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#PRSASunCon Day Two: Heave Ho, Landlubbers and Old Salts

#PRSASunCon Day Two: Heave Ho, Landlubbers and Old Salts

Whether an old salt (seasoned PR pro) or landlubber (emerging practitioner), day two of #PRSASunCon left us all feeling empowered to weigh our anchors and set sail.

My top takeaways from this second and final day of #PRSASunCon were:

We need to not only tell our stories, but shape and define them.

Dr. Kanika Tomalin, deputy mayor and city administrator for the City of St. Petersburg, shared how she earned her stripes in the PR industry, culminating with her current role as second in command for Florida’s fifth-largest city. The common thread through all stages of her career? Storytelling.

As deputy mayor, Dr. Tomalin described how she was sought out for her PR expertise and charged with something that had never been done before in St. Petersburg’s history: rewriting municipal marketing by telling the ‘Burg’s story. She created a marketing team for the city and worked to rebrand the area, in the process building a national reputation as one of America’s most attractive places to live, work, and play.

The rebrand is real:

  • Created the new St.Pete.org
  • Launched engaging, audience-charged social media platforms: @StPeteFL (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter)
  • Developed compelling digital content and redefined public access TV via SPTV



Dr. Kanika Tomalin, giving her keynote speech at PRSA SunCon

Partnership opportunities can exist – even in the most unlikely of places.

Partnerships are an essential component of many PR efforts. Rob Vernon, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Nicole Paquette, Humane Society of the United States, shared how their partnership has led to many successful efforts to reform policy in support of animal welfare – despite the fact that there are many times they also agree to disagree on issues.

Lessons learned:

  • Address, up front, when partnership goals aren’t being met on both sides or there is disagreement; also know when to walk away
  • Compromise is king
  • Partnerships, even with unlikely allies, are powerful
  • Ensure clear and open communication at all times; transparency is imperative


Ambitious introverts walk among us in PR – and I am most certainly one of them.

Morra Aarons-Mele, founder of Women Online/The Mission List and author of “Hiding in the Bathroom: A Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home),” helped crystalize who I am in the PR-verse: an ambitious introvert.

What’s that, you say? According to Morra, ambitious introverts are those of us who may feel exhausted, disenfranchised, and discouraged by the 24/7 grind of always being “on”; those who are adept at managing their energy and setting limits. Ambitious introverts commonly experience FOMO and were cautioned to embrace “onlyness” – the concept of owning who you are and harnessing why your unique characteristics make you special. One of her most striking lines was that ambitious introverts are those who have learned to game the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – professional “E” seekers who, deep down, are profoundly “I.”

Because PR can seem most well-suited for extroverts, what is an ambitious introvert to do when faced with another (dreaded!) networking event? Exude a façade of normalcy – despite your racing heartbeat and sweaty palms? Well, sometimes, but here are some other tips Morra shared for navigating networking:

  • Be strategic about what networking events you attend, focusing on those that will help fulfill a desired outcome for you
  • Build a network of super connectors – those who you can continuously turn to and rely on, outside of networking opportunities, to help you move forward
  • Do something you love. This will allow your passion to shine through, and other people will naturally seek you out.



Morra Aarons-Mele, giving her keynote speech at PRSA SunCon

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