Five Questions with Ellie Hodgkins

March 6, 2018

by Ellie Hodgkins

Ellie Hodgkins joined us just three weeks ago as a communications specialist and has already become an integral member of the team.  An experienced producer and supervisor for the Home Shopping Network and marketing consultant for Art & History Museums – Maitland, Ellie offers expertise in marketing communications, event planning, merchandising and business development.

Read on to learn more about Ellie, a passionate philanthropist and proud UCF Knight:

What motivated you to pursue a career in public relations?

As a born communicator, I’ve found that public relations is a perfect fit. Very often, I am an unwitting influencer to friends and family when products, actions and innovations excite me.  Why not do that professionally?  What interests me most about this industry is uncovering the underlying motivations behind communication and endorsing worthwhile community efforts.

Is this what you wanted to do when you were little?  If not, what did you want to do when you were little?

My first ambition was to be a mountain-climbing ballerina, but as fate would have it, I’m not very coordinated.  After that, I wanted to be a greeting card writer or product demonstrator.  The latter was realized when I worked for the Home Shopping Network and got to produce demonstration segments.  My foray into television led to an interest in documentary film-making, a passion I continue to pursue in my free time. Now, my career path has come full-circle; understanding what makes someone tick is at the heart of both documentaries and public relations.

What’s one fun fact about you that most people don’t know?

I am allergic to cold.  Yes, the temperature.  I guess that means I’m a Florida girl through and through!

If we looked in your office drawer, what would we find?

Notebooks, folders and snacks.  I’m extremely organized.  And hungry.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?

There are so many feminist icons who would fit the bill, but at the end of the day, I’d have to say John Waters.  He is not only a director, comedian, author and artist whom I admire, but his work has pushed boundaries and opened the door to a more inclusive world.

Tide: A Swift and Clean Response to the #TidePodChallenge

February 9, 2018

by Bailey Morris

You know you have a PR crisis on your hands when the CEO of your organization has to talk about teenagers eating laundry pods on the weekly earnings call.

Nowadays when a brand faces a PR crisis, it’s regular procedure to take to their social media channels and address the issue head-on.  And before Tide tackled all of their competition in their quirky, bait-and-switch Super Bowl ads, they were keeping plenty busy tackling conversations about the “Tide Pod Challenge” on social media.

Like other daft internet challenges before its time, (“The Cinnamon Challenge,” “The Bath Salt Challenge,” etc.) the “Tide Pod Challenge” took the internet by storm, as teens began filming themselves biting into the brand’s laundry detergent pods and spewing soap everywhere – or worse, ingesting it.

We’re all about innovative solutions here at Curley & Pynn, and when we saw Tide’s creative response to the situation at hand, we had to write a blog post about it.

Instead of just posting a tweet that read, “Tide Pods are not meant for consumption.  If consumed please call poison control immediately,” Tide created a brief, funny PSA with New England Patriots’ tight-end Rob Gronkowski and posted it on their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.

Right now, the tweet has about 98,000 re-tweets and boasts about 10 million views – and that doesn’t even take into account the 286,000 views on YouTube and 164,000 views on Facebook!  They found a way to get their message across that it’s absurd to eat Tide Pods, but doing it in a comical way.

But why the larger amount of views on Twitter?  My theory is that it could be due to the Tide Pod Challenge originating on Twitter, and that’s where Tide knew most of their teen audience was posting about the challenge … but that’s another blog post for another time.

At the end of the day, it’s about remembering that public relations is “people relations.”  Tide can’t control what able-minded individuals do with their product – all they can do is tell them that it’s ludicrous, and that they shouldn’t do it.

So why not have a little fun with it?  After all, 10 million video views is nothing to sneeze at.  Unless you have laundry soap in your nose – then you might need to sneeze.

A Lesson from College Football: the Camera is Always On

January 4, 2018

by Katie Gomes

For many Americans, the holiday season is synonymous with college football.  From bowl games to playoffs, there are numerous opportunities to kick back and relax, and watch America’s favorite sport.  Last week, college football also provided an opportunity for America to learn a valuable lesson in public relations when University of Texas’ head football coach, Tom Herman, was caught mocking University of Missouri’s quarterback, Drew Lock … on national television.

As a Missouri native and fan of Mizzou, our 33-16 loss to the Longhorns was a shame to see, but even worse was Herman’s disrespectful gesture, waltzing along the sideline while imitating Lock’s touchdown celebration move.

Not only did he exhibit poor sportsmanship, but he also encouraged the team to join.  Before the display ended, fans were already reacting on social media, either in disgust or in defense of Herman’s actions.

Whether he meant to openly taunt Mizzou or was genuinely caught red-handed, what Coach Herman quickly learned was a lesson we often teach in Curley & Pynn’s Message Matrix® program: “assume the cameras are always rolling.”

