Connecting the Heart to the Soul of the Company – A Lesson in Employee Morale

February’s Lunch ‘n Learn about Connecting the Heart to the Soul of the company turned out to be a great learning event for everyone.  Christine Davlin, CHT, Toursim Education & Training Manager for the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau along with Michael Winder, Corporate Trainer for Arthrex, Inc. were the guest speakers.  Their energy and enthusiasm for the topic was infectious, and the message was clear – keep the lines of communication open with everyone when times are tough.

Christine opened the program reminding all of us that how we treat employees internally will always reflect externally within the public.  In the age of technology, don’t forget that when you are communicating, you are still dealing with a human, not a machine.  The “heart” of an organization is its people and the “soul” is the vision and mission – what the organization is trying to accomplish.  She reminded us to be sure that the mission always coincides with the message because conflicting communications can cause severe problems both internally and externally.  The message you send has to be clear and consistent on ALL levels.  An employee who feels involved and engaged is more likely to stay.  To keep morale up, make a commitment to comprehend their concerns – really listen when someone else is speaking.  We latch on to “emotional words” and tend to rush to judgment. Be careful to stay on message; focus on the overall message instead of each part.

Michael struck a cord in the room with just about every attendee when he made the statement that employee morale doesn’t always equal happiness.  Employees want clarity. In order to obtain clarity, employees need direction, communication, instruction and clear expectations. They want to feel that they are there for a purpose.  Employees typically don’t quit companies, they quit their boss! Supervisor issues occur when there is poor communication, conflict, lack of guidance, lack of recognition and lack of appreciation.  He went on to explain that leaders in any organization of two basic roles – remove barriers and create an atmosphere for success.  He talked about how this has never been more apparent than with Gen X or Gen Y employees.  Employees from these generations typically value time more than money. They look for a company that is socially and environmentally aware, and flexible. They are committed and will work hard, but your company has to work hard for them too.

When times are tough, don’t mix the message.  If you tell your employees one thing and then convey a different message to the public, you create more harm than good.   Don’t be afraid of bad times – explain that things are tough, even let them know when there will be layoffs.  Be honest and open.  As a PR professional, encourage your clients to be as transparent as possible. Work with them to create a message that everyone can live with in the long run.  Keep in mind that tough times only last for so long and that as a team, you can get through it if you keep clarity in your communications and consistency in the message.

2011 Local Image Awards – Call for Entries

The Florida Public Relations Association is currently holding a call for entries into its 2011 Local Image Awards.  The Image Awards competition is conducted annually to recognize outstanding public relations programs in Florida and to encourage and promote the development of public relations professionalism in our state.

The Image Awards have become a standard of public relations excellence in the state of Florida. Winners demonstrate the very best examples of innovation, planning and design. The awards competition includes four divisions of categories: Public Relations Programs, Printed Tools of Public Relations, Audio/ Visual Tools of Public Relations and Student Projects in Public Relations. To qualify for judging, an entry must incorporate sound public relations research and planning. Entries also must meet the highest standard of production, execution and evaluation of results and budget.

For detailed information on how to submit an entry, please download the CFE Image 2011_FinalFinal

PRSA Lunch ‘n Learn Teaches How to Get Camera Ready

NBC2 News Anchor Jamie Yuccas and Former FOX 4 Rising Anchor Amy Sedlacek (now with Norman Love Confections) were on hand at January’s PRSA Lunch ‘n Learn giving helpful tips and tricks on how to nail great on-camera interviews.

Tips on how to stay calm when being interviewed, how to work well with the media and best practices on handling crisis situations were all a part of the lively discussion that occurred at the event held at the Naples Hilton. Jamie and Amy both indicated they have several tactics they use to help ease an interviewee’s nervousness like engaging in benign conversation about the weather.

“We want to make them feel as comfortable as possible so that we can get a good story; we’re not there to intimidate,” said Jamie Yuccas of NBC2 News.

They suggested working with your client ahead of time on how to put their best foot forward and offered these tips:

  • As a PR professional, don’t interrupt the reporter – especially if you don’t like the way the interview is going. It can seem manipulative and contrived, which only causes them to wonder and pry further.
  • Be careful of becoming more of a hindrance than a help. Don’t stand in the way of the reporter’s ability to get the information they need. Being a control freak can pose real problems for you and your client.
  • If your client gets nervous, try to give the media a tour before the interview. It can help relax everyone and is a positive way to start off the meeting. This is the time the reporter often gets the best background information while the interviewee is showcasing what he/she knows best.
  • Don’t call requesting to be interviewed about a story and then give the media “no comment.” At the very least, email a factual statement to the reporter if your client is uncomfortable discussing an issue. “No comment” only makes them want to investigate further what you might be trying to hide.
  • In times of crisis, sending a press release with a factual response to a situation can be extremely effective in getting your side of the story out.
  • Be pro-active instead of reactive; try to buy time to respond when being called upon to comment, instead of being caught off guard without a comment prepared.

