I’d like to say that Michelle and I made a conscious decision to have a theme for our three keynote speakers at this year’s PRSA Western District Conference. That we actually sat down and said, “hey, let’s ask them all to talk about storytelling, wouldn’t that be cool?”
Well, it was definitely cool…and we had very little to do with it.
The theme of our conference was Aim High…The Future’s in Reach. We knew we wanted our keynoters to address the “future” of the communications industry. Who better to talk about the future than a wizard? And our favorite wizard is none other than Watts Wacker. We had both seen Watts at Counselors Academy and knew he’d deliver an incredible presentation. After all, he told us about 10 years ago that we’d all be publishing our own “newspapers” and you could subscribe to customize TV stations…in the future. Welcome to the future.
Wacker is quite the character – from his unruly curly hair to the Bermuda shorts and wild-print shirt that are his customary presentation outfit. But look past it and you get some incredible insight from a wicked smart guy.
For close to an hour, he talked about communication in the 21st century. And for him, there are three steps in the process: storyteller, story-seller and story-storer. And to be good at either of them, there are 17 universal truths:
Master these and you will have it made.
Saturday morning’s presenter, Jonathan Heit from Allison + Partners, focused his presentation on The Impact of Creativity, Collaboration & Culture on Business & Communications.
And it struck me when listening to Heit talk about creativity and its impact on business, that one of Wacker’s 17 tips was to break the rules…and isn’t that really what creativity is? Your willingness to take a risk and break the rules?
Our closing speaker drove the point home even further. Mickey Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the managing director at Ogilvy and the current PRSA national president. We thought he was going to talk about the “business case for PR,” something the national board has been road-showing on for the past 18 months. But lo and behold, Nall talked about storytelling or as he prefers, truth-telling. And how as communications professionals we have to dig a little deeper to get to the truth and it is in the telling of the truth, that we make an impact on our organizations’ business.
How about that? Three very different presenters, yet with no prompting from us, blended their talks to create a perfect beginning, middle and end to a great conference.