Monday, June 20, 2016

Your best PR conference tip: try new experiences first

Last week, I attended the Public Relations Society of America's North East chapter regional conference (PRXNE 2016, if you like acronyms) in Boston. This created an opportunity to revert to Road Warrior driving mode, visit a Samuel Adams brewery on Germania Street, and explore the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum on the University of Massachusetts campus. (Free beer. Great Kennedy stuff, with a little Hemingway, too. No collisions. End of travelogue.)

Field research at the Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston.
Photo (c) DKassnoff, 2016.
At the conference, I learned about data-driven PR, information foraging, mobile PR, and -- my favorite -- harnessing the untapped power of belonging. (Kudos to Mike McDougall of McDougall Communications for a terrific presentation.) You can watch a presentation here, if you sign in.

Professionals should attend at least one PR conference a year. The industry evolves so quickly, but it's all about telling good stories for mission-driven clients and organizations. 

One important tip, however, didn't reveal itself in a cramped meeting room. (Really, UMass -- glorified closets masquerading as breakout spaces in the Campus Center? Real meeting rooms next time, please?)

A dozen or so PR colleagues from western New York attended, too. And I was happy to catch up. But after early coffee and chit-chat, I didn't sit with them for the rest of the day. 

Why?

Any professional conference or workshop should be about new experiences. So I joined PR practitioners from New Hampshire, Toronto, and Boston at most of the other gatherings. I likely missed some hometown PR gossip, but I came away with new contacts who shared ideas I hadn't heard before.

If you attend a PRSA chapter event -- or any networking opportunity -- my advice is to write down, in advance, three goals. And, when you arrive, don't make a beeline to familiar faces. Instead, find people you don't know. Introduce yourself, and dive in to a new experience.

Care to share a great conference tip? Please use the comment box below. Thank you.



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