PRSA Portland Metro Chapter

PRSA’s 2012 International Conference


Oct 12


Members of the PRSA Portland Metro Chapter were among the hundreds of participants at PRSA’s 2012 International Conference, held in San Francisco from Oct. 13-16.

The sessions were as diverse as the members.  We invited our members to share their personal highlights.

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA
Past President (2006), Portland Metro Chapter

PRSA’s annual international conferences are a top-notch career re-charge opportunity and a way to upskill in the most current trending technologies.

In San Francisco at the PRSA 2012 International Conference, us 3,000+ attendees keyed into great thought leadership topics from speakers including Biz Stone, founder of Twitter and Tim Westergren, founder of the Pandora, as well as 40+ intensive professional development sessions on a broad range of topics. Another upside is the lifelong, wonderful friendships I’ve made with pros from all over the US and the world.

Taraneh Fultz, APR

Taraneh Fultz, APR
Vice President of Sponsorships, Portland Metro Chapter

Session: When Change Becomes Constant:
How Communicators Must Manage

When Howard Schultz took back the reigns at Starbucks, amid sluggish sales and new competitors (McCafe anyone?), he addressed the company’s associates.  Instead of telling them that “we need to win again,” he instead provided the context for “why we are losing.”

According to Anthony W. D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, and Gary F. Grates, this kind of context is critical in any successful change effort.  And with change becoming the only predictable constant, it is increasingly important for organizations to bring the communications function into the conversation as the strategy is being formulated — not when it’s time to execute tactics.  Our role should be to achieve comprehension and engagement among employees, so that they BELIEVE the change is necessary to the health of the organization.  As with our customers, we need to communicate with our employees rather than at them, and to do so earlier in the planning process.

For most of us, this should be familiar, but with 70 percent of change efforts resulting in failure, it’s a good time to look at your organization with a fresh set of eyes.  Have you been chasing a symptom instead of a cause?  If so, then it’s time to course-correct.  Just remember: change is not a campaign.  If managers and employees don’t feel the shift via the realignment of budget priorities, then you may be doomed to be one of the 70 percent.  Don’t let that be you.

Kathryn Hubbell, APR, Fellow PRSA

Kathryn D. Hubbell, APR, MS, Fellow PRSA
Pacific Northwest District Chair, 2000
PRSA National Board of Directors, representing the Pacific Northwest District, 2008-2009

Perfect Pitching: Intrigue overworked journalists and please wary bloggers

Michael Smart, President, MichaelSMARTPR

1.  Make sure the first thing you say grabs the reporter’s attention.  You know their most recent stories; always reference their earlier work and then talk about how your pitch relates.

2.  Find a better angle that’s not obvious.  If the result or event isn’t interesting, how about the process of getting there?  What about a pop culture angle?

3.  Create a story where there isn’t one.  Make an old story new again.

4.   Keep your pitches brutally brief.  Subject line is crucial in your e-mail.  The reporter can tell in the first sentence or two if the pitch is even worth reading, let alone using.  Use 150 words or less.  Save background for later; don’t past in a release or background stuff below your pitch.  Spare proper names unless they add to the pitch.  But embrace abbreviations and acronyms if you’re sure they’ll be understood.

5.   Treat bloggers differently.  Many have little or no journalism experience, but they have a passion for their subject.  Here’s a metaphor:  If a journalist is someone with a microphone in a lecture hall, a blogger is the host at a cocktail part.  Don’t upstage your host.

a.  Read the blog and definitely read the comments.

b.  Start by making relevant comments not about you or your organization, but do disclose who you are.

c.  E-mail the blogger to introduce yourself and offer resources.

d.  Carefully consider your call to action.  Rarely invite a blogger to interview someone; instead, offer to share things with their community, such as an infographic, photos, videos, perhaps links to a white paper or special resort.

6.  Never call to follow up on an e-mail, but always do call if necessary.  It can take an average of four-to-five calls to get a journalist on the phone; be persistent, but not annoying.

