by Lauren Leetun, APR (pictured third from the left)
Many people associate Austin with “keeping it weird,” and while I did happen to come across one or two locals who were a little different, the vibe at the PRSA 2018 International Conference was anything but weird. In fact, if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be inspiring. I must thank the Orlando chapter for providing me with a scholarship to attend. As an independent practitioner, expenses surrounding a conference of this scope and magnitude can sometimes feel a bit out of reach. But thanks to the scholarship, I was able to see and hear from some of the most interesting public relations and marketing minds around the globe. Leaving ICON, I felt energized and ready to take on new challenges for my current and future clients.
One of the recurring themes among keynote speakers at the conference was how much of a difference public relations professional can – and should – make during a time when many audiences feel more divided than ever. Perhaps Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich put it best when he said: “You have a great deal of influence over the tone of our national communications. You have a great deal of influence over your clients in terms of helping them to understand that civility- and by that, I mean just merely being respectful – is critically important and is good for them as well as for the country.”
The overarching theme of this year’s conference was communications convergence, and it’s a concept I’m sure most of us grapple with from time to time. What really constitutes a journalist nowadays? What is considered real news and what isn’t? I can tell you that there were several encouraging statements I heard from those in PRSA leadership at the national level that made me feel well-represented and defended. There are people in some of the highest positions of our organization that are consistently going to bat for PR professionals who may feel embattled or tired of having to fight against the notion that we provide ‘fake’ news on behalf of our clients. I was also encouraged to hear that leadership is turning its attention to the value that PRSA’s sections provide members; as a section leader myself, I have witnessed first-hand how important it can be to meet – even if it is virtually – with others who are in similar roles to brainstorm ideas, discuss hurdles, and even partner from time to time.
One of the most exciting pieces of news I heard during the conference was that ICON will be held in beautiful, sunny climates for at least the next two years. San Diego is next up in 2019, and, believe it or not… ORLANDO is slated to play host in 2020. As you well know, a lot can happen in any given profession in two years’ time, and given our current political climate and the fact that Orlando’s 2020 ICON will be held right before a presidential election, I think we’ve got a great opportunity to showcase just how critical public relations professionals are when it comes to leading both a national, and international, narrative.
Leaving Austin, I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends and to meet some new ones, and I was especially appreciative of the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest in this business. I’m excited to put what I learned into action in the weeks and months ahead, and look forward to what I’ll most certainly learn in San Diego, Orlando, and beyond.
Thank you again, PRSA Orlando, for the scholarship and for the opportunity to represent our great chapter in another really great city.
By Alyssa Badalamenti, PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Chair
By now, everyone has replaced ‘millennials’ with ‘Gen X’ in their editorials, and millennials are looped in with the previous generations who grew into having negative stereotypes of the newest generation. Why is it that with every generation we get into this cycle of comparing habits and perceiving them to be negative? Why does it have to be this way? Often, I hear it’s because “they don’t understand.” As communicators, it’s our job to understand our audience, but how can we communicate properly if we don’t shape our messages for a diverse audience? Rather than writing the same way we always have because it makes sense to us, we could instead seek input from generations outside our own. How we work, communicate, and consume is different among generations. By understanding why we have differences and what they are, we can communicate more effectively to our audiences.
Take a look at this chart taken from Dr. Susan MacManus’ editorial column, “Shining the Spotlight on Florida’s Youngest Registered Voters: A Generational Approach.” In her column, Dr. MacManus writes, “Each generation is different demographically and in its exposure to various major economic, social, technological, and political events that can impact vote decisions.” Each generation has had its own shaped opinions based on major life events and the presidential office held. Each life event also holds different weight in terms of importance. Add on differences in race, gender, religion, etc…it’s no wonder why we often hear that “they just don’t understand.”
Jennifer J. Deal, a research scientist with the Center for Creative Leadership, argues that the generations now of working age value essentially the same things as older generations. “The so-called generation gap is, in large part, the result of miscommunication and misunderstanding, fueled by common insecurities and the desire for clout,” she says. It’s easy to understand that each generation has had different experiences and thus probably has a unique perspective to communications and how they represent their work and their organizations. And naturally through the growth of resources, technology and transparency, public relations is going through its own generational growth. However, public relations has essentially stayed the same in its core values and foundation of key messages. Public relations practitioners in any generation could benefit by understanding generational differences and seeing the value in working as part of a multigenerational team. We just need to ask the right questions.
By working with multigenerational teams, we can more effectively communicate by seeking input on how key messages come across to different generations. According to the Pew Research Center, there was a drop in media viewership from the last calendar year across most modes (newspaper, cable/network/local television, and digital-native news), with the exception of radio and social media. Communicators have always needed to be aware of how their audiences consume media and adapt to the changing trends; this is true for any generation. Communicators can be successful by understanding how each generation consumes media, and by using a variety of communication types to reach their target audience. Example: “Check it out” versus “You may find the video below;” It’s especially important for internal communicators when talking to employees of diverse age groups. Communicators would benefit from studying and/or talking to generations different than their own to ensure key messages reflect the audiences being communicated to. Just remember, one way of communication is not better than the other; they’re just different approaches to relaying the same key message to an audience that understands it better.
