I’ve always been reluctant in attending out of town conferences – what can I say? I’m a worker bee who gets heart palpitations being away from her desk for too long! But this year, I’ve been working hard to challenge myself professionally.
About a month ago, I attended the Southern Public Relations Conference (SPRF) conference in Tupelo, Mississippi (home of the beloved and late Elvis Presley). This was the first industry conference I’ve attended during my professional career. Initially, I mapped out the sessions that I really wanted to attend, but had no idea what additional tools I would be leaving with. But here are some high-level learnings that I returned with, beyond an Elvis impersonator serenade:
Working in PR day in and day out at an agency, you get into a groove that makes your job seem cyclical. Not that process is to blame, because strategy is always the leader of all we do, but we’re all guilty of reaching out to the same media for opportunities or using the same/similar nonprofits to partner with for an event. We can all admit to using time on our side to avoid overages and keeping our client’s budgets at the forefront.
It’s great to see how other agencies and even in-house conduct the craft on their end. For example, maybe it’s how they track time or what software tools they use to make the best and most accurate media lists; it’s great to chat with other industry professionals on their approaches. The more you learn, the more armor you have in your professional toolbox.
Getting Out of Your Routine Sparks Anew
Attending sessions about others experiences and the tools they use to garner success would have to be my favorite. For example, one of the sessions that resonated with me most was by the communications professional for Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge during the responses to the July 2016 tragedy on the Baton Rouge Police Department and just three weeks later the Baton Rouge flooding in August 2016. Listening to his response strategies and how he handled an intense amount of media was not only impressive, but certainly enlightening to a budding professional like myself.
You Meet Some Pretty Cool People
I met folks from universities, nonprofits and even the Louisiana Lottery. Likely, these are folks that I would have never met otherwise. Maybe you’re looking to grow your business, find a seasoned mentor to have in your court for professional advice and guidance, or maybe just a new friend to meet for happy hour or coffee. The folks you meet at conferences provide you with just that – connections.
Like I mentioned before, being away from my desk was tough since phone email doesn’t always lend itself to the easiest retrievals and responses with your thumbs; regardless, I challenge you to attend a conference in your field. It is a great learning experience. And how does the old adage go? Knowledge is power.
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