By Amy Kossoff Smith, Write Ideas, Inc., and Founder/Editor PRCG Powerlines
Boots and lots of brainstorming were on the ground in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, this year for the PRConsultants Group Annual Conference. More than 40 of the network’s markets attended for professional development, networking, and of course, some great Tex-Mex food. Themed, “Not the same old bull,” there was a healthy dose of humor and Southwestern fun as we held our annual crash course in PR education together.
Here are highlights from this year’s conference:
- Day One, after a team brainstorm (get ready to be wowed in 2015 by some new programs and initiatives now percolating at PRCG’s Virtual Think Tank), the group headed to the Fort Worth Stockyards to hear how social media/PR fuels ticket sales at this bull-riding town. Then, Dr. Adam Richards, TCU professor and author, discussed “Theories of Persuasion,” and challenged our group to consider how messages are received when crafting PR campaigns.
- Day Two, it started off “social” as Zoetica Media’s Kami Huyse presented “From Flirting to Commitment: How to Build Relationships with Online Influencers.” Huyse discussed the importance of building a community or joining one. Examples include Facebook groups & pages, #Hashtags, and specialty conferences. She reinforced how important it is to create experiences for bloggers that are meaningful to their focus and presented some unique ways to measure PR success from a community perspective.
- Then, several PRCG member firms presented case studies in “Community Engagement” to illustrate how unique tactics and innovative approaches can fuel a non-profit or cause-related campaign.
o teamworks communication management’s Barb Harris & Sharon Kreher presented a great way to consolidate a multi-faceted client platform into a coordinated campaign.
o Nic Creative’s Nicole Candler suggested to work the connections in your community to engage networks to match a cause with achieving goals.
- Continuing the non-profit agenda, the group learned new PR strategies from a panel of Dallas-based non-profit leaders. Some interesting highlights about these organizations follow…
o Genesis Women’s Shelter – Domestic violence is “equal opportunity” and knows no boundaries of race or economy. Every 12 seconds, a woman is battered. Our speaker discussed strategies for marketing to multiple audiences – victims, gatekeepers (people who know victims), and donors.
o American Heart Association – We heard about the organization’s successes and ongoing goals to decrease death from heart disease and to increase healthy living habits. Further, being involved with a cause is good for business. The AHA’s campaign, “Life is Why,” gets people to explore why being healthy is relevant.
o Dallas Arboretum – It was interesting to learn how they use segmented marketing through education and entertainment for adults & children using tactics such as photography, outdoor concerts, painting outdoors, how to plant a rose garden to attract visitors.
o Duck Team 6 Street Dog Rescue – Arf! Their mission is “to reduce street dog population through capture, placement, and outreach.” They work with other dog rescue groups to find and place animals that are otherwise at risk. Their PR efforts use digital/video tactics to share unique stories of their rescued dogs and community outreach such as free vaccination clinics and feeding people in need, including dog food so underprivileged individuals don’t have to share their food with the dogs.
- A Conference highlight, Tech Tools with PRCG’s Julie Dennehy (Dennehy PR) and Toni Antonetti (PR Chicago), showcased 2015 trends including wearable tech, geolocation, photo/video enhancement, etc. Dennehy and Antonetti developed a Pinterest board to broadcast lots of these unique ways to use technology to increase efficiency and creativity, many at a reasonable or even zero cost.
- Rena Pederson, former Dallas Morning News VP and author, talked to our group about considering our legacy. She shared highlights from high profile interviews she has conducted and been the subject of. Pederson has interviewed Fidel Castro, Margaret Thatcher, Lucille Ball, and Julia Child. She shared some profound thoughts, too many to list here, but I’ll share my favorite for PR/marketing folks who love to talk, “While you’re here, and when you go home, imagine you’re only an ear. You can’t talk, but have to listen. Pay attention to the people around you.”
- Dave Lieber, Dallas Morning News Columnist, storyteller, and a.k.a. “Yankee Cowboy,” said that we live in a bullet point/powerpoint world, but that it’s STORIES that really fire the brains. He illustrated this theory of show and tell with creative, amusing, and heartwarming stories from his own career and personal track.
And it’s a wrap! This post went way beyond my usual or recommended word count, but even with quick highlights, you can see how much is happening at PRConsultants Group! Here’s to a great 2015 for our firms, our clients, and the world of PR.
A very special thanks to our conference co-chairs Lisa Faulkner-Dunne and Jen Evans and their entire committee for the incredible line-up this year. Also, a shout out to our Conference Sponsors (BusinessWire, StatePoint Media, and Spoken Here, who not only supported our program, but went out of their way to discuss ways their products can amplify our PR programs nationwide.
Author Bio: 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 publishes an online parenting magazine, The MomTini Lounge. Featured on The Today Show and all local TV networks, she also publishes a national wire column. For the purposes of this post, she did not ride a bull, but enjoyed taking pictures of fellow PRC friends braving the bull! And…she hasn’t yet met a Tex-Mex salsa she didn’t love!