Ocala area PR professionals earn local and statewide awards, recognition at end-of-year celebration and annual conference

The Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association raced to the finish of its 2021-2022 membership year in top form – and is now ready to break from the starting gate – by bringing home several statewide awards and recognizing founding member Toni James, APR, CPRC, by renaming its PACEsetter of the Year Award in her honor.

The Ocala Chapter PACEsetter award, established in 2004, recognizes members who have demonstrated excellence and helped advance and strengthen the chapter. PACE stands for Professional and Career Enhancement.

Outgoing Ocala Chapter President Heather Danenhower, APR, CPRC, announced the renaming of the prestigious award during the chapter’s annual year-end celebration on Aug. 19. James, surprised and visibly moved by the designation, is a two-time past president of the Ocala Chapter in 1985 and 1996 and a 2011 recipient of the PACEsetter Award. She also received the Lifetime Achievement in Communications Award – one of only three such designees in the chapter’s 42-year history.

Danenhower lauded James for leaving an “indelible mark” not just on the public relations profession and FPRA but also on the local community. Danenhower cited James’ long tenure as the first president of United Way of Marion County and her work with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, Save Marion Theatre, Marion County Public Library system and Heart of Florida Health Center. “Toni started her career in the 1960s,” Danenhower said. “Think about that. At the time, Toni was nearly always the only woman in a meeting or boardroom. Her success and passion have inspired generations of women.”

During the “Starting Gate” event, James and Danenhower bestowed the renamed award to Tina Banner, APR, CPRC, longtime chapter member and past president, along with Beverly Brown, outgoing chapter membership director and treasurer for the coming membership year.

Banner, assistant director of social media and digital communications for the University of Florida Advancement, worked for James for many years at United Way. Danenhower said Banner was a consistent and reliable source of support to the Ocala Chapter even after transferring to the Gainesville Chapter.

“Tina has been with us every step this year for no reason other than she wants our chapter to thrive and succeed,” Danenhower said. “She helped us build our budget. Her records served as our launch point. She was quick to track down whatever we needed. For Tina, no task was too small and no time commitment too great in her service to the chapter – not just this year but for the last 20 years. Tina is FPRA; she is the Ocala Chapter.”

Danenhower also praised Brown, director of Taylor College’s career and student services, for helping promote a warm and welcoming culture as the chapter’s membership director.

“Beverly intuitively knows what to do, what to say and how to make people feel seen, heard and valued,” Danenhower said. “With Beverly’s leadership, we retained 83% of our membership and celebrated nine new and returning members. We are 46 members strong today and growing.”

After thanking members of the 2021-2022 board, Danenhower turned to outgoing State President Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC, to install the chapter’s new board except the incoming chapter president, Tammy Gantt, who will be installed in September. Gantt is the associate vice president of member services and events at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association and executive director of Florida Thoroughbred Charities.

Chestnut, who is also a member of the Ocala Chapter, was recognized for serving on the Association’s state executive committee. Other chapter members who served at the state level were Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC, the Association’s liaison on the Universal Accreditation Board, and Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, vice president of LeadershipFPRA.

A highlight of the event was a “gavel-passing” ceremony with several of the chapter’s past presidents: Margaret Spontak (1984); Toni James, APR, CPRC (1985 and 1996); Karen Jensen (1987); Donna Hogan Delahunty (1992); Carole Savage-Hagans, APR, CPRC (1992 and 2012); Susan Little, APR (1994, 1996 and 1998); Lisa Varner, APR, CPRC (2002, 2003 and 2017); Tina Banner, APR, CPRC (2008); Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC (2010); Allison Campbell, APR, CPRC (2011); Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC (2013); Jenifer Lowe (2014); Barbara Hernandez, APR, CPRC (2015); Katie Hunnicutt (2019); Christy Jergens, APR (2020); and Heather Danenhower, APR, CPRC (2021).

As Danenhower often stated during the program, “but wait, there’s more.”

The “more” happened the previous week during “Your Ticket to Success,” FPRA’s 83rd annual professional development conference, which took place Aug. 7-10 in Orlando. During the conference, Chestnut recognized the Ocala Chapter with two President’s Awards, one for Programs and another for Awards and Recognition. Chestnut highlighted how the chapter leveraged the vast experience of its members for some programs and the chapter’s 1980s-themed Mid-Florida Image and Communicator of the Year Awards program.  

