So, I returned last night from PRSA”s International Conference in Orlando. My head is still spinning from all the stuff I learned, all the interesting people I met and all the possibilities that lie ahead for our agency, clients – and the public relations profession as a whole.
Since there were so many sessions I attended (none of which involved press release writing I might add), I think I should break up my report into several digestible blog posts for the future. But for now, I will share the things that have stuck with me the most (without having to refer back to my notes).
- Soledad Obrien, anchor and special correspondent for CNN, served as keynote speaker for the opening general session. She talked about turning statistics into stories. For example, if she receives a pitch from a PR pro who cites that the average age of a homeless person in America is 9, then she wants to talk to several nine-year old children to get their perspectives. Statistics don”t motivate, inspire or engage anyone – you have to turn it into content that matters and resonates with your audience.
- To be a leader, you must come to the table with recommendations – not just options. Your clients want you to have recommendations and justification for what you are proposing – and a sound strategy can support any recommendation. Don”t just give them choices, use your expertise to lead the conversation and strategy. Also, it helps to read biographies on great leaders or military strategists (like Winston Churchill or Douglas MacArthur) to learn different approaches to leadership and strategic activities. (This came from a session with James Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA and president of Lukaszewski Group.)
- There is no magic pill – no one size fits all plan – for a strategic social media and marketing initiative. To determine what”s right for your program, you must know objectives, goals and audiences to create a one-of-a-kind approach – and then the tools that can help you carry out the plan. Shonali Burke, ABC, principal of Shonali Burke Consulting shared SO MANY wonderful case studies and examples supporting this point.
- You must “measure what matters” – This is actually the title of Katie Paine”s book (which I bought!). As CEO of KD-Paine & Partners, she suggests that in the day and age of immediate and cost-effective analytics, it”s easy to get lost in a sea of meaningless data. To build strategic programs and campaigns, it”s crucial to understand objectives and goals at the outset, to build a measurement program that supports what you are trying to accomplish. Katie also talks about viewing measurement as a way to “inspire” – not “justify.” People can shy away from measurement because they are afraid of finding out that what they are doing isn”t working. But, to Katie”s point, if you know it”s not working, then you can do something about it! Knowledge is power.
People from so many fields – accounting, agriculture, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, etc. – came together for three days of sharing and learning. There are so many of us who want to learn how to be a better PR professional, while giving our clients the very best programs that support their business goals. I”m proud to be a part of that and can”t wait to share other items I”ve learned in the future.