Breaking News: Three Takeaways from the Orlando Police Department’s PIO

July 10, 2018

by Karen Kacir

Last month, the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter reported to the Orlando Police Department Headquarters for a special session with Michelle Guido, Orlando Police Department’s public information officer (PIO). After 26 years in journalism, Guido became the police department’s first civilian PIO in 2013 and was tasked with radically re-evaluating how the agency told its story.  In a media landscape more difficult than ever to penetrate, Guido turned to Twitter.

When she started managing the Orlando Police Department’s Twitter account in 2013, it had amassed just over 600 followers.  Five years later, it now reaches over 122,000 – more than three times the number of 25- to 54-year-old viewers of Orlando’s most popular 6 p.m. TV news broadcasts.

Here are three takeaways from Guido’s presentation on leveraging this owned media channel:

1. Break your own news and remain the go-to source.

In 2017, Lt. Debora Clayton was fatally shot in a Walmart parking lot after attempting to apprehend murder suspect Markeith Loyd.  When the Orlando Police Department apprehended Loyd days later, this tweet went live within a minute.  By breaking the news on social media, the police department established itself as the source for information related to the case, driving media to its social channels for further information and updates.

2. Streamline communications.

At 3:15 a.m., June 12, 2016, Guido was informed about the shooting at Pulse Nightclub.  By 7 a.m., she had received 1,100 emails from media across the nation requesting more information.  After sending out a mass email directing all media to the Orlando Police Department’s Twitter account, she stowed her work phone and didn’t touch it for 10 days.

Responding to every outlet would have been an impossible task.  Even if Guido had been able to personally respond to a fraction of the inquiries, it would have required prioritizing some outlets over others.  By keeping the police department’s social channels updated, Guido ensured that all media outlets had access to critical information as it developed.

3. Control your message – for better or worse.

By cultivating a responsive social media channel, the Orlando Police Department has earned a robust following, which Guido leverages to tell the stories traditional media outlets might never pick up.  On the Orlando Police Department’s Twitter account, stories of rescued puppies and officers’ good deeds abound.  When the news is less palatable than puppies, a timely, transparent response circumvents public mistrust.

The Orlando Police Department’s strategic investment in social media has afforded a tremendous level of influence.  Traditional media has its place.  However, when preparing to break your next news story, consider looking no further than your own social media.

(Bonus!  Police Chief John Mina showed us that he’s social savvy, as well.)


Relationships Are a Two-Way Street

May 24, 2018

by Kacie Escobar

As much as I’d like to believe myself to be the next Paul Rand (designer of IBM, UPS, ABC and other world-famous corporate logos), the truth is my graphic design skills don’t go much further than a customized template in Canva.  While this often does the trick, I’m smart enough to know when it’s time to call in the big guns.

It’s not uncommon for agencies like ours to partner with others when client work requires the development of creative assets that can’t always be managed in-house.  You might think that working with clients every day has taught me what it takes to be a good customer, but I was grateful today for a refresher.  Thanks to Evolve Design Group’s Mark Calvert, CDB Productions’ Vivian Richardson and Macbeth Studio’s Jim Hobart for reminding me how to be a good client during today’s meeting of the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter.

Here’s what our guest speakers had to say:

  • Check your expectations.  Key to a successful partnership is realistic expectations – not just deep pockets.  It can be equally rewarding to work with a small company on a tight budget if their expectations are realistic and they understand the value of services being rendered.  Good clients realize the finished product is often more complicated to create than it looks.  They also understand that no one works for free.
  • Don’t try teaching a cat to fetch.  Get a dog.  In other words, do your research to ensure the vendor is a good fit for your project.  If you don’t already have vendor relationships, Google should be your best friend.  Conduct research to find vendors who deliver the service you seek.  Review their case studies and portfolios, years of experience and staff size, and narrow down the list based on your priorities.  Check references if their client list is public.  Only then will you be ready to reach out.
  • Know what you want.  What does success look like to you? Define what you want to accomplish before reaching out.  Develop a project brief summarizing your vision, including the problem or opportunity you face, the audience you aim to reach, your plan to use the deliverables, ideal timeline and budget.  Your vendor will then have enough information to provide educated recommendations and guide you in the right direction based on their expertise.
  • Trust.  No one likes being micromanaged.  Before you jump in to control the creative process, think about how much time and money your partners have invested into honing their craft, and why you’ve called upon their expertise rather than attempting to do the work on your own.  The best clients provide constructive feedback and respect the creative process.

Just like any relationship, the client-vendor relationship is a two-way street.  On behalf of Curley & Pynn and our agency colleagues, I hope you’ll keep these insights under consideration next time you’re looking to engage a vendor.


Curley & Pynn Wins Big for its Clients

April 21, 2014

by Vianka McConville

We have said it before and we will continue to say it, winning professional awards has numerous benefits for business.

As a team that practices what we preach, Curley & Pynn recently submitted projects to the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) annual Image Awards.  We poured sweat and tears into exceeding client expectations (as is the norm around here) and were recognized by FPRA and honored with the local chapter’s highest awards.

Curley & Pynn was recognized for the rebrand of Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College), the development of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council’s annual magazine, florida.HIGH.TECH 2013 and received FPRA’s highest honor for the launch event introducing Drive Electric Orlando to the community.

