Speakers

Sunday Session

Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon 
"The Absolutely Essential Social Media Tools" and "Content Curation for Smarties: Know Everything All the Time"

Communications consultant and Birmingham Blogging Academy founder Wade Kwon has written thousands of blog posts and created blogs big and small. He loves to tell stories, in person and in print and online as Birmingham’s Best Blogger. 

He is founder of the Y’all Connect conference

The Poynter Institute selected Kwon as one of 35 Influential People in Social Media. Birmingham Magazine readers selected him as Best Tweeter 2 years running in the Best of B’ham 2010 and 2011 online polls. His site, Magic City Post, was voted Best Website in the Birmingham’s Best 2011 readers’ poll by the Birmingham News; it also won 2011 Green Eyeshade Awards for Best Blog and Specialized Site.

Kwon has worked with companies across Alabama and across America for consulting and training. Let him help your company with communication strategy, training, social media, blogging, public speaking, marketing, public relations and more. 

A Birmingham native, he started his award-winning blog Wade on Birmingham in 2005, and has worked with Time Inc. and Scripps-Howard on blogging and new media. He is a founding board member of the Alabama Social Media Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to educating people about social media.

Kwon has been a writer and editor at Southern Living magazine and the Birmingham Post-Herald newspaper, winning numerous journalism awards.

Student Session

Caron Blanton, APR
"Getting and Excelling in Your First Job" - Student Session

Caron Blanton, APR, serves as the Director of Communications for the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. She served previously as the Director of Legislative Services and Director of Communications for the Mississippi Department of Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Randolph College, formerly Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, in Lynchburg, Va., and a master’s degree from the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

A native of Tupelo, Blanton has served as president of the Southern Public Relations Federation, the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, the Central Chapter of PRAM and the Mississippi School Public Relations Association.

She became accredited in 2005 and received the state Professional Achievement Award from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi in 2007. She was appointed by SPRF to serve as one of 22 members of the Universal Accreditation Board, a diverse group of educator, military public affairs personnel and public relations professionals who oversee the Accreditation program. 

 

Pam Swain
"Getting and Excelling in Your First Job" - Student Session

Pam Swain serves as the Senior Vice President of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce. She has been with the Oxford Chamber for over 14 years where she manages all Chamber programs and events. Swain holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science in Public Relations from the University of Southern Mississippi. 

Swain has served as president of board of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and the Oxford/Ole Miss Chapter of PRAM, as well as vce president position on the Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF) board. She has received numerous awards and honors for her work in PR and has been recognized by SPRF as a Senior Practitioner in the field of PR.

In her tenure at the Chamber Swain has guided more than 65 interns through her office, helping them gain valuable knowledge and experience in the field of PR. She also serves as the pageant director for the local Miss Hospitality Pageant and has served on judging panels and mock interview panels for dozens of contestants across the state.

Swain serves on multiple boards of directors in the Oxford community.  She is very active in the Lafayette County School District, where she serves as President of both the Lafayette Endowment Fund for Education and the Lafayette Upper Elementary PTO.  She successfully spearheaded a PR campaign to secure Lafayette County Schools specialty license plates for the state and was also chosen as Parent of the Year for the School District in 2016. 

Opening Session

Jamie Primak Sullivan 
"Know Your Audience”  

Influential Lifestyle personality Jaime Primak Sullivan is a jack of all trades and all mediums. Best known for her TV show Jersey Belle and her hit Facebook series #cawfeetawk where her videos are now seen on over 20 million timelines a week. Jaime is also a blogger for Yahoo parenting (voted best blogger of 2014) and founder and president of Bridge and Tunnel Entertainment, a full service public relations and marketing agency. Her first book, a memoir titled, “The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl”, will hit shelves in the summer of 2016. She has two studio films based on her stories set for pre-production. Jaime lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and three children, 8-year-old daughter Olivia, 7-year-old son Max, and 5-year-old daughter Charlie.

Sullivan will also present a breakout session on "Changes in PR with the Influx of Technology and How to Make it Work for You."

