Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
November 17, 2010

Top 10 Things I Learned at the 2010 PRSA International Conference

Not only was I one of the lucky 3,000 people who had the chance to attend this year’s PRSA International Conference in D.C., but I was also one of only a few who received a backstage pass to interview the speakers. From World Food Programme’s Bettina Luescher and Kodak’s former CMO Jeffery Hayzlett to POLITICO founder Jim VandeHei and Groundswell author Charlene Li, the three-day Conference didn’t disappoint. After nine sessions, five keynote speakers and four private interviews, here are the top 10 things I took away from the Conference.

  1. Consider unique and different ways to use social media platforms. For example, social media can play a critical role with internal operations. Challenge yourself to think about how social media can impact or improve other areas of your business.
  2. Content first. Platform second. The days of “I want a Facebook page” are over (did they ever exist?). Always challenge yourself and your clients to first figure out what you want to communicate and then consider all of your platform options. If you jump on Facebook with nothing to say, you won’t stay there long.
  3. Build your “smart tissue.” Fail fast and fail smart. You build “smart tissue” when you embrace and learn from your mistakes. Even Google fails every now and then!
  4. Social networking = social niche-working. Brands need to focus on the people that matter most. It’s less important to count the people you reach, and more important to reach the people who count.
  5. Simplify EVERYTHING. Use the napkin gut check. If you can write your idea down on a napkin while at a bar, then your idea is probably simple enough. Distill your ideas down to the core.
  6. Treat your press release like a website. Press releases are not just for journalists anymore; they are for everyone. Press releases now appear in Google search results. Embed video, pictures, links, and optimize your headline, for all audiences.
  7. Traditional and social must find a meeting place. We are all in this ever-changing world together. We need to speak the same language. Powerful communication comes from strategic integration.
  8. If you don’t value relationships, you will never value social media. Enough said.
  9. Good ideas come from anywhere. Look around your organization from the receptionist to the CEO; talk to your sales force or put a call out to your social communities. You never know where a good idea will turn up from.
  10. Take risks. Jeffery Hayzlett said it matter-of-factly: “No one’s gonna die.” If you want to grow, you’re going to have to take risks.

Ashley Walters, manager, Word-of-Mouth Marketing, Empower Media Marketing, oversees social media planning and execution for a variety of CPG clients. Ashley contributes to Empower’s social-media-focused blog, “Social Study,” and is a board member for Cincinnati’s PRSA Chapter. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn and follow Ashley on Twitter @Ashley_Walters .

For more coverage on the PRSA 2010 International Conference: Powering PRogress, visit PRSA Intelligence, follow #prsa_ic and the Conference blog.

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