PRmageddon - PDS 2017

2017 Professional Development Seminar

PRmageddon From Crisis to Control

PRmageddon - PDS 2017

Friday, June 9
8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center
2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611

PR professionals come together to learn the latest crisis control techniques from engaging and world-renowned speakers. Network with colleagues,  learn something new and have lunch with us!

Check-in, coffee and a light breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. The event starts at 9 a.m. and ends around 3:45 p.m.

Registration for Members: $95
Non-members: $110
Students: $40

Register here before the deadline on Monday, June 5!

Need a hotel? Click here to access the DoubleTree Hilton for $129/night (3726 SW 40th Blvd).

If you have any questions, interested in sponsoring or speaking at this event, please contact MaryBeth Head at

17492526_10154167805466268_8495512158352701626_oThe Lane Graves Story: An alligator, a little boy, a grieving family and a big company.

On June 14, 2016, an alligator grabbed two-year-old Lane Graves and dragged him into a lake near the Grand Floridian Hotel where he was playing in sand near the water’s edge.  This unique situation was magnified by the fact that it took place on a Walt Disney World Property. Walt Disney World, one of the largest companies in the world, employs more than 160,000 employees worldwide and is a major employer in Central Florida.  The incident took place within the Orange County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction and provided a number of challenges while working with this large company and dealing with the death of a little boy and a broken-hearted family.

Jeff Williamson, Ph.D., public information officer/spokesman for Orange County Sheriff’s Office, will share his experience along with how to stay ahead of the media, how to be accountable for your agency and the value of compassion in a tough situation.

In this capacity, Jeff has worked numerous major cases that have received both local and national attention, including the Casey Anthony case, the death of drum major Robert Champion, and the death of Lane Graves, the two-year-old boy killed by an alligator at a Walt Disney World hotel.

Prior to becoming a Public Information Officer Jeff was a broadcast news journalist having worked for WJHG-TV, Panama City Beach, SNN, the New York Times Cable News Station in Sarasota, Florida and WVLT-TV the CBS affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee. Jeff has won numerous awards for excellence in reporting at these affiliates.

Jeff holds a bachelors degree in Business and Psychology from Oakwood University, a master’s degree in Communications from New York University, and a Ph.D. in Applied Sociology from the University of Central Florida.

17309467_10154149225411268_5808491392766868939_n 17353649_10154149225401268_4861114912730248770_nMission Critical to Mission Control: Managing Crisis PR

Sandi Poreda, APR, of Bulldog Strategy Group and Officer Ben Tobias, Public Information Officer for Gainesville Police Department will work through a series of live crisis prompts designed to simulate a crisis scenario.

Each small group will work as a team to evaluate and respond to the prompts as directed, including message development, audience prioritization, media relations and strategic planning. At the end of the session, participants will have a better understanding of the basic elements of a crisis communications plan and will be able to put the “who,” “what” and “how” elements of a plan into action when necessary.  

Sandi Poreda’s Bio:
Sandi Poreda, APR, is always looking for new or better ways to help people tell their stories. She enjoys working under pressure, which comes in handy when she’s helping a client navigate a crisis.

In her past life, Sandi served the state of Florida in several capacities, including Communications Director for the Florida Attorney General’s Office. While there, she helped define the office as a leader fighting cybercrimes against children, which earned recognition from Oprah Winfrey. She was also responsible for managing the office’s national exposure on numerous multistate litigation efforts. These years of service gave Sandi valuable experience balancing the demands of precise legal strategies with public relations initiatives.

In addition to her work in PR, Sandi volunteers, fosters and fundraises for local animal rescue organizations; she also serves on the Board of Directors for the Leon County Humane Society and the local Red Cross chapter. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Florida State University, where she currently serves as an adjunct professor in public relations.

Ben Tobias’ Bio:
Officer Ben Tobias joined the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) in 2005. During his career, he has served in Patrol and also spent three years riding horses with the Mounted Patrol Unit. Tobias was approached and asked to be the Public Information Officer for GPD in the spring of 2012, which he accepted. About a month after starting his new position, he handled all media functions for the murder case of UF Student Christian Aguilar, a case that garnered international attention. Approximately six weeks after becoming a PIO, Tobias gave a press conference that aired live nationwide.

In January 2016, Ben Tobias finally achieved every social media manager’s dream — the viral video. Tobias posted a police dashcam video of Gainesville Police Officer Bobby White’s response to a noise complaint about kids playing in the street. Instead of berating the kids, he joined them in a spirited game of basketball. The original video has more than 200 million organic views to date. The story gained attention again when White returned for a rematch with the kids and brought along NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal. Tobias spent the following weeks managing a deluge of requests for live interviews in the U.S. and abroad as #HoopsNotCrime events went viral.

When he’s not wearing his PIO hat, Tobias wears a helicopter flight helmet as one of the backup Tactical Flight Officers for the Gainesville Police / Alachua Sheriff’s Joint Aviation Unit.

PDSFacebookNEWHurricane Matthew: The Evolution of the Threat by North Florida

Warning Coordination Meteorologist of National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office in Jacksonville, Fla., Al Sandrik will discuss crisis management during last year’s Hurricane Matthew.

Between October 1 and October 7, the serious situation posed to North Florida by Hurricane Matthew evolved quickly and significantly. This led directly to the first major hurricane evacuation for the First Coast since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Al will review how the situation evolved and what NWS Jacksonville meteorologists did to assist local decision makers.

You will learn how, despite increasingly accurate hurricane forecasting skills, small changes in a storm track or intensity can lead to profound changes in local impact and decisions. He will also share how social media, as well as visual briefing techniques, are being used for effective messaging.

Al is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.S. Degree in Meteorology. He has been employed by the National Hurricane Center from 1991 through 1994, including working in the Center during Hurricane “Andrew.”  He has had long standing ties to north Florida and southeast Georgia and has been assigned to the National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office in Jacksonville since September of 1994. During that period he has advanced to the position of Warning Coordination Meteorologist.

Prior to joining the National Weather Service, Al served in the Navy where he was assigned to USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2), temporary duty to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Headquarters at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon, and a tour of duty at Naval Air Station Cecil Field. He served with each unit as an Enlisted Meteorologist and Oceanographer.

Jim MattCyber Security in an Insecure World

This session will cover the current state of the war between hackers and the enterprise community. They will cover how best to prevent attacks by looking at the different ways hackers are working to gain access to your data. During this time, they will discuss how to not only prevent the attacks but also provide some real-world experiences where they could have secured the safety of client information.

Matt Villella’s Bio:
Matt has over the past 20 years of experience in managing and owning large service based businesses. In 2011 he started Think Technologies Group as a Cloud Hosting Provider for the SMB market. Over the last 6 years Think Technologies Group has evolved into a full service Managed Service Provider offering Managed IT, Voice over IP phones, Consulting and Cloud Services throughout the state of Florida.

Jim Daugherty’s Bio:
Jim has over 20 years’ experience working in the technology sector. His experience ranges from Enterprise Design, selling to large Communications Carriers as well as working in the semiconductor market. He now works for WatchGuard Technologies where he helps companies better understand the threats in the market, and how best to address them.


Thank you to our sponsors!

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