Winning an award is fabulous, but leveraging the win is key for any business.  First and foremost, the opportunity allows C&P to further elevate our clients.  Our clients depend on strategic counsel and guidance backed by years of industry knowledge and research.  What better way to reward continued trust than showcasing a proud moment for the company in the community?

Companies can tout a win to reinforce local prominence, seek desirable employee candidates and showcase an aspect of regular business that may not warrant attention otherwise.

Submitting awards can be time consuming, but we are glad to have put in the time for the Image Awards and look forward to opportunities to come.  We encourage you to do the same.  Remember, you can’t win unless you submit.


And the Award Goes to …

April 10, 2014

by Dan Ward

One year ago I received a tremendous honor, being named the PR Professional of the Year for Career Excellence by the Orlando Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association.

In my remarks that night, I mentioned a few professionals who I thought deserved to one day share this honor, and tops on my list was Grant Heston, associate vice president of communications and public affairs for my alma mater (and client), the University of Central Florida (UCF).

I’m glad to say my prediction came true, and tonight I look forward to watching Grant accept an award for which he is most deserving.

For nearly seven years, Grant has earned the respect and trust of UCF’s president, board of trustees, provost, deans and vice presidents through consistently strong and strategic advice and counsel, and never was this more apparent than in the days and weeks following a crisis that thrust UCF into the national spotlight.  His team jumped into action after a planned mass shooting was thwarted, and they earned well-deserved respect from the community, and from national media, for their commitment to transparency.

Grant played an instrumental role as well in the effort to save public television in the Central Florida market, leading UCF’s charge to become the primary public television provider … all while he was in the midst of earning his master’s degree from UCF.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Grant for nearly 10 years, both during his tenure at UCF and at OUC, and have always been impressed by his knowledge, his ability to stay calm under pressure, his sense of humor, and most importantly, the example he sets for his peers and colleagues.

Congratulations, Grant.  I can think of no one more deserving.


Speak Their Language

March 10, 2014

by Julie Hall

I had the opportunity last month to attend the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Orlando Area Chapter’s breakfast meeting on communicating with the Hispanic market.  Following the panel presentation, I came across this Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog post that touched on many of the same points made by the FPRA speakers.

As the HBR article says, the Hispanic market is on track to reach $1.5 trillion in purchasing power in the United States next year and the audience is one that marketers cannot afford to ignore.  When you’re trying to reach the Hispanic market, it’s recommended to at least adapt your message into a neutral dialect of Spanish.  But as the HBR article and the recent FPRA presenters suggested, you can’t simply translate your original content into Spanish and expect a completely favorable response.

The idea of “transcreating,” developing specific content with a multicultural audience in mind, doesn’t apply just to the Hispanic market, or other ethnic groups for that matter.  As with any communications effort, it’s imperative to create specific content and tailor your messages to meet the needs of your various target audiences.  If you’re not speaking the language of your audience (both in the actual words and the context of your message), you’re missing the point.


Speak in Different Voices

February 3, 2014

kmartin by Kerry Martin

As a communications professional, finding opportunities to speak in different voices is a great exercise to help you hone your craft.  And while I happen to think my Sean Connery impersonation is superb, I’m talking about your written word as opposed to your spoken diction.

Just last weekend, through the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Orlando Area Chapter’s service event, attending members had the chance to help the Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) with a number of its communications objectives.  The nonprofit organization was finishing a two-week long “Extreme Village Makeover” renovation of its resort, which provides cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.  The massive project even garnered a “Good Morning America” special segment with renovation expert Ty Pennington, and through the national exposure, Give Kids The World had hundreds of information requests and posts on its social media channels.

FPRA members—myself included—were called in to help answer online comments from people who had seen the show, a number of whom had personal connections to GKTW.  During my shift of writing responses, I could see the progression of my language from the very standard messages of thanks, to the more authentic heartfelt replies of gratitude and joy for sharing their testimonies.

When you work in an agency, it is critical to convey a range of different perspectives in your writing tone because of the different clients you represent—such as those in technical, business, travel and consumer industries.  Although I’ve written business articles for nonprofits, this was my first time directly engaging with audiences who have very strong and emotional ties to what Give Kids The World does—granting wishes to inspire hope.

In the end, I felt that this unique “community service” project we did for the communications team at GKTW served me more than I served them, and if there’s one takeaway that I would share, it’s this:  Use every opportunity to speak in different voices to develop your style as a communicator.


It’s Award Season

January 31, 2014

Vianka2 by Vianka McConville

Awards season did not wrap up with the Grammys this past weekend.  The Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Orlando Area Chapter wants to celebrate your achievements and success stories in PR from the past year at the annual Image Awards in April, but why should you care? 

The goal in executing strategic communications plans is rarely to win awards.  Well-researched plans drive results, and plans that include entering awards programs capitalize on an opportunity to keep the momentum going.  Taking home the gold raises a company’s expert status as it receives third-party validation for knowledge and skill in the field, and showcases credibility for recruitment.

Image Awards highlight best practices, outstanding public relations programs and promote the development of public relations professionalism in our state.  Consider submitting an FPRA Image Award.  If you need further convincing, my colleague, Kerry Martin, wrote a white paper on “Winning Awards as a Winning PR Strategy” last year.  Take a look.


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