What do you get when you combine 120 public relations agency owners, motivational and educational presenters and a whole lot of smart conversations? You get the recipe for PRSA’s Counselors Academy Spring Conference. Held this year at the beautiful Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, I (Abbie, that is) had the pleasure of serving as vice-chair of this intense learning event and let me tell you, my mind is still spinning from all the great stuff I learned.
The pre-conference session from Jay Baer of Convince and Convert did a deep-dive in to the “why” of social media. The main point – we need to worry about the tools of social media last. The tools will always change, what needs to remain constant is the need to develop a communications strategy that incorporates tools.
The opening keynote was Brian Solis, author of Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and a new book Engage. My takeaway from this presentation: we are in an era where consumers use content as a catalyst for making decisions. It is up to us to deliver content that gives our consumers the information they need to make those decisions.
So what does comedy have to due with new business presentations? Well, according to Clayton Fletcher, everything. Comedy establishes a connection and tells our “audience” that we are more than just our ideas, there are actually people associated with those ideas. Clayton performed for us on Saturday night and then led a very lively discussion on Sunday morning that included several of our colleagues doing their own 3-minute standup routine.
The closing session was presented by Randy Hall of 4th Gear Consulting. Randy and I had gotten to know each other through Twitter and I was sure his presentation would be something. And I was right. He challenged us to consider changing the way we lead our companies to adapt to this new economic environment that we are now facing. Wow! How easy it is to get stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” rut.
Breakout sessions talked about creating client feedback programs, how to make money with digital communications programs, analysis tools for social media, conversations around specialty communications such as green initiatives or Hispanic marketing, business growth and development, and success planning.
And yes, there was time for fun, too. Great dinners in downtown Asheville, late night singing in the hospitality suite and we even celebrated Counselors Academy’s 50th anniversary with a 60s chic party on Saturday night.
Can’t wait for next year – Las Vegas, May 13-15, 2011!