Several Ocala Chapter members also won statewide Golden Image Awards during the conference, which were presented during “Cosmic PR: Accelerating Excellence in Public Relations” gala:

  • Jen Pagh of Liquid Creative won a Golden Image and Judge’s Award for promotional marketing for Straight Line Construction in the Public Relations Program division. The work for Straight Line Construction also earned Pagh a Golden Image and Judge’s Award in the external video category of Digital Tools of Public Relations as well as an Award of Distinction for digital promotion. 
  • Robin Grantham of the Southwest Florida Water Management District brought home a Golden Image and Judge’s Award in the public affairs category of Public Relations Programs for the district’s water conservation camp.
  • Heather Danenhower, APR, CPRC, of Duke Energy picked up an Award of Distinction in the internal communications category of Public Relations Programs for Duke’s Energy Power Plant Worker Appreciation campaign.
  • Pamela Calero and Savannah Silliman of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra received an Award of Distinction in the Collateral of Public Relations division for a brochure promoting the orchestra’s 46th season.

The Golden Image Awards represent a standard of public relations excellence in Florida with winners demonstrating the best examples of innovation, planning and design. To qualify for judging, an entry must incorporate sound public relations research and planning. Entries also must meet the highest standards of production, execution and evaluation of results and budget.

Other annual conference highlights included:

Lindsay Tozer, FCRM, newly installed Ocala Chapter president-elect, was recognized as a member of the 2022 Joe Curley Rising Leader Class, which honors the personal dedication and engagement of members with two-to-five years of membership. Tozer, a member of the Ocala Chapter, is the communications officer for the Citrus County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.

Kristina Donohue, APR, was recognized for earning her Accredited in Public Relations credential. The APR signifies a practitioner’s willingness to undergo rigorous written and verbal examinations to demonstrate mastery in research, planning, implementation and evaluation of communications programs executed within a legal and ethical framework. Earning the APR sets Donohue apart from her peers and positions her as a leader and mentor in the competitive public relations field.

Allison Campbell, APR, CPRC, and Greg Davis both graduated from LeadershipFPRA, Class VI. The intensive, yearlong program is designed to further strengthen public relations roles and the communities and industries where public relations practitioners live. Campbell is the principal of A & A Campbell Group and an elected board member of Marion County Public Schools. Davis is public relations officer for MCPS. 

Christopher Bradford, program administrator and public information officer for Priority Dispatch, Corp., was selected as a member of the 2022-2023 LeadershipFPRA program, Class VII.  

Bradford, Campbell and Davis received partial scholarships from the Ocala Chapter to take part in the program.

FPRA Ocala breaks from the ‘Starting Gate’ to honor chapter, state leaders

The Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association will hold its monthly professional development meeting and a special “Starting Gate” recognition event on Friday, Aug. 19 at the Ocala Golf Club, 3130 E. Silver Springs Blvd., in Ocala. Networking begins at 11:30 a.m. and the program takes place from noon to 1 p.m.

The program features the Association’s 2022-2023 president, Jay Morgan-Schleuning, APR, CPRC, who will install the incoming chapter board. He takes the leadership reins from Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC, who is FPRA’s outgoing state president as well as a member of the Ocala Chapter.

In addition, the event will honor the 2022 PACEsetter member of the year and showcase past presidents in attendance during a gavel-passing ceremony.

Morgan-Schleuning, who will also offer insights on leadership, is a principal at Authentic Reputations in Orlando, managing stakeholder relations and strategic communications. He specializes in providing strategic communications, public relations, marketing, branding and reputation counsel to associations and nonprofits.

Prior to his work at Authentic Reputations, Morgan-Schleuning served in a variety of communications roles for ARC of Florida, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Visit Florida and the American Heart Association. He also worked as an on-air TV news anchor and reporter in several media markets, including Orlando.

The cost to attend the “Starting Gate” event, which is open to the public and includes lunch, is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. Past presidents are invited to attend at no charge. The reservation deadline is Friday, Aug. 12. Click register, or go to fpraocala.org/event/june-professional-development-meeting/ to learn more and/or register to attend the meeting.

The 2022 PACEsetter of the Year award is sponsored by A&A Campbell Group; Tina Banner, APR, CPRC; Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC; CL Swag; Heather Danenhower Nelson, APR, CPRC; and Carole Savage-Hagans, APR, CPRC.

FPRA was founded in 1938 and is dedicated to developing public relations practitioners who enhance the public relations profession in Florida through ethical and standardized practices. FPRA comprises 16 professional and 14 student chapters throughout the state, providing professional development, networking, and professional recognition opportunities.

The FPRA Ocala Chapter was established in 1980. To learn more about FPRA Ocala, visit fpraocala.org.

FPRA Ocala examines Florida’s regulation of social media and political speech

The Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association will hold its monthly professional development meeting on Thursday, June 16 at the College of Central Florida’s Klein Conference Center in Ocala from noon to 1 p.m., with networking starting at 11:30 a.m.

