By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
It’s all over. And, there was no shouting to speak of. Just a lot of tremendous and insightful seminars, commentary, discussion and camaraderie from the 150 public relations professionals from the Midwest and beyond who attended and/or presented June 19-20 at the 2012 PRSA Midwest Conference held here in Chicago and hosted by my colleagues from PRSA Chicago.
The short report: Everyone, from those more senior practitioners like this blogger to those preparing to establish themselves in the profession should have gained a lot from the 1.5-day event. The accolades: To the organizing team from PRSA Chicago, our hosts at the Loyola University Water Tower Campus and the men and women who took time away from work and business to be part of the dialogue.
Here are a few bullet point thoughts:
- Companies and organizations should “build up a repository of good will in case you need it during a crisis.” That was one of the comments from opening keynote speaker Al Golin, founder of GolinHarris. Sound words for sure, and a strategy I think can that can be supported through blogs, social media and an up-to-date web site. With all due respect — and there’s a lot of it for Mr. Golin — I did not totally agree with his thought that a public relations professional’s gut instinct usually is on target when providing the client counsel regarding a challenge or threat. I think direction should be built entirely on strategy based on research, with a little “gut” thrown in.
- “The world is changing at a pace previously unseen,” was a take-away from the lunchtime presentation from Antonio Hernandez of ComEd Communications as he addressed the power company’s “The Power of Campaign” communications plan and strategy. There’s no debate from me on that subject; and, the impact of change driven by technology was a common thread addressed by virtually every other presenter.
- Following hurricane Katrina, insurance giant Allstate was bashed for reportedly being slow to react to policyholders in need, even though they were the first insurance company on site in New Orleans. The company’s “When Good Hands People Give Back” campaign, as detailed by Victoria Dinges, VP of Public Social Responsibility and Enterprise Communications, demonstrated the good things to reverse the negative perception. Plus, I learned a new acronym: ROR (return on reputation).
- David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, has cultivated a national reputation as a leader in internal communications. At his presentation Friday, Mr. Grossman presented 10 principles and lots of other great insight. Here are two thoughts that resonated with me. (Disclosure: Mr. Grossman and I served on the Universal Accreditation Board for one year.) 1) Leaders today need to advance a vision with an “artifact,” which could be something as simple as an FAQ page. 2) Middle managers are overloaded with work, don’t get enough training and often are led by superiors who are less qualified.
There’s lots more I could report. But I’m sure you could visit the chapter website soon to download presentations from the above and dozen or so other great speakers and panels. Personally, I’m proud of the work done by PRSA colleagues here, and honored to have played a small role in organizing this conference, the first ever hosted in my town. And, I’m energized and looking forward to incorporating some of what I learned into what I do every day.
Finally, I didn’t add any conference images to this post. You’ve seen people giving presentations before. But right after Friday’s concluding session, I dashed off for an overnight visit with a friend in Southern Wisconsin, a place I blogged about last December. Needed fresh air and a change of pace. Here’s what I saw.
Did you attend the PRSA Midwest District conference last week? Share your insight.