Both guests reiterated that their goal as news reporters is to find stories that affect the community, business and families. If you’re pitching a news story, make sure you include information about how it would relate to the general population. The story isn’t that an event is happening or a product is new to the market, it’s how the event or product will affect people or how it has already benefited people in your community.

Finally, build relationships with the media. Don’t think of the media as your adversary – work with them on a consistent basis to forge professional relationships for you and your clients to ensure the best possible coverage of your news story.

View a photo gallery of the January 2011 Lunch ‘n Learn here.

New Year, New Board

It’s a brand new year in the Communications and Public Relations industry in Southwest Florida.  The Gulf Coast Chapter of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is announcing the selection of its new 2011 Board of Directors.

This year’s board members represent a diverse group of talented and experienced professionals from the following disciplines:  communication, public & media relations, social media marketing, special events planning, marketing, advertising, and disaster preparedness & emergency management.

The 2011 PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter Board of Directors includes:

President Kathy Saenz, Corporate Communications Manager, INgage Networks
Immediate Past President
 – Clay Cone, President, Cone Communications Company
Treasurer – Danielle Broderick, Marketing Communications Specialist, Arthrex
Secretary  – Angela Aline, Public Relations Specialist, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB
Membership Chair – Mary Ann T. Green, Development & Public Relations Officer, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children
APR Chair – Donna C. Heiser, APR, President, The Genesis Group
Social Media Marketing Chair – Cassandra Engeldinger, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Arthrex
Publicity Chair – Hispanic Market Committee – Pete Cento, President, The Cento Group & Atlantis Photography & Design

Cyndee Wooley, APR  – Creative Strategist, C2 Communications
Judy Bricker  – SVP, Northern Trust
Jama Dock  – Communications & Marketing Officer, Fifth Third Bank
Suzanne Lennon CEO, Lennon Public Relations
Denyse Mesnik, APR Vice President of Communications, Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc.
Teresa Morgenstern President, WordPlay, Inc.
Russell Tuff – Media Consultant, Tuffs News, Media Consultants
Colleen Reynolds, APR – President & Owner, Edge Communications

For more information about becoming a member, please contact Gulf Coast Chapter Membership Chair Mary Ann Green @

Happy Holidays from the Gulf Coast Chapter

What a wonderful evening we had last week celebrating at the PRSA Holiday Mixer at The Club at Naples Bay Resort. It is always a delight to get together with our friends and colleagues and to celebrate our many achievements of this past year.

I was especially pleased to be joined by so many of my colleagues who have served with me on the PRSA Board of Directors this past year. The volunteer guidance and support that they have provided has been tremendous and much appreciated.

It is now time for me to pass on the gavel to our President-Elect Kathy Saenz who will lead our chapter in 2011. Kathy will be joined by a tremendous Board of Directors that includes a number of new faces as well as past PRSA chapter leadership. The full slate of officers and directors is listed below for your review.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you, our members, for your support. There are a lot of social clubs and professional business organizations in our area and we are very happy for your membership and participation in the PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter.

Here’s wishing you and your family a very happy and joyful Holiday Season and a healthy and prosperous New Year! Cheers!


Clay W. Cone
President, PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter

PRSA 2011 Officers & Directors (Proposed Slate)

The following is the proposed slate of 2011 officers & directors of the PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter:

President – Kathy Saenz, INgage Networks
Immediate Past President – Clay W. Cone, Cone Communications Company
Treasurer – Danielle Broderick, Arthrex
Secretary – Angela L. Aline, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB
Membership Chair – Mary Ann Green, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children
APR Chair – Donna Heiser, St. John Neumann Catholic High School
Social Media Chair – Cassandra Engeldinger, Arthrex
Publicity Chair – Pete E. Garcia Cento, The Cento Group

Directors at Large –
Cyndee Woolley, APR, C2 Communications
Judy Bricker, Northern Trust
Jama Dock, Fifth Third Bank
Suzanne Lennon, Lennon Public Relations
Denyse Mesnik, APR, Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc.
Teresa Morgenstern, Wordplay, Inc.
Colleen Reynolds, APR, Edge Communications
Russell Tuff, Tuff News

PRSA Holiday Mixer

The holiday season is fast approaching and with it comes that time of year to be thankful for all that we have in our community.

Even in these challenging economic times, we can be thankful for the pristine natural beauty of where we work and play and the many opportunities we have to enjoy the natural environment.

We also can be thankful for our many friends and family and the camaraderie of our fellow public relations professionals who all contribute greatly to the ambiance and success of our community.

I am personally thankful to my colleagues who have served with me on the PRSA Board of Directors this past year. The support that they have provided has been tremendous and appreciated.

In keeping with tradition, we will not have a luncheon program for the month of November. But we do have a wonderful evening in store on Wednesday, December 1st for our Holiday Mixer. Further details are listed below, and I hope to see you all there!

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!


