Tuesday, December 9, 2014

PRSA Dallas Communication Summit 2014

This month, I had the opportunity to attend the PRSA Dallas Communication Summit for the first time. During the event, I attended three different seminars, each focusing on a different topic. The first one, Working with media, gave insight into pitching to the media and provided beneficial tips on creating and maintaining relationships. The second seminar, Integrated Communications, focused on achieving an overall goal for a client through various promotional methods such as advertising and public relations. The final seminar was Interviewing, Personal Branding and Professionalism, which had three business professionals sharing tips on working in the public relations field and answering questions from the audience. Each of the seminars presented people in different stages of their career who have been in the business for numerous years.

C. Pharr team at 2014 PRSA Dallas Communication Summit
As someone who is fairly new to the PR world, I realized early on in the day that I had the opportunity to experience this event in a way that many other veteran attendees could not. When someone does something for the first time, there is usually that sense of fear and discomfort but also excitement and inquisitiveness. I decided to use all of these feelings and garner them into creating the best experience I possibly could to benefit my career. It turned out that this year’s theme was elevate, which greatly worked in my favor. Elevate your relationship, elevate your results and elevate your future; these three session themes were each going to teach me something that I could utilize throughout my budding profession. 

 The insightful day kicked off with a Keynote breakfast where we heard from top executives from Toyota, Corner Bakery and Greyhound. The speakers each provided the audience with a presentation describing a recent occasion when their company successfully developed and implemented a strategic business plan. Each presentation offered a different approach and allowed the audience to acquire new ideas.  

Cynthia Pharr Lee, APR, Fellow PRSA & Leah Ekmark Williams, APR with Summit attendees
My first workshop, which focused on working with media, presented three editors from different publications who answered questions such as “What are some dos and don’ts for PR professionals when contacting the media?” Each answer was unique in that each editor had their own personal preferences and pet-peeves, but all three shared one common tip: being rude and pushy will get you nowhere. Find a good balance between the type of stories you pitch and how often you follow up. It is crucial in building a strong relationship with the editor that you know their type of work. Nobody wants to be given information that isn’t going to pertain to them. It is also imperative to keep constant and clear communication. It was highly stressed by all three editors that if you don’t have the information they need or can’t get them a quick answer to one of their questions, don’t lie and claim otherwise. 

The second and third seminars taught me a lot about knowing your audience. When creating a business plan for a client, it is important to determine who their customers are and remain focused on attracting that group. For instance, if a strategy is to create an account on social media and use that platform to engage customers, find out which outlet the majority of their audience is on and hone in on it to attain the best results. The same idea applied during the third seminar when talking about receiving and maintaining a job in the communications profession. Before every job interview or client meeting, learn as much as you can about the company, and be prepared to answer questions pertaining to their work. If you know your audience, the outcome is not only beneficial for you but for them as well.  

Before I finish, I want to stress something I recently learned to be greatly valuable. In school, you are constantly told about the importance of networking, but you never truly realize its significance until you are thrown into the business. Meeting new people and connecting with them is essential to growing your career. Each relationship you create can lead to something you never predicted, whether it is an idea for a new pitch or breaking news that pertains to your client. As a guest of the event, I was not only able to attend seminars that resulted in beneficial learning experiences, but I was also able to meet and interact with other PR professionals. I highly recommend that in the future, public relations students, professionals and those interested in the field attend and utilize these events not only for personal gain but also to educate and nurture those just starting out in their careers.
This post was contributed by Laura Puig, Laura@Pharrpr.com


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