 20-25% of the time. The gamechanger for solar will be affordable energy storage. Duke Energy’s R&D investment is in battery storage. Using solar energy would be a win-win situation. Our carbon footprint goes down and consumers bills are reduced.

What’s the current plan for nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy plants are difficult to build in Florida because natural gas prices are very low and license ability is hard to get. Capital costs of the projects won’t pay off until after 20 years, so the idea is a hard sell for consumers. Unfortunately, no one wants to pay for something that will benefit their children or grandchildren.

What keeps you [Alex Glenn] up at night?

  1. Employee safety – making sure everyone goes home in the same condition they came to work in

  2. Cyber security – It’s a question of if – not when. Duke Energy has 120 million phishing attempts a month. Security plans are in place, with people working 24/7 to work against them.

What are some tips for gaining the CEO’s trust?

  • Have a very deep, thorough understanding of the business. Otherwise, how can you advise?

  • Provide solutions. Don’t just identify the problem, come up with a solution. Explain your reasoning.

  • Tell the truth, even when the person doesn’t want to hear it. If you can’t feel like you can do that, consider if your job is a good fit.

  • Think strategically. Help the business plan specifically and measure it.

What does social media look like for employees?

Employees receive a half day of training, including how to do it and what to stay away from. Only a handful of employees, all from the CC team, have an official twitter handle for the company. Employee social media comments are monitored. Using the company created content, the CC team has made sharing easy and user friendly so employees can become involved in being social media champions.

Have you [Alex Glenn] had media training and what did it entail?

An outside consultant was used to come in for a couple of days of training. Alex commented that more training would be good and staff lower in the chain of command should be getting it too.

Alex Glenn is president of Duke Energy’s utility operations in Florida, serving approximately 1.7 million electric retail customers in central Florida, including metropolitan St. Petersburg, Clearwater and the Greater Orlando Area. He is responsible for advancing the company’s rate and regulatory initiatives, and managing state and local regulatory and governmental relations, economic development and community affairs. Alex has been with Duke Energy (and predecessor companies Progress Energy and Florida Power Corp.) since 1996. Before joining Florida Power Corp., Alex practiced energy law at the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Washington, D.C.


Closing Session: You Went Viral! Now What Do You Do?

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

You Went Viral! Now What Do You Do?
Presented by: Officer Ben Tobias, Public Information Officer, Gainesville Police Department

Gainesville Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Ben Tobias, hit public relations gold when a seemingly ordinary Facebook video of Officer Bobby White playing basketball with some kids went viral. Ben shared tips from his experience in the closing session, “You Went Viral! Now What Do You Do?”.

On Thursday, January 21, 2016, the Gainesville Police Department Facebook page had 13,420 likes. Ben had made attempts to create that elusive viral post, but had fallen short. So, when he finally got the time to edit and post the basketball video using footage from Officer White’s dashboard camera, he was not going into the situation trying to make it go viral.

Within six hours after the video was posted, the video had been viewed one million times. Ben’s conjecture as to why it was so popular is because the video starts off in the same way as many other videos about police responses, but this one was refreshingly positive. To date, it’s estimated that the video has about 200 million organic views from global online sources.

Once the video had taken off, Ben’s office was flooded with phone calls from the media and people thanking them for the video. Officer White did not want to do interviews, so Ben had to decline local coverage. When TMZ called, Ben committed the ultimate PIO sin by accepting media coverage from them. All TMZ’s producer, Evan Rosenblum, said was that a special guest wants to visit sometime between noon and 2 p.m. Since it was a  surprise, no one could know and Ben had to completely trust that a special guest would really arrive in that time period. That’s when Ben learned that, when dealing with celebrity handlers, just trust them because they’ve been through a lot and know what they’re doing.

The special guest was basketball superstar Shaq, who then played basketball with the kids. Ben’s biggest piece of advice from this particular situation is to capture what’s going on, but put down the camera a live it too. Make sure to take some time to experience the unique experience.

The video of Shaq playing basketball with the kids had more than 1.8 million views, but it served an important lesson. Videos are easier to go viral on Facebook because the video plays automatically, which makes it easy for the audience. With YouTube, you have to make sure the video has a compelling title and thumbnail, and hope that viewers take the time to click the link to watch it. Also, be sure to watermark your video and be ready for video permission requests. Many traditional news outlets used the footage, so the police department’s branding would be aired.

Shaq visited on Saturday afternoon, and by Saturday evening and Sunday, the media requests were piling in. Officer White started doing interviews all the time for networks from all around the world.

As a result of the coverage, Ben was able to make a connection with the Harlem Globetrotters, who then participated in a groundbreaking event for a backyard basketball court for the kids. The kids were also invited to a Orlando Magic basketball game, where they were treated like VIPs, and to film a TV show segment at Shaq’s house. All in all, each celebrity the kids met gave them a positive, inspirational message that could shape their futures.

