5 Takeaways: Tim Walsh

As a professional speaker, author, game designer and filmmaker, Tim Walsh is out to prove that “play” is not a four-letter word, and neither is “fail.” The former is a means through which we can super-charge creativity and connect with others; the latter can lead to success, if we’re not afraid to embrace it.

In his presentation “It’s OK to Fail” – also titled “Take a Chance: Go Directly to Fail,” Walsh offered the following:

  1. Societal schadenfreude – laughing at others’ failure – may be why we’re afraid to fail. Being fearful of making mistakes leads to perfection paralysis.
  2. Failure is a lack of success, not the opposite of success. We must define what failure or success means to us individually; otherwise, we allow others to tell us what success means.
  3. Lean into failure and embrace it, as the founders of Wham-O did in 1948. Their failed attempts to sell falcons turned the production of a slingshot into the most successful outdoor toy company in the world (think Hula Hoop, SuperBall, Slip ‘n’ Slide, Frisbee and Hacky Sack).
  4. Failing a lot means you’re trying a lot, as Wham-O discovered with a litany of failed products (Mr. Hootie Rake, Patio Bomb Shelter, Instant Fish, among many others).
  5. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear emphasizes the importance of tracking your habits to make small, incremental daily changes. Often, we avoid failure by not measuring it and not finding the honest truth ourselves.  

5 Takeaways: Amelia Bell, APR, CPRC

Amelia Bell

Amelia BellAt September’s professional development meeting, Amelia Bell, APR, CPRC, communications manager at RTI Surgical, discussed strategies for communicating with employees when the world is upside down – starting with RTI’s Surgical Holdings sale of OEM business and separation of the company into OEM and Pure Play Spine all while COVID forced furlough of 70% of employees (including, for a few weeks, her own).

The 5 takeaways from her presentation, “Communicating with employees through the looking glass”:

  1. Never make assumptions and ask endless questions. Then re-ask questions to identify not only what employees want to know but also what they need to know, and what communication channels will be most effective.
  2. Communicate often even if there’s nothing to communicate. It’s all about reassurance and consistency.
  3. Set expectations and be transparent.
  4. Adaptability is key. You need to be nimble enough to pivot at a moment’s notice. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. And don’t be afraid to ask for, and accept, help.
  5. Focus on the future. That means having a communications plan in place that supports the company’s new focus, and considers if current processes will work moving forward.

5 Takeaways: Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC

At August’s virtual professional development meeting, Devon Chestnut, APR, CPRC, communications manager at Cox Communications and our incoming FPRA state president, presented “Innovative Communications: Using electronic tools to effectively reach your audience.”

The 5 takeaways from her presentation include:

  1. The environment that we work in drives how we communicate with both our internal customers (staff) and external customers (the public).
  2. Evaluate your communications tools and find enhancements to fill in the gaps.
  3. Share content across multiple platforms. People retain 95% of information from videos and only 10% of information from reading text.
  4. Invest in tools to produce videos and be visual. Be catchy with headlines and repurpose content.

Produce relevant and engaging content, get creative and educate employees on how to look their best, especially when producing videos. For example, purchase an inexpensive ring light.

5 takeaways: Justin Brennan

Justin Brennan

During April’s presentation, Justin Brennan, former director of impact partnerships at Participant Media and president of Purpose & Vision Consulting, provided insight on how public relations practitioners and marketers can strengthen and redefine partnerships and content strategies to be more inclusive, effective and stabilizing.

Here are 5 takeaways from his presentation “How to market to a multicultural society.”

  1. There’s never going to be one message that works for everyone. We’re supposed to make mistakes, and trial and error is OK.
  2. Switch from marketing “to” to marketing “with” to achieve inclusivity.
  3. Representation matters; make sure your target audience is involved in the creative process.
  4. To effectively address your publics’ concerns, your team should reflect your community.
  5. The new advertising world is not one-size-fits-all. We need separate campaigns and multiple messages to reach diverse audiences.

5 takeaways: Lauren Debick, APR

In 2019, the public relations profession was listed as one of the top 10 most stressful occupations – and that was before the pandemic. While 2020 challenged everyone, it also gave people unique opportunities to pause, reflect and decide who they want to be – for themselves and for their families, communities and workplaces.

Here are 5 takeaways from Lauren Debick’s February presentation, “Love yourself, love your life and love your career”:

  1. Love yourself. Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness, taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your needs for someone or something else. This is different for every person.
  2. Increase your self-love by celebrating moments when you are not perfect, doing at least one thing each day your present-day self and future self will thank you for and writing yourself compassionate letters. Perfectionism has real consequences. Perfectionists have shorter life spans and can suffer from eating disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts or actions.
  3. Love your life. Americans report being the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years because of isolation, loneliness and less optimism about future generations. However, refocusing can help because it gives us control over our actions and our lives.
  4. Refocus by writing down your priorities, setting boundaries, getting organized and taking breaks. Also focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is a myth, ineffective and unproductive.  
  5. Love your career. The average person spends 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime. If we’re going to spend one-third of our life at work, shouldn’t we do something that makes us happy? People who are happier tend to earn higher wages, and that’s not the same as saying people who earn higher wages are happier. People who love their work take fewer sick days and live 10 times longer.

