PRSA’s Western District Conference 2017 Round Up

By Julie Smith-Taylor, APR, PRSA SD/IC Board Member and PRSA Western District Representative

This year’s PRSA annual Western District Conference theme, #PRMATTERS, was a homerun and broke down into three unique and distinctive professional tracks – Tools & Techniques, Integration and Specialization, and Thought Leadership. Held March 2-3 in Riverside, more than 150 people were inspired and motivated by FIVE outstanding keynote speakers and chose from 15 different breakout sessions all tying back in to why #PRMATTERS.

I wish I could have duplicated myself in order to attend more presentations! I took more than 20 pages of notes throughout the conference and had some amazing takeaways.
Here’s 20 top tips I’d like to share with you today:

1. As PR Pros we are strategists, idea generators, critical thinkers, data analysts and visionaries.

2. It takes 20 different impressions today to create an impact, so we must use all of our resources to communicate – sales, marketing and PR with the use of technology in order to drive the message vs. responding to the conversation.

3. Always ask WHY.

4. Embrace different learning and communications styles of your target audience and always gauge responses so you can adjust your efforts to improve response.

5. Check out the USC Center for PR’s Annual Relevancy Report.

6. Today, CEOs are “accelerators” and “influencers” to reputation management efforts, so tell compelling stories based on emotional truth in order to create action and change.

7. The growing use of video is changing the way we tell stories today.

8. In 2020, 80 percent of the workforce will be millennials, so we better be prepared and know how to reach them!

9. “Brands need content, because content creates conversations” Jim Lin – SVP/Creative Director/Ketchum Digital.

10. Did you know that 80 percent of LinkedIn messages are opened more than email?

11. Your goal should be to have at least 500 friends in LinkedIn and that’s easily accomplished if you maximize your profile and spend 30 minutes a day reaching out to others, sharing and posting at key times: Mon. – Fri. before 1 p.m.

12. Remember: “What gets measured, gets improved” – Peter Drucker.

13. There’s great value in using UTM Codes attached to blog posts, embedded in articles and with info graphics to measure results and see where readers actually come from.

14. Check out Iris PR Software, FunctionFox and Teamwork for project and team management software.

15. Check out all these great management tools: Tech Stack, SLACK, Google Analytics, IT Database, Hubspot, Chrome,, CANVA and Outbrain.

16. BoingBoing is the biggest blogger in the world!

17. There is no overnight solution to business growth. It takes consistency, creativity and providing value to customers.

18. Always provide VALUE and LISTEN to clients.

19. It’s critical as PR pros to have a seat at the table with all the leaders of an organization when major decisions are being made.

20. “Always remember to laugh. It makes an impact and leads to creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. It also creates lasting memories.” – Jane Dvorak – PRSA National President 2017.

The highlight of the entire conference for me was when our PRSA Chapter Treasurer, Bill Gay, APR, Fellow, was honored as the recipient of the prestigious 2017 Platinum Award for Service to our profession. I was able to accept the award on Bill’s behalf and it was a pleasure to do so because Bill is so deserving of this award!

To me, this event is by far the best and most affordable investment you can make in your professional development when it comes to PRSA sponsored conferences. I hope you’ll make every effort to make it part of your annual professional development budget and experience. If you weren’t able to attend, it is possible to contact many of the presenters directly to obtain their presentations and additional resources, including their books.

Please contact me for more information or any questions you may have!

Julie Smith-Taylor, APR
PRSA Western District Representative