The Basketball Cop Foundation was created as a way to continue the good work that had already been started. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 that helps police departments around the country, and even Bermuda, deliver basketball hoops to their communities. This was a way for the Gainesville Police Department to help other officers change the narrative.

Ben’s Takeaways

  • Buckle up – The media does not care what day it is when an event happens. Be ready to run with it any time.
  • Facebook is the easiest way to go viral.
  • Be forward and aggressive for what you want during your 15 minutes of fame.
  • When the media starts calling, it’s ok to get behind returning their calls. They are not expecting an immediate response.
  • Take a minute and have fun. Similarly, take some time to have fun and enjoy your regular days too.

Click here to view videos referenced in the presentation


BtobiasBen Tobias is the public information officer for the Gainesville Police Department, where he has worked since 2005. During his career, he has served in patrol and spent three years riding horses with the mounted patrol unit. In the spring of 2012, Tobias assumed his current role. About a month into the new position, he handled all media functions for the murder case of UF student Christian Aguilar, which garnered international attention. Tobias’ duties include daily interactions with Gainesville television, print and radio news outlets and managing GPD’s social media presence. When he’s not wearing his PIO hat, Tobias is wearing a helicopter flight helmet as one of the backup tactical flight officers for the Gainesville Police/Alachua Sheriff’s Joint Aviation Unit.


Joe Curley Rising Leader Award Class of 2016

















Congratulations to the winner of the Joe Curley Rising Leader Award - Rhonda Leiberick, APR from the Central West Coast Chapter!













Congratulations to the entire Joe Curley Rising Leader Class of 2016!


Liz Anderson Jacksonville Chapter


Corrie Benfield headshot

Corrie Benfield Tampa Bay Area Chapter


LaurenDeiorio final head shot

Lauren DeIorio Ocala Chapter



Angelica DeLuccia Morrissey Space Coast Chapter


erin igram

Erin Igram NW Florida Coast Chapter


Erin Knothe

Erin Knothe Dick Pope/Pol County Chapter


Cindi Lane

Cindi Lane, APR Volusia/Flagler Chapter



Rhonda Leiberick, APR Central West Coast Chapter


Zoe Linafelt

Zoe Linafelt Capital Chapter



Joey Mazzaferro Gainesville Chapter


Vianka McConville

Vianka McConville Orlando Area Chapter


Nicole Stacey

Nicole Stacey Pensacola Chapter


PR2D2′s “Tour of Chapters” Video

FPRA’s very own PR2D2 visited all 15 chapters this past year. Check out the video highlighting his journey.

PR2D2 video screen shot

Presidents’ Luncheon Chapter Awards

Annual Conference

Congratulations to this year’s President’s Luncheon Award Winners!


Chapter of the Year
Gainesville Chapter (Amelia Bell, APR, CPRC – President)


Chapter President of the Year
Andi Mahoney, APR (Northwest Florida Coast Chapter)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Accreditation & Certification
Southwest Florida Chapter (Heidi Taulman, APR – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Communications
Capital Chapter ( Jan Dobson, APR, CAE – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Community Service
Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter (Amy Wiggins – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Financial Management
Ocala Chapter (Jennifer Lowe – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Image Awards
Northwest Florida Coast Chapter (Andi Mahoney, APR – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Image Awards
Pensacola Chapter – Gordon Paulus, APR – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Leadership Development
Orlando Area Chapter (Kerry Martin, APR – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Membership Development
Gainesville Chapter (Amelia Bell, APR, CPRC – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Professional Development
Space Coast Chapter (Tessa Friederichs – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Special Event Planning
Central West Coast Chapter (Melissa Link – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Student Development
Southwest Florida Chapter (Heidi Taulman, APR – President)


Florida Public Relations Association President’s Award for Most Improved Chapter
Jacksonville Chapter

Congratulations to all the winners!

Congratulations to the following public relations professionals who earned their APR or CPRC in September of 2014.

Accreditation is offered through the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB) to members of participating organizations, including FPRA. Though five years of public relations practice was previously required, ALL members are eligible regardless of years of experience. However, the objective, multiple-choice, computer exam does test a variety of knowledge, skills and abilities, so members interested in seeking accreditation need to be prepared in a variety of skill areas.

Earning professional public relations accreditation and receiving the designation of Accreditation in Public Relations (APR):


Holly Boldrin
Holly Anne Boldrin, APR
Public Relations Manager
Priority Marketing
Southwest Florida Chapter





Deb Jonsson
Deborah Jonsson, APR
Public Relations Manager
Southwest Florida Chapter





Jennifer Olivier, APR
Public Relations Manager
Florida Presbyterian Homes, Inc.
Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter





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:


Heidi Otway Headshot
Heidi Otway, APR, CPRC
Vice President, Director of PR and Social Media
Capital Chapter




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 Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, VP Accreditation/Certification at