Ed was one of the presenters and spoke on BYOB: Build Your Own Brand. The presentation explores how PR professionals adapt to the changing media landscape and promote their strengths using self marketing and branding.
Overall takeaways from PR Day 2010
My favorite part of PR Day this year was getting to hear Andy Lark (@kiwilark), Marketer from Dell, speak on the Virtual Web.
He had great things to say around major business shifts that are shaping the way we do business today. From companies doing away with travel budgets (opting instead to publicly post everyone’s expenses to use social pressure to monitor spending) to the ongoing growth of social media conversations and customer services – we are in a great new era to do business with actual people.
Dell has used blogs to great effect – particularly after the Buzz Machine blog crisis (link: http://www.buzzmachine.com/archives/cat_dell.html 😉 that turned from crisis communication to company triumph. Of particular note, Dell’s user supported forums save on average $90 a ‘that solved my problem’ click – meaning happier customers, great community feeling and major savings for their business.
The future of the web for business and personal use alike remains in video, but also in the creation of social currency and geo-targeted campaigns. Tools like Foursquare wouldn’t be as powerful without the gaming mechanics and sense of play, businesses should keep this in mind.
My top take-away from PRSA Houston’s PRDay 2010 was from Keynote Speaker Paul Taaffe. With the numerical data to back him up, Taaffe spoke to the unbalanced allocation of communication resources to local markets in comparison to the markets themselves going global. The fastest growing countries both in population and economy are not the US, Europe, China or Japan’ they are emerging countries like India and Indonesia.
Taaffe’s presentation had me thinking about Daniel Pink’s ‘A Whole New Mindâ€ which speaks to;
‘The era of ‘left brainâ€ dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which ‘right brainâ€ qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate.â€
Pink writes about a needed change in what Americans’ (both companies and citizens) focus on in terms of income. Pink makes the case for a shift to ‘right brainedâ€ creativity and design as the thing that will allow us to continue to be a global economic leader.
One of the points in Taaffe’s presentation is the idea that one of the greatest assets Americans can bring to this transition towards a global community is our ingrained and intuitive skill at communication. I appreciate Taaffe offering a tangible item PR Professionals can offer to companies both over-seas and here at home as global companies establish offices in the States.
My big take away from PR Day was that while technology and business continue to change with incredible speed, there are a lot of fundamental principles that haven’t changed at all. It’s easy to think about new technology in a vacuum, but we have to remember that people are still at the core of our modern economy, and that human beings are the ones creating the technology we consume on a daily basis. While the world evolves around us, our basic desires stay the same. We still crave human connection. We still want to express our opinions and be understood by our peers. We still enjoy healthy competition. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare may be relatively new, but the reasons we like them are thousands of years old.
Kelsey Reuger addressed this issue during his talk ‘Is There an App for That?â€ It might seem strange to bring up anthropology when discussing iPhone apps, but Kelsey made it clear that it doesn’t matter how beautiful your app is, or how fancy the technology is. If your app doesn’t address a fundamental human need, or solve a basic problem, no one will use it.
As a PR professional, it is important to keep up with the times, and be knowledgeable about the technology your target audience is using. That is a given. But if that is all you think about, and you lose sight of what makes us all tick, you, or your client’s shiny new product will go unused.
My Thoughts on PR Day
PR Day had a lot to offer and I had three favorite parts: the lunch keynote with Paul Taaffe of Hill & Knowlton; the media panel; and the breakfast keynote Q&A with Culture Map editor Shelby Hodge interviewing PaperCity Magazine co-founder Becca Cason Thrash.
Paul Taaffe was by far the most compelling of my three favorites. He painted a very clear picture of how the rise of influence in emerging economies relates to how our global community is expanding and what that means for PR professionals. What it means: we’ll be faced with advising clients who are informed, well connected, self-publishers.
The media panel featured community relations director of Channel 39 Yolanda Green as the moderator and Houston Business Journal assistant managing editor Greg Barr , CultureMap’s Shelby Hodge, 29-95 editor Syd Kearney, and KUHF-FM business reporter Ed Mayberry as the panelist. They shared the biggest challenges they face: relevancy, operating on multiple platforms and determining print versus online content. Right now the answer to getting the message out with a changing media landscape isn’t clear, and it’ll be interesting to look back in five years to see how it transforms.
Finally, Becca Cason Thrash pioneered the Houston PR scene without even knowing how to type. Fast forward to today and she’s still a relevant figure in the philanthropic community as a fundraiser and event planner. Funny and charismatic…though not entirely easy to relate to (short version: we don’t exist in the same tax bracket) she represents one of the main aspects of public relations that will not change: persistence above all else.
Listening to the panelists and keynotes reminded me that technology has changed the way we interact but won’t be a substitute for the the crux of public relations: understanding, developing and maintaining relationships.