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My Top Ten Takeaways from PRSA Sunshine District Conference

Annabel Beyra, APR, shares ten useful nuggets from the PRSA Sunshine District Conference.

I recently attended the PRSA Sunshine District Conference in Ft. Lauderdale. Attending these conferences is a great way to reconnect with colleagues from the region and catch up on the best practices in the ever-evolving field of public relations.

I thought I’d share some key takeaways from the conference. Some of this is not new, but worthy of sharing since it’s worked for some of the best and brightest minds in our field:

1.)   It’s About Making Connections – Ron Magill, communications director from ZooMiami, has spent his career making connections with the media and with important influencers, not just in South Florida, but across the nation and it has certainly paid off for ZooMiami. Connections are not enough if you’re not passionate about what you do and there’s no shortage of passion from Mr. Magill!

2.)   Have a compelling online presence – In today’s social media age, journalists and media organizations are finding experts online, especially since A-listers aren’t always available. Mike Bako, marketing manager and broadcast journalist at DS Simon, suggested creating content on YouTube and other sites and “begin to brand yourself or your organization as an expert.” You don’t have to use sophisticated video footage; footage shot on flip cameras and other handheld video devices seem to be preferred. He also reminded us that it’s not about a billion views, it’s about the right views.

3.)   We own reputation –Mickey Nall, chairman and CEO of PRSA, who delivered the keynote address, drove home, “If marketing owns the brand, we own reputation.”  There’s an opportunity for us as professionals to contribute to building a company’s reputation through corporate social responsibility, to use an example.

4.)   Employees can become important brand advocates – Mr. Nall reminded us that PR began in HR and that companies should encourage employees to talk about their companies on social media platforms (following company social media guidelines, of course). Employees can become much  more than brand ambassadors, they can actually become advocates for your company.

5.)   The brain is story seeking and story creating – Storytelling is key and visuals help to tell a story. Content should be interesting and we should strive to tell it in a headline. Yet another pearl of wisdom from Mr. Nall.

6.)   What makes a successful spokesperson? – Virgil Scudder, one of the world’s foremost communications experts, known as “The Dean of Media Trainers,” said successful spokespersons “deliver clear, concise, credible messages with confidence.”

7.)   What makes a good public relations professional? – “Be a voracious reader, be humble, accept blame, be a good listener and outwork your competition,” generously offered Mr. Scudder.

8.)   When reaching out in Latin America, consider this– Take the global communications strategy, adapt it regionally and execute locally.  Shoot for local stories first before pushing your global agenda and don’t force every piece of news. Great advice from Bea Garcia, director of media relations, for DHL.

9.)   Stay true to a company’s brand essence when conducting outreach – With HBO, it’s about bringing the premium brand experience to press and consumers alike, as Miguel Oliva, vice president for public relations and corporate affairs, HBO Latin America Group shared.

10.)     Importance of community – PRSA is a great community of generous professionals. Making contact with like-minded professionals and learning from each other goes a long way toward elevating our status as the “conscience and reputation keepers” of any organization.

Thank you Sunshiners for a wonderful conference and see you next year in Naples!

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