PRSSA Leadership Rally Lessons

Biggest Lessons from the 2018 PRSSA Leadership Rally

A weekend in Arizona teaches visitors a lot of things. Always carry more water than you think you need, never say “no” to sunscreen and especially, public relations brings out the best in us. Well, maybe the last one didn’t apply to everyone, but for those who attended the PRSSA Leadership Rally in Scottsdale, that lesson was absolute. Of course, none of us traveled to the Southwest just to praise ourselves; we came together to expand our leadership skills, to find out what the PRSSA and PRSA have to offer and to expand our networks (because every PR event involves that). I learned quite a lot during this three-day event, and I’d like to share some of those lessons.

The first lesson came from Keith Burton, an industry leader in internal communication as well as crisis communication. He noticed some trends in public relations that affected everyone in the field, including students. One such trend was that “average” was officially dead. As old standards are surpassed by exceptional practice, new standards are set, and exceptional becomes nothing special. Public relations is in this transition right now, and with formerly exotic tools like social media becoming the norm, experts no longer have the luxury of relying on specialties.

Another speaker, Scott W. Thornburg, APR, reflected on both his past successes and failures. He noted that failure is going to happen, but that’s okay. It’s going to be difficult when it happens, but if you push through, you’ll only make yourself better. Michelle Olson, APR, Alisa Agozzino, Ph.D., APR, Ben Butler, APR and PRSSA Immediate Past President Andrew Cook also offered their own experiences and advice, completing a cast of well-versed guest speakers.

Nevertheless, the most important lesson over the weekend came outside of the sessions. For three days, PRSSA members from all chapters were able to connect face-to-face and begin relationships. We shared ideas, planned collaborations, explored Scottsdale and Phoenix and relaxed by the pool. Everyone also welcomed recently elected PRSSA President Andrew Young, whose focus throughout his term is diversity and inclusion. Many of us never met before, but that’s the only way to make new friends.

Attending the 2018 PRSSA Leadership Rally was memorable, and I encourage all future presidents and firm directors to take part. Events like these prove that there is always something to learn, and it is best when learned together.

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