Every three years, accredited professionals must maintain their credential and commitment to the sound and ethical practice of public relations. One of the ways you can reach your maintenance goals is by publishing on the topic of public relations, including a blog post on our PRSA Orlando website.
APRs will receive 2 points for each well-thought article, op-ed, book review, blog post, podcast, or video published in a public relations journal, magazine, newspaper, newsletter, in print or electronic format.
Learn more here on how to maintain your accreditation. http://www.praccreditation.org/maintain/
by Wendy J. Roundtree
As if jumping off a cliff attached to a large elastic rope wasn’t risky enough, Will Smith decided to celebrate his 50th birthday by bungee jumping out of a helicopter. Yes, you read that right.
His jump was an answer to a challenge made by founders of the YouTube channel Yes Theory, who believe life can be authentic and fulfilling if you seek discomfort. Let me be the first to say that even though I was nowhere near the Grand Canyon when Smith jumped, I was 100 percent uncomfortable.
By now, you’ve probably guessed that the title of this blog is clearly a hyperbole. I will not, nor do I recommend that you heli-bungee jump (unless your heart desires). But in all seriousness, I do believe there’s something that public relations professionals can learn from Smith’s daring birthday celebration.
First: step outside of your comfort zone.
As PR practitioners, while we maintain many principles that serve as the foundation for our industry (i.e., advocacy, honesty, ethics, etc.), we can’t deny the role technology plays in how our audiences disseminate and receive information.
Take for instance, Will Smith and his jump. He not only accepted the challenge of YouTubers, he chose the non-traditional route, which racked up more than 16 millions views by streaming it live on said platform.
What does this have to do with PR?
Many of us are comfortable with traditional media. We may have even mastered the art of working with bloggers and influencers. But with Will Smith bringing vlogging to Hollywood, we continue to see more people taking hold of their content and sharing it on their own terms. It’s not always easy to adapt to changes in technology, particularly for larger organizations, but since when has innovation been related to the status quo?
The next lesson I believe we can all learn is to lead with authenticity.
Yes Theory’s mission and Will Smith’s recent entry into the vlogging sphere was a match made in heaven. And the eventual hour or so long production of “Will Smith: The Jump” was produced like any other of Smith’s video … with higher stakes involved, of course. We watched his excitement, his fear and finally his elation. In his own words, the experience was like going “from pure terror to absolute bliss.”
Our audiences can tell when we’re trying to do something that doesn’t fit our organization’s personality. Everyone can’t be as straightforward as Gary Vee, or as socially conscious as Google, or as witty as Wendy’s (the restaurant, not me).
At the end of the day, it’s up to us as communicators to help our organizations/clients navigate the ever-changing technological landscape ― while also helping them maintain a true representation of their corporate identity.
Does that mean you need to bungee jump out of a helicopter and stream it live? No.
But it is worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.
Football. Cool breezes. Pumpkin spice lattes. PRSA membership discounts. All great reasons to love this season!
Now through November 30, 2018 you have three big benefits to joining PRSA. In addition to our national PRSA membership (with no initiation fee, a $65 value), you will also receive a free section membership (a $60 value) and a free chapter membership (up to $100)!
Use the code FALL18 when applying for membership to receive:
- PRSA National Membership: Access to more than 21,000 public relations and communications professionals 24/7 via the members-only online community MyPRSA. Plus, you have access to dozens of other member benefits!
- PRSA Chapter Membership: PRSA has more than 100 local groups across the United States, known as Chapters. These Chapters are run by local PRSA members who host networking and educational events to connect you to industry professionals and ensure you are staying up-to-date on the latest industry trends and skills. Check out the Orlando chapter’s upcoming events!
- PRSA Section Membership: PRSA has 14 professional interest groups, known as Sections. Each Section focuses on a specific industry that public relations and communication professionals serve, and a few of the Sections are geared towards career level and business owners. Members of these Sections are able to connect with industry peers who have similar needs and share the same challenges. These groups share important and relevant information about their area of interest through a variety of channels throughout the year. Click here to view all 14 Sections.
Questions? Please feel free to reach out to Co-VP of Membership, Carter Flynn – email@example.com
*RESTRICTIONS: The Counselors Academy and New Professionals Sections are not included in this offer. Chapter dues are covered up to $100. N/A for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and current or renewing members. Refer to https://www.prsa.org/membership/membership-categories for details.
By Alyssa Badalamenti, PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Chair
PRSA recognizes August as its Diversity and Inclusion month, a time to focus the spotlight on advancing the profession through representation of the hardworking communications professionals of diverse backgrounds and thought.
Throughout the last couple of months, we’ve asked our members to share with us what diversity and inclusion means to them. Through these messages, we’ve been able to gain a better understanding of how our chapter defines diversity and inclusion. Check out our Twitter and Facebook as we share more quotes this month and in the long-term so that we can continue to shape what diversity and inclusion means to the PR profession.
PRSA’s National Diversity and Inclusion Committee has also been working diligently to advance the diversity discussion through industry events, mixers, awards and more. The PRSA Orlando chapter has followed suit. We will continue to work toward making diversity and inclusion a yearlong recognition by increasing the visibility of our members and providing best practices and resources to advance diversity in all levels of the profession.
Do you have a quote to share? Send an email to Alyssa Badalamenti on what diversity and inclusion means to you.