Area public relations and communications professionals honored

Image Winners

OCALA, Fla. (April 14, 2022) – The Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition, led by its founder and longtime local environmentalist Margaret Spontak, has been named the 2022 Wilton F. Martin Institutional Communicator of the Year for efforts to reconnect the Ocklawaha River to the Silver and St. Johns rivers and Silver Springs.

The three-year-old organization was honored by the Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association at the annual Mid-Florida Image and Communicator of the Year Awards which took place Wednesday, April 13 at the Marion Theatre. Founded in 1938, FPRA is the oldest professional association of public relations practitioners in the nation.

Recognizing that their work is ongoing until the Ocklawaha is “finally set free,” Spontak and Free the Ocklawaha’s efforts were lauded for “dramatically increasing the public interest, awareness, engagement, and support” needed to reunite the rivers.

The Communicator of the Year award honors institutions and individuals who have demonstrated excellence in strategic communications to improve the quality of life in Marion and Citrus counties. It is named in memory of the late Wilton F. Martin, native Ocalan and the Association’s co-founder.

NPR’s Joe Byrnes, a versatile and veteran reporter and editor for the Star-Banner and Gainesville Sun before joining WMFE in 2020, received the Wilton F. Martin Individual Communicator of the Year for his “unrelenting commitment to quality journalism … reporting, distilling, and communicating the most complex topics with uncommon clarity and color.” 

Image WinnersAdditionally, 14 Image awards were presented to public relations professionals from Marion, Lake, Volusia and Flagler counties. FPRA’s Image Awards and the state Golden Image competition have become the standard of public relations excellence throughout Florida, honoring the very best in public relations innovations, planning and design.

This year’s big winners were Jen Pagh, Scott Schroeder and Matias Raby of Liquid Creative who received the Grand All Image Award in the digital tools of public relations division in the external video category for their Straight Line Construction video, which also earned an Image Award and Judges Award. Also, in the digital tools division website category, the team won an Image Award and Judges Award for rebuilding Straight Line Construction’s website. Lastly, in the public relations programs division  promotional marketing category, they picked up an Award of Distinction for a comprehensive marketing strategy for Straight Line Construction.

Additional winners:

Beverly Brown and Taylor College won a Judges Award in digital tools of public relations division social media category for Taylor College Facebook Engagement Plan.

Rachel Cote and the College of Central Florida won an Award of Distinction and Judges Award in the digital tools of public relations website category for the College of Central Florida website redesign.

Heather Danenhower, APR, CPRC, and Duke Energy won an Image Award in the public relations programs division internal category for Duke Energy’s Power Plant Worker Appreciation Day Campaign.

Mary Dorn, APR, and Cindi Lane, APR, won an Award of Distinction and Judges Award in the public relations programs division special events category for the Volusia/Flagler Chapter of FPRA Media Day at Daytona International Speedway.

Savannah Silliman, Pamela Calero Wardell, and Andy Stracuzzi won an Award of Distinction and Judges Award in the public relations collateral brochure category for the Ocala Symphony’s 46th Season brochure.

FPRA is dedicated to developing public relations practitioners who, through ethical and standardized practices, enhance the public relations profession in Florida. Today there are more than 1,000 professional, at-large and student members throughout the state and country. The FPRA Ocala Chapter was established in 1980. For more information about the chapter, go to

FPRA Ocala Earns Statewide Recognition from FPRA for Chapter of the Year and Strengthening the FPRA Brand

Ponte Vedra, Fla., Aug. 6, 2018— The Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) recently recognized the Ocala Chapter for two awards at the President’s Luncheon at the 80thFPRA Annual Conference.

FPRA State President Ryan Gerds, APR, CPRC first recognized the Ocala Chapter for strengthening the FPRA brand in the community. Gerds mentioned how the chapter further informed community members about the statewide association through the Mid-Florida Local Image Awards and Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year program, Monthly Mixers, regular communication as well as through the chapter’s annual Toolkit for Success seminar.

Culminating the President’s Luncheon, the Ocala Chapter was announced as Chapter of the Year among the Association’s 15 statewide chapters.

