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Adventures of an Intern in Indy: 3 Lessons from PRSAICON

What happens when you put 2,000 public relations professions in a room together for three days? You end up with a lot of tweeting and networking.

Attendees had many opportunities to connect at PRSAICON on Oct. 23-25, and it wasn’t uncommon to trade business cards with a partner at a high-stakes New York agency while scooping hotel-catered pasta onto your plate. The conference featured keynotes from astronaut Captain Scott Kelly, former White House Chief Information Officer (CIO) Theresa Payton, Marketing Maverick Scott Stratten (whose book unMarketing resides in the Walker Sands library) and many more.

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In between keynotes, breakout sessions, wandering through the vendor exhibits and stealing freebies, I uncovered a few takeaways that can easily be implemented by any PR pro.

  • Stop sharing those cute memes to get easy likes on social media. Steve Radick, vice president and director of PR at Brunner, shared how to build content that has value beyond likes, comments and clicks. Although your metrics look fantastic when that photo of a bunny you tweeted gets 780 likes and 30 shares, it’s probably not going to do much good for your client in the long term. Radick challenged practitioners to change the strata by finding creative ways to tell your brand’s story and create content that benefits your audience instead.
  • Cut the “crap” out of your business writing. Professionals, on average, spend 20.4 hours writing per week, so it better be good. Writer Josh Bernoff shared his best tips in Writing Without Bullshit to fix your toxic prose. Can’t tell if you’re using a passive voice? If you can add “by zombies” after the verb and the sentence makes sense, you need to edit. Also, delete those “fantastically” “iconic” words that “take your sentence to the next level”. If your adjectives are really measurable, they’re probably BS.
  • Public relations isn’t about shouting, it’s about connecting with people. Sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up in pitches and media placements, but a lot of good can come out of PR. It’s a little harder to see the reward of it all in a B2B tech agency, but when it comes down to it, we’re solving some pretty big problems and making the tech space a better place.

At the end of the three days, my biggest takeaway is this: PR people work hard, have lots of fun and I can’t wait to join them in changing the world.