PRestige March 2016


Rack Focus on Leadership:

By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRCToniJames


When the Ocala Chapter launched its inaugural Roast & Toast in 2006, who better to recognize than Toni James, APR, CPRC? At the time, Toni was about to retire after 35 years at the helm of United Way of Marion County. During her tenure, she was key in helping start many organizations vital to our community; among them Hospice of Marion County, Success By 6, the Boys & Girls Club, 211 and the Marion County Children’s Alliance. During the “Legacy of Culture of Caring” event, Toni mentioned that among her many plans for the future would be “remaining  active in the community.”


Active? That’s putting it mildly.


Fast forward a decade. Toni’s continued efforts and leadership on behalf of the community were again recognized, this time with the 2016 “Legacies of Love” award from the IES Interfaith Foundation. During the Feb. 15 event at the Hilton, her son Tom described Toni as the “Energizer Bunny.”


Consider what Toni has accomplished in retirement: she not only opened her own PR consultancy, Toni James & Associates Strategic Public Relations, she also continued to play an instrumental role as board chair of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra. It was under her guidance that the orchestra was renamed and brought in Matthew Wardell as conductor. She also worked tirelessly and successfully for the Heart of Florida Health Center, Friends of MRMC, Save the Marion Theatre, and was part of the Library Lovers campaign which promoted the restoration of funding to the Public Library System. Most recently, Toni was named to the board of the Public Policy Institute.


As if that weren’t enough, Toni chaired United Way’s 50th Anniversary event and stepped back into the role of executive director when an interim leader was needed. When it was time to again retire from United Way, she continued to serve first as chair of its public relations and marketing committee, and now as committee member. Additionally, she is involved in Women of Worth, the Ocala Women’s Network, Rotary and her church.


But wait, there is more. Lest we forget, Toni is a charter member of our chapter, continuously maintaining membership, and has served three times as its president as well as state Vice-President of Golden Image. In 2009, she received the Doris Fleischman Award for dedicated service to the Association and the profession. At age 75, during FPRA’s 75th Anniversary year, Toni schooled us all and became one of only two professionals in Florida to earn her CPRC, along with Tina Banner, APR, CPRC.


Toni continues to serve our chapter whenever and wherever needed – chairing Credentials and ACES, assisting as Image Awards judge, helping with Communicator of the Year. The list truly goes on and on and on.


John Dozier summed it up well during Toni’s “Legacies of Love” tribute when he said she was an “unsung hero … working hard in our community to make it better, not for recognition but because it’s the right thing to do.”


PResident's Perspective - Take 7 By Barbra Hernandez, APR

By the way, Bylaws are on the wayFPRA 2015 NEW Cropped Barbra headshot

You’ll need to do this soon. And the reason I say this is because you belong to an amazing chapter that is operated by a set of rules. Yes, I’m talking bylaws, and bylaws vote is on the way.

On March 18, or two weeks from today, I will ask every member in attendance at our professional development meeting to vote on our updated bylaws. This is your opportunity to review them prior to casting your vote.

What are FPRA Ocala Chapter’s bylaws?

These are the rules that guide how we operate our chapter. Every FPRA chapter has its own. Bylaws cover everything from official chapter name and membership guidelines, all the way to duties for each chapter board member and annual auditing requirements, among other guidelines. They are written at the local level and receive vote and approval by our State Board prior to vote by our full chapter membership.

Why am I voting on these, and why now?

Every so often, chapters review their bylaws and update them as technology and processes evolve. Last chapter year, the chapter board established a Bylaws and Policies Review Committee. With input from the committee, as well as last year’s and this year’s boards, the bylaws were updated, approved and sent to the state office for state board approval. The next step is vote by our chapter’s full membership.

What are the main changes?

  • Updated membership article based on state direction for new membership process (applications go to state office for approval instead of directly to chapter);
  • Change in double-signature requirement for checks – up to $500 from previous $250;
  • Clarification on chapter board roles;
  • And, finally, grammar polishing – removal of outdated references, correction on punctuation and content flow, among others.Until the 18th, keep it reel’!
    Please take some time to review the bylaws and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Calling all Communicators from Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC, Image Chair

Two critical deadlines are fast approaching for Conducting Communications Excellence.

Entries for the 2016 Mid-Florida Image Awards must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 11. If you have any questions, or need help with your entry, contact Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC at 352-816-1264.


You may download the Call for Entries along with helpful Tips/FAQs as well as submit your entry (or entries) electronically at


Remember, you must complete your submission in one session or the information you provide will be lost. Before you get started, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the submission form and required documents. You will be able to pay via PayPal or check.


Also, nominations are now being accepted for the Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year Awards. Again, you’ll be able to nominate online at You may nominate an Individual, Institution or both and you may do so at any time before the March 21 deadline.


Image winners and Communicator nominees and winners will be honored at the FPRA Ocala Chapter’s Conducting Communications Excellence gala on Tuesday, April 19 at the Reilly Arts Center.


The early bird rate for FPRA members is $35 if reservations are made by April 4. Good news: the gala will serve as the professional development event for April; those who have prepaid for the regular monthly meeting will receive a credit on their gala reservation for the amount already paid.


Even if you do not enter the Image competition – but do! – you won’t want to miss this outstanding opportunity to network, celebrate communications excellence, support your chapter and enjoy a wonderful evening at the Reilly.


