I had the opportunity last month to attend the PRSA International Conference in Washington, DC. You might ask why am I making a post now and not a few weeks ago. I learned a few years ago that the power of reflection is an amazing tool and taking in information, savoring it — and then talking about it goes a long way to driving robust conversations.
Every year I gear up for international industry conferences like PRSA, IABC and NIRI by getting my notebook ready to learn all the new things that are happening in the industry. This year I came armed with my iPad instead of my notebook and two smart phones so I could stay connected through four email accounts, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and half a dozen other social media sites. After the first day I realized I had hit social media overload (insert red flashing light here and call the social media police)…yes I said it, social media overload. I wasn’t overloaded by the amount of things I was reading or saying in the social media world, I was overloaded by the fact that almost every session and booth had a social media pitch or play to it.
Less media, more social?
Don’t get me wrong I love social media, but too much of anything isn’t good for any one person and moderation is key. We can lose sight easily of the fact that engaging audiences in multiple ways is so much more important these days then finding the new hot social media site to hammer out a few more messages on to try to get noticed. Reflecting on your plan of engagement and using multiple channels with your messaging is a key to success. Also, we tend to forget to look up and get our noses out of our smart phones to look at the people in front of us and have conversations to drive relationships.
Before you DIY – is it really a good idea?
Another thing I took note of was around do-it-yourself. I am the first guy in line at Home Depot every Saturday with a new project in mind that I am going to tackle all by myself. By Saturday afternoon I usually am asking myself why I didn’t sleep in. DIY is a great thing, but DIY has a place and can’t be used for everything. There were DIY services popping up at PRSA on the exhibitor floor, but nothing so amazing that caused people to want to jump into the DIY camp immediately. DIY can be a great tool in the communication space, but you have to make sure you are using it for the right reasons and for the right projects. Just doing it to save time or money can’t be the only reason. Ask yourself what is being left out, what you’re missing and what you don’t know before thinking about DIY.
What’s old is new again … or is it?
The final part of my notes surrounded around new paint on the same old houses. Paint is amazing, you can slap it on a wall and change the whole look of a room in two seconds. Problem is if you don’t prepare the wall or apply the paint correctly you can have a bigger mess on your hands. At PRSA there was a fair amount of painting happening on the exhibitor floor covering up the same walls and houses that have been out there for years. While there were some nice changes to some services, I felt I was looking at the same things I have seen just with a bit of color added. There is nothing wrong with staying with a proven tool, but lets not try to sell it as the next great innovation that is going to take the world by storm when all you have done is put some paint on it and called it new.
Once again I walked away from the PRSA International Conference feeling very good that I attended. Congratulations to PRSA for putting on a great conference and thank you to all my peers in the industry for time well spent in DC. I walked away more informed than when I got there — and with three key take-aways around reflection, moderation and engagement.
Authored by Trevor Loe, vice president – sales. Follow him on Twitter: @trevorloe