Golden Image Awards Gets An Update for 60th Anniversary

golden-image-awardsThis year marks the 60th anniversary of our Association’s prestigious Golden Image Awards honoring excellence in our profession across the state of Florida. While the goal of honoring the very best examples of innovation, planning and design has remained unchanged for this awards program, the way we as practitioners, do our business has greatly evolved over the past 60 years.

For this reason, this year’s Golden Image committee decided to take a look at the various divisions and categories that make up both the Image Awards and Golden Image competitions to ensure we are covering the appropriate areas of our business. Not surprisingly, a few categories required updating or were missing altogether. So while the majority of the categories have remained intact, we wanted to make you aware of a few changes you’ll see this year.

Division A now includes categories to celebrate the work done in both Integrated Marketing programs and Reputation Management. These are defined as:

Integrated Marketing: any program incorporating public relations strategies and tactics as part of an integrated campaign and demonstrating effective integration with other marketing/communication disciplines.

Reputation Management: any program or strategy developed to enhance or improve the reputation of an organization with its publics, either proactively or in response to an issue or event.

Division C, formerly the Audio/Visual/Online Tools of Public Relations category has been updated to reflect our digital age. We have renamed this the Digital Tools of Public Relations category and simplified a few of the categories within this division – making it a bit more streamlined.

The individual chapters are hard at work launching their Image Awards programs as we speak, so be sure to visit for more details on how to enter, deadlines and more.

And start preparing now for this year’s Golden Image Awards competition! Call for entries will open on Friday, April 14 and entries will be due on Friday, May 19.

- Alyson Lundell, APR, CPRC, VP of Golden Image

To Sit for the APR or Not…That is the Question!

FPRA20152I am here to tell you, if you pursue becoming Accredited in Public Relations (APR), you won’t regret it, not one bit! Maybe myFPRA accreditation story will inspire those of you “on the fence” about this important accreditation.

Let me begin by being honest. I am not a fan of school, not a fan of studying, and not a fan of reading text books! When I graduated from Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!) with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, I thought, “whew, I’m done with school, done with studying, let my life begin!” Oh, how naïve I was back then! :)

When I moved to Florida and started working in the community relations and public relations fields, I realized I had a lot to learn. I started attending Central West Coast FPRA Chapter meetings, professional development sessions and soaking in as many tips as I could to help me become a better practitioner. Then I noticed several of my mentors, whom I greatly admired, had letters behind their name. Three little letters: APR. I wanted to know more!

First, a little about the APR. FPRA is a participating organization of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB). The UAB is a diverse group of educators, military public affairs personnel and public relations professionals who oversee the Accreditation program. There are nine participating organizations including names I’m sure you’ll recognize: FPRA, PRSA, National Association of Government Communicators and Southern Public Relations Federation. Since the Accreditation program is universal, you can take it with you anywhere, as long as you remain a member of a UAB participating organization. Another great reason to renew your FPRA membership!

As much as I thought I would never want to take another test or read a text book, I was inspired to be like my professional peers and further my career by taking the exam! Preparing for the APR helps you build on areas you may not be as familiar with. For instance, if one of your main responsibilities is media relations, you probably do not know much about investor relations. Studying for the exam helped me gain knowledge about public relations, things I didn’t learn in journalism school. The APR process also keeps you current on today’s best practices and applications in the ever-evolving communications world. Our industry changes and changes quickly. We need to constantly brush up on our skills and keep learning! Thankfully, FPRA provides some great resources to do just that!

ItTakesAPRo_Seal_largeSo, take it from me, if I can learn to study again and find value in a textbook, so can you! The UAB is promoting awareness of the APR process through its ItTakesAPRo campaign. FPRA will be promoting this campaign as well. Our VP of Accreditation and Certification, Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC will be sharing more in the coming months about this campaign. In the meantime, attend an information session about the process or connect with your Chapter’s Accreditation chair to find out more about this process. It’s worth the effort!

-Terri Behling, APR, CPRC

Congratulations, Betsy Clayton, APR, CPRC!


Congratulations Betsy Clayton, APR, CPRC who recently received the designation of Certified Public Relations Counselor (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 the CPRC designation distinguishes senior members of FPRA who have demonstrated understanding and mastery of core public relations principles and practices and have been certified to act as public relations counselors. Currently, there are 109 CPRCs in Florida.

Betsy Clayton

Betsy Clayton, APR, CPRC
Communications Director
Lee County
Southwest Florida Chapter

In her role as communications director for Lee County, Betsy coordinates internal and external communications and media relations for the organization of 20-plus departments and 2,500 employees. Previously, she served as Lee County Parks & Recreation waterways coordinator, which involved assisting travel writers and environmental journalists who reported on Lee County’s Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. Clayton also was a newspaper reporter at The News-Press and Florida Weekly in Fort Myers and at newspapers in Oregon, California and Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism.

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



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.