Expert Takeaways Post PRSA International Conference


“The Spirit of the Revolution” was an apt theme for PRSA’s 2017 International Conference held in early October in Boston. It captures some of the current political and social disruption we are experiencing across our national cultural landscape. And it is this idea of dynamic change that came to mind as I reflected on some of the conversations and presentations taking place in the halls and seminar sessions.

If you weren’t able to make it to the conference — here are some of my “revolutionary” take-aways.

The Convergence of communications disciplines

While this idea is not revolutionary in 2017, it remains a persistent area of discussion for our clients, and was obviously very much top of mind at the conference. I heard a couple of approaches for managing through the various silos of marketing, communications, branding, and sales:

Incremental gains — “one giant leap for mankind” worked for Neil Armstrong in 1969, however in 2017 it is small steps and incremental gains that communicators must take to earn trust, commitment, and a seat at the table;

Use measurement to break through — leverage analytics to identify areas for high-impact cross-discipline investments, test your hypotheses with a pilot project, and then connect the dots to bring meaning and move forward;

Integrate for impact — understand how public relations can integrate with the sales pipeline inflow;  this is really working with marketing communications and sales in a way that directly connects to business impact.

Finding and using your voice

“Don’t just join. Join in.” This was an intention told through a powerful personal story of a luncheon speaker, Diane Danowski, who turned her experience with cancer into a way to make a difference. It’s not enough, she says, to just be engaged. We must “be engaged and empowered.”

This is a critical distinction, because when we no longer wait for permission, that attitude opens up entirely new paths for seizing opportunity. Being truly authentic at a personal level means that we must “think about what our voice is, and what it can be.”

We are having conversations with clients around how to hone that idea of authenticity to identify a clear voice for a corporate narrative. Contact your Reputation Institute consultant to find out how to look at your reputation data with that point of view. It is a key to driving a proactive and purposeful corporate voice.


  Nicky McHugh
  Vice President and Consulting Director, US
  Reputation Institute

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