Breakout Sessions

Regent Ducas
Two Sessions - "Producing a Website Video Strategy" and "Video Advertising Online" 

Regent Ducas is President of Power Web Videos. Regent is a 3-time Emmy award winning producer who spent nearly 25 years in the television news industry. Regent has worked for many of the industry’s top media companies including, NBC, CBS, Post-Newsweek and Meredith Corporation. Regent taught as an adjunct professor at UT-Arlington and spent time training multi-media journalist at television stations around the country. Today, Regent works with clients to create an online video strategy that educates and engages consumers on the clients website, mobile and social media channels. His clients range from nearly every industry ranging from medical, education, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, products and entertainment to name a few.

 

John Deveney
"The Future of Crises and How to Manage Them" 

Founder of DEVENEY, John Deveney has become a national leader in hospitality and health care, known for some of the industries’ best campaigns, results and counsel in strategic marketing and communication. 

His firm’s meteoric start was chronicled through significant national campaigns with particular strength in crisis, health care, tourism and hospitality. DEVENEY was named PR News’ Firm of the Year in 2013 and one of PRWeek’s Top 5 Boutique PR Firms in 2004. 

John is a top-rated presenter at conferences worldwide and recognized internationally for crisis and issue management for hospitality leaders. John is the only professional to ever merit the lifetime achievement recognition of PRNews’ Hall of Fame, PRSA College of Fellows and IABC Fellows.

 

Mike Ragsdale 
"Building a (Beach) Brand"

Mike Ragsdale is an entrepreneur and explorer. In 2007, he created the “30A” (www.30A.com) brand to promote the fun and simple beach life that his family enjoys along Florida's Scenic Highway 30-A.  

Today, The 30A Company employs 30 people and ships official 30A Gear to beach fans across the United States. The company has given away over 1 million of its famous blue 30A stickers, and 30A has over 400,000 Facebook fans. The 30A Company has raised $300,000 for charities, and in 2015, 30A.com was ranked the #1 Independent News Site in America in an academic study conducted by The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism in New York City. There are four 30A stores, and 20 retail partners that carry 30A Gear. There are over 160 30A products, including 30A Bikes, 30A Beach Chairs, 30A Coffee, 30A Honey, 30A Beach Blonde Ale, 30A Wine, and a new line of 30A shirts made from recycled plastic water bottles. 

Ragsdale earned a Bachelor’s in Communication and a Master's Degree in Advertising & Public Relations from the University of Alabama. He then became an Internet pioneer, creating the concept of user-generated content before the Web existed.

After moving to beach in 2006, Ragsdale became the spokesperson for Alys Beach, Florida. While there, he created Digital Graffiti (www.digitalgraffiti.com), the world’s first projection art festival. The famous festival is now entering its 10th year.

Based on the success of the “30A” brand, Mike founded TownWizard (www.TownWizard.com) in 2010, a company that helped over 200 independent publishers in small towns across the globe launch their own local guides.

 

Janel Kasper-Wolfe 
"Secondary Research is a Good First Choice: How NASA is Using Visualization to Improve Stakeholder Relations"

After graduating with her M.A. in Sociology from the University of Wyoming in 2002, Janel Kasper-Wolfe moved to Washington, D.C. to work at the American Chemical Society. As a research analyst at one of the country's largest professional associations, she was part of a team responsible for conducting and analyzing the society's member surveys. She provided subject matter and technical expertise to ACS staff, governance, and members in the areas of survey research and methodology, workforce characteristics, globalization, gender and diversity issues, and member satisfaction. 

In her current position, as a member of a contractor team providing support to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications, she is recognized as an expert on measurement and survey research and design.  The other components of her position involve developing recommendations, strategies, and products that integrate strategic research and analysis into MSFC's decision-making processes. She also provides expedited intelligence and analysis briefs for executive leadership and center managers in order to improve strategic planning, business literacy, and environmental awareness at MSFC. 

