Last week, the Integrate team attended PRSA Houston’s PR Day for an annual dose of inspiration from industry thought leaders. The daylong event featured a line-up of communications rock stars (yes, we love this word around here) specializing in a variety of different fields. From corporate communications, non-profit and legal to politics, crisis and even space, every realm of communications was covered.
While I would have loved to have attended every session and listened to every speaker, I, unfortunately, do not own a time-turner (that’s for you Harry Potter nerds), so I had some hard decisions to make. Luckily, I made some great choices and walked away from each session with inspiration, food-for -thought and plenty of wisdom from seasoned PR pros.
Here are some of my favorite bits of newfound knowledge, inspiration and communication truths:
- Terry Abbott of Drive West Communications, examined crisis communications through the lense of one of the country’s most notorious political scandals, Watergate. As public relations professionals, it is instinctive for us to think of our clients’ best interests first and foremost. However, Terry reminded us that in times of crisis, it is more important than ever to “be the voice of the public at the table” when critical decisions are made. Rather than focusing on “how can we spin this?” or “how can we cover this up?,” we need to ask,“how will the public react, how will they feel once this gets out?” Perhaps if Nixon’s advisers had asked these questions, Nixon’s presidency may have ended differently, but I guess we’ll never know!
- Anthony Shopp, chairman of Social Driver, presented as the keynotespeaker during lunch and argued that we should not execute strategies in terms of which channels are the best to use to deliver a certain message. Instead, we need to embrace people, the public, our audiences, as the new channel. Rather than using only traditional channels (print, broadcast, radio) and even new channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) as one-way streets to communicate a brand’s message, we need to take advantage of all channels to interact and engage with our target audiences. We need to create content and generate new ideas that people want to share on their personal channels, with their personal audiences.
- From Dr. Shari Frisinger, I learned that there are two types of thinkers in this world: eagles and lions. Eagles are the big-picture thinkers. The people talking, walking and thinking fast. They don’t get mired down in the details and are quick to act. Lions are the careful thinkers. They are deliberate, cautious and detail-oriented in their thinking. They weigh the pros and cons before making decisions.
Whether you are pitching to the media or communicating with clients, Dr. Frisinger noted the importance of considering how individuals think before crafting your message.
After much discussion on the topic, Ashley and I decided we are both fast-talking lions.
- Doug Wheelock -the first astronaut to tweet from space- wins the prize for most inspirational quote: “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit, when there are footprints on the moon!” A great reminder to keep innovating and reach beyond what has been done before.
- As many corporate communicators know, creating engaging content from technical information can pose quite the challenge. I sat in on Christine Mathers’ presentation as she discussed adding sizzle to technical content and underlined the importance of telling rather than selling. Whether you’re writing a piece for the company blog or trade publication, rather than simply explaining the technical aspects of a product or service, tell your audience how this will make their life easier, why will it improve an existing service, etc.
- After a long day of learning and listening, Serena Ehlrich of BussinessWire provided a much-needed burst of energy during her lively keynote as she discussed the future of PR. One of her most prophetic statements was the idea that all consumption of news and information is moving toward visuals. In fact, she boldly stated that PR pros that do not embrace video/visuals may not have a job in five years. She backed this prediction up with the facts that 65% of the world is visual learners and releases with images imbedded receive three times the exposure.
Were you at PR Day this year? If so, share your favorite ideas and inspiration from the event with us on the Integrate Facebook page.
Written by Ahna Gavrelos