Takeaways from 2014 PRSA International Conference

Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the 2014 PRSA International Conference in Washington D.C. For three days I was exposed to an incredible amount of expertise, knowledge and thought-provoking ideas, that left me motivated and energized when I returned to my office.

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While the takeaways were numerous, a couple really stood out.

Every company should have a media crisis strategy. Crises do happen. Having a plan in place can make all the difference in managing the outcome correctly. Of course, you never know exactly what your company’s crisis will be, but establishing a crisis management team, identifying key audiences, creating a media statement template and conducting media spokesperson training are all elements that encourage better preparedness. Contrary to the goals of most public relations professionals, who are seeking media coverage, in a crisis management scenario, success is NO story.

Visuals continue to rule. We live in a visual world, and compelling images that resonate with your audience are imperative to communicating your message. Bigger images are better. Smart phones are getting larger to accommodate larger images, and in response, clothes manufacturers are designing clothing with large pockets. Consumption habits are changing as well—in 2013, the average view went down to 8 seconds from the average view in 2000 of 12 seconds. Images are also becoming very short-lived as evidenced by Snapchat and Slingshot apps. Visual data is driving the industry, and sooner rather than later, as communicators, we will need to optimize for wearable technology such as Google glass.

The media is facing their own set of challenges. As communicators, we need to do everything we can to help the media do their jobs. Deadlines are faster, resources are shriveling and the expectations are to do more with less, and faster. Often media contacts don’t have time to take phone calls; instead, develop a relationship with them on Twitter. Be sincere and learn what their interests are and the types of stories and angles they cover. Provide content that is readily usable, packaged with research and sources, saving time and helping the media contact meet their deadline.

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