Note – Picture taken in the PV (Polar Vortex)
When you ask PR professionals to battle the elements, find a workaround with canceled flights, and dig out parkas, face masks, and hand warmers, what happens? You get 26 of them assembled in the middle of a historic Polar Vortex, ready to bundle up and buckle down, with another 10 participating virtually. All joking aside, the PRConsultants Group’s 24th Annual Conference traveled to incoming President Jason Brown’s home town of Detroit a.k.a. Motor City for professional development, networking, and some great Greek food.
Outgoing President Gary Young, who represents PRCG’s Minneapolis market, shared the State of the Network including news about a robust year in many areas. We celebrated a lot of new business wins and collaborations, many managed via multiple markets, putting our “feet on the street” model to work in new and innovative ways. In addition, an increased strategic online presence managed by Marketing Chair Jenny Smith and team was credited for continuing to build the profile of the international network of now 46 PR firms. Thanks to Membership Committee Chair Felicia Knight and committee, six new members were added including Orlando’s Jennifer Bisbee, San Francisco’s John Knox, Pittsburgh’s Jeff Worden, Atlanta’s Stephen Brown, South Carolina’s Jamie Prince, and San Diego’s Joice Truban Curry.
A new conference feature, speed networking, facilitated rotating conversations to enable everyone to connect with everyone. This was my personal favorite, and even after 20+ years in this group, I learned something new about long-time and new friends in the group.
Our professional development session, “Running with the Big Dogs: New Tricks to Identify & Target Dream Clients,” was presented by True Depth President and Founder, Janet Tyler. It was a thought provocative discussion chock full of dog analogies too “ruff” to fully report here, but I’ll share some of my favorite highlights that include thought starters and lots of treats for any service business:
- It’s like puppy love. Embrace sales, and make it a key part of your business strategy
- Mark your territory. Create a simple strategy, and define your niche.
- Dig for bones. Mine and activate your referral network.
- Don’t underestimate tricks. Be proactive; listen more than you speak; realize that relationships win over tools every time.
Tyler also talked about creative ways to get noticed by a business prospect, including a custom microsite, interesting and strategic swag/give-aways that are tied to the campaign, and thoughtful social media engagement.
The group ventured out to the Motown Museum to learn about some music legends and as PR people like to do, the story behind the story. Pictures of the exhibits were prohibited, but I loved the story about a famous donation by Michael Jackson including his Swarovski-studded white glove and black hat. The whole experience was a “thriller,” that culminated with a surprise visit by The Contours. Noted for their smash hit, “Do you love me,” featured in the movie, Dirty Dancing, it was an exciting meet-and-greet, and these music legends had our group of communications professionals dancing and singing after hearing their fascinating journey to fame.
We finished the conference with some internal marketing, including an inaugural “PRCG Playbook” presented by yours truly, Amy Smith, and Shared Resources Co-Chair Kristin Helvey, demonstrating the power of collective buying and resources for a myriad of PR tools.
Next year – PR in PR. Public relations in Puerto Rico. Ditching my parka and looking for a work bag that will double as a beach bag.
Amy Kossoff Smith, Founder/Editor of PRCG Powerlines and Founder/President of Write Ideas, Inc., has 20+ years’ experience in retail PR & promotions. She also launched an editing division, leveraging her storytelling and journalism/editing skills at Power Hour Editing and publishes an online parenting magazine, The MomTini Lounge. Featured on The Today Show, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and all local TV networks, she also published a national wire column.