What We Learned at PRSA Pittsburgh’s PR Summit

By WordWrite Communications

[ This is a post from our 2017 PR Summit silver sponsor, WordWrite Communications, a strategic communications consulting firm based in downtown Pittsburgh. ]

This time of year is certainly full of professional development opportunities for those of us in this field. In the last 4 weeks, members of our team had an opportunity to travel to Boston to attend INBOUND as well as the PRSA 2017 International Conference.

When we found out