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2013 PRSA International Conference Recap

By Jennifer Tornetta, APR
PRSA NJ President

What was great about the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference in Philly was the variety and number of presentations.  Telling tips and tidbits we took from the conference included:

Keynote speaker Brian Solis, principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm focused on disruptive technology and a digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, who has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture, said of press releases, but relevant to most of what we produce as professionals, “We don’t write for people who are going to read it. We write for people who are going to approve it.”

Coca-Cola social media analyst Mallory Perkins said the company’s new separate website – Coca-Cola Journey – has been a source of organic content and engagement and is growing with other unique sites globally. It’s a platform for sharing stories, videos and opinion pieces all based on storytelling.

Writing for Social Media preconference workshop leader and author Ann Wylie, of Wylie Communications, Inc., told session attendees, “Your audience should be able to use the information to live life better,” adding relevant, interesting and easy-to-read information is essential to effective social media writing. Wylie also shared a story about MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Chatter Monkey, an internal blog, to illustrate how the organization handles brand awareness internally and other internal communication. Tweeting tidbits she touted included that the most retweeted word is “you”, and words ending in “ing” are the least retweeted.
Among the tweeting pros she recommended garnering best practices from were:

Turning Around the “Most Hated Company in America” is what the Pepco Holdings, Inc. team – Laura Monica, vice president, Corporate Communications; MaryBeth Vrees, director, Customer Communications & Marketing; and Myra Oppel, vice president, Regional Communications discussed. They explained how the company used strategic communications to go from being named Business Insider’s Most Hated Company in America in 2011 to substantially increasing customer satisfaction, having more balanced, positive news stories and engaging staff. Among the successful tactics they shared were:

  • Building a high-performance communications team
  • Researching what is important to customers
  • Focusing communications on what is important to customers
  • Integrating communications
  • Including front-line staff in storytelling
  • Building trusting relationships with media
  • Responding to media timely and transparently as well as proactively pitching stories and educating reporters
  • Continually evaluating and adjusting communications

The Pepco team offered to do a presentation for PRSA NJ in 2014. Look for details in this newsletter, on the PRSA NJ website and on Facebook.

Rules, What Rules?” Crisis Response During the Boston Bombings presenter Jerry Berger, director, media relations, Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, shared the experience of his team in caring for patients and handling media after the Boston Marathon bombing.  He noted the importance of designating communication priorities during a crisis and of clear, continuing communication throughout the situation. He stressed the importance of having updated call lists – on paper – for any crisis.

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