Day Three of #PRSSANC was jam-packed with great speakers (have you seen our Twitter?!). Yesterday morning, we heard from two “Living Legends” of PR, Fred Cook, CEO & President of GolinHarris, and Peter Debreceny, Consultant of Gagen MacDonald. Both men were highly knowledgeable of the industry and had years of experience. They emphasized that we, as pre-professionals and interns, need to improvise more on the job, get noticed and meet the people in your office.
Cook gave one particular example: A GolinHarris intern sent him a thank-you note for giving him the opportunity to intern there, but he had no idea who the intern was. Basically, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone; these people were in your shoes once before and understand that you will not know everything coming into the internship. Also, you don’t need to know everything about public relations coming into the internship. They said to focus your efforts on specializing in something, like social media or event planning, and that will make you stand out.
Cook also told us that GolinHarris redesigned the company’s structure in dealing with clients. They abandoned a hierarchy of account executive, account coordinator, etc., and instead formed the G4 program. G4 includes “communities” that are divided up into 4 groups: strategists, creators, connectors and catalysts. They did this because the company was rated low on the areas of technology, creativity and analytics; they wanted to meet their clients’ needs. It’s humbling to realize that even seasoned PR professionals need to learn from their mistakes. It makes them seem a little bit more human.
The other session I attended later that day was titled “How to Travel the World with your PR Career” with Shabnam Asthana, Director from Empowered Solutions and Morgan McLintic, Executive Vice President from Lewis PR. Asthana compared the PR field to a landscape, where professionals have to climb over peaks to overcome various challenges, cost on plateaus (comfort zones) and explore caves which lead into the unknown.
The best quote I took away from her presentation was, “Think local, act global,” meaning a company’s vision has to be dictated by the local public and its expectations, but they also must consider the vision in a global perspective. McLintic explained the challenges of international PR, including language, politics, communication channels, and no face-to-face interaction. Apparently, the U.S. version of a press release is entirely different than one in the U.K., so U.S. professionals must adapt to the U.K.’s style if they wish to send a press release abroad. Who knew?
I attended a Chapter President’s Dinner (and an officer discussion on Saturday) after all the sessions were over and talked best practices with some of the other girls at my table. I just so happened to sit next to girls from TCU and North Texas, and they were really nice. We actually have mutual friends! At the officer discussion, one chapter shared a fundraising tactic: partner with your local humane society, go to your campus hotspot and let people pay $5 to play with puppies/kittens for 15 minutes. AWESOME.