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.


Breakout 2C: Solo PR “Ask the Experts” Workshop

Blogger: Mary Dorn, APR (Volusia/Flagler Chapter0

Solo PR “Ask the Experts” Workshop
Presented by: Kellye Crane, Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, and Karen Swim

Each year at Annual Conference, business entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pick the brains of a panel of self starters. Jay Rayburn, APR, CPRC, who introduced this year’s session, said the people attending the panel consider it a must-see for its importance to their businesses. He stressed to remember to charge for overhead and profit. Professionals have a right to both.

This year, FPRA and Solo PR Pro representatives divided up the panel to focus on specific concerns for small business owners and consultants. Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, presented “Taking the Plunge” for those nervous about getting started. Karen Swim gave financial tips in her “New Business / Fees” segment. Kellye Crane presented “PR Skills / Client Management.” Interestingly, the three had similar advice, and each started with national or international clients before focusing on local business.

Lanette Hart, APR, CPRC, founder and principal of Hart & Associates LLC, said getting started was a process that took 13 years of thought. She identified herself with her past employer, Bank of America, was raising four boys, and had concerns about launching a business during the financial crisis. To make the move to a solo practitioner three years ago, she first developed an exit strategy and chatted with others who’d tried going solo in business.  Hart stressed the importance of networking, to help “pull together the right team” so there is no work overload. Don’t kill yourself doing all the work.

Her mantra throughout the session was “learn to think like a business person.” By anticipating dry spells in an industry, she knows when to move to the next type of client or plan for a steady salary during less-busy seasons.

Kellye Crane, Crane Communications Ltd. and founder of Solo PR Pro, also believes in networking, but prefers to network on a national level. When contacts move to another company, that is an opportunity to gain a new client. She tends to maintain a client base of similar industries.

Crane reminded a participant who asked how to prove her value to clients that what is difficult to others should be second nature to a public relations professional.

Getting the outside perspective is important to Crane, to enable a professional to “feel less like an island.”

Karen Swim, President of Solo PR, said to never stop conducting business development. She sets month-to-month priorities and sets aside an hour per week to work on attracting future clients. Make a list of 10 prospects and research them before outreach. Patience is a virtue….

“You don’t always meet a client and close on the contract the next week. It’s a process,” Swim said. If ideas run dry, she reaches out to her own contacts and past clients that she is available to help people they may know.

Swim stressed to be bold about finding out what you can charge in each market and charging that fee, instead of lowering your value. If the client is not the right fit, know when to walk.

Favorite Resources, tools:

Hart: Her different networks for job different aspects, including FPRA and mentors. Many apps have helped her.

Crane: LinkedIn groups, Dropbox.

Swim: Smart phone: with all the apps available, she can conduct all business from her phone. Her support network in SoloPRPro is a resource. Also: MBO Partners’ online calculator to plan expenses/income.


Hart:  Think like a business person instead of just planning to replace a past salary. Find a mentor and build your network to hire help when you need.
“Understand who you want to serve, what kinds of problems you solve and don’t be afraid to say, ‘You don’t fit me as a client’.”"

Crane: Dream big. She agrees with Lanette Hart that you shouldn’t plan to just replace past salary. She started young so dreams played into it.

Swim: Don’t let fear hold you back or keep you from charging what you’re worth. Even 12 years after starting, she admits that at times, it’s still scary for her.

KraneKellye Crane is an accomplished, award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience in integrated marketing communications who has offered strategic planning, content strategy, press/influencer relations and technical writing services to some of the world’s largest companies, including ADP, Alaven Pharmaceutical, BellSouth, The Coca-Cola Company, IBM, Intel McKesson and Microsoft. Founder and past president of the popular Solo PR Pro blog for independent public relations consultants, Crane is frequently listed as one of the most influential PR professionals in the United States.


HartLanette Hart, APR, CPRC, is one of two representatives for the Florida Public Relations Association on the Universal Accreditation Board. She has more than 24 years of experience in various aspects of corporate communications, public relations, marketing and journalism. She is the principal consultant and founder of Hart & Associates LLC, providing corporate communications/PR expertise and business management to private corporations and government agencies. Previously, Hart worked for 19 years as a global communications strategist with Bank of America, one of the world’s leading financial services companies. Hart is an award winning and recognized speaker. She delivers big picture thinking combined with actionable tips you can use right away to make a difference in your organization.


