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Coming in 2022: Professional Workshops

This year, we’re launching our first ever series of workshops, focusing on professional skills often overlooked or underpracticed in the workforce.

Each workshop series will include six virtual classes taught once a week for 90 minutes. Classes are limited to six participants. Registration for the series is $250 per person.

Our first workshop will cover the basics of professional writing, with an emphasis on the following skills:

  • Proper grammar and word choices
  • Writing structure
  • Concisely making and supporting your point
  • Business communication, including memos, reports and emails

This series will begin on Thursday, January 13 at 9am and will meet weekly through February 17. Participants will receive assignments in between classes for practice. To reserve your space, please click here.

These workshops will be taught by Sandi Poreda, APR. As one of only a few thousand nationally accredited public relations professionals, Sandi is always looking for new or better ways to connect with people and help them tell their story.

Prior to her work in the private sector, Sandi served the state of Florida in several capacities, including Communications Director for a state licensing agency and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. During her time in the Attorney General’s Office, Sandi helped define the office as a leader in the war on 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, including a constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act. 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 the public relations industry, 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 Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, where she currently serves as an adjunct professor for the College of Communication & Information teaching professional writing courses.

Farewell Post: Lily Henkel

(Editor’s Note: Lily Henkel has been our social media manager for nearly two years and is leaving us to take a job for a PR firm in New York City. We’re obviously excited for her and this new opportunity, even though we’re sulking a bit and will miss her very much.)

As Sandi never fails to mention, it all started my Junior year at FSU when I talked too much in her PR Writing class. She called me out, we had a laugh, and not long after that I started at Bulldog Strategy Group as an intern. I was hooked from the beginning; the clients are so much fun to work with, my coworkers are amazing and I have always been included in meetings and events. Even from day one I had the opportunity to take on whatever projects I was interested in, and as a result I now have a diverse portfolio and variety of skills to put on my resume. Working at BSG has easily been one of my most impactful college experiences, and the friends I have made here will last a lifetime.

One of my favorite memories at BSG was when we moved in to our new office location. The whole team got together to measure, paint and plan the layout of our new space. We ordered pizza, played some music, and it was so much fun despite working so hard. It was this move-in day that I really started feeling close with all my coworkers — nothing brings people together better than spending a few hours in a room together working toward the same goal.

Since that move-in day, the BSG team has truly been a work family. From projects to event coordination and even slip-n-slide parties and drinks in pineapples, my BSG family will always be one of my favorite college memories and an experience that I draw from for years to come.

Farewell Post: Alex Buss

(Editor’s Note: Alex Buss has been our content specialist for the past year, although she’s been involved in pretty much every project we’ve taken on in that time. She is taking a job with the state of Florida and will be missed immensely, although we have a sneaking suspicion she’ll visit from time to time!)

During the summer of 2017, I was volunteering at the Leon County Humane Society with Sandi when I found out she owned her own PR Company named Bulldog Strategy Group. Soon after the dog wash, Sandi offered me some contract work I just couldn’t pass up. It wasn’t long before I knew this was the workplace for me.

At the time, one of our clients involved working with Florida law enforcement. I did a lot of research on fallen law enforcement officers and the sacrifices they made for our communities. My favorite part was writing social media posts to honor their memories.

We also worked with Lauren’s Kids, an official 501(c)(3). Working with nonprofits is important to me because I know that the intended outcome is for the good of others. My favorite part about Lauren’s Kids was having the opportunity to educate adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through a statewide awareness campaign. My colleagues and I worked very hard to make sure that the message was clear and that everyone in the state was aware of the walk.

My favorite memory at BSG was when we took a trip to the Ocheesee Creamery. One of our amazing clients, Nic Stoltzfus, and his family took us on a tour of the dairy farm. We had a blast petting the calves, picking mulberries and eating fresh homemade ice cream.

The wide variety of clients we have worked with has profoundly diversified my work skills, which I will likely use for the rest of my life. I am grateful for my time and experience with the BSG team!

