Amid the bright lights and electric energy of downtown Los Angeles, I recently attended one of the largest PR conferences on the west coast — the annual Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Western District Conference.
This year’s theme — “Yes. Everything Is PR” — was reflective of the transforming world of this profession (some might argue a bit egotistical, but we’ll put that aside for now). From the disintegration of traditional media and the rise of social media marketing and analytics; from multi-layered communications strategies to cutting-edge technologies; from Big Data to Big Brands; from the constant desire for new ideas for brand awareness to the ever-present need for reputation management, this year’s agenda delved into all of these exciting topics, and many more.
I found myself wondering why I get so excited for these annual trainings. Maybe it’s because PR professionals are challenged with explaining what we do on a daily basis. To be fair, it’s not like I’m a user interface designer or an actuary (good luck explaining that one to Mom), but still a PR Manager ranks in the top 10 list of impossible jobs to explain to your parents. Seriously, there’s a list. Check it out.
As if that’s not enough, a quick google search turns up tons of articles for advice on how to explain your PR job to friends. So they don’t think you do this all day.
Maybe that’s why I look forward to being around my clan, people who share the daily challenges and can celebrate the same successes of working in this field. One that most of us studied in college, and has become the craft I’ve tried to hone for my 10 plus career years.
As the authority, this is how PRSA defines PR: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Simply put, this definition focuses on the basic concept of PR — as a strategic communication process.
With that in mind, I wanted to come away from this year’s conference with knowledge that made me a better PR professional. Certainly, in our increasingly competitive field, it’s often the advanced knowledge and current insights that give us an edge – an advantage we hope to pass along to our clients and leadership.
It’s hard to nail down just a few key learnings from a weekend packed with expert speakers and valuable insights, but one thing I know for sure – we’re all competing for attention. So I’ll highlight my top three takeaways.
1. Cut Through the Clutter With Influencer Marketing
I had this session marked on my agenda well in advance. Loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers, influencers hold the power and it’ll be our job to cater to them. Needless to say, my ears were perked even before I entered the room.
“We need to influence the influencers!” This phrase is heard in marketing meetings across the globe as companies look for solutions to cut through the clutter and reach consumers. In this panel, leaders from IZEA, including Crystal Duncan and Kimberly Kovacs showed how to find influencers, maximize relationships and get your brand message heard. It was interesting to see the social evolution from Myspace bloggers to YouTube and Vine stars, and also see success stories from some of the biggest brands around the world. But the below was the money slide for me, showing the expenses to utilize influencers and how much celebrity “endorsement” costs from some of the biggest names out there. Download the presentation.
2. Maximize Out-of-Home Advertising Through Integrated Marketing
As a part of an integrated marketing campaign targeting Chicago and Los Angeles, this PR team was able to maximize advertising initiatives for the Arizona Office of Tourism. This included media relations for two distinctive out-of-home installations: a Chicago billboard featuring a woman kicking off giant flip-flops the size of sedans and in Los Angeles, a giant 3D chalk rendering of the Grand Canyon. Amy LaSala and Kiva Couchon showed us how this campaign resulted in top-tier media coverage, an installation video viewed in more than 100 countries, and thousands of article shares on social media, elevating the state as a travel destination. Download the presentation.
3. Evolve Your PR Strategy With Your Content Marketing
In case you haven’t heard, content is kind of a big deal. I was so excited to hear how others plan their content strategies and this list of do’s and don’ts was especially helpful.
“Content marketing strategy” is a fairly new term coined as the communications industry evolves to ensure compelling content is in place. Today, it’s critical that brands publish owned content on a consistent basis to help garner the brand awareness they’re looking for. This plan helps lay the groundwork so your brand never has an unplanned moment of silence and each piece of produced content shares an interesting story. Dan Santy, President and CEO of Santy, talked about the tools needed to complement this plan through: public relations, social media, email marketing and influencer marketing. Download the presentation.
You can bet our PR team will be evolving to keep up with where our profession is headed this year.
Bonus: 7 Public Relations Trends to Watch in 2015, from PR News
This post was written by Amy Rosendahl, who has 10 years of experience with PR communications, media relations and social media. As the Senior PR Manager at deep food marketing group, Rosendahl is responsible for developing and executing PR and social media strategies for all deep clients, including some of the world’s largest food companies. She is a board member for the International Foodservice Editorial Council and longstanding PRSA member. Rosendahl started her career in Kansas City and now works from the deep Seattle office, where she lives with her husband, son and adopted cat.