Investing in Ourselves: #2017PDD Recap

In our constantly buzzing, hard-to-get-away-from industry, it’s not often that we can find the time to take half a day to sit down with the intent to invest in ourselves. That is perhaps what makes Professional Development Day so unique – the ability for all of us to come together, set the distractions aside and have meaningful discussions about trends impacting our industry and what our next steps should be as professionals. Better yet, we didn’t just sit there talking about these issues on a “high level” with nothing tangible to take back to our organizations, but rather really got a chance to dig in and reflect.

We kicked off the day hearing from Kelli Frazier of Nielsen about measurement, which is vital to public relations but quite frankly isn’t talked about enough. More specifically, we looked at research that showed us where the future of different media is headed, and where there is opportunity for our industry to reach our target audiences with our messaging. Our clients and organization are always wanting to see results, and love to talk about metrics, so this session really taught us to think more critically about what that means and if it is really telling us what we need to know.

We then heard from Kena Lewis, APR, from Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) on a deep dive into the hours and days immediately following the tragic shooting at the PULSE nightclub last year. Perhaps one of her most important takeaways was how crucial it is to have a tried and true plan in place for times of crisis. Preparation is key, and that’s why in addition to a crisis comms plan, you ought to have a crisis-specific team in place, along with a list of their names, responsibilities and cell phone numbers. You never know when you might have to give them a ring and drag them out of bed at 3 a.m. Think you don’t need a photo/video production team or your webmaster during a crisis? In reality, they are vital to communications success and should be included in your plan.

The session that followed was led by Michele Reeves of Raymond James Financial, and focused in on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as their roles in our everyday lives. Michele noted that diversity is often a struggle because our industries do not look the way our world does, and our world certainly does not look how our industries do. She also clarified that “diversity is not for the few, it’s for the many,” but that it is not the same thing as inclusion. Diversity is who we are, and inclusion is how we work. Over a brief breakout discussion with our tables, we got the opportunity to reflect honestly to see how inclusive we are in the different areas of our lives. As one of her key takeaways, Michele emphasized that if we are not intentionally inclusive, we are being unintentionally exclusive, and to fix that we need to make the most of teachable moments, strive to give the quietest person in the room a voice and always be thinking about what we can do to proactively change the situation.

Changing pace, a panel of Tampa-based business owners convened to discuss their public relations efforts, challenges and successes. We heard from Jamie Lanza of CAMP Tampa, Suzanne Perry of Datz and Leigh Harting of 3 Daughters Brewing, and something that resonated amongst the three was the importance of authenticity. Now more than ever, they agreed that social media is more about relationship-building than it is about selling your product and pushing forced content on an unwilling audience. However, they encouraged us all to consider that we are taking up someone’s time with our content – so, we need to consider what it is that we are taking their time up with, and why they ought to care.


Ending the program on a strong note, our keynote speakers were Josh Greenberg and Brad Simon from Edelman Orlando about earning trust in an era of “fake news.” Josh surprised us all by reminding us that fake news isn’t even news – but that it has been around for a long time (ala “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast). They emphasized how the shift in the media landscape has taken the authority from the bigger media conglomerates and put it in the hands of the people, who are becoming their own publishers. With that in mind, it is becoming much more common for organizations to make their own news and publish it themselves on their investor relations websites. Additionally, the discussion highlighted the fact that the way we have traditionally done media relations in the past isn’t going to cut it anymore. Ultimately, you need a multi-channel approach built around the idea that if you have a great story to tell, you need to determine where the conversation is taking place and who is driving it. Josh and Simon wrote a great blog post here that builds on many of the topics they discussed, and you can see the full content from Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer here.  

It goes without saying that it was a full morning jam-packed with cutting edge ideas and insightful discussions, fueled by tons of coffee. If you weren’t able to join us in person, do not fret - we live-tweeted each of the sessions on the PRSA Tampa Bay Twitter and you can read through (or relive the experience) using #2017PDD. We are already not-so-patiently counting down until Professional Development Day 2018, and can’t wait to see what it has in store! 

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