Field Trip: Ocheesee Creamery

Last month, Elam and Nic Stoltzfus – our friends from Live Oak Production Group – invited us at Bulldog Strategy Group to explore their corner of the Florida panhandle: farms, rolling hills, pastures, cattle and the nearby Ocheesee Creamery. After getting a glimpse of their home, it’s clear where they get their passion for projects like the PBS film Great Florida Cattle Drive: Unbroken Circles.

Our first stop was the Ocheesee Creamery, a beautiful and delicious product of three generations of Nic’s mother’s family, the Wesselhoefts. Located in Calhoun County, Florida, its purpose is to bring back the healthy benefits of dairy products that come from “grass-happy cows.” This means that rather than raising cows in unhealthy factory conditions, Ocheesee cows have the freedom to graze on a pasture. This allows the cows to take in natural sunlight and fresh air and keep a fresh grass diet, which studies have proven increases the quality of milk produced.

After just minutes of being on site, we were greeted by almost the whole Wesselhoeft family. All of them (kids included) had a part to play in operating the Ocheesee Creamery. They took us behind the scenes in their facilities and showed us the ins and outs of producing various types of milk, ice cream, yogurt and butter.

We were treated to the full Ocheesee experience, from meeting a newborn calf and picking (and eating!) mulberries from the trees to finally getting to taste their world-class ice cream. We didn’t leave empty handed either; we walked away with a cooler FULL of Ocheesee dairy products.

Our second destination was the Stoltzfus home, AKA Live Oak Production Group headquarters. We enjoyed an amazing, home-cooked meal and talked business for a bit before taking tour #2: the garden and livestock edition. No one knows Florida flora and fauna like the Stoltzfus family. Just outside the backdoor were several gardens, each featuring a wide array of colors and smells sure to make even the most seasoned gardener envious. Birds and butterflies were plentiful and several ingredients for our lunch were sourced just feet away from the kitchen.

One especially lucky member of the BSG family – Todd the rescue bulldog puppy – had the experience of a lifetime meeting all the Stoltzfus animals, including several indifferent chickens, a curious but cautious cat, several cows, and his best friend of the day, Lefty the horse (who stars in the Great Florida Cattle Drive!).

After a long day touring the beautiful countryside of Florida, we all headed back to Tallahassee with stories to tell. Big thanks to the Stoltzfuses for hosting us on this adventure!

Foster Dog Friday: Fisher


Fisher is three years old, neutered and chipped, loves belly rubs and people. He is (mostly) housebroken but needs a reminder when he is outside to use the bathroom; otherwise, he will get wrapped up in his doggy activities. By the looks of those eyes, it’s clear he just needs somebody to love!

If you’re interested in fostering this sweet boy, please contact the Leon County Humane Society and tell them you want to #FosterFisher!

Foster Dog Friday: Thea


Aside from being a model, Thea loves attention, exercise and would be happiest in a one-dog home so she can be the star. She is in need of a family who will give her all the love she wants and a little training. She is housebroken, crate-trained, spayed and up to date on her shots.

Thea is loyal and will never want to leave your side! You can always find her a few steps behind you waiting to slip into your arms.

For adoption information, visit

Conflict Resolution Through Good Communication

From a high-level perspective, the entire legal profession is based on conflict. Attorneys deal with various forms of conflict on a regular basis; it’s negotiating a settlement, arguing for your client in court, going point for point with opposing counsel in a brief. But unnecessary conflict can take a heavy toll on lawyers, and conflict resolution is a valuable skill to possess.

Good communication may not be the cure-all for conflict, but it is a critical component for conflict resolution. The key is understanding two elements: how you communicate and how the other person communicates.

Communication Styles

The good news is that there are five main communication styles, so with a little practice, you can hone your own skills and better identify the styles around you. While many of us may use different styles in different situations, most will fall back on one particular style, so it’s good to know your default.

  • The Assertive Style: This communication style is founded in confidence; assertive communicators are able to clearly express themselves without being overbearing or overly submissive. Assertive communication is the most effective style as well as the healthiest.
    The Aggressive Style: Aggressive communicators value their needs above others; people often miss the message because they are turned off by the delivery.
  • The Passive Aggressive Style: These communicators often leave people feeling confused or misdirected because while they may seem supportive, they are subtly undermining or acting out their aggression behind the scenes.
  • The Submissive Style: People who communicate with a submissive style put others needs above theirs to avoid conflict, but may end up deeply resentful. This is a highly ineffective form of communication in many circumstances.
  • The Manipulative Style: This communication style is destructive. Manipulative communicators often have their own agenda and control situations to achieve it, sometimes without the other person knowing.

Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Once you understand your own communication style, you’ll be able to practice more assertive communication.

Communication is a Two-Way Street

Understanding the communication styles of those around you is also beneficial. It’s like having a cheat sheet; you’ll be able to quickly recognize how a difficult person is communicating and you’ll know how to respond to diffuse further conflict.

Ultimately, the person communicating is responsible for how his or her audience receives the message. Different communications styles can impede or even block messages altogether, which is why learning to communicate effectively can stop unnecessary conflict even before it starts.

Need help practicing effective communication? Bulldog Strategy Group can help. Talk to us today to get started.

Move Over PR Daily – 5 Ways to REALLY Use a Press Release

Scrolling through my Twitter feed last month, I noticed a PR Daily tweet on “Unconventional ways of distributing press releases (and a few you know)” followed by a link to a 2014 post on ways to use releases.

My reply to PR Daily? Those thoughts were hardly unconventional. (Also, were they really so low on good tips that they had to recycle from 2014?)

The suggestions were pretty standard – pitch the release, put it on social media, post it to your company/institution/group’s website, use a wire service and share it with your sales team.

If you’re not already pitching your release and posting it on social media and your website, you’re doing it wrong. I was #thoroughlyunimpressed. Plus, communications pros around the world often work on a shoestring budget, so using an expensive paid distribution service may not even be an option.

So, here’s my take on how to make your press release go that extra mile.

Try SlideShare.

Use bullet points and/or quotes from your release to make a SlideShare presentation to share on various social media platforms. It’s a great way to work graphics and photos in with your text while getting the main points across. Let’s be honest. You may be the next Ernest Hemingway, but some people still won’t read your full release. This tactic lets you communicate the main takeaways in a quick and dirty fashion. Extra points if you make it pretty with photos or graphics.

Share the love.

PR Daily suggests sharing your release with your sales team. I say share it with EVERYBODY.

Crash through those silos that may separate communications from other areas of your company/organization/group. Why? Glad you asked. First, everyone needs to know what messages, priorities and initiatives are being communicated to the general public. Second, your non-communications colleagues may have some creative ideas of how to further your message. That feedback and creative partnership is especially important if you’re a one-man shop. And third, your release might be particularly interesting to a stakeholder/constituent/friend of someone else in the organization. This could translate into new business, partnerships, contacts or other opportunities down the line, but everyone on your team has to know about it first.

Leverage your networks.

Posting your release on your institution’s social media accounts and website is a given, so what’s next? Communicators build relationships at every turn, whether they’re directly related to your organization or for personal development. Use those people. Re-post your news releases or links to them on your own social media pages. Make sure your business cards, Twitter bio and Facebook page have the web address to your organization’s news page so your friends and contacts can check it out. Know a friend or professional contact (doesn’t have to be a reporter!) who might have an interest in your release? Ask if they’d consider posting your release on their pages.

Don’t forget about radio.

One of my best friends is a public radio reporter, and she constantly gripes about PR people catering to print outlets. She needs sound whenever possible, so think about ways you could provide some high-quality audio. Maybe you could record your spokesperson/president/CEO reading a snippet of the release that could give you some extra options when trying to pitch a story or position to reporters and your CEO can’t do interviews.

Make it a full story.

OK, hear me out on this one. Many practitioners think your release should be a one-pager. This concept is generally true, but consider this: The media landscape is changing, and some outlets print the releases when they don’t have time to do the story. Many businesses are hiring journalists to create content that reads more like news stories to fill the gap in news coverage. It may be worth your time to lengthen that press release by throwing in some background, statistics or any other supporting material that gets your point across.

Let’s be honest. Some stories are easier to sell than others, but if you don’t move beyond standard practices, your chances are pretty slim. Even getting it in front of a few more eyeballs can be worth the extra time and energy in the end.

