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Anchors Away with PRSA

By Sarah Kettenburg, Senior Account Executive at Hill+Knowlton Strategies and PRSATB Digital Comms Chair

The PRSA Sunshine District Conference presented the opportunity to brush up on some key skills that PR pros use daily. Crisis management, media relations, reputation management, storytelling and even game theory were a few of the topics covered at this year’s conference. 

While day one of the conference kept it light with some PRVille Family Feud, day two started strong with a session by Heather Fagan, deputy chief of staff for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Fellow PRSA Tampa Bay attendee Kelsey Van Camp provided a great recap of the session here

My key takeaways include:

  1. Prioritize. Ask yourself, “do I have to make this decision today?” if the answer is no, move on to something else.
  2. Take care of the local media. They are the ones that will still be around months later.
  3. Establish a great relationship with IT. In times of a crisis, the IT department is crucial to your success in communicating with the public (in other words, ensuring your website/social media/phone lines, etc. doesn’t crash)
  4. Document everything. Write down everything you do at the end of each day so that you can look back on each day’s activities, even months later.
  5.  Assume the camera/microphone/cell phone etc. is always on.

 Achievement Unlocked! Using Game Theory to Level Up Your PR

Did you know that you are likely participating in a form of game theory every day? That’s right, everyone’s beloved social network, Facebook, is a prime example. So, what exactly is Game Theory? 

Gamification is defined as using game-like elements in a non-game environment. But real gamification is about building a behavior, not just a game.

There are four steps to gamification, condensed into a model known (particularly by folks who work in Silicon Valley) as the Hook Method:

  1. Trigger: Think of this as the subconscious itch. As it is said, it starts as a vitamin, and ends up as a painkiller.
  2. Action: Behavior = Motivation X Ability X Trigger. If you have the ability, but not the motivation, you won’t follow through.
  3. Variable Reward: Keep it fresh and meaningful. We get pleasure in anticipation of the reward, but not necessarily from the actual award. Ultimately, it must have an emotional connection.
  4. Investment: Create a sense of shared value.

Key takeaway? There needs to be constant evolution and a sense of surprise so people don’t get bored.

How The World Met My (Dead) Mother

One thing is for sure, few of us were certain where this session was going to go, but the room was packed full of participants who were eager to find out – naturally, I was one of them. Bonnie Upright, APR, shared how her mother, Emily Phillips, had the unique opportunity to write her own obituary after learning she had terminal cancer. The witty and moving obituary spread like wildfire after being published in her local newspaper. The Today Show, Time, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed are just a few of the many publications that picked up the obituary, and retold the story of Bonnie’s mother and her life. Upright and her family were surprised at all the attention, but loved that their mother’s words were being shared with millions. Fast forward a few months and they realized that someone had copied the obituary not once, but twice!

This session provided an excellent case study for how vital fact checking is – with ALL things – even if the owner of the words has passed away. In fact, Upright has been told by a number of newspapers that they have begun to fact check obituaries after coming to terms with the fact that her mother’s had been plagiarized. Most importantly, this unconventional set of circumstances served as a great reminder of the vital importance of protecting your intellectual property and personal brand.

While the conference sessions were all excellent, one of the best parts of the conference was being able to network and mingle with fellow PR professionals. From shared dinner conversations, to learning from one another’s confidential PR anecdotes (mum’s the word!) and enjoying karaoke every night (looking at you, Karaoke Brian!), a great time was had by all.

 

I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference, hosted by the Palm Beach chapter.

For your viewing pleasure, enjoy a few photos of our PRSA members in all their karaoke glory!

 

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