SwimKaren Swim is an accredited public relations professional who has run her own virtual agency for more than a decade. She brings to her PR work an unusually rich background in sales, human resources, business and marketing, having started her career in HR in the banking industry and going on to lead top performing sales teams at Glaxo SmithKline and Quest Diagnostics. Swim’s extensive experience as a consultant includes engagements providing high-level strategic counsel and content to B2B, technology, healthcare, nonprofit and lifestyle companies. She also ran a career marketing division of her company for seven years, where she coached independents and corporate professionals and helped them achieve their career goals.



Workshop: The Great American Novel: TL;DR, Writing for Social and Web in the age of Brevity

Blogger: Sarah Hansen (Space Coast Chapter)

The Great American Novel: TL;DR, Writing for Social and Web in the age of Brevity
Presented by: Jeff Stevens, Assistant Web Manager, UF Health

@kuratowa l l #FPRA16WK5

TL;DR: an acronoym meaning “too long; don’t read” (used often on comment boards)

Americans currently consume about 11 hours of media daily- 23% percent is social. In a thrilling workshop, XX discussed creative a voice for your brand and how to translate it to the brief world of web and social, where you’re lucky to hold the attention of consumers for more than two minutes.

Voice, tone and style

  • Voice: A brand’s personality. What does it sound like when you talk to people? What is your brand and what isn’t your brand?

  • Tone: How do you talk to people in different situations?

    • Funny vs. Serious

    • Formal vs. Casual

    • Respectful vs. Irreverent

    • Enthusiastic vs. Matter of Fact

  • Style: Punctuation, Style, Abbreviation, Titling, Spelling,

    • Speciality language is included here.

    • Use of singular “they” is becoming more popular in most styles.

  • Examples/Resources of excellent brand guides:

General Tips For Social and Web

  • Keep it brief. 79% of users scan pages, 16% read pages.

    • We get too verbose with our websites and we need to tone it down. What are consumers looking for?

    • You’re competing with the scroll on social. Most people are not going to click “read more” on Facebook unless you’ve captured their interest.

      • Optimum post length according to study- 40 characters on Facebook & 110 characters on Twitter.

  • Deeper content. When writing more content, use websites and for more engagement, use instant article publishing on facebook (when you read an article, but never actually leave the Facebook app).

  • Avoid jargon.

    • Speak in a language that your consumers recognize and can find.

    • Grammar counts. It can make or break your message.

  • Resources:

    • – a website that breaks out longer pieces into twitter “chunks.”

Tips for writing for the web:

  • Write for understanding.

    • Avoid vague language open to misinterpretation.

  • Write for accessibility.

  • Writing for translation- are international audiences able to translate?

  • BREAK IT UP- headings and subheading. Chunk your content into logical areas

  • Use bulleted lists- easier for scanning.

  • Focus your content. Most important at top and least important at bottom.

    • “Crazy Egg” scans your content to figure out where people stop scrolling on your page.

  • Avoid layout location specific content.

  • Use active voice.

  • Avoid synonyms.

    • Consistent language makes it easier for translators to pick up.

  • Be brief, but be clear.

  • Never underline text on the web- people may think it’s a link.

  • Write for your keywords. (headers, subheaders, in the content)

  • Never use “click here”- hyperlink a whole sentence. Also helps with SEO so google knows what the link is. Embedding the YouTube video is preferable.

  • Optimize for social: “specify a sentence so it says “tweet this” or at a glance short copy. (highlight points or quotes)


  • Takes your copy and shows you areas that are not common vernacular.

  • Reviews your content to see the reading grade level.

Writing for Social

  • Organic reach mean shared content.

  • Virality means content quality vs. clickability (must meet together).

  • Curiosity gap:People are hardwired to understand more behind an unclear headline. Intrigue them enough to “fill the gap.”

    • Facebook doesn’t like this. Just last week they announced that they tweaked their algorithm and they now “look for click bait and take it off the news feed.”

    • In other words, write clear, specific and informative posts.

  • Use the imperative: take action. Be immediate and in the moment.