Happy writing!

Kathleen Haughney is the Research Media and Content Specialist for Florida State University, which means she spends her days promoting discoveries by FSU faculty members and their students. She is a former reporter for the Sun Sentinel and News Service of Florida and a proud graduate of Penn State University.

Social Media: Survive & Thrive

First, let’s talk about the basics of your marketing plan. Your marketing plan should at the very least identify who matters most to you (your target audiences) and what you want them to do (become clients, give referrals, etc.). Focus on specific, measurable actions; busy doesn’t equal effective. If you need help developing a marketing plan, let’s chat.

Now that you’ve identified your target audience, study them. Where do they get their information? That’s where you want to be. You’ll waste time and resources trying to pull an audience to you instead of going to where they are. This includes evaluating social media channels because it’s better to pick a few platforms and do those well than be mediocre at many. For this audience, we recommend starting with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Next, set up your social media accounts correctly. Make sure your accounts are public, so people searching can see your posts in their search results. Keep all of your information, including your logo, your name, your website, your phone number and your address, identical across all channels – NO EXCEPTIONS. Having different information, even something as simple as St. vs Street in your address listing, can affect where you show up on search engine result pages.

Which is where this whole conversation is headed – how to get good positioning on search engine result pages. These pages are what a search engine returns when you type in a specific keyword or phrase. Most search engines use some sort of an algorithm to determine placement. Used correctly, social media can help boost your placement on these pages.

Overall, the silver bullet is to have killer original content and a plan for posting it. Create and post content that sets you apart as an expert, as someone with a well-supported opinion or someone who has a voice worth listening to. You can review a recent CLE or talk about a recent court ruling – whatever might be interesting or important to your target audience.

Once you’ve developed the content, you need a network to help you get the most out of it. Look for places to submit your content so you can drive even more people back to your website. These could be legal blogs or they could be parenting blogs, depending on the topic you’ve chosen and your target audience. Key influencers in audiences matter, and they can promote your content on their networks, reaching people not necessarily in your sphere of influence. Pro tip: start building these networks early so the first time they hear from you isn’t when you need something. It’s also important to pay attention to what is going on around you, so you can join the conversation in an authentic way.

For best results, you should post updates, new content, information, etc., at least once every two weeks. This rate won’t help you thrive, but it will least keep you alive. Anything less frequent, and Google will start to penalize you. But remember – using social media effectively in the legal world really isn’t about the sheer volume of posts – a little planning and some strategy will go a long way here.

Finally, make sure you use best practices when you’re on social media. Don’t overload your posts with keywords or hashtags. Try not to purchase too many of your friends, followers or likes; paid advertising is fine, when used correctly. Do build a “cheering squad,” people who will champion you on social media when you need them. And make sure you’re interesting.

Social media can be overwhelming, so be strategic and take it one step at a time. Don’t sign up for a platform just because someone says you have to be on it; evaluate your marketing plan and how to reach your target audiences and choose your channels wisely. Post relevant, interesting content and share it through a network of people with similar interests, and you will see improvement on those search engine result pages. #forthewin

red dog blue dog

Red Dog Blue Dog Bartends for Rescues

If politics really is going to the dogs, why not use it to the dogs’ advantage?

The Second Annual Red Dog Blue Dog Benefit raised nearly $4,000 by pitting Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar) and Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Hollywood) against each other in a battle of the bartenders at Madison Social. Drinks were poured and the tips poured in to benefit the Leon County Humane Society, the Animal Shelter Foundation and Last Hope Rescue.

Not only did we get to sponsor the event, we brought Fisher, our very own foster dog from the Leon County Humane Society. Fisher is a three-year old sweet pitt mix with sad eyes, a goofy smile and an uncompromising love of belly rubs. Rescued from Tampa, he’ll need a loving permanent home once he completes his heartworm treatment. Fisher is neutered, microchipped and housebroken. If you are interested in meeting Fisher or would like more information on how to adopt, email Sandi.

Red Dog Blue Dog financially supports community-wide efforts to help more homeless animals find loving homes, reunite lost pets with their owners and promote responsible pet ownership. We’ll be back next year!