May 31, 2016

The lineup: 'The PR Professional, and other duties as assigned'

The Southwest Missouri and Mid-Missouri Chapters of PRSA are proud to co-host this conference for professional communicators of the Midwest on July 28–29, 2016, in Springfield, Missouri. Mark your calendar, and get ready to grow and polish your PR skills at this year’s conference: “The PR Professional, and other duties as assigned.”

$125 for PRSA members, $99 early bird*
$199 for non-members, $150 early bird*
$50 for students
*Early bird ends June 15
Register with PayPal today!
If other payment arrangements need to be made, please contact Cris Swaters.

Hilton Garden Inn
4155 S Nature Center Way
Springfield, Missouri
Guest rate, $119/night.

Book your room using our special link!

Check out a preview of the lineup below:

Keynote Speakers

Bob Priddy

Former news director, The Missourinet

Veteran newsman Bob Priddy will kick off our conference with his unique perspective on the past year’s news events in Missouri.
Priddy’s expertise in regional news and trends has been honed over the last 40 years as the news director of The Missourinet, a statewide commercial radio network based in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Priddy retired from The Missourinet at the end of 2014. He has won numerous awards for his work in broadcast journalism and is the author of several books about Missouri history, including Only the Rivers Are Peaceful: Thomas Hart Benton's Missouri Mural. His blog can be found at

Scott Holste
Press Secretary to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

Scott Holste will present our Friday keynote, in which he will share his perspective on the PR hats he’s worn during his service in Gov. Jay Nixon’s office. Holste will discuss the role PR has played in state and national news events, including unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Before joining the Governor’s office, Holste served 14 years as press secretary for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. He holds a degree in journalism from Valparaiso University.

Breakout Sessions

An umbrella approach to strategic public relations

Jason SprengerPresident/Founder/Owner, Game Changer Communications

Minnesota-based PR expert Jason Sprenger will present two sessions for our attendees, focusing on PR tactics and an “Umbrella Approach” to PR that can help us create strategic, effective public relations plans in organizations of all sizes.

Sprenger founded Game Changer Communications in the Twin Cities in 2012 with the goal of helping organizations propel themselves forward using the entire spectrum of public relations.

Before starting Game Changer, Sprenger led North American PR for FICO and built a successful corporate PR department at data storage firm Xiotech (now called X-IO Technologies). Sprenger’s background includes experience with a wide variety of organizations, from large to small and public to private. He has also served as a corporate, agency and freelance counselor.

Background on his work can be seen at

Event planning panel: Taking your gatherings to the next level
Kristin Lochner, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Bob Nelson, CMP, Scottrade; Chris Ruble; University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center

When it comes to building a successful event, Kristin Lochner, Bob Nelson and Chris Ruble are industry leaders. 

Lochner serves as events manager at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce; Bob Nelson leads a four-person team at Scottrade that is responsible for 200 annual meetings and events for 3,800 associates in 49 states; and Chris Ruble heads up the event team at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield.

The panel will share their biggest lessons as well as key advice we can all use to get the most out of our own meetings and events.

Becoming an accredited pro: Beginning your APR journey
Lori Marble, APR, Fellow PRSA
Transformation Agent, Mercy

The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential can be key in demonstrating your mastery of strategic communication and your commitment to lifelong learning. The credential is the industry’s gold standard, but plenty of PR pros struggle with getting started.

Lori Marble, APR chair for the Southwest Missouri Chapter of PRSA, will lead us through the basics of the APR process and show us the key steps to getting started in a successful APR pursuit.

In addition to holding both the APR since 2008 and being a member of the PRSA College of Fellows, Marble’s PR experience includes work in health care, transportation, higher education and founding her own public relations agency. Marble has served as president of the Southwest Missouri Chapter as well as chair of the Midwest District of PRSA.

Strategic planning: How communicators can help lead the way in meeting organizational goals
Scott Rogers

System Director, Performance Integration and Innovation, CoxHealth

Scott Rogers has made a career out of helping organizations achieve outstanding results while pursuing continuous innovation. Communication is key in any organizational change and in this session Rogers will discuss the role communication plays in developing and implementing a strategic plan.