 

Elizabeth McMillan, APR
"Changes in Public Relations & its Impact on the Universal Accreditation Board and APRs"

For more than 15 years, McMillan has positioned, polished and pitched companies (large or small), their leaders (willing or reticent) and products (new or legacy) in financial services, high tech and consumer spaces. Through rigorous planning, research and purposeful communications, she helped launch start-ups, position companies for acquisition, transition companies through mergers, rebrand products and organizations, grow marketshare and minimize the impact of crises.

Today, McMillan serves as director, Corporate Communications forFiserv, where she guides public relations for key business units and initiatives and support companywide communications coaching.

 

 

Deidre Stalnaker
Best of Show - 2016 - Public Relations Council of Alabama

Deidre Stalnaker, originally from pretty much everywhere (her dad was in the Army), earned a bachelor’s degree in PR and political science, then one in journalism and finally a master’s in advertising and PR, all from the University of Alabama.

She landed a dream job with UA's University Relations, where she worked with numerous colleges and programs on strategic communication efforts. And, she got some pretty decent football tickets a few years. She stayed with UA until accepting the position as the City of Tuscaloosa's first communications director in 2012.

She has worked on countless crisis communications projects – from those she legally can’t talk about to those she does nothing but talk about. She’s currently overseeing the City of Tuscaloosa’s first visual identity and graphics standards and developing a nimble PR team by training and empowering current municipal workers.

Deidre truly believes in the power of public relations and tries to use her skill sets to make Tuscaloosa the best it can be. No great feat has ever been accomplished without PR.

Deidre has one furbaby, Liam, who is her very best PR assistant, often accompanying her during long nights and weekends in City Hall.

 

Brittney Westbrook
Best of Show - 2016 - Public Relations Association of Mississippi

Brittney Westbrook fuses a methodical creative process with integrated communications in her position as the assistant director for marketing communications at The University of Southern Mississippi where she is charged with developing campaigns, overseeing social media and video production efforts, and providing oversight for communication materials university-wide. After starting her career as a graphic designer, she has since held positions as creative coordinator and marketing manager before assuming her current role.

Westbrook received a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and a master of science in public relations from USM. She is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, Public Relations Association of Mississippi, and the Southern Public Relations Federation, and has received multiple local, state, and regional awards for her work in public relations, advertising, and graphic design.

Outside of her professional responsibilities, she enjoys giving back to the next generation of communications professionals at USM through reviewing student portfolios, speaking engagements, and mentoring communications students throughout the year.

 

Thomas Broadus
Marketing to Millennials - Who, What, Why, Where and How

Thomas Broadus serves as the director of interactive and new media for The Focus Group, where he oversees their online media activities. He works with clients like The Port of Gulfport, The People’s Band and Wild American Shrimp to provide strategies and training on digital marketing to help businesses and organizations stay our front of the ever-changing digital landscape. Broadus has a degree in business management and a master’s degree in mass communication, both from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Before joining The Focus Group he worked for Mississippi Public Broadcasting where he helped bring MPB into the digital media. His work was recognized by PBS and he served on several national committees and served as chairman of the PBS Stations’ interactive committee. He is still innovating ways to utilize emerging media to reach new audiences for his clients every day.

 

Laura Holloway
Storyteller Marketing - How to Tell Great Stories that Earn Your Audience 

Although she is a child of the South, raised in Tennessee with a passion for sweet tea and people who say 'y'all', she also has more than a decade of experience in Los Angeles in the film and television industry, and in Phoenix as a content marketing strategist, editor, and journalist.  A passionate storyteller, Laura founded The Storyteller Agency to help businesses rethink marketing, to consider outreach as a good story and not just advertisement.

The Storyteller Agency helps businesses stand out online, incorporating creative tactics such as video marketing, stand-out graphic and web design, and memorable social media. In addition to acting as Chief Storyteller for the agency, Laura is frequently asked to speak at conferences, meetings and workshops about the value of online marketing for business and how to tell a good story. Her award-winning agency works with hand-picked clients around the country and locally, including the Wellness Pet Brand, Chelco, Hilton, Alaqua Animal Refuge and the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation. She is a co-host on 30A Radio and also serves on the board for the Florida Public Relations Association and the Emerald Coast Theatre Company, where you can also catch her in mainstage performances.