  • Posts should be about learning:

    • “How to” “Help” “Beginners Guides” “Learn in Five Minutes”

  • Ask questions! Studies show it doubles engagement

  • Name dropping works well too. Familiar brands, celebs etc.

  • Use numbers:

    • Example: Buzzfeed writes lists.

    • Headlines with odd numbers have 20% higher click-through.

  • Keep it casual:

    • Be a person. Use slang.

  • Emojis can help with shorter character space. (be careful of how emojis differ on various devices)

  • Hashtags: great for getting into existing conversations. Be sure to look at other ways people might interpret it.

    • helps determine a good hashtag by name.

Final takeaway:

  • Know when to break the rules.

  • Some things might not work for your audience.

  • Complete A/B Testing- refine your content, tone and timing.

  • For websites- use google analytics experiments to see what layouts your audience likes the most.

StevensJeff Stevens has 15 years of experience in web and social communications at the University of Florida and in branding and graphing design with Union Design & Photo. He believes in the power of helping people connect and solving design and content challenges together. As assistant web manager at UF Health, he is responsible for content and social strategy and information architecture for patient care websites and advises on the 700 sites that make up their web presence.



Breakout 3A: 9 Social Content Trends to Watch in 2017

Blogger: Sarah Hansen (Space Coast Chapter)

9 Social Content Trends to Watch in 2017
Presented by: Arik Hanson, Principal, ACH Communications

Arik Hanson shared his opinion, based on months of research, on where social media is heading in 2017 in the breakout session Nine Social Content Trends to Watch in 2017.

#1: Less is the new more. The new strategy for social posts is “less is more.” In other words, you don’t need to post multiple times a day! If you can pull together a small social advertising fund, then posting 2 “boosted” posts a week means your content will appear all week long with less work.

Target and Sharpie are both examples of this “dark” advertising (AKA no posts on their feed, but yet always on YOUR feed).

#2: Could the all-video news feed be a reality? YES! It certainly seems to be headed that way. According to the research Arik showed, the number of videos Facebook published in June was twice as many as April.

Facebook Live is a good example of how the platform is pushing more video content. Brands like Oreo and Dunkin Donuts are on board! In the 9 posts Oreo had in July, 7 of those were videos.

Why does it make sense for brands?

  • Best ad targeting platform on the social web.

  • Numbers are through the roof.

  • Adding new functionality all the time (Facebook Live, 360 videos).

  • Huge engagement rates.

#3: Will Instagram lose its “cool” factor? (Arik thinks so.)

Instagram shot up to 400 million users from 2010 to 2015. They slowly began allowing  brands to advertise, and then finally late last year, they opened their ad platform up to all businesses. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed these ads and felt a tinge of annoyance.

Here’s why it’s going to lose the “cool” factor:

  • Users visit Instagram for a mental break- not brand advertising.

  • Those brand engagement rates- they’re about to take a hit.

  • Ads will get more likes, but fewer of the more valuable comments/tagging.

#4: Live social video will lead to deeper brand engagement. Live streaming through platforms like Periscope or Facebook Live can bring consumers access to things they may not normally have. For example, Mayo Clinic streamed a live video of a colonoscopy, while a world-class physician discussed the process and answered questions on the spot!

Interviews won’t always work though, so get creative. And remember, the internet likes weird, crappy stuff (like the IHOP Facebook Live pancakes on a beach- look it up for a good laugh).

#5: The emojis heydey is over (for brands). We use emojis to communicate with our friends and family, and to convey certain emotions in a simple, funny way. Brands are trying to get on board with this and failing.

While some brands can make it work, most brands are clunky and don’t understand how to use them properly. Arik provided examples of brands who overcomplicated it with emoji messages that became impossible to decode. Speak the language your customers are using and keep it simple!

#6: LinkedIn publishing will help close the gap between leadership and employees.

CEOs publishing on LinkedIn is becoming a bigger trend. It’s reaching the right audience and humanizes them in a way other communications haven’t. Since it’s a professional network, more leaders will begin joining.

#7: Relying on 3rd-party vendors to produce podcasts:

Why will they outsource?

  • Brands don’t have skill set in-house

  • Agencies aren’t offering/don’t have skill set either.

  • Content more compelling when created by experts.

  • Professional companies can produce a polished and finished podcast.

