In the Public Eye
By: Lorena Streeter
FPRA Orlando VP of Professional Development
There’s just something about the first chilly day of fall … like Mother Nature replacing an air-conditioning system with even cooler … yes, it was chilly. Yes, there were technical glitches (the Wi-Fi wasn’t working). But isn’t PR all about making it shine when you can’t find the Tarn-X? Maybe that’s just me. Regardless, the OAC-FPRA Professional Development day defied the elements and drew nearly 50 people—many of them non-FPRA members—out to Leu Gardens for five great presentations.
Leading off were Rick Roach (Orange County Public Schools) and Ron Thomas (Full Sail University) in our first pair of breakout sessions.
Rick, who’s not on social media (he’d rather meet you over coffee), noted that Orange County is the 9th largest school district in the country. He then led into a discussion of things that most companies face: How to turn a negative into a positive, bad things happen, how do you prepare, is there a pipeline for good news?
He also included examples of OCPS challenges in the good news/bad news mix.
In his presentation “Marketing Your Crisis,” Dr. Thomas spoke about being prepared in crisis situations, whether they’re routine emergencies (spring break in Panama City Beach) or all out crises. The four phases of emergency management, as Dr. Thomas explains, are: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Interestingly, these stages were tied to the four Ps of marketing. “How do you promote your product without being crass during the response stage of a crisis?” he asked. The answer: lend cars marked with your company’s logo to the cause.
The second pair of breakouts were led by Grant Heston (UCF) and Megan Licata, APR (Fry Hammond Barr).
Grant’s session—titled “What a Playboy Playmate Taught Me about Issues Management”—addressed some specific situations faced by UCF in recent years and key takeaways from those situations.
Access Magazine—how to deal when a model takes a controversial picture on your campus and it’s on the cover of a campus magazine
- It’s important to talk to your other teams—in this case, the Athletics Dept.
- Get a handle on the facts before the problem gets bigger
- 90% of the time you only know 10% of what’s happening
- Don’t assume something is going to go away
UCF’s freshman honors dorms possibly not opening on time for the fall semester—do they tell the students and parents and prepare alternative housing, or just hope that the building will be finished on time?
Good Morning America calls because they heard 500 of your students were caught cheating after they got ahold of a test ahead of time, and they’d like to come take a look at your testing lab and interview your professor and students. What do you do?
- Is it best to be upfront and try to dissolve the “problem” before it gets even bigger?
- When possible, prep who is speaking as much as possible for the best outcome
Grant’s tips on surviving in issues management
- Relationships matter
- Establish a process to discuss issues
- Listen inside and outside, and to your gut
- Shorten the lifespan
- Know your organization’s “heat index”
Megan Licata, APR and Kate Thomas’ talk on “Peabody Ducks: End of an Era” began with the portrayal of the Peabody as a beloved hotel in Orlando, and the trials of promoting it as a business destination using a small flock of ducks as iconic ambassadors. When the hotel was unexpectedly sold, Megan and Kate struggled with being told to remain silent and wanting to help quell the fears the Orlando residents had about the ducks. “What is going to happen to the ducks?” was asked countless times, even going national in its exposure. In their talk, Megan and Kate presented a very real problem they had to fight to be in charge of, regardless of whether or not they would be with the hotel after the sale—a serious possibility hanging over their heads. However, a duty to convey the correct message to the public and to preserve the name of the Peabody eventually led the duo to a successful final Peabody campaign and introduction of the new Hyatt Regency Orlando. The in-depth presentation provided a good look at balancing the different interests, messages, and audiences during a business negotiation that involved more than just the principals.
The luncheon keynote was a briefing on the use of social media site Pinterest for marketing and PR purposes, presented by Kim Matlock, Hard Rock International’s Director of Digital and CRM. In part a “Pinterest 101,” the session covered the basics, including statistics (80% of users are female; the average visit is 14 minutes), and dove into the “why” of Pinterest. The site is based on visual appeal and interest—rather than relationships—making it a useful site for branding and connecting over content—what your brand is about, which fortunately creates more statistics: people follow brands they connect to, they make shopping decisions based on pins, and they share with their friends.