Tri-State District PRSA Innovation Conference Review

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Last Friday (9/24/10) was the PRSA Innovation Conference held at Columiba University in NYC.  All in all, I’d day it was a good Conference.  There were a good variation of people (speaking and attending), some good advice given throughout the day, some funny stories shared and also some realistic goals that were set.  If you weren’t able to attend, keep on reading for my reactions to each of the speakers (as well as some direct quotes from some of them). 

The day started off with Ray Jordan, the Corporate Vice President Public Affairs and Corporate Communications of Johnson & Johnson.  He was a good choice to start the day off with.  He was very witty, very knowledgable, and had some great advice which spurred from difficult times that he’d witnessed personally (Remember: Motron Moms?).  He spoke mostly on his “AH-HA” moments … basically, the moments in his professional  life that made him realize that certain communications aspects were up and coming, and he needed to be a part of them.  If you ever get a chance to speak with him, definitely take the opportunity.  He was a great speaker, but also a very personable person.

The next part of the day was my favorite part, the Social Media Panel Discussion.  These tend to be my favorites when it comes to Conferences because I like the rapid-fire Q&A with prominent individuals.  The 3 panelists who were sharing their insights were:

  • Bryson Thornton – Senior Manger of Marketing Communications & Public Relations of Del Monte 
  • Josh Stoffregen – Manager of Internal and External Communications of Prudential 
  • Jacalyn Lee- Public Relations Directir of The Knot

Since I loved this session so much, I jotted down some of the question and responses for your reading enjoyment!

Has social media drastically changed PR?

  • Bryson: “Social Media hasn’t changed the PR profession / landscape.  It has only made us more transparent.”
  • Josh: “I agree, it’s still all about the content you are using.”

Is social media a PR function?

  • Bryson: “Depends on the vehicle / medium of the message.”
  • Josh: ” At Prudential it’s housed in the Communications Department and monitored by the Digital Media Department.”
  • Jacalyn: “The Knot has a Community Dept. who manages all of the social media.  They oversee Tweets / Posts to make sure followers aren’t overwhelmed.  The Communications Dept. is in charge of all of the blogging efforts.”

Do you have a social media policy / how did you develop it?

  • Josh: ” Prudential took a Corporate wide policy that everyone agreed upon and then pushed it to the Dept. heads and let them alter it how they saw fit.”

Who “gets” social media?

  • Jacalyn: ” People Magazine is really engaging and not JUST trying to drive people back to their site.  The Today Show is very smart and strategic with their social media.
  • Josh: “Coca-Cola’s Happiness Campaign is great!”

What are the most relevant PR platforms?

  • Jacalyn: ” Facebook is here to stay, not too sure about Twitter yet, LinkedIn is definitely here to stay and the geolocations tools are up and coming.”
  • Bryson: “Applications have to continually evolve… I’m not sure how much Twitter can evolve. Facebook is not going anywhere and LinkedIn is ABSOLUTELY not going anywhere.  Location based applications are the next wave, but  I still have some apprehensions with them.”

What can PR practitioners learn from recent PR crisis?

  • Josh: ” Depending on the site / scope of the company, organize a crisis communications team and schedule regular meetings.  Talk about recent news and go from there.  Get out in front of the issue, be transparent and be open about it.”
  • Bryson: ” Be prepared for anything that comes your way.  Be careful because you don’t know that you’re not next!”

Do’s and Don’ts for pitching bloggers?

  • Jacalyn: ” Make sure you read the blog!”
  • Bryson: “Regardless of the site of the blog, treat them the same way as if you were pitching Stephen Elliot of the New York Times.”

Advice to up and coming professionals:

  • Jacalyn: ” Network!  Be an expert and comment on PR news… It’ll make experts see you’re passionate about it.”
  • Bryson: ” Recognize your role in the broader scope, and get some agency experience.”
  • Josh: ” Know your industry / players / back story of where it is you want to go.”

After the panel discussion we had a short break for lunch and then were introduced to Ray Kerins, Vice President of External Affairs & worldwide Communications at Pfizer.  He was great to listen to.  Ray started off talking about how Pharma is not really a “people-loved” industry and how they’re trying to change it.  He obviously touched on the different social media tactics that they use as an organization (which can be found on the Pfizer homepage), but he also touched on how Pfizer is really trying to help the public.  He went into detail about a recent program of theirs called ‘Maintain‘, a program for people who are currently unemployed and are uninsured.  Again, he was a great speaker and another one who was great to talk to in person!

Following Ray was Susan Getgood, Vice President of BlogHer.  She spoke on the importance of blogs, pitching bloggers, and getting useful information from blogs.  A few things that really caught me when she was speaking were:

The Secret Sauce to the Perfect Pitch:

  • Relevance
  • Respect
  • Brevity
  • Clarity
  • Add value

Not (So) Secret Ingredients:

  • Put the blogger at the center, not the product.
  • Create an emotional connection.
  • Find the mutual value. (The Balancing Act: The value to both partners has to be equal and it has to be a fair exchange.

Last, but certainly not least was Mike Bass, Senior Vice President of Marketing / Communications of the National Basketball Association.  He started off his presentation of Shaq dancing … I really wish I had the link to show you, but there are PLENTY on YouTube, so use your imaginations!  Mike spoke about how each team in the NBA has a presence on social media and how they are launching their own Location Based Application this year!  The NBA does a lot with social media engagement and really gets how to grasp an audience using social media (don’t believe me, just check out their Twitter / Facebook pages)! 

All in all it was a great conference hosted by the PRSA, sponsored by MultiVu, MWW Group and Marketwire.  I truly enjoyed meeting and connecting with people there and listening to all of the experienced advice of the speakers and panelists. 

Were you there and have something to add?  Comment and let the world know!  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me (or any of the speakers, because they are easily findable) and ask!


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