#8: More Pinterest. Less Snapchat. Pinterest doesn’t get the credit, but a lot of people use it. People on pinterest are building boards then buying. For some companies, Pinterest is a huge traffic-driver to website

  • Why not Snapchat?

    • Few meaningful metrics

    • Not super-intuitive for brands

    • Hard for brands to do right

  • Why more Pinterest?

    • One of the better traffic-driving social sites

    • Long tail traffic

    • Requires less time/energy to maintain

    • More bottom-line results (intent to buy)

#9: Expect more brands to start employing 360-degree photos.They are more engaging in most cases and they provide a richer, deeper experience.

  • Why don’t we see it yet?

    • It’s still early – just launched in June.

    • Brands think you need a 360 camera, but the pano camera on your phone works fine.

    • Lack of perceived need.

#10 (bonus): Feed stopping interactive content: GIFs. With all the advertising cluttering social platforms, companies need to get creative with content that “stops the scroll.” Gifs are a great example of content that most consumers will stop to engage with.

Final take away: “Be creative to cut through the clutter and use the technology to your advantage.”

HansonlArik C. Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications, and an award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience in digital marketing, corporate communications and PR. Over the years, he’s worked with Fortune 500 clients like Select Comfort, General Mills and Walmart, as well as regional clients like Starkey, Allina Health and Andersen Windows & Doors. His PR blog, Communications Conversations, has also been recognized as a “must read” by PRWeek and PRWeb.



Dillin Keynote Address: Rescue, Rehab & Release: Communicating a Purpose-Driven Brand in Controversy

Blogger: Sarah Hansen (Space Coast Chapter)

Dillin Keynote Address: Rescue, Rehab & Release: Communicating a Purpose-Driven Brand in Controversy
Presented by: Jill Kermes, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

In a moving Dillan Keynote Address Communicating a Purpose-Driven Brand in Controversy, Jill Kermes shared the challenges SeaWorld faced after the film Blackfish aired on CNN, what changes the company made following the controversy and why communication matters more than anything.

Jill was thrown into the Blackfish controversy immediately upon accepting her position as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at the well-known facility. The passion Jill has for SeaWorld and its animals was evident as she told the crowd three facts about the organization that many people may not know:

  • Largest rescuer of animals in the U.S.
  • Conducts and publishes animal research studies.
  • Funds animal conservation projects on every continent.

Not surprisingly, the press hasn’t covered these facts recently. In fact, the negative exposure SeaWorld experienced in the past years has overshadowed the company’s mission.


  • Changing Public Attitudes: SeaWorld initially taught the general public about Orcas, which led to Orcas becoming a beloved animal.

“SeaWorld created a movement and needed to keep up with the changed mindsets,”

Since, millennials were becoming the mainstream generation, their opinion of SeaWorld had a major effect. According to research:

  • 78% want to learn something new when they travel.
  • 90% will likely switch brands (even with the same price/quality) if it supports a cause.

  • 92% of millennial moms want to buy a product that supports a cause.

  • 65% households have a pet.

  • Negative Campaigning Against Our Brand: During the controversy, advertising against SeaWorld became reflective of negative political campaigns. The film Blackfish was created by animal activists who had been against them for years. Despite being riddled with errors, it resonated with the general public and they began to see opinions change. Getting it on Netflix was a smart move, since it reached a broader customer marketplace. As a result, they began seeing a lot of the negativity on social channels.

“Corporate brands cannot defend their brand by running a negative campaign against the activists.”

  • Social media, advertising and PR were not enough: At first, SeaWorld focused on unscripted, organic videos and blogs to respond to the negative exposure. They wanted their voice to be heard and to spread a positive story. However, this wasn’t making much of a difference. They also faced the issue of many blogs being published to major media outlets (i.e. Huffington Post) without being asked to comment.

Finally in 2015, they moved to paid media, because they wanted to make sure opinion leaders had the details of their message. Data began to show they were moving the needle on public opinion, but when the ads went down, so did the positive support.


  • Solution: Creating & Telling Your Own Story.

In the wise words of Don Draper from Mad Men, “If you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation.”

SeaWorld realized that they needed to listen to the public and make major changes.

“It was at this point,” Jill expressed emotionally, “that we announced we would not breed Orca Whales at SeaWorld anymore.”

