Time for my much overdo blog post! But it was worth the wait. For the last few weeks, my life has been consumed with planning for the PRSSA National Conference. And last week, I had the honor of attending the conference in Washington, D.C. From October 15 to October 19, I met about 1,000 PRSSA students across the country, networked with professionals at the PRSA International Conference, attended Chapter Development Sessions and Professional Development Sessions, learned about other Chapters and some of their exciting events and even held a session about Regional Activities. It always inspires and amazes me how much different public relations students dedicate to improve their Chapters and themselves and future public relations professionals.
The speakers at the Conference were fantastic. I didn’t get to sit in on as many as I would have liked, but I did get the opportunity to hear many of them.
Jim Margolis, senior partner at GMMB, was the keynote speaker for PRSSA. He told us all about his involvement in the Obama campaign and some of the different strategic approaches they took to win. In comparison to past years, they focused on young people and embraced the Internet. He spoke about a lot of their social media strategies aimed at reaching a younger audience (which obviously proved successful). They used a really impressive iPhone app to recruit volunteers to get the word out to vote. They also put together 2,000 videos but 440,000 more user generated videos were created. He ended off by saying “when you have big stresses, big change is possible.” He was a great speaker and definitely inspirational about what can be accomplished.
I also attended a speed networking session with professionals from Booz Allen Hamilton, the Air Force, the MWW Group andOur Lady of Victory Homes of Charity. I was in a group of other students as well, and we spoke about some of our interests in the field of PR. But the four professionals also gave us some advice on networking and finding the perfect job. Some of the highlights include:
- Get the other person talking about what they are passionate about.
- As soon as you get back, touch base.
- It is important to see energy and that the person knows how to present themselves.
- The first impression is key. This includes your outfit, shoes, purse and overall appearance.
I attended a session on Crisis Communications with Eliot Brenner, Director, Office of Public Affairs at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Laura Brown, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs at the Federal Aviation Administration and Richard Levick, President & CEO of Levick Strategic Communications. The highlights of this session include:
- Communicate early, often and clearly.
- The goal in a crisis is to shorten the time between the start of a crisis and return to business as usual.
- It is vital to be able to rely on people in your own organization. These relationships need to be developed in advance. You also need to build relationships with those outside your organization.
- Always have a pen and paper ready when working with crisis communication.
- First seek to understand then to be understood.
The last session I attended was called “Where Coding and Communication Meet” with Nick Lucido, National PRSSA President and Associate at Edelman Digital, Brandi Boatner, External Relations Professional at IBM Global Business Servicesand Mary Henige, Director, Social Media and Digital Communications at General Motors. Some of the highlights from their presentation include:
- Your LinkedIn profile is nearly as important as your resume
- Follow companies and people you are interested in, and periodically engage with them.
- Treat your online relationships like your offline relationships.
- Identify trends in a particular industry or area of interest.
- Have an integrated approach using social media in your search.
Overall, the conference was a great success. The Conference Coordinators did a fantastic job bringing in different professionals from various areas of public relations, and everyone had a fantastic time. If you are interested in hearing more about the conference, check the #prssanc hashtag. Many attendees are posting their blog posts and thoughts from the conference. See everyone in Seattle at #prssana!