Clay W. Cone
President, PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter

December 1st – “PRSA Holiday Mixer”
This year’s PRSA Holiday Mixer will be held on Wednesday, December 1st at the luxurious Naples Bay Resort. This special evening promises to offer a selection of tasty hors d’ouevres, refreshing beverages, and of course, a chance to catch up with fellow PR professionals and friends while you enjoy dramatic views of the marina and, if the weather cooperates, a spectacular sunset at The Yacht Club overlooking the Gordon River and Naples Bay.

This private club is within Naples Bay Resort, home to Olio on the Bay, Bonefish Grill, and a variety of shops. You can also host events and parties, stay at The Hotel, enjoy tennis, special golfing opportunities and then there’s the Spa. Special thanks to PRSA Board Member and Past President Teresa Morgenstern for helping to organize this great event!

The cost is just $10 per person, so please be sure to bring your spouse or a friend!

Date: Wednesday, December 1st
Time: 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Location: Naples Bay Resort
1500 Tamiami Trail E. Naples, FL 34102

Interested in Joining the Board?

Here’s your chance!

The PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter is currently seeking nominations for its 2011 Board of Directors. We will have a number of opportunities available next year for you to show off your special skills and help our organization continue moving forward.

To submit a nomination, please contact Chapter President Clay W. Cone at

Show Off Your Professional Presence

You only have one chance to make that lasting impression with your friends, colleagues and prospective clients. So it’s very important that you make the RIGHT impression when needed.

Our next program will help you do just that!

Representatives of the professional image consulting firm Image Matters will join us on Tuesday, October 26th at the Hilton Naples to teach you how to “Show Off Your Professional Presence.”

Want to RSVP? For your convenience, you can reserve a spot for you and your guests or pay with a credit card through our secure PayPal system. We still accept only cash and checks at the door.

Click on the link below to learn more about this month’s program and to register. We look forward to seeing you on Oct. 26th!

Register Now!


Clay W. Cone
President, PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter

October 26 – “Show Off Your Professional Presence”
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Gulf Coast Chapter will host an informative program titled, “Show Off Your Professional Presence” on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, at the Hilton Naples. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. with networking, then lunch and the presentation to follow promptly at noon.

Image Matters, professional image consultants, will teach you how to “Show Off Your Professional Presence.” Professional presence is that special quality that sets certain business people apart and creates power, credibility and a sense of competence. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but those who acquire Professional Presence command respect and are afforded a clear and distinct advantage in any business situation. First impressions can be effective or disastrous, but they are always lasting. It takes only seven seconds to create your first impression. This presentation will demonstrate how to maximize your first (and second and third) impressions.

The cost is $24 per person for PRSA members, $27 for non-profit organizations, $29 for non-members and $15 for students. Reservations must be made by Friday, October, 22, 2010.

Date: Tuesday, October 26th
Time: 11:30-1:30 p.m.
Location: Hilton Naples
5111 U.S. 41 N. Naples, FL 34103

Meet the Media at Our Annual Media Panel

Ever wonder why your prized press release never made it into the paper? What about the best way to pitch a news reporter? Or how about the structural changes now occurring in area newsrooms?

For answers to these and other pressing questions, please join us for our upcoming Southwest Florida news media panel.

This event is always one of our most popular programs of the year. We will feature eight representatives of the region’s leading print and broadcast publications. A new twist on this event will be our “speed dating” theme, which will help ensure that you have an opportunity for one-on-one time with each media representative.

Want to RSVP? For your convenience, you can reserve a spot for you and your guests or pay with a credit card through our secure PayPal system. We still accept only cash and checks at the door.

Click on the link below to learn more about this month’s program and to register. We look forward to seeing you on Sept. 28th!

Register Now!


Clay W. Cone
President, PRSA Gulf Coast Chapter

September 28 – “Meet the Media”
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Gulf Coast Chapter will host its annual Southwest Florida Media Panel presentation on Tuesday, September 28, 2010, at the Hilton Naples, 5111 U.S. 41 N. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. with social and networking, with the presentation to follow at 11:45 a.m. (please note the slightly earlier start time to ensure that we all have enough time to chat).

The program will feature several representatives of area print and broadcast media, including:

  • Phil Borchmann, Editor of Gulfshore Business
  • Jean Gruss, Lee-Collier Editor for Gulf Coast Business Review
  • Len Jennings, News Anchor for ABC-7
  • Shelley Lund, Publisher of Naples Florida Weekly
  • Candace Rotolo, Editor of eBella magazine
  • Amy Tardif, WGCU Public Media
  • Amy Wegman, News Anchor for FOX 4
  • Steve McQuilkin, Business Editor of the News-Press

The cost is $24 per person for PRSA members, $27 for non-profit organizations, $29 for non-members and $15 for students. Reservations must be made by Friday, September 24, 2010.

Date: Tuesday, September 28
Time: 11:30-1:30 p.m.
Location: Hilton Naples, 5111 Tamiami Trail N. Naples, FL 34103