PRSSA 2011 National Conference: Perception is Reality

One year ago, I recounted what was a personally historic trip to Washington, D.C. for my first PRSSA National Conference. It marked the first time I had ever traveled to the East Coast and also the first time where I met people from across the country in a single venue.

This month, I went to my second and final PRSSA National Conference in Orlando, Fla. from Oct. 14 to Oct. 18.

Much like last year, this was a great opportunity to network with public relations professionals, meet fellow students from all across the country and gain a better understanding of public relations from a broader perspective.

Roy Peter Clark on storytelling

I participated in many sessions throughout the five days of the conference. I spent most of my time live-tweeting the sessions under #prssanc for others to read and retweet. Some of my favorite ones pertained to storytelling, diversity and media training.

Here are the important points I picked up from the sessions based on my tweets from each one:

Craig Dezern, vice president of global public relations at Disney Destinations

  • “Tap local expertise to deliver a message.”
  • “Go beyond message strategies, find out what you’re trying to communicate in a global market.”
  • “Having international experience is better than having no experience.”

Laarni Rosca Dacanay and James E. Wright, NBCUniversal

  • Companies must keep in mind of the diverse audiences that they are reaching out to. It helps improve employee relations and is good for businesses as well.

Geno Church, word-of-mouth inspiration officer at Brains on Fire

  • “Future of business should not be about technology. It’s people.”
  • “Movements are about passion conversation, not product conversation.”
  • “Best way to gain control is to give it away.”
  • “Trust gives people permission to share ideas in authentic ways.”

Rick Leventhal, FOX News correspondent

  • “Make relationships with people you’re pitching, get to know them and what they want.”
  • “Tell story in a pitch, not a generic story.”
  • “Know who you are pitching and pitch to the right person.”
  • “Pitches should have angles. The more concise, the better.”
  • “PR professionals need to know all of the equipments journalists use to do their jobs.”
  • “Make pitches and emails addressed directly to the person, not a generic one.”

Jeffrey Ory

  • Creativity should be engaging and have memorable impact on target audience, cannot force it
  • Relevance: Right person, right message, right time
  • Idea has to be original: fresh, new idea that will captivate people

Gary Buchanan

  • Creativity is never a one-man job
  • PR landscape is expanding as media platforms are changing
  • Beware of idea killers. There are no wrong answers.
  • Never be afraid to hook onto ideas, make it bigger and better
  • Date an idea but don’t marry it

Soledad O’Brien, CNN correspondent (PRSA General Session)

  • Diverse stories have value, interesting to everyone
  • There are more outlets, needs for PR professionals today thanks to technology
  • People want to be inspired when they watch stories
  • Internship is a good way for students to see what they’re passionate about
  • People have the answers. They just need confidence to deliver it.

Roy Peter Clark, vice president and senior scholar, Poynter Institute

  • You cannot tell a story until you have the raw materials to work with
  • You can’t learn about writing until you understand what the creative process is about
  • You don’t have to find all the words you need. Let them find you.
  • Nothing wrong with procrastination as long as quality of work is good, rarely the case
  • People think of what words they will use when preparing themselves for deadlines. Not procrastinating, it’s rehearsing.
  • Language community is like belonging to different language clubs, differing from person to person we associate with
  • The word at the end of a sentence or paragraph will get special emphasis

Chris Brogan, president, Human Business Works (PRSA General Session)

  • We, as PRSA members, are passionate, relationship minded storytellers
  • Digital spectrum means “we know people before we know them now”
  • Human digital channel: not a website, search but human interactions. We are shopkeepers, not shop.
  • If you’re not using social media, how are you here?
  • Sharing media brings people together because we are all there at the same time
  • Bing is not a search engine
  • Dig deeper in your database to reach out to people, know what to talk about
  • Once you know how to do something, bring it to next level
  • Leverage matters in moving things forward
  • Exposure is nothing, you want leverage
  • We have the need to feel wanted. That’s at humans want.
  • Anything we do on media is fun when it’s you, not us.
  • Check-ins not PR, info about where you are not useful
  • Social media successes are happening because people talk back
  •  If U.S. Air Force can fit social media guidelines in one page, why can’t others?
  • Business is about belonging, bad PR hurts like root canal, bad first date.
  • Courtesy: Caroline Lewis (@caroliinelewis)

    I asked Brogan during the Q & A session about how I can utilize social media for personal and professional purposes without my followers feeling alienated by the views and opinions I express about what is happening around the world. He told me I should not hold back and to “be vicious, be bold, be daring.”

Steven Behm, Edelman

  •  Today, it’s about engagement, wanting people to act
  •  To get a message through, repeat it 3 to 5 times, expect to hear from peers, academics
  • People now expect more than just a product, they want a good product
  • Doing the right thing with the environment also helps companies make money
  • Engage stakeholders with compelling content, as tech rapidly changes, what’s relevant today might not be tomorrow
  • The younger generation will use entrepreneurial spirit to determine what the next communication channels are
  • Companies want to see some of sort commercial benefit to their work

Me with some of the PRSSA National Committee members

Since this was the second conference and third national event that I have attended including PRSSA National Assembly in Seattle earlier this year, Orlando had a special significance for me as I had the chance to meet some of my friends from other states again. It also was great to meet new students as well, all of whom are wonderful, talented and bright people who are eager to learn but also there to have fun.

This is a bittersweet moment for me as I graduate in December and this was my last opportunity to be in a setting like this.

I am very grateful to have been part of PRSSA and to participate in all of its activities on a local and national scale since January 2010. I have made many new friends all over the country as a result, learned new things and it gave me a better idea of where I want to go in life. I owe my gratitude to everyone on the local and national level of PRSSA for making this experience wonderful and meaningful.

I sense the next chapter of my life will involve PRSA and I hope to see the same people in the future as well. San Francisco, anyone?