But wait … there’s more:  role models should model the best behavior.

Here’s to hoping other teams take note as they prepare to compete in the championship game next week.

The Making of a Holiday Message

December 18, 2017

by Dan Ward

Each year, Curley & Pynn attempts (and usually succeeds) to develop a holiday card that ties back either to the practice of public relations or, more frequently, to issues that have made news in the past year.

We mailed a “hanging chad” card after the 2000 election, made fun of news polls that missed so badly in 2016, and lampooned the ACA rollout by launching our own FrostyCare Marketplace.

This year, we set out to find something from 2017 that we could turn into a positive, and hopefully funny, holiday message.  And we failed.  We pored through headline after headline, and became increasingly depressed.  Political fights, natural disasters and dozens of harassment claims do not lend themselves to fun, festive jokes.

And then it came to us.  What we all need after a year of depressing headlines is what we all turn to (some of us secretly) to lift our spirits … pictures of kittens and puppies!

And so we present the C&P 2017 holiday card, featuring headshots of our own four-legged friends and family.  We hope it brings you a little “Paws-itivity” for the year ahead.  And we also hope you can pay it forward with a little pawsitivity of your own.  Share photos of your own furry, fuzzy family members with the tags #CandP #Pawsitivity.  We can all use some positive news and images this holiday season. Happy Holidays!




















Our thanks to Jim Hobart and Macbeth Studios for a fun, tail-wagging photo shoot!

Roll Out a Big Check

December 11, 2017

by Roger Pynn

In our business, many things have become passé, including oversized check presentations, groundbreaking ceremonies with dignitaries lined up in hard hats and armed with shovels … and most certainly, ribbon cuttings.

But wait … there’s more … more life for old standby photo opportunities … see proof below in the clip from

In their “Latest Video” section, a ribbon cutting was the online headline for a story that all public relations people know is hard to illustrate.  Technology stories are almost always static and provide little that’s visual.  But the fact that the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) opened a new solar energy farm and plans to build more of this renewable energy production is news.

Many in our business would have resisted the ribbon-cutting visual.  Kudos to the OUC team for realizing that it is far more about the story on the other side of the ribbon.

Reflecting on Leadership

December 11, 2017

by Kacie Escobar

I learned a lot about myself during a recent session of LeadershipFPRA, “Leading and Managing.”   Far from your typical presentation of leadership definitions and management styles, what transpired was an inspiring weekend of self-reflection among like-minded colleagues with shared goals.

One of the most empowering takeaways was realizing that leadership stems from social influence – not authority or power.  Anyone can be a leader in any department at any level of an organization.  This is true at Curley & Pynn, where we each encounter opportunities to be a leader every day.  The key is knowing yourself and how to leverage your strengths to motivate and influence others to achieve common goals.

To help the LeadershipFPRA class better understand ourselves, leadership coaches from The Maue Center kicked off the session with an exploration of our individual strengths and how they can be leveraged to mold us all into great leaders.  Each class member completed a “Strengths Profile” and shared the results in intimate conversations about how these behaviors have shaped our lives and our careers.

As my top strength, growth drives me to constantly seek new opportunities, learn new skills and invite feedback on my performance in the pursuit of personal and professional development.  I feel most energized when I’m performing these activities, which certainly explains a lot … like my desire to be in FPRA and an ambition I’ve experienced since childhood that caused me to take school and extracurricular activities so seriously.  Thanks to our leadership coaches, I now understand how to better employ growth and other strengths to be a more effective leader for my team and our clients.

Learning about strengths and how to see them in other people was invaluable – and just the beginning of a session that plunged even further into emotional intelligence, accountability, time management, managing up and so much more.  The agenda also included time to brainstorm solutions to the barriers holding us back from leadership success, as well as the opportunity to develop individualized leadership development plans.

I’ve never been to group therapy, but I’m sure members of the LeadershipFPRA class would agree that this session sure felt like it.  I drove home with an entirely new perspective, feeling invigorated and truly privileged to have begun this journey with such an outstanding group of colleagues from around the state.  I can’t wait to see what the next session has in store.

Location, Location, Location

November 21, 2017

by Dan Ward

When planning a special event, the walk-through is critical. You look at the space and account for placement of signage, locations for media and VIPs, sight lines for cameras, background music that could interfere with your plans, including anything outside of your control that could impact your event.

Unfortunately, the event planners at The Weather Channel missed a couple of steps, and it offers a lesson for all of us.

The Weather Channel set up a live stream to broadcast the implosion of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with what appeared to be a great wide shot of the dome.  Everything was great for about 40 minutes, right up until the first explosion.  That is when a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus pulled up directly in front of the camera.

So instead of a livestream of a massive demolition, viewers saw a bus … with some dust in the background.

Lesson: for your next event, make sure your audience has an unobstructed view.

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