“The Ocala Chapter has a rich heritage of leadership for FPRA locally, as well as on the State Association’s executive committee,” said FPRA Ocala Chapter President Lisa Varner, APR, CPRC of Ocala Brodcasting. “It’s been my honor to serve as president this year. It’s easy to lead an organization when you have such a deep bench of seasoned professionals who remain committed on the local level. When you team that with newer members with great enthusiasm and a vision for the future, it’s a game plan for success.”

The Ocala Chapter meets the third Friday of each month at 11:45 in the teleconference room of the Ewers Century Center at the College of Central Florida. For additional information on the Ocala Chapter Name of FPRA please call Ocala Chapter Communications Director Ginger Broslat, APR, CPRC at 352-861-0252.

The Florida Public Relations Association is dedicated to developing public relations practitioners who, through ethical and standardized practices, enhance the public relations profession in Florida. The organization’s 15 professional and 12 student chapters provide professional development, networking and recognition opportunities for nearly 1,200 members across the state. FPRA is the nation’s oldest public relations organization, established by Lt. Col. John Dillin, APR, CPRC in 1938. For more information, visit

Lauren Debick Graduates From Leadership FPRA

Ponte Vedra, Fla.,  Aug. 4, 2018— Ocala Health Marketing and Communications Manager Lauren Debick graduated from Leadership FPRA at the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Annual Conference recently.

Debick was chosen to receive a scholarship to participate in the program from among the 15 members of the 2017 Joe Curley Rising Leaders Class.

LeadershipFPRA provides members with the tools they need to become stronger leaders in their organizations, their communities and FPRA. The program is formal, consisting of an orientation and five full-day sessions held over 12 months.

Class size is limited to 21, so applications are competitive. The LeadershipFPRA Selection Committee reviews all applications and choses the most qualified applicants. And while the Selection Committee evaluates individual applications, it is also charged with building a class that represents diversity—professionally and geographically, as well as in the areas of age, race, gender and ethnicity.

Each class member participated in LeadershipFPRA orientation the day prior to the start of the 2017 Annual Conference, followed by five seminar-styled leadership training classes from a faculty of some of the most accomplished professionals in the state. The curriculum is challenging, and participants are required to attend the orientation, graduation and four of the five independent classes of the program instruction.

Graduates of the LeadershipFPRA program are better equipped to not only function as PR professionals in their respective workplaces, but also strengthen their rightful seat at the boardroom table and to evolve into further leadership roles in FPRA, their communities and the industry in general.

Deadlines for Mid-Florida Local Image and Communicator of the Year Awards Competition are March 13 and March 21; Enter Today!

Image-Communicator-FPRADeadlines for entries and nominations toward the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Ocala Chapter’s 2015 Mid-Florida Local Image and Communicator of the Year Awards competition are fast approaching.

Professionals and organizations seeking recognition for their public relations programs must submit their Image Awards entries by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13. The Image Awards competition recognizes outstanding public relations programs, while encouraging and promoting the development of public relations professionals. Winners demonstrate the best examples of PR innovation, planning and design. A standard of public relations excellence in theState of Florida, the Image Awards competition is open to the public. Public relations-related projects conducted between January 2014 and March 2015 are eligible for entry.

Citizens and businesses interested in nominating an outstanding communicator for the individual or institutional categories of the Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year Awards may submit their entries by 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. The Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year Awards – Individual recognizes the person who uses his/her position to enhance Marion County’s community causes, advance the field of public relations and uphold the ethical standards representing theOcala Chapter. The Institutional recognition honors the institution, business or media outlet that has gone above and beyond to provide timely, accurate and critical information to the community, and has demonstrated mastery of communications skills and strategies.

Guidelines and entry rules for the Image competition are available on the FPRA Ocala Chapter website: The entry fee is $45 for FPRA members and $55 for non-members. Communicator of the Year nominations are also available online at There is no cost to submit a nomination. For any questions, please email [email protected] or [email protected].

The Ocala Chapter’s 2015 competition theme, The Art of Public Relations, will additionally showcase the talented and creative art community in Ocala/Marion. Award recipients will be honored by the FPRA Ocala Chapter Friday, April 24 at the awards gala presented by our community partner, the Appleton Museum of Art.

Local public relations awards showcase outstanding work

April 25, 2014, Mid-Florida Local Image Awards Gala (80)

OCALA, Fla. – The Florida Public Relations Association Ocala Chapter recognized public relations professionals for achieving industry excellence at the recent Mid-Florida Local Image Awards gala.