5 Takeaways: Wesley Wilcox

Wesley WilcoxWesley Wilcox’s presentation, “The key to staying transparent with the public during an election”

  1.  Marion Countians cast 205,540 ballots in the Nov. 3, 2020, general election – 25% in-person on Election Day, 36% by mail and 39% at early voting sites. Historically, about 40% of people vote on Election Day, but this year, a historic number of ballots were cast at early voting sites, averaging about 6,000 a day.
  2. Marion County was one of the first counties in Florida to use ballottrax – a system that texts voters real-time updates about their vote-by-mail ballot from the time it was requested until it is counted. The majority of users were 65 or older. Wilcox himself voted by mail as shown in this day in the life of a ballot video.
  3. Biggest myth: Thinking voting by mail is not counted or only counted if needed, or thinking mail carriers throw out ballots. Florida has robust election laws that include ballot tracking and signature verification processes as well as strict deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a vote-by-mail ballot and receiving the ballot to be counted. “For most people, I have 5 to 15 signatures on file,” Wilcox said. “We also use a software algorithm to match signatures.” Out of the 74,000 vote-by-mail ballots cast, about 200 were rejected, and of those, the majority didn’t have a signature on the back of the envelope.
  4. Allegations of voter fraud occur during every election, but cases are few and mostly misinformation.
  5. On the historic 2020 election: “I knew it was going to be hard; it’s hard in normal times,” Wilcox said. To get through it: “Behave like a duck. Be calm on the surface, and paddle like crazy under the water.”

5 takeaways from Charlotte Bireley’s presentation, “Marketing During a Global Pandemic”

1. Do your research.

When COVID-19 caused more than 8,800 tourism industry job losses on Florida’s Treasure Coast – Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties – data revealed people were willing to drive three hours to smaller communities, beaches and outdoor places.

2. Be ready to pivot.

“We were all in survival mode,” Bireley said. She shifted the marketing message, developed a “nearcation” campaign and targeted people who were still willing to travel. Her team also verified that all destinations were safe and helped manage a webpage that listed open locales.

3. Take a chance on an edgy approach.

When enticing travels to visit, the tagline tapped into human nature’s rebellious side. Showing images of people riding horses on a pristine beach, potential visitors were told, “Don’t come here,” “Nothing to see” and “Don’t book a deal here.” Did visitors listen? The campaign resulted in $50,000 in hotel bookings, exceeding expectations.

4. Partner.

Bireley leveraged existing and new partnerships. She already had strong relationships with her counterparts in Indian River and Martin counties. “We’re one region and share similar assets” she said. The team also leveraged small business programs at a local college and identified the need for a local chapter of the lodging and restaurant association to help businesses, especially mom-and-pops.

5. Have reserves.

“It was smart to remain fiscally conservative (before the pandemic) and keep money in reserves,” Bireley said. Having money saved – originally in case of hurricanes – was “critical to keeping things going.”

5 Takeways: Cherrietta Prince

The Impact of a Personal Public Relations Story

Cherrietta Prince, local business owner and ambassador for the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership     


5 Takeways from Cherrietta Prince’s “Twists & Turns in a PR Career”

  • Represent a product or service you believe in, and it will be easy.
  • Identify your markets and audiences. Ask: What do I want, how do I look and how do I want to look?
  • If you don’t have PR skills, you can’t have a successful business.
  • Without PR, no one knows who you are. No one knows you are the best. Engage the right people.
  • Make sure every word you speak is thoughtful.

Tina Banner Announces Record Year for FPRAEF Fundraising

As chair of the Florida Public Relations Association Education Foundation, Tina Banner, APR, CPRC announced a milestone gain for the Foundation. Banner announced more than $10,500 had been donated by members and chapters across the state. This amount exceeded Banner’s fundraising goal for the year by 68 percent.

Banner, who serves as the College of Central Florida PR/Marketing manager, was especially pleased to introduce to attendees one of the two college students who received scholarships from the Foundation.

“I’ve always had a passion for professional development and pursuing education goals,” says Banner. “After joining the staff at the College of Central Florida, that passion has grown as I see first-hand the excitement of students preparing for their careers. The timing of my job change and serving as the chair of the FPRA Education Foundation this year was a bit of serendipity to bring two areas of my career together in a meaningful way.”


OCALA FPRA April Professional Development Program – “Connecting Through Stories”

SPEAKER: Jessica McCune, RN, LMHC

DATE: Fri., April 20, 2018

TIME: Networking 11:30 – Program Noon – 1:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Ewers Century Center Teleconference Room

CF • 3001 SW College Road • Ocala, FL 34474

REGISTER: http://www.fpraocala.org/event-registration/

OCALA, FL – Jessica will walk us through the why and how stories connect us with others so they can hear our ideas. Stories enhance our relationships which are the bedrock of our contentment, health and prosperity.

About the Speaker: Jessica McCune is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Mental Health Counselor working for Hospice of Marion County. She educates tirelessly about Health Advocacy and the importance of ‘keeping our affairs in order’. Our health is the infrastructure we stand upon as we pursue happiness and peace. She volunteers with the arts and enjoys applying storytelling as a path for healing and insight. She has worked in preventive medicine, whole person health and the combination of body, mind and spirit her entire career, but specifically since 1999 here in Marion County, Florida. She holds a BS in Nursing from Baylor University and a MS in Counseling Education from the University of North Texas plus a MA in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University. She has presented workshops throughout the country for professional health organizations since 2005. She is passionate about the power of art in healing and storytelling is the SEED ART. A member of NSN and FSA (Florida Story Association) she was honored to join the line- up of performing Tellers in 2017. Again in November 2017 she was invited to share the power of Storytelling in the TEDx Ocala venue. Jessica McCune’s The Story of Peace is stored on YouTube as part of the TEDxOcala event. She received the FSA Distinguished Service Award in 2014 and NSN’s 2014 Oracle Award for Service and Leadership in the Southeast Region.

Please RSVP to Christy Jergens
payment can be made by visiting the Registration Page.