Communicators will learn how we can support the planning process and help engage audiences to deliver the outcomes our leaders and organizations are striving for.
Rogers draws on decades of experience in performance improvement, including serving as a national examiner and trainer for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. He specializes in Business Process Integration utilizing the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and has earned distinctions as a Lean Champion and Six Sigma black belt.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Joplin recovery project
Sheri Hawkins

Founder and CEO, 2balance

When ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” decided to build seven homes in seven days in Joplin, Mo., they called on Sheri Hawkins of 2balance for local PR support. In her session, Hawkins will share lessons from the project and insight into the communications challenges around the early efforts in Joplin’s recovery in the wake of the 2011 tornado.

For the past decade, Hawkins and her team at 2balance have been working with organizations to align internal and external communications to support their brand strategies. She specializes in public relations, human resources, marketing, social media and research communications.

Secrets of a great website
Jarad Johnson, president, Mostly Serious

How can organizations large and small leverage websites to tell their stories, engage audiences and build business? Join Jarad Johnson as he shares what he’s learned in working with corporate clients in his role at Mostly Serious.
Johnson is a founding partner of Mostly Serious, a Springfield-based digital studio, where he acts as President and Head of Design. He was also the organizing president of Springfield Creatives—a member-driven organization dedicated to improving the lives of creative people in the Ozarks—and serves on the advisory board for an urban garden project, Springfield Community Gardens.

Creating compelling video to tell your organization’s story
Sony Hocklander,

Sony Hocklander specializes in video storytelling for organizations and individuals through her small business, YourStory by Sony Hocklander Creative LLC, located in Springfield.
She is a former journalist whose writing and editing career includes 16 years at the Springfield News-Leader, a USA Today affiliate. While at the News-Leader, Hocklander managed several newspaper sections, designed and edited a niche magazine, managed online community discussions and helped develop new products.
She also used photography and video production to enhance her media storytelling, and for years produced event and celebration videos for friends and family.

Crisis management: proven tools to protect your reputation
Katie Stacy Erwin and Jon B. Gray, FleishmanHillard

Companies spend years building a brand, establishing their reputation. Then crisis hits, and overnight, CEOs and their teams are under siege. The FleishmanHillard crisis management approach applies a series of proven tools throughout the process to help manage reputation in the face of crisis. Members of FleishmanHillard’s global crisis team will discuss the diverse issues they’ve handled and ways to manage issues and prepare for crises so that your team is ready.

Katie Stacy Erwin works in FleishmanHillard’s corporate reputation group and is a certified crisis counselor and media trainer. She works with leading companies on media relations, issues management, executive visibility and campaign strategy. 
Erwin provides counsel on issues preparedness and crisis communications to clients across a variety of sectors, including health care, manufacturing, higher education, financial services, and food and beverage. Erwin has experience in areas such as litigation communications, employee misconduct, data breaches, regulator investigations and leadership transitions. Her previous experience includes managing communications for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and more than a decade as a television broadcast journalist. Katie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications-journalism from Truman State University.

Jon B. Gray is a member of FleishmanHillard’s consumer marketing and corporate communications practice groups. He is responsible for developing strategies and implementing integrated marketing plans to engage audiences and other influencers on both national and local scales. In his role as a certified crisis counselor, he also is a go-to resource for social crisis/corporate reputation issues management and has helped mitigate a variety of potentially damaging issues for consumer brands and national regulatory organizations in the social space. 
Gray also has worked to proactively prepare clients by developing protocols directing management and employee response to a crisis. Gray graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications.

Writing with clarity and impact across a variety of channels
Kathleen O’Dell, Community Relations Director, Springfield-Greene County Library District

Our communication modes may evolve – from press releases to brand journalism to blogging – but the basics of great storytelling remain.

Kathleen O’Dell will share her years of writing expertise in a session designed to lead us through the best practices in a variety of channels.
O’Dell is the Community Relations Director of the Springfield-Greene County Library District, a job she’s had for nearly seven years.
She earned a bachelor degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1976, worked the Beaumont, Texas, Enterprise, for a year; and then joined the Springfield News-Leader/Gannett Inc., in 1977-1982. She joined the first staff of USA Today, writing national news and working in the editorial department. She returned to The News-Leader in 1984 and held a variety of editing, news and feature writing positions.
O’Dell has received numerous awards for her work. Among them are writing awards from the Gannett Co. Inc., Associated Press and Missouri Press Association, Advocates for a Healthy Community and Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Salute to Health Care. She also received yearlong medical writers fellowship from the Association of Health Care Journalists from 2008-2009. In 2011 she received the Quill Award from the Writers Hall of Fame of Missouri and was named one of 20 Most Influential Women by the Springfield Business Journal.