Guest speaker will be Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment project at the University of Florida. His presentation, “Speaking out and shutting down: how Florida regulates social media and political speech,” draws on his experience as Brechner Eminent Scholar in mass communication at UF’s College of Journalism and Communications.

Calvert, who also earned a law degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and holds a doctorate in communication from Stanford University, is a published author many times over and has presented a TEDxUF examining cameras and law enforcement.

Last year, he was named UF’s Teacher/Scholar of the Year and became the first member of the College of Journalism and Communication to win the university’s oldest and most prestigious faculty award.  

The cost to attend the in-person meeting, which includes lunch, is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. The reservation deadline is Monday, June 13. Click register, or go to fpraocala.org/event/june-professional-development-meeting/ to learn more and/or register to attend the meeting.

FPRA was founded in 1938 and is dedicated to developing public relations practitioners who enhance the public relations profession in Florida through ethical and standardized practices. FPRA has more than 1,000 members in 16 professional and 12 student chapters throughout the state, providing professional development, networking, and professional recognition opportunities.

The FPRA Ocala Chapter was established in 1980. To learn more about FPRA Ocala, visit fpraocala.org

FPRA Ocala COMMference set for May 20

Commference

The Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association’s COMMference Conference for Communicators takes place Friday, May 20 from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn at 120 E. Silver Springs Boulevard in downtown Ocala.

COMMference offers the opportunity to hear from a selection of Florida’s top public relations professionals as they share their experience and strategies in dealing with the world’s leading communications challenges.

The conference is open to the public as well as FPRA members. The cost to attend for nonmembers is $65 for half-day sessions to $105 for the full day. The members’ rate ranges from $50 for a half-day option, either morning or afternoon, to $95 for the full day. A $20 rate is also available for students enrolled in a communications program.

Morning sessions include breakfast, lunch is included with the afternoon sessions, and both meals are included for the full day.

Featured presenters are:

  • Dr. Nathan Crock, director of NewSci Labs, with an examination of the current state of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact in public relations;
  • Ashley Jeffery, senior manager of media communication for the West Florida Division of AdventHealth, who will take a deep dive into managing crisis and communications for a large corporation with a small team and best practices for communicating fast-changing information and integrating social media into successful media opportunities;
  • Tina Banner, APR, CPRC, assistant director of social media and digital communities for the University of Florida Office of University Advancement, who will explore best practices for communicating on social media with relevant and engaging content; and
  • Tammy Gantt, associate vice president of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, who will highlight the communicators’ role in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

There will also be a media panel moderated by Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, public relations director for Marion County Public Schools, as well as networking opportunities.

COMMference is sponsored by the Hilton Garden Inn Ocala Downtown and Duke Energy. To register, or for more information, go to bit.ly/COMMference2022.

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 www.fpraocala.org.

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 www.fpraocala.org.

IN OCALA, A TALE OF TWO CITIES: REBRANDING UF & SHANDS

Melanie_headshotOCALA, FL – Branding is no easy task for any business, big or small. This month, area professionals have an opportunity to learn from an expert’s experiences with a highly-visible rebranding effort: repositioning the University of Florida and Shands. On Nov. 20, Melanie Fridl Ross, MSJ, ELS, Chief Communications Officer with UF Health, will share insight from this process at the Florida Public Relations Association Ocala Chapter’s professional development luncheon. The luncheon is set for noon-1 p.m., (networking begins at 11:30 a.m.) at The College of Central Florida Ewers Century Center, 3003 SW College Road, Ocala.

Ross oversees news and publications, marketing, public relations, strategic communications and public affairs, advancement communications, creative services, and web services for UF Health in Gainesville and Jacksonville. She teaches news reporting as an adjunct faculty at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. Ross also oversees operations for two nationally-aired consumer health radio series.

 

Ross joined UF in 1992 from The Tampa Tribune, where she was a reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in journalism with a concentration in newspaper administration from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. She is a board-certified editor in the life sciences.

 

The meeting is not limited to members; guests and non-members are welcome to attend with payment and RSVP to [email protected] by Nov. 17, 2015. The registration fee includes lunch; $20 for members and $25 for guests and for members who pay at the door. Visit http://www.fpraocala.org/event-registration/ to register and pay online.

 

The Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association builds better public relations practitioners and communicators through professional development, networking opportunities and ethical practices. Formed in 1980, the chapter boasts a strong membership representing nearly every industry in the area, including: government, associations, nonprofit, education, healthcare, corporate, retail, agencies and small business. Members are committed not only to the betterment of the profession, but also to the community through a number of community service projects held each year.

 

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Media Contact: Elaine DeIorio McClain, Communications Director

Phone: 352-438-2300  Email: [email protected]