January Program


For our January luncheon event, FPRA Gainesville hosted a panel presentation on Richard Spencer’s recent controversial visit to Gainesville. Facilitated by FPRA Member Steve Shepard, the panel speakers were Officer Ben Tobias of the Gainesville Police Department, University of Florida (UF) Director of Communications Margot Winick and Melissa Lutz Blouin of UF Health Communications. Panelists shared their public relations and communications experiences while working together with other agencies and organizations to help maintain peace in the Gainesville community during the Spencer visit. Panelists noted that having one voice on social media for all of the agencies and organizations involved as well as having at least one meeting under one roof were both best practices which made for a successful collaboration. They also agreed that having more meetings for all involved would be something to implement if they were faced with another similar event. All through the year, these three panelists practice crisis communications drills which also contributed to the successful collaboration among one another. Positive messaging on social media from UF President W. Kent Fuchs reminding students and community members that UF stands for tolerance and diversity was noted as a large contributing factor to successful external communications. During the event, UF also established a website that was dedicated to updates so that students and community members alike could find updated and official information in a centralized place.  Many thanks to the panelists for sharing public relations and communications best practices!