As determined by a third-party panel of judges, the winners represent the very best examples of public relations innovation, planning, implementation and design. Winners and gala attendees represented several area organizations, including CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, Duke Energy, Hospice of Marion County, Marion County Fire Rescue, Marion County Office of Public Information, Southwest Florida Water Management District and United Way of Marion County.

This year’s awards theme, ReciPe for Results, emphasized the importance of a planning process for any successful public relations campaign. Like a recipe, the public relations process is precise, and it specifies steps: research/situational analysis, objectives, implementation, evaluation and budget. The event was held at Community Technical & Adult Education (CTAE), Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts School, where honorees and guests dined on cuisine prepared by CTAE Chef James Kennedy and his students.

The Mid-Florida Local Image Awards honor outstanding public relations programs, printed tools of public relations and audio, visual and online tools of public relations. Entries must meet strict criteria and undergo tough scrutiny by a third-party panel of judges. Judges must have their Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential and have won an Image Award in the past. Many are also Certified Public Relations Counselors.

Three of this year’s entries met the highest standards of public relations excellence and were bestowed a Grand All Image award (Public Relations Programs division) or Grand Image awards (Printed Tools of Public Relations and Audio/Visual/Online Tools of Public Relations):

Heather Danenhower, APR; Duke Energy Corporate Communications; and the Crystal River Nuclear Plant won a Grand All Image Award for their employee communications plan associated with the announcement to retire the Crystal River Nuclear Plant. The plan focused on informing plant employees of the retirement decision firsthand through face-to-face meetings, email communications and videos. The group additionally received an Image Award for that plan and also received an Image Award for their Crystal River Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Open House event. The event successfully increased awareness of the decommissioning plan and positively influenced how people felt about plant workers and Duke Energy.

Barbara Hernandez, APR; Marion County Office of the County Engineer and the Stormwater Section won a Grand Image award for their 2013 Marion County “Discover Our Water Resources” tabloid, an educational newspaper developed to increase water knowledge and promote water-conserving behaviors among Marion County fourth- and fifth-graders. The group also received an Image Award and Judges’ Award for the publication.

Michele Sager, Allen Yarbrough and Robin Felix won a Grand Image award for the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Springs Instagram Contest, developed to educate and engage the residents of Citrus, Hernando and Marion Counties, home to five major springs systems. The group also received an Image Award for the contest.

Other notable awards included:

Carrieann Adkins, Don Weaver and Robyn Felix received an Image Award for the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Springs Website, which positions the district as the leading scientific agency that understands springs and takes action to restore them.

Laura Byrnes, APR, and CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion were honored with an Award of Distinction for their website redesign, which resulted in a more cohesive and clearer information tool that better communicated the nonprofit’s programs and increased engagement.

Jessica Greene Fuchs and Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) Partners received an Award of Distinction for the “Prepare. Protect. Prevent. Water Safety Campaign.” Partnering with local agencies, MCFR raised awareness about water safety and raised funds to purchase swimming lesson packages for local families.

Lila Ivy and Lisa Varner, APR, were honored with an Award of Distinction for their Hospice of Marion County’s Flowers for Alzheimer’ Fundraiser, an awareness-raising effort to support an end to Alzheimer’s disease.

Teresa Martyny and United Way of Marion County received an Award of Distinction for their 2-1-1 Blog to help community members become more aware of the wide range of services available to them locally and nationally.

In addition to the awards ceremony, Monique Yeager, vice president of marketing at Tijuana Flats’, shared her company’s ReciPe for Results on winning marketing strategies in the highly competitive fast casual restaurant industry. Attendees received valuable insight into how Tijuana Flats fosters its unique approach to employee relations, customer communication and brand management.

Sponsors for the ReciPe for Results 2014 Mid-Florida Local Image Awards included: Frankel Media Group, $1,000 in-kind contribution for design services; Community Technical & Adult Education, $250 in-kind contribution for the event venue; Diana Scott, $250 in-kind contribution for photography; Webster University, $250 cash; and Duke Energy, $250 cash.

FPRA is comprised of 15 professional and 10 student chapters throughout the state, providing professional development, networking and professional recognition opportunities.

The Ocala FPRA Chapter,, was established in 1980. Members and
guests meet the third Friday of each month at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Ocala.