They also announced they would change theatrical performances to a more engaging and informative documentary-style experience with the Orcas. In the same breath, they announced they were partnering with the Humane Society to focus on important issues including commercial whaling and the drastic loss of sharks in our oceans.

  • Being Heard: and moving public opinion. Once the barrier of Orcas was removed, people began changing their minds in a positive way about SeaWorld. In studies they conducted following the announcement, they found that 81% of millennials and 87% of California elites were favorable to SeaWorld. From there, their reputation continued to improve.

Why communication matters more than ever:

Communications both internally and externally is vital to an organization. Jill clarified that it’s dialogue vs. monologue. In other words, we need to humanize communications coming from a company. It needs be a two-way street!

What can you do?

Listen to the survey research and react to the public. In SeaWorld’s situation, they had to understand how the public attitudes were changing and then make adjustments to let them know they were listening.

In order to understand public opinion and tell our company stories, professional communicators should have a seat and be consulted along the way of decision making. And sometimes, we need to respond with actions not just slogans.

KermesJill Kermes has a background in political and corporate litigations communications and crisis management. She served as Jeb Bush’s communications director during his time as governor, and worked in the D.C. offices of Ketchum and Public Strategies (now Hill & Knowlton Strategies). She was vice president of brand and corporate communications for Volkswagen of America, as well as the primary spokesperson for Bridgestone during the company’s high-profile tire recall. She is from Safety Harbor, Florida, and graduated from American University.


Workshop: Effective Media Interaction

Blogger: Vickie Pleus (Orlando Area)

Effective Media Interaction
Presented by: John Zarrella, President, JZMedia

  • Takeaways: Comprehend the value in media training; understand the importance of protecting the image; find comfort on camera

  • Media training is not always going to be perfect, but it certainly can be a benefit

    • Have a good understanding of how it works

      • It’s the whole package: your presence, how you deliver message, where you deliver, how you dress…all these go into the package you’re trying to present to the client, company

      • You are the spokesperson; your responsibility is to get the message out or protect the interest of the org/ company

    • Don’t agree to interview immediately

      • What would you like to discuss?

        • If you are client, call your agency first before giving interview

      • Create outline

      • Discuss questions with other staff

      • Ask reporter:  What questions will you be asking me?

        • Does not always work

        • Reporter may say “general question about ____ (subject)”

          • Follow up questions may change anyway, be based on questions they produce

    • Be aware of surroundings, esp. for TV, and how you look

      • Clean desk?

      • Blinds open/closed?

      • Lighting?

      • Outside?

      • What to wear

        • Blues, stay away from warm tones

        • Solid colors, no stripes/no busy patterns

          • No distracting jewelry, dangling earrings

        • Dress for weather

  • Remember your manners – make the reporter comfortable

    • Be polite

    • Offer water

    • Need anything before interview?

      • May not hurt; develop rapport with reporter that’s interviewing you

  • Keep your cool!

    • Interviewer could be challenging

    • Could be an ambush

    • Keeping your cool is the most important thing you can do

      • Always assume the camera is rolling, mics are on

    • Keep it simple

      • Stick to the message

      • Talk in sound bites

      • Don’t go on and on!

        • what you want to get out may be getting lost

It’s not just how you say or what you say, it’s how you present yourself

  • Never lie; don’t make things up

    • Even if the reporter doesn’t catch it, social media will catch it

    • If you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up

      • Get back to them with the answer

      • Have an expert available to you so you may defer if you don’t know the answers

  • Consider media training

    • Interview w/subject to put them at ease

    • Record interview

    • Then “reporter” asks tougher questions

Before interview, after meetings with staff, as you work on outline, that’s where the sound bites come from

  • Don’t try to fill the silences

  • Ok to pause

  • Don’t look defensive

  • Correct incorrect information

    • Correct it on the spot if possible

  • Don’t paraphrase the incorrect information first…simply replace with the CORRECT information

ZarellaJohn Zarrella is president of JZMedia. He was a network news correspondent for CNN for 30 years based in the network’s Miami bureau. His work included coverage of natural disasters, the U.S. Space Program, the environment and major breaking news. After leaving CNN in 2014, he began JZMedia. He continues to report now for CCTV-America, an International network, and does media trainings and public speaking.