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The Camera is Always on & Invest in The Basics

By Kelsy Van Camp, Director of Marketing and Communications for Tampa Downtown Partnership

This June, I was lucky enough to attend the PRSA Sunshine District Conference and not only did I leave with a notebook full of best practices and tips, but I also left with a suntan. It’s hard for me to decide which session was my favorite because they were all engaging, informative, and included tips I could turn around and apply to a current project. So, I’m going to share with you my key takeaways from two of the sessions.

If there is one thing I can say about the Sunshine District, it’s that they kick things off with a bang. Saturday was a full morning of sessions that started with Heather Fagan. Fagan, who is deputy chief of staff for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, was one of the first people on the scene for the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. She recounted chilling memories and facts clearly and professionally. Fagan explained to the group the timeline of events and why the city had decided to take to twitter to share up-to-the-minute details instead of dealing with multiple outlets and attempting to answer the non-stop phone calls and emails. She spoke about the Mayor’s main message of building “civic resilience” and how that message helped the community and families to handle the tragedy. Some tips she shared on press conferences include: order matters, establish next time, share new information only, and to coordinate with partners. Fagan also advised us to assume the camera is always on, record interviews so you can confirm statements, and to only worry about fixing inaccuracies that impact your message. Lastly, she reminded us that tragedies like the Pulse shooting have long-term effects and to schedule your staff appropriately to account for your organizations day-to-day activities, because the show must go on.

During the break-out sessions, I chose to attend the session on how to create videos on a shoestring budget, led by Kate Norton from Nemours Children’s Specialty Care Hospital. The title caught my eye because I too work on a shoestring budget for a nonprofit, and I recently was tasked with creating a video that was presented to a group of over 500 people that was shot on my iPhone 7. Norton started out her presentation with a helpful list of four secrets in video shooting. First, she told us to invest in the basics. This meant getting a nice camera, external mic, tripod, a computer with an editing program (she suggested Adobe Final Cut Pro), and an external drive since videos take up a lot of memory. Second, she suggested we take the time to learn the skills. Wistia.com and the book “How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck” were a few of her suggestions. Third, don’t be afraid to get help. That meant knowing when to call the professionals and when to try it yourself. Finally, find the story. Norton said this should be easiest for PR professionals but can sometimes be the hardest to capture with video.

Looking back, the main theme I keep going back to is how PR professionals are doers. We step up to the plate when situations get tough and roll with the punches. My head is still spinning from all the information that was packed into the conference, and I look forward to next year!

#ShipHappens #WearSunscreen

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