Case studies: Crafting a unique brand experience through design
Dan Stewart, Partner & Creative Director, Deep
Sharon Kuntz, Senior Copywriter, Deep


What sets a great design apart from the merely average? In these case studies, Dan Stewart and Sharon Kuntz will lead us through 3-4 design-centric projects from the original project brief to final execution. Along the way, participants will see how creative design decisions are made and how we can all learn to demonstrate the value a creative team brings to the process.

During his 20-plus years in the food industry, Stewart has applied a purposeful creative approach with brands such as Nestle, Frito Lay, McCormick, Reckitt/Benckiser, Mars Foodservice, Mission Foods, as well as many non-profit organizations. He is a fine arts graduate of Missouri State University.
After graduating from Missouri State University with a degree in Advertising and Promotion and a minor in Creative Writing, Kuntz translated her gift for wielding powerful words and creating emotional reactions into sparking emotional connections for foodservice brands including Nestlé Professional, Tyson Foods, Keurig Green Mountain, Kerry Food & Beverage, Reckitt/Benckiser and Borden Foods. At 12 years as a foodservice copywriter and running, Sharon still revels in following the path of great food and making creative visions come to life.

Strategy, content and measurement: Keys to social media success
Dr. Jonathan Groves, Department Chair of Communication, Drury University

As an associate professor of communication, Dr. Jonathan Groves has dedicated himself to the study of the evolving media landscape, exploring the impact of new media on fields such as journalism and public relations. In this session, Dr. Groves will discuss how organizations can develop a social media strategy, create compelling social content and measure their results.

Dr. Groves created and leads Drury University's Social Media Certificate program, designed for professionals and students specializing in the use of social media. Prior to coming to Drury, Dr. Groves worked for 14 years as a professional journalist at various newspapers as a reporter and editor. He then spent two years at the University of Missouri-Columbia as a Reynolds Journalism Institute doctoral fellow studying how the Internet is changing the face of journalism.
The art of branding with Mother’s Brewing
Jeff Schrag, founder, Mother's Brewing Company

Since creating Mother's Brewing in 2011, Jeff Schrag and the Mother's team have cultivated recognition throughout Missouri and the Midwest with creative campaigns, unique design and a strong brand that has been key to business success. In fact, the National Brewer's Association declared the launch of Mother's Brewing Company to be the most successful opening any new brewery opening in the past five years. In this Session, Schrag will share how Mother's created their multifaceted promotional approach and what he's learned from Mother's success.

Schrag, who is originally from McPherson, Kansas, graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and social science. He came to Springfield in 1995 after purchasing the Daily Events legal newspaper. In 2011, he created Mother’s Brewing Co., a craft beer company that distributes its products throughout the region and in several states. The company brews its products in the former Butternut Bread Co. facility at the corner of Grant Avenue and Walnut Street.

Photography secrets: how non-pros can get the best shots
Kevin White, Senior Staff Photographer, Missouri State University

For more than two decades, Kevin White has been capturing the ongoing story of Missouri State University through his photography. From sports and student life to special events and advertising photos, White's images have helped define Missouri State's brand.
In this session, White will share what he's learned and show us how we can use an artist's perspective to create great photos - everything from choosing the right subject and the right angle to perfecting lighting and composition.

Communication in organizational leadership: how communicators can get, and keep, a seat at the table
Jim Anderson, VP Public Affairs, CoxHealth
Cora Scott, Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement, City of Springfield

Communication is more vital than ever in organizations large and small, but how can communicators provide the best support and counsel for senior leaders? Jim Anderson and Cora Scott have a wealth of experience in communication leadership roles and they will lead a panel discussion sharing what they've learned and how we can all increase the value we bring to our leadership teams.

Jim Anderson is vice president for marketing and public affairs at CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri. Anderson is the former president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. During his time with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber was recognized as the Chamber of the Year by its national professional organization in 2012. Before joining the Springfield Chamber, he spent nine years as president of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to that, he served as a school administrator and school teacher in the Jefferson City Public Schools.

Cora Scott serves as Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement for the City of Springfield. She joined the City of Springfield in January 2012 after an 18-year tenure with Mercy Health. She most recently served as Media Relations Manager for St. John's Health System, where she was responsible for media and public communication for Mercy's north central region. Cora had served St. John's Health System in similar public relations roles since 1993. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Drury University.

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