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ShonaliMy favorite conference is by far the annual PRSA’s Counselors Academy Spring Conference.  Not only do we get to go to wonderful destinations (Key West this year), we have the opportunity to interact with and learn from some amazing practitioners, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders. This year was no exception.

One such thought-leader was Shonali Burke.  Shonali and I “met” originally via social media.  We had lots of in-real-life mutual friends and as a result of that and some ongoing online dialogue, we struck up a friendship. (She’s since become Facebook friends with Hildy, too). She and I had the opportunity to meet in-person a few years ago at PRSA’s international conference.

Shonali is big big big into measurement and the concept of community and its impact on real public relations campaigns.  And she knows from whence she speaks as she has led campaigns for a variety of clients, big and small.  Her belief that community is at the core of good public relations and that you can build that community with the integrated approach to using traditional and social is one that makes a lot of sense to me.

She delivered one of the keynote addresses and it was interesting to note in the Twitter stream what resonated with the attendees.  I share this with you now as it is a reflection of my thoughts as well (some editing has occurred for typos and sentence structure).

When you build a community and people are talking about it, the news can spread to traditional media.

You really have two choices...jump in or stand on the sidelines. Might as well jump! (when referring to the use of social in an integrated plan).

Social must be integrated. It can't be an add-on.

Social can be used quite effectively as a thought-leader tool.

We use tools and technology to collapse the distance between people and their goals.

Find people who are socially active and cause-passionate when looking to motivate to action. (applies to for-profit and not-for-profit alike).

At the core, we need to be creative, collaborative, connective.

Community-building has been a part of the profession forever. We might have called it something different over the years, but the bottom-line is we need to tell our story to the people that need to hear it in a way that motivates them to action.  Community is how we do it.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. David Landis says:

    Abbie and Shonali – great thoughts. And I would add: at the end of the day, community is best built not just online, but face-to-face as well. Let’s not forget our humanity. Cheers, David

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