PRConsultants Group has prided itself on geographic diversity, a PR pro in virtually every market, or as we like to say, “boots on the ground.” This year, I’m dubbing it “flip flops on the ground,” as 43 members ventured to beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, for our 21st annual conference, “Livin’ La Vida,” hosted by Puerto Rico member Bernardo Fiol-Costa of The Big Think Group.
The night before the conference, PRCs Paul Larrabee, APR, of Corning Place Communications, and our conference host Bernardo, conducted a mentoring opportunity. The 90-minute discussion with students from Universidad del Sagrada Corazon framed various career opportunities and pathways in the field of strategic communications. The free-flowing dialogue focused on the importance of a steadfast commitment of PR pros to ethical practice, personal credibility and conduct reflecting one’s core values.
Wednesday morning, a group toured the Museo de Art Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico for an inside look and brainstorming before developing a targeted nationwide communications plan. PRConsultants Group made a $3,000 donation to help the museum implement future communication efforts. PR people love PR, and our group was featured in El Nuevodia, SinComillas, and El Vocero.
- A speed networking exercise, back by popular demand, letting members connect one-on-one about business and personal headlines of their year.
- Omaya Sosa-Pascual, the founder of the Center for Investigative Journalism, detailed the story behind the story based on the leak of an 889 TDF Telegram Chat that uncovered massive government corruption, leading to 14 days of peaceful rallies, ultimately ousting former Governor Ricardo Rossello. She shared some key learnings that apply to many campaigns: preparation, timing, training, security protocols, and working with allies. As for tips for PR professionals when pitching media, she recommended developing a relationship, thinking like a journalist, and providing relevant stories with meaningful audiovisuals.
- A Puerto Rico Start-up Showcase brought several local entrepreneurs to present products and services to our group. Sponsored by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, that facilitates innovation in science and technology, we heard from innovators including Islenas, manufacturing fashionable shoes designed for comfort; Ogma Language Studio, translating so businesses can communicate globally (yes, words matter!); and Raincoat, providing instant, hassle-free cash and support after disasters.
- Speaking of which…Puerto Rico has been no stranger to natural disasters, between Hurricane Maria and recent earthquakes, but as a visitor, this is clearly in the rearview mirror. The island is bustling and vibrant with activity, culture, and lots of great food, and as a visitor, I found the hospitality and warmth truly remarkable. Xiomara Rodriguez, communications director for Discover Puerto Rico, shared how Puerto Rico confronted various natural and governmental crises, and successfully overcame the challenges.
- Yes, Puerto Rico is known for its RUM, so our group outing to Casa Bacardi (the Bacardi Distillery), for a tour, mixology class, and paella under the stars. Key learning – don’t muddle your mint leaves in Mojitos. There might have also been a Conga line to the local live “Plena” music.
- Friday morning, PRCG Member Elizabeth Edwards (VolumePR), detailed how science can drive communication strategy. She estimates we see 7,000-50,000 marketing messages a day, and that our brain only controls 5% of our decisions (the subconscious determining the rest). Some of her advice to engage the brain in consumer marketing: keep it simple, supply the why, use contrast to make a point. And like a member noted, PRConsultants Group puts this to action in its own tagline…#NationalStrengthLocalPower.
In PR, we often encourage clients and their communities to support local activities, and it was wonderful to be on the receiving end of that hospitality! San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz welcomed us with a personal video message. Local conference sponsors included Jeep, Puerto Rico Science Technology and Research Trust, T- Mobile, Goya, New Fortress Energy, and E Productions.
Collaboration, networking, professional development, and…fun! It’s a wrap for this year’s conference, and while many members parked their laptops in the sand for a few extended days of Puerto Rico sunshine, all are now back at their desks, fueled by the conference, and creating buzz in local markets nationwide.
Amy Kossoff Smith, Founder/Editor of PRCG Powerlines and Founder/President of Write Ideas, Inc., has 25+ years’ experience in retail PR & promotions. Her tagline from the start, “What’s your story?” has leveraged an editing division, combining her storytelling and journalism/editing skills at Power Hour Editing. She also publishes an online parenting magazine, The MomTini Lounge. Featured on The Today Show, in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ABC National News, and more, Amy also published a national wire column.