Questions? Call Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC at (352) 816-1264.



FPRA in the Know: Credentials

Someday is not a day of the Week    A message from Credentials Chair, Heather Danenhower, APR Heather Danenhower

In my recent performance appraisal, I received a couple “fully meets,” several “frequently exceeds” and one coveted “consistently exceeds” – the highest mark a person in my company can achieve and a first for me.


Of course, I was excited to receive the praise, and my wallet liked the idea of treating myself to something special. But I was most proud of the category for which I earned it – “Delivers Results.”


My boss pointed out the “successful implementation of outstanding communications products and services.” He specifically praised one of my projects and said it “definitely moved the needle in improving our reputation externally in Florida.”

Yes, I work hard. Sure, I sacrifice just like any solid PR practitioner. But my Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential is how I achieved results for my projects – creating value for my team and my company. The APR process teaches you to think strategically and implement well-researched, rigorous and disciplined communications strategies and tactics that drive results.

So, if you’re thinking, “Someday I will get my APR,” let me say with a smile, someday is not a day of the week. No time is the best time to get started. So don’t delay. Download the new APR handbook, and let’s consistently exceed expectations together.


Meanwhile, for all of our seasoned members, the Certified Public Relations Counselor (CPRC) webinar series will start on March 15, 2016. This five-week course prepares those with 10 or more years of public relations experience for the CPRC exam. If you are interested, contact me at (352) 563-4700 or


FPRA in the Know: Ethics

“What do you do?”  by Elaine McClainElaine

Do you dread that question? It’s hard enough to explain what we do as public relations practitioners as our roles encompass many, many varied job duties. But it’s even harder when our profession is often automatically associated with “spinning,” misleading others or flat-out lying. So how do you explain what you “do” and effectively correct that misperception 1.) quickly 2.) good-naturedly but seriously and 3.) without sounding defensive?


Here are some thoughtful suggestions from our very own chapter members that fit the bill perfectly, along with a peek into a real-life conversation on the topic between an airline passenger and FPRA State President Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC.


Barbra Hernandez, APR

“Public Relations is all about context. My definition of spinning is lying, and we don’t, – can’t -, do that. Providing context is making sure others have all the information they need to make the best decisions about our agency or about anything else. It is making sure we tell our story, and that we do it responsibly. We have just as much right to tell our story as everybody else does. Just like “engineering” (I adapt this to the field of employment of the person with whom I’m talking) is based on a science, so is PR. Public relations require research, planning, implementing and evaluating. It is about first listening to your audiences, understanding them and then delivering valuable information in the best context. So we are a lot more similar to (your field) than you might think.”

If they’re in my office, I point them to our Image Awards binders as conversation points.

Also, when asked repeatedly, I reply with this question, “When you go on a first date, do you give your date all of the information about yourself right then and there? No, you incrementally provide the information as the conversation and the environment allow for it. You evaluate the scenario – you think and plan before taking action. There’s a strategy to effective communications, and being strategic is what sets public relations practitioners apart.”

Heather Danenhower, APR

Spinning is synonymous with deceiving, and trained public relations professionals do not spin. We may advocate the position of our organization through persuasive communication, but we do so while following a strict ethical code of conduct. We tell the truth as fast as we can – even when the truth’s not pretty. We strive to tell it first and tell it ourselves.


Allison Campbell, APR, CPRC

Depends on the context, but I can certainly talk about how our profession is real, and we love the English language and the ability to craft or pen messages that are positive rather than the negativity that seems to be swarming around these days. We are ambassadors for our companies and our profession, and we have standards of excellence and a code of ethics just like a Certified Public Accountant or a practicing physician would.


Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC

“You see … we are people who communicate important, often complex stories and help create understanding and two-way communication, develop support for important causes, inject creativity into sometimes dull topics and work to create consensus on important issues.”

“By the way, to people in our business, SPIN is a four-letter word, because we have a code of ethics that requires us to communicate in the public’s interest and to uphold the truth.”


*Note: Pynn’s quotes are from his column on the same topic first published in the December FPRA eNewsletter. It’s certainly worth a re-read, even if you caught it the first time. Find it here!


Remember, we all have a role to play in helping to correct the unfortunate – but pervasive – stereotype that surrounds our profession. If you have an “elevator speech” you give people about PR or have an explanation of PR ethics that really resonated, please send it here: We’d love to share your thoughts with our chapter. Thank you to our chapter members who have already shared the above suggestions!



March 18 Professional Development Speaker Beth Ramsay

Beth’s mandate: Networking events are not selling events – they’re connecting events.Beth Ramsay speaker author

If you hate attending networking events, then this workshop is for you.

If you hide behind the food table to escape the people who fling out as many business cards as possible in your direction as they hurry off to corner their next victim, then this workshop if for you.

If your experience with networking has been people leaving a forest’s-worth of flyers on your chair, you will be thrilled to learn that this is NOT networking, and this workshop is for you!

Here’s the bottom line: networking doesn’t have to be painful, even for you introverts!

Her Bio:

Beth is the expert for the Networking University for the Ocala Chamber and Economic Partnership. She is CEO and founder of the Brilliance NetworkTM, a company that propels purpose-driven entrepreneurs to unleash their brilliance and achieve the highest level of business and lifestyle success.

Beth is author of the new book “Love to Lead” and teaches impactful lessons through her funny and popular workshops, online courses, and powerful life-changing retreats.


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