It’s always exciting as you wait to walk into the grand hall for the opening session of a large professional conference. There are friends you haven’t seen for some time and the anticipation of hearing that one bit of information you need to get fired up about what you do for a living.
That was true for the 2013 Public Relations Society of America International Conference I attended last week in Philadelphia. Since then, I’ve been reflecting on the sessions I attended and my discussions with peers. I’m glad to say one of the benefits was that it helped reaffirm that Wiser Strategies is well positioned in terms of our approaches and services.
We’ve embraced all the Internet has to offer, always have dug deeper to get to the heart of what matters to our clients’ audiences, and we consistently look for ways to track and evaluate communication effectiveness. In addition, it wasn’t news to us that the best approach is one that fully integrates marketing into the mix. That’s not to say we can’t learn more and improve, which is the whole purpose of attending a conference. So what were my takeaways?
Among my favorite speakers was Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour. I had a feeling the first African-American female combat pilot would be inspiring, and she didn’t disappoint. But she wasn’t your typical “I knew what I wanted and accomplished it all” speaker. Vernice knew what she wanted, but that evolved as new opportunities arose. The fact that she had to deal with stumbling blocks along her path made her human and even more inspiring. Her theme, “You have permission to engage” resonated on a number of levels.
Gerard Braud reminded us that in a crisis, the response timeline has been compressed into minutes. Preparing now to immediately gain access to media through online resources, such as news channel communities, direct messaging media and concise video statements will pay dividends later. Better the media have access to your accurate iPhone-produced brief than to rely on the speculation of a reporter left to fill airtime.
And Coca-Cola drew a packed crowd as Mallory Perkins shared how the company has dramatically changed its web presence. No longer the typical corporate page, or just a consumer site, Coca-Cola Journey is a dynamic digital storytelling space that seeks to keep its brand relevant. As much as 30 percent of the stories don’t even have a direct connection to Coca-Cola. I look forward to spending more time on the site and social media to explore how they are taking advantage of social syndication.
Reaching audiences directly and engaging them in dialog is what the conference was all about. After all, the theme was “ONE WORLD Connection Community Collaboration.” It’s exciting and challenging to apply the quickly evolving tools technology offers to what we do and reassuring to know that communication continues to be a practice based on a deep understanding of human behavior.