By: Gabriel Soltren
We heard from a number of great speakers at this year’s Professional Development Workshop. Held at Leu Gardens, the theme of the event was “Meet the Headliners.” Below is an overview of each of the sessions.
Shooting at Strozier Library – Dave Northway, Tallahassee Police Department
David Northway, Public Information Officer, with the Tallahassee Police Department spoke about the Strozier Library Shooting at Florida State University. In November 2014, a shooter opened fire at the main campus library and injured at least three people. Law enforcement officers responded quickly and surrounded the shooter. They ordered him to drop his gun. The shooter refused and he was shot and killed.
Northway explained that during crisis situations people usually go into circular reasoning asking themselves questions repeatedly. For instance, what am I going to do? The key is to ask yourself these types of questions before a crisis happens. As a police officer, Northway plays the “what if” game. “What if a bad guy comes in during this conference?” he asked. “What would I do? How would I escape?”
Northway provided crisis communications takeaways from his experience. For example, after the library shooting, his voicemail filled up fast; therefore, he set up a Google phone number to handle the large number of phone calls. The Tallahassee Police Department recorded their press conference and posted it on YouTube. When reporters called for a follow-up story, he directed them to the full press conference online. Reporters could also use the video footage for their story. Northway stated that he received training from the Florida Law Enforcement Public Information Officers Association.
“The media is like a big hungry dog,” he said. “You have to feed it or it will go somewhere else.” For example, they may interview a student that could provide wrong information. Northway explained that the police department named the shooting the Strozier Library Shooting early on and avoided negative headlines associated with the name of the city and the university.
Hear the Roar! How the Orlando City Soccer Club Started a Movement – Lenny Santiago, Orlando City Soccer
The second keynote speaker Lenny Santiago, Vice President of Communications, with Orlando City Soccer spoke about his public relations experience during the club’s first Major League Soccer season. Orlando City Soccer has a worldwide following. The club’s player Ricardo Kaká “has a 60 million social media following globally,” Santiago said. When he posts online, it instantly gets a large following. More than 300 media persons came to the first game. Major publications covered the club. National television networks broadcasted the matches and brought publicity to the City of Orlando.
Santiago mentioned that in 2016 they will start a men’s United Soccer League team named Orlando City B (OCB) and a National Women’s Soccer League team named Orlando Pride. OCB will play in Brevard County and Orlando Pride will play in the Orlando Citrus Bowl. “The Orlando Pride logo features the iconic fountain on Lake Eola,” Santiago said. Three superstar players will play for Orlando Pride including Olympic gold medal winner Alex Morgan. “She is the equivalent of Kaká in media requests,” he said.
Maria Isabel Sanquírico, Vice President of Professional Development, Laura Kern, APR, President, Lenny Santiago, Vice President of Communications, Orlando City Soccer, Heather Smith, APR, Vice President of Professional Development and Alayna Curry, President-Elect.
The Orlando City Club is building a stadium in the Parramore Community. The Orlando City Foundation is focusing their work in that community. For example, the Orlando City Foundation built a futsal court in Parramore. The futsal court will be used to support a free after school program.
What Can Another Penny Do For You? – Tre’ Evers and Christina Morton, APR
Christina Morton, APR and Tre’ Evers with Consensus Communications spoke about their 2015 Golden Image Award winning Seminole County Penny Sales Tax Public Information Campaign. The campaign for local government raised some questions. Since they were working for local government, they could not express support for or against the sales tax. “Lawyers had to approve everything,” said Evers. They could only inform residents about the sales tax. For example, they could explain how the money was spent in the past to build schools, a pedestrian bridge over I-4, and for trails in Seminole County. The campaign won the Florida Public Relations Association Golden Image Award in the category of public service.
Research provided evidence to support that voters typically loved local government and believed that state and federal government were more dysfunctional. “We knew that going in,” said Evers. Voters favored paying more taxes for schools and less for roads. Morton and Evers explained that direct mail was more effective than email in this campaign because it reached more residents. “Email is like a melting ice cube,” said Evers. Emails go away. Many people change or close their email accounts every few years.
Tre’ Evers, Political Consultant and Communications Specialist, Consensus Communications, Laura Kern, APR, President and Christina Morton, APR, Senior Account Executive, Consensus Communications.
Repositioning a Global Name: Rebranding Port Tampa Bay – Karl Strauch, Port Tampa Bay
Karl Strauch, Vice President of Branding Development with Port Tampa Bay, spoke about rebranding the full service port. The Port of Tampa was known as Florida’s largest cargo port but not for cruise ships. However, the port has a thriving cruise line business. “PR singlehandedly saved us,” said Strauch. To better tell their story, they invited officials that had never been to the port. Many did not know about the port’s economic impact. For example, they noticed that the governor had not been to the port. They invited him. They also engaged the local mairtime community, community based organizations, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations.
Port Tampa Bay provides many businesses with better shipping routes. Strauch explained that Port Tampa Bay can save companies 4 to 5 travel days in delivering products to their customers. Four days can make a big difference when distributing fresh fruits. They adopted the regional name Port Tampa Bay because it represents a larger geographical area than just the city of Tampa. Their messages included “It’s faster, it’s cheaper, and it’s safer. We’ll spoil you everyway but rotten. Reroute your thinking.”
John Finn, Karl Strauch, Vice President of Branding Development, Port Tampa Bay, Jamie Floer, APR, CPRC, Susan Vernon-Devlin, Assistant Vice President of Membership
Port Tampa Bay from Port Tampa Bay on Vimeo.