From Indianapolis with Love – Recapping #PRSAICON

#MediaMonday – Kara Morrison
October 31, 2016
“What is” Wednesday – What is Public Relations?
November 2, 2016

20161023_131824Last week, I had the honor of joining several delegates from PRSA Phoenix – not to mention friends from agencies and brands across the globe – at my first-ever PRSA International Conference.

(Special thanks to PRSA Phoenix for granting me a scholarship to help make it possible to attend!)

Just me and 2,500 of my closest Twitter friends.

Over the course of the three days, we had the opportunity to hear from an astronaut (whose twin brother is also an astronaut and none other than the husband of Gabby Giffords!) recently back from a year in space; a refugee-turned-cultural icon who is helping save the world one bar of soap at a time; the NCAA president (for whom I had a few choice tweets, by the way); the former White House chief information officer; and “Mr. Unmarketing” himself, Scott Stratten.

And none of that even includes the breakout sessions, of which there were about 100.20161025_102322

For me, of course, the highlight was the conference’s signature luncheon, where our own Abbie S. Fink was honored with the Pat Jackson Award for Distinguished Service to PRSA. If you missed her “speech,” be sure to click on it here.

Another highlight? Believe it or not, it was the moment where Stratten, during his keynote, made me feel like garbage. During his set, he talked about how often it is our job to leverage news (or even “news jack” in many cases) to secure media and other opportunities for our clients. But, all too often (and I have been guilty of this), we use someone else’s tragedy (a celebrity’s death, a national crisis) as a “news peg.” After hearing him speak about this from his heart, I made a promise to myself to continue forging relationships with journalists so they trust my client and their expertise, but I will never consciously leverage someone else’s sadness in this way again. In fact, I call on all public relations folks to consider this memoriam.

Among the other highlights – all the juicy nuggets of information coming at attendees at laser speed.

Some food for thought:

  • Before you put together a content marketing strategy, put together an actual content strategy.
  • The only communication channel that matters is the one your customers are using.
  • Who cares if you can do it, besides maybe your mom? Should you do it? Should your brand? Your client?
  • Video is hard. Calm down with all the LIVE This isn't Saturday Night Live - consider filming and editing a good video versus live just to be live!
  • You know what still works? Relationships. Build them. Enjoy them. Make them authentic.
  • Don't worry Gen X and Boomers...Millennials just have hope. It will erode! Just give them time...and kids...and mortgages.
  • You know what categorizing 18 years of people really is? Stereotyping. Stop falling into generational prejudices.
  • If you want to encourage word-of-mouth marketing, do something worth making people's mouths move.
  • Want good PR? Hire the best employees. They are your brand in the end.
  • Even at ethical companies, someone will break the values. Be prepared. Build a reputation for ethics now, not when the break occurs.
  • Know who is who in your audience. There are Skimmers (read), Swimmers (read & click link) and Divers (go deeper, want more docs/info).
  • Do you have “I-feel-like-a-pest" syndrome? Take something for it! Journalists need PR pros as much as we need them.
  • Experience life outside work to bring life to your work.
  • Know and communicate your SMIT - Single Most Important Thing.
  • Newsflash: You can't protect it all! Prioritize assets when thinking about potential data breaches.
  • Everything you do communicates. Everything you don’t do communicates even more loudly.
  • Be aggressive. Be audacious. Be bold. But don’t be an idiot! (see lowlight below)

And of course, in this initial recap, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the event was not without a lowlight. As so many great bloggers and public relations mavens have already written so eloquently on the topic, I encourage you to view their thoughts here and here. I also recommend you click here to read one guest’s sit-down with the man at the center of the controversy himself. I will just say what I always do – until we (aka females) no longer have to say “first women to…” do this or do that, and until things like this don’t happen – especially at an event that was at least 70% female – we will never truly be equal.


Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

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