The Colorado Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is one of our favorite industry organizations to support at Linhart PR, and on Thursday, Sept. 14, I attended its annual Summit event, along with my colleagues Kelly Janhunen and Kelly Nash (who, by the way, both helped organize the amazing event!). It was a day full of incredible speakers and learnings. Plus, it was held at the Downtown Aquarium, so we were surrounded by sharks, fish, snakes (much to my dismay) and lizards the whole day! Here are three things I took away from Summit day:
1. Ask executives to journal in a time of crisis. Marie Logsden, who is the director of strategic communications for Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, shared her crisis communications experience, especially from her last communications role at Planned Parenthood. Something I had never heard before was to ask executives to journal in a time of crisis. When your team comes together to prepare a response or next steps, before you begin strategizing, have everyone write in a stream-of-conscious style for 10 minutes. Ask everyone to write down what they think happened and what they think the plan should be. It helps people define their own perceptions and next steps before others share ideas out loud. After you’re done, come together and create a strategy. You never know, the solution may come directly from the stream-of-conscious notes!
2. Make sure your stories are contextually authentic. Matt West, global head of training and development for Golin, led us through a session on storytelling in the next digital age. We all know PR isn’t what it used to be. We don’t blast a release out and hope for the best. We connect with reporters, work with brand ambassadors and influencers, develop social programs and the list goes on. We’ve had the great fortune of working with many longtime clients at Linhart PR – it’s something we’re very proud of – which is why identifying what makes a brand or its program contextually authentic is so important. It helps us continue to tell different stories about the same brand, year after year. We know our clients inside out, and because of this, we can continually challenge ourselves to think about attributes that make them unique, focus on what business goals they’re trying to achieve, and then develop incredible, relatable, buzz-worthy stories. Two examples that crush this: Iceland’s Ask Gudmundur pokes fun at themselves, and the Cheetos Museum captures the idea that no two Cheetos shapes are ever the same.
3. The energy behind the words is even more important than the words themselves. Matt Mosely, partner and chief strategy officer at Dovetail Solutions, held a morning session on enhancing how we communicate. He noted that communication is the most important element of human nature, and it’s true – it dictates how we act at work and in our personal life. In order to communicate properly, you have to take charge and frame your story before someone else frames it for you. From this ability to craft your story and figure out what you’re saying, who you’re saying it to and how you’re going to say it comes the energy and power behind your words. Communication is not always verbal, but we as PR professionals have the ability to create meaningful and lasting impressions on people through the words and actions we choose. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech anyone? There’s immense energy behind those words.
Of course I learned many more things at the Summit, but these are a few, whether big or small, that stood out to me. See you at the 2018 PRSA Colorado Summit next fall!