Panel presentation: The Agency of the Future

Moderator: Peter Himler, founding principal, Flatiron Communications, L.L.C.
Fred Cook, CEO and president, Golin Harris
Rob Flaherty, APR, senior partner, president and CEO, Ketchum
Jack Martin, global chairman and DEO, Hill + Knowlton Strategies
Janet Tyler, APR, co-CEO and founder, Airfoil Public Relations

The agency of the future will:

1.  Be increasingly specialized, flexible and independent
2.  Sell itself like it sell stories
3.  Value the best client, not the closes client
4.  Know that content means more than just words
5.  Understand the real, social organization
6.  Create engagement
7.  Be shaped by clients’ needs.
8.  Understand that the definition of news has changed: news is now something that is important enough to find me.  “Dis-intermediation” of the news; gatekeepers gone; more opportunities for direct communication.
9.  Mind the gap (from a sign on the London Tube) – be aware of the gap between your promise and your delivery, and close it; a new stream of counseling.
10.  Understand that it’s the era of big data.
11.  Market to the individual.
12.  Understand that all marketing is uses marketing surrounding a product or service.
13.  Have boundless creativity.
14.  Focus on adding value.
15.  Be intrinsically entrepreneurial; risk-taking is in their blood.

The employee of the future will be:
1.  A general specialist
2.  Someone who never acts, looks or thinks like others
3.  Someone who understands the power of data
4.  A connector – is digitally nimble
5.  Someone who believes in the power of community
6.  Types of employees in Golin Harris (by design): a) Strategists and researchers, b)  Connectors, c)  Catalysts, and d) Creatives.
7.  Most valuable skill set: the ability to interpret what others will want
8.  Media relations is definitely getting harder; at AirFoil, the tasks have been moved to their more senior, experience people who know how to work with reporters
9.  Employees need to know a lot about video storytelling; it’s increasingly important
10.  Need a knowledge of mobile marketing

The client of the future:
1.  Unleashes the power of big data
2.  Desires transparency
3.  Appreciates smart risk-taking
4.  Requires an interactive agency relationship
5.  Hands of the keys to the community (who owns the social media tasks in that company?)

Jean Kempe-Ware

Jean Kempe-Ware

The PRSA 2012 International Conference proved that no matter how much you know … there’s so much more to learn.

We learned:

  • about micro blogs,
  • how to use Google Analytics to track ROMI of your news release and strike gold,
  • how to create events geared for bloggers,
  • how to write news releases for robots,
  • how to craft the perfect pitch to land the big national story,
  • how to prepare CEOs for difficult interviews and
  • how to motivate clients to take our advice.

Ethics came up time and time again during the conference:

  • David Kamerer of Loyola University showed us how paid reviews and bloggers who fail to disclose free stuff are corrupting social media.
  • June Cotte shared the implications of her recent study, “When Will Consumers Pay to be Good?”
  • And PRSA Chair and CEO described PRSA’s efforts to enable us to correct errors in Wikipedia.

Keynoters circled back to the human side of public relations to leave us inspired and motivated.

“The future of public relations is going to be storytelling and narrative,” said Biz Jones, co-founder of Twitter.  “Adding a level of humanity allows you to build up good will that you can spend when you make a mistake. Engage in meaningful causes that add enduring value,” he said, suggesting that we change “corporate social responsibility” to “corporate social innovation.” And lastly, “You have to be emotionally invested in a company to succeed.”

Tim Westergren, founder and chief strategy officer of Pandora, hires “listening advocates” to personally respond to every e-mail and personally connects with “evangelists” at town halls throughout the nation. “Nothing compares to seeing someone in person,” he said. “It defines your brand.  Get out of the office. Make yourself available. People are looking for humanity, and a lot of that is missing from social media.”

Barbara Kerr, APR

Barbara Kerr, APR
Vice President of Member Communications, Portland Metro Chapter

This was my first PRSA International Conference. So many topics that resonated. So many great speakers. How to choose.

Do our metrics show business results?  That question was at the heart of a full day seminar on the Barcelona Principles.  (Not sure what those are? Learn more.) Breakout sessions ranging from multicultural communication to engaging content. From approaching difficult conversations to building trust.

One of the highlights was taking part on the online conversation on Twitter – contributing at #PRSAICON.  It became a thoughtful, lively news feed for the sessions you were in – and the others that you weren’t able to attend. In 140 characters, people captured the essence of those dynamic conversations.

Some of my favorite tweeted quotes:

  • Will philanthropy be the future of marketing?
  • How do we ensure that the right information reaches the right people in the right way to make the world a better place?
  • You have to be emotionally invested in something for it to succeed.
  • In order to succeed spectacularly, you need to be willing to fail spectacularly.
  • Real-time data does not equal real-time intelligence.
  • Paid media + owned media + earned media = media convergence.
  • In a time of social media, authenticity and ethics are more critical than ever in decision-making and communications.
  • Stakeholders today have the tools to do great things for you or bad things to you.
  • If you can’t let go of things, it will drag you down. Candor opens the door. Forgiveness allows you to run through it.
  • Creativity is a renewable resource.

On a personal note, it was a special privilege to see chapter members, colleagues and friends Dianne Danowski Smith and Tom Unger inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows – not only for their body of work but for truly advancing our profession.

This was my first PRSA International Conference. It won’t be my last.

Dave Thompson, APR

Dave Thompson, APR
Immediate Past President, Portland Metro Chapter

This year’s PRSA conference was the best one I’ve attended.

The professional development opportunities were simply overwhelming. 89 different workshops covered everything from friend-raising to blogging; from trend-spotting to predicting future trends.

For instance:

  • Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing explained how content marketing and SEO must be a strategic, integral part of PR in today’s world: “Brands are publishers, consumers are journalists and PR is converging with marketing.”
  • Dave Fletcher of The Mechanism boldly predicted the future: “3-D printing, funded prize campaigns and Google’s Project Glass represent three trends you better not ignore.”
  • Michael Pranikoff of PR Newswire—the gent who’s wowed us the past few years with his social media insights at the Communicators Conference—explained why the buzzword “engagement” has real meaning for our future: “If ‘Content is King,’ then “Context is The Almighty.’” “Visibility + engagement = Multimedia content.”
But this conference stole the show with its keynote addresses. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone demonstrated a great way to give a speech, telling personal stories to make 3-4 key points; his 20-slide deck had words only on the 3-4 slides spelling out those points. Bullet points? What bullet points?  And I guarantee: Those 3-4 sentences were fewer than 140 characters each.
  • “Creativity is a renewable resource.”
  • “Opportunity can be manufactured.”
  • “To succeed spectacularly, you need to be ready to fail spectacularly.”

Ask me why I’m a member of PRSA. I can give you half a dozen good reasons; one of them is the learning value of this conference and the people it lets me meet and question.

Talk about ‘engagement’!

Tom Unger, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA

Tom Unger, APR, ABC, Fellow PRSA,
Past President (2009), Portland Metro Chapter

PRSA’s annual national conference is such a great event for so many reasons, including:

1) You get to meet so many others in our industry from all over the nation, as well as from other countries. I never heard how many people attended this year, but it must be more than 1,000.

2) You get to learn about the latest advancements and trends in communications, media relations and measurement from the top pros in our industry.

3) You get to hear fascinating, thought provoking presentations by national level speakers, such as Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Pandora founder Tim Westergren and MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele.

4) You get to meet the national leaders of PRSA and hear their plans about the future of our organization.

5) You get to explore the sites, people and restaurants of another city outside of Oregon. San Francisco is like nothing you’ll ever see in our home state!

6) And, last but not least, it’s a heck of a lot of fun!

This year’s conference has been especially meaningful for me. I was fortunate enough — in the company of my wife, co-workers and friends — to be inducted into the College of Fellows. That made the 2012 conference that much more memorable.

I know it’s expensive, but I recommend all chapter members try to attend at least one national conference during their career.

Leave a comment