Greater Fort Lauderdale PRSA Sunshine Conference 2013 Making Waves: PR in a Sea of Change

by Julia Sotelo, Client Services Representative, Business Wire/Miami
and Janice Essick, Regional Manager, Business Wire/Miami

Business Wire was recently a top sponsor of this informative annual event held Friday, August 2nd at Fort Lauderdale Beach’s beautiful W hotel; and the opening speaker, Ron Magill, Communications Director of ZooMiami, did not disappoint. He gave an incredible and moving presentation regarding his experiences over his 30 year career with the Zoo. The highlights from his presentation are numerous, but here is an abridged list of what he thinks has made District_Logohim so successful in PR:

  • Believe in what you’re doing.
  • It’s all about relationships you have.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Appeal to your audience; don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • When negative things happen, be proactive as soon as possible – do not wait.
  • Partnerships.

Choosing which breakout session to attend was not easy, but selecting “Visual Storytelling and the New Reality of Content Marketing,” presented by speaker Mike Bako, Marketing Manager and Broadcast Journalist of DS Simon, was very interesting and some takeaways are shared below:

  • 95% of TV stations are using outside video.
  • Media points are using social media networks more and more to find leads on content to cover:
    • 85% of TV stations
    • 76% of radio stations
    • 74% of magazines
  • Creating branded, expert-specific videos is an extremely good idea in today’s market.
  • YouTube is an extremely important tool for media; now it’s not just for sharing funny cat videos or someone falling off a skateboard.
  • Examples of using the right spokesperson for your brand, even when it’s an unlikely connection:
    • Deion Branch (professional football player) for Lactaid
    • Newscaster and his son for Legoland USA
    • Mommy blogger for Nintendo
  • Video use on Instagram and Vine for companies to create Brand Recognition:
    • Lowe’s is a brand who has been able to successfully use Vine.
    • Brands are trying to leverage the new apps targeting teens because in a few years they will have the buying power.
  • Video can also be used for internal communications  as well.

Lainey Garcia, Manager of External Communications for McDonald’s Corporation, spoke on “How McDonald’s Approaches Social Media in a Changing PR Climate.” She opened the session with a great story about a tweet sent out by “Millennial Mom” regarding her very unhappy 8-year old son who received the girl’s toy in his happy meal instead of the boy’s toy. The McDonald’s Twitter Team immediately saw this tweet and contacted the mom, rectifying the error by sending the correct toy. This particular mom was a very well-known mommy blogger; had this not been seen and dealt with swiftly, Lainey suggests the consequences of not reacting quickly could have included the viral effect from the Millennial Mom’s social network.  Here are some other helpful tips from this session:

  • Food is the single most talked about item on social media.
  • Using another brand to capture positive social media exposure that will be shared with thousands to millions of followers – illustrated by the Mindy Kaling birthday situation:
    •  Mindy tweeted a picture to McDonald’s of a birthday gift she received from Wendy’s.
    •  The McDonald’s Twitter team saw the tweet, quickly researched what Mindy liked and had a package of gourmet cupcakes sent to her.
    • The Twitter team was able to initiate and execute all of this within 7 hours of seeing the tweet.
    • Mindy followed up with a tweet saying: “Best day-after-birthday ever. Nice move McDonalds.  WE’RE lovin’ it.”

The keynote speaker, Mickey Nall, Chairman and CEO of PRSA, gave some great insights on working with millennials and gave us an overview of the changes and progression within the PR industry:

  • Working with Millennials – 4 Big Opportunities
  1. Focus on Reputation
    1. We are brand ambassadors; that is why it is important to work for a company that you admire and has a good CSR effort.
    2. Reputation matters – we own the reputation (not the brand).
  2. Create your own Content
    1. Content is really just another word for writing.
    2. Call it a media release, NOT a press release.
  3. Become a Story Teller
    1. The ‘Showing’ and ‘Telling’ in creating effective narratives.
    2. Get to the heart of the story.
    3. Make the abstract concrete so the audience gets it.
    4. Graphics are more effective to deliver a message.
  4. Employees Become Advocates
    1. Best Buy is a brand that strongly encourages its employees to tweet during their work day.

Laura Stephens, Public Relations Specialist, and Joshua Glanzer, Director of Public Relations for Lynn University, discussed during the final general session their hosting of a Presidential Debate.   Some highlights include the following:

  • Two part strategy for hosting a Presidential Debate
  • PR campaign (1 year)
    • Never assume or say it’s just two candidates.
    • Lynn made t-shirts that had the slogan “We’ve never heard of you either,” poking fun at the fact that most people hadn’t heard of the very small private university.
  • Managing the event (4-5 days)
    • Valuable experience for the university’s international students (Lynn is ranked as #4 for international students) because it provided a front row seat to American democracy at work.
    • Google provided an online street view when they were coordinating where stages were going to be built for big name TV stations like CNN.
    • Over 4,000 journalists attended the event.
    • Google “Hangouts” were held and Google promoted them for the University.
    • A social media lounge was created and the 15 student story teller volunteers went there and shared their stories via their personally preferred platforms.
    • Twitter and Google came to hang out in the lounge as well.
  • Total Cost $4.9 million (actual capital outlay was $2.7 million) = $63 million in ad equivalency.
  • Over 33,000 news stories were written:
    • Facebook impressions jumped from 86,579 to over 934,000.
    • Lynn became a trending topic, which isn’t something that can ever be paid for.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Set realistic goals.
    • Focus and simplify.
    • Always tell your story.

Opening the second day at the conference was Virgil Scudder, President of Virgil Scudder & Associates, a 35+ year PR expert:  Lessons from the Trenches

Virgil Scudder Book Signing PRSA FL 2013_1

Key points to remember:

  • “Communication is not what you say or know, it’s what the other side takes away.”
  • 4 C’s = clear, concise, credible, confident.
  • Never use a big word when a small one will do.
  • Create positive interview capabilities.
  • Draft a checklist for what might be needed to handle an immediate crisis.
  • Have and share ideas.
  • Be nice, humble and a good listener.
  • Share credit and accept blame.
  • Outwork your competitor.

Listening to the last speakers of the conference was insightful and entertaining, while delivering two unique perspectives on reaching a Latin American audience with extremely different budgets:

Bea Garcia, Director of Media Relations, Deutsche Post /DHL

DHL handles all international transport except domestic here in the U.S.?  Their corporate communications strategy between a 3-person team consists of the following:

  • Sharing Globally; Adapted Regionally; Executed Locally
  • Partnering with SMEs (small/medium enterprises) to reach Latin American market, she grants one-on-one interviews with their CEO and shares studies of success stories with SMEs that use DHL in those markets.

Miguel Angel Oliva, VP for Public Relations & Corporate Affairs/HBO Latin America

Miguel talks about his unlimited budget and independence of marketing department to report directly to President and talks about his goal of achieving “critically acclaimed” using his PR / corporate communications strategy.  Large press tours using Latin American venues and sharing a slide show of the 2011 – 43 press tours.  77 tours in 2012, 83 expected in 2013 assist in achieving their corporate communications annual initiatives.

It was another informative PRSA Sunshine District conference that we are proud to support!

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