Now that all of our members have returned to Chapel Hill from an amazing few days in Washington, D.C. for the 2010 PRSSA National Conference, I’ve had some time to reflect on everything we’ve learned.
There were many amazing professional development sessions, and a ton of qualified speakers in the public relations industry. We learned how to network with professionals, prepare ourselves for the job search and dive into social media. However, I did notice a few things that were emphasized repeatedly.
1. Digital – between the agency recruiters I talked to at the career expo and the speakers at each of the professional development sessions, it is clear that public relations is moving toward digital. I’ve noticed this trend for a while, but this conference reinforced my thoughts. Traditional public relations skills will continue to be important, but in today’s digital world it is also important to be able to communicate online. This goes beyond social media to include search engine optimization, website analytics, website design, etc. We’re hosting a social media workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 23 to discuss digital public relations further.
3. Social Strategy – By now I hope we’re all familiar with social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. If you’re not part of these networks, you need to join now. It is no longer acceptable for public relations majors to be ignorant about social networks, as it will most likely be a part of our job when we graduate. However, this conference emphasized social STRATEGY, or using social networks strategically and effectively. We’ll also talk about strategy in our social media workshop. You should also be thinking about how to integrate your social networks. Using social media in an ad hoc manner is no longer effective. We should have social media procedures, just like we have procedures for media relations or research.
3. Marketing – I’ve always had a strong interest in marketing, which was heightened when I took a marketing class at UNC last year. However, traditional marketing tactics and language were brought up repeatedly at the conference. We are moving toward an integrated approach to communications, which means that advertising, public relations and marketing are no longer entirely separate entities. If you haven’t taken a marketing class yet, I suggest you look into one. Or, just start reading books about business and marketing essentials. I heard the four P’s of the marketing mix brought up in at least five different sessions, so that’s something you definitely want to be familiar with. If you don’t know what they are already, they’re – product, price, place and promotion. Public relations isn’t going away, but it is adapting to more closely mirror marketing.
4. Social Good – I’ve been keeping up with Mashable’s articles on social good for a while now, as I am all for using social media to create social change. With all of the new technology, it is becoming easier for us to make a difference though social media. There were many speakers a the conference who had experience with non-profits or who had worked on public relations campaigns to promote ideas rather than products. Jim Margolis from GMMB talked about his media campaign for President Obama, while Bettina Lueschner inspired attendees with her experience with the United Nations World Food Programme. Public relations for products and services won’t go away, but using public relations for social good is becoming more prominent.
Amy Dobrzynski, Vice President