#PRSASunCon Day One: Yo Ho, Yo Ho—A PRrrr Life for Me

Having been in the PR industry for more than a decade, I’ve experienced my fair share of conferences and events. This year’s #PRSASunCon rivaled some of the best.

Day one, a mix of dynamic keynotes, breakout sessions and networking, spanned topics from issues management to digital PR trends to a 40-minute film school. Here are some of the top takeaways I experienced during my time with this crew:

We’re living in the “wild west” of social media and digital comms.

Digital strategist and global brand correspondent Sarah Evans, founder of Sevans Strategy, took us for a deep dive into the state of PR and how digital is impacting our industry.

  • Digital PR in 2019 is: human relations, longevity and social care
  • Think human first: We are trailblazers when it comes to determining the implications of our digital legacies. Because our social footprint follows us, what do we want others to think about us/our brands in the future?
  • We need to [re]frame the way we think about our digital efforts. Think:
    • Long-term vs. clicks/views
    • Storytelling vs. message-managing
    • Relationships vs. perception-management
  • People experience 150 micromoments per day—change what these “moments” look like by creating value and meaning
  • Data points evolve and change; sometimes you can’t put a hard number on loyalty, awareness, and the “good feeling” a brand creates with a consumer
  • One of Sarah’s favorite PR tools = Instagram Captions (a total Insta hack!)


Sarah Evans, giving her opening keynote speech at PRSA SunCon

Sarah Evans and Jennifer Dunn

Skillfully navigating difficult conversations is an art.

As communicators, communicating should be easy—right? Sometimes, even for the most seasoned pro, difficult conversations can be hard to navigate. Kerri Garbis of Ovation Communication walked us through a process to help more confidently approach these situations:

  • Start with an opener: “I need a few minutes of your time. I’ve got some difficult news to share.”
  • Get it out: “Your contract is not being renewed.”
  • And & And: “This is a result of X and Y.”
  • Invitation to engage: “How would you like to announce this to the team?”

Other tips include avoiding use of the word “you,” and practicing what you’re going to say in advance of the conversation (repeat it out loud, at least three times).

Be Adept: Adapt and Adopt.

2019 PRSA National Chair Debra Peterson, APR, provided insight into what we, as PR professionals, can do to ensure success in a rapidly changing industry landscape.

  • The top PR skills required today include:
    • Multimedia
    • Strategic thinking
    • Adaptability
    • Problem-solving
    • Team player
    • Attention-to-detail
    • Writing skills
    • Honesty and integrity
  • The future is bright for PR professionals; brighter for data-centric PR pros; and brightest for lifelong learners

Debra Peterson, giving her keynote speech at PRSA SunCon

Earning a seat at the table is daunting—but worth it.

In this day and age, many of us continue to wonder why we aren’t at the proverbial table. Matt Kucharski, president of Padilla, uncovered ways we can not only earn a seat—but stay there.

  • Earning a seat at the table means understanding the needs of others at the table
  • We need to put what we do in terms of the value it brings to our internal and external clients
  • Once we’re at the table, we need to show we belong—with every single interaction

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