Four reasons to register for PRSA SunCon 2019: The Keynote Speakers

Which inspiring speaker would you rather hear later this month—the digital strategist, the author, the government leader or the president of PRSA?

Here’s the good news: You’ll hear all four after you register for the 2019 PRSA Sunshine District Conference. They’re each giving keynote addresses at the July 25-27 event in Tampa.

The impressive lineup of speakers is one of the reasons PR professionals from across Florida are coming to this year’s conference.  Check out the full list here, and don’t forget to look at the wide array of breakout sessions.

Here is a sneak peek of the keynote speakers and what you’ll learn from them in Tampa next month.

Sarah Evans, digital strategist and global brand correspondent, is the opening keynote speaker, sharing her insights into the current state of public relations and future of the profession. Evans has built a reputation across the country as a leader in social media, integrating marketing and communications in her approach to helping businesses.

With her experience working for companies like PayPal and Cox Communications, as well as Walmart and MGM, it’s no surprise Evans is a leading speaker on all things social media. She’s also credited with the novel idea of bringing an outside web show inside the traditional newsroom, hosting live #journchat shows with both CNN and NBC News.

Evans will share how she uses her passion to make big change and help you prepare for what’s to come in our industry during her session “Status Update: State of Digital PR in 2019.”

Her talk will be the Opening Keynote at 7:30 a.m. Friday

Debra Peterson, APR, president Comm365 and chair of PRSA National will discuss how to navigate the impact of rapid disruption and innovation during her keynote session “Be Adept: Adapt and Adopt.” Leveraging her experience at FORTUNE 500 technology and communications companies during times of change, acquisition and progression, Peterson realized the best way to be prepared for anything is to be a “lifelong learner.”

We all face certain challenges at work such as budget, time demands or strategy, but Peterson will share lessons learned along the way that have helped her through those times of great change. Whether you’re in the communications, public relations or the technology sector, there’s a common goal among everyone: How can we ensure success?

“Just as communications professionals need to understand financial, operational and leadership concepts, we must also understand how technology impacts our organizations. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, virtual and augmented reality and big data are all examples of how technology and innovation are impacting us and will continue to do so even more in the future,” Peterson said in a PRSA article from January of this year.

Her talk will be the Luncheon Keynote at noon Friday.

 Dr. Kanika Tomalin, deputy mayor and city administrator of St. Petersburg, Florida, has a background that PR professionals can appreciate. She is a former marketer and journalist, and strongly believes the power of storytelling is an important aspect of her leadership in Florida’s fifth-largest city.

“My experience as a Communications executive in the private sector has helped the city usher in major organizational shifts, as well as navigate the nuances of everyday situations and challenges,” said Tomalin, who previously worked as director of communications and several other leadership roles for Bayfront Health System. “Specifically, the power of storytelling and using the universal narratives that we all share to connect us on planes of common understanding, goals and actions has served to advance us meaningfully toward many goals. Whether working as a journalist, a hospital executive or deputy mayor, I have found that the common connections that bind our humanity create a bridge to better outcomes. There is much to be applied in the running of a municipality from the private sector, and specifically, from the discipline of communications.”

Tomalin’s talk is titled, “With Savvy PR & Communications, Sunshine City’s Brand
Brighter than Ever.”

“I hope everyone in the audience walks away with a renewed respect, excitement and urgency around the power of storytelling and its integral place in every PR professional’s toolbox,” she added.

 Her talk will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Morra Aarons-Mele is the author of Hiding in the Bathroom: A Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home,). One of her main topics will be how to build a professional network.

“Study after study show that people advance in their career and find meaningful work through the people they know, and I’m a big believer in building networks that aren’t just transactional but are truly a community," she said.

The thought of building such a network can feel overwhelming, but Aarons-Mele plans to offer some practical and helpful tools in her talk, titled “How to Build a Great Professional Network (Even If You’d Rather Hide in the Bathroom.)”

Aarons-Mele is founder of award-winning social impact agency Women Online, and has launched online campaigns for President Obama, Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the United Nations Foundation, Hillary Clinton for President and many other leading figures and organizations.

Her talk will be the closing keynote at 11:10 a.m. Saturday.

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