PRSA International 2015 Highlights

The annual PRSA International meeting just wrapped up this week in Atlanta. PRSA International is the largest public relations/communications meeting in the world, and this is the first year my company has helped sponsor the International meeting.

While it’s impossible to summarize an entire meeting like this in a blog, I’m going to try to provide a quick overview to hit some of the high points. Civil rights legend and current Congressman John Legend kicked the meeting off in what he called “the cradle of equality.” Diversity and multiculturalism were major themes, underscored by the fact that GLADD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis was part of the closing keynotes, explaining that marriage equality is a benchmark, not a finish line. The focus now is on accelerating acceptance.

There’s always a media element to PRSA International, and Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel (based here in Atlanta) did not disappoint and talked about some of the challenges social media poses for the Weather Channel. It was good to hear that social media crises are as much in the minds of media members as they are in the public relations profession.

Increasingly, the focus is on digital communications and the “Internet of Things.” David McCulloch of Cisco stated that internet traffic will triple by 2020 and 50 billion “things” will be connected. 40% of traffic will be machine to machine, automated communications, things like your refrigerator ordering a new water filter or itself or your printer requesting a new ink cartridge directly to HP, and roughly a bazillion more industrial applications. The third most sought after new position in communications will be the Chief Digital Officer, and they will be the sixth highest paid person in your company. In fact, the term “Chief Digital Officer” may replace “Chief Information Officer” or Chief of “IT”.

Interestingly, with all the talk about data breaches and stolen identities and credit cards and personal information, McCullough said the average time it takes to detect a security breach is 100-200 days. That means the person who has your personal data has probably been misusing for some time before you find out about it. The European Union nations are particularly concerned about this, and it could even have an impact on how clinical trials are conducted overseas—that data may not be exportable back to the USA for medical research conceivably.

One media trend that is merging is the concept of a “newsroom in reverse.” That means instead of pitching to the media, we PR professionals are increasingly pitching to the universe itself—everyone at once. The filter that stood between the media and the general public is going away and now there is increasing direct and increasingly immediate conversation. The best content marketers have direct access to their consumers and a relationship of value with their fans.

While content is still king, context is queen. Context is the environment that holds the castle together. So while you may have a great web release—if it’s not on the right websites to reach your audience, it may be a wasted effort. Increasingly the focus has shifted in PR from simply earned media to the new world of earned/paid/owned and shared.

One of the powerful messages in this brand centric age is the concept that a good brand is a promise made and a great brand is a promise kept. Increasingly the focus has shifted in PR from simply earned media to the new world of earned/paid/owned and shared. I realize this is a bit too much stream of consciousness, but I am suffering from information overload at the moment. Hope you will join us at PRSA International in Indianapolis next year, October 22-25!