My Trip to the 2018 PRSA Southeast District Conference

By Ashley McCloud

I had the pleasure of attending the 2018 PRSA Southeast District Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. As I drove my car over the North Carolina mountains, I was excited to participate in my first PRSA conference and see what Raleigh had to offer since it was my first time visiting!

On the first day, I got to hear from Anthony D’Angelo, PRSA National Chair, the communications team from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and a panel of tourism experts from Raleigh. It was hard not to draw comparisons from Raleigh’s growth to Knoxville’s!

Thursday and Friday were filled with more breakouts where I heard about the future of messaging and bots from the Chief Marketing Officer from HubSpot, discussed trends in social media with Matt See, Senior Vice President of FleishamnHillard, and discovered how Clemson University is using creative storytelling via video to expand their audience for research and technical news.

One of the best presentations of the week came on Friday morning from Charles C. Weathers as he discussed the illusion of inclusion in the workplace. Out of all that I learned at this conference, a quote from Mr. Weathers struck a cord and will stick with me, “instead of expecting agreement we should walk into a room seeking understanding.”

Here are a few more take-aways from my week at the Southeast District Conference:

  • Don’t be afraid to admit your plan doesn’t work, but be willing to shift your approach
  • 71% of people would rather use a messaging app to get customer assistance than speak to a person
  • Don’t create a social platform strategy; create a ‘how do we talk to our audience’ strategy and then you all channels at your disposal
  • When in a crisis and there is nothing to say:
    • be empathetic
    • be honest
    • talk about processes
    • commit to following up
    • don’t speculate
  • We need more than the presence of difference to make a difference

 I’m very thankful for my PRSA chapter for sending me to Raleigh and giving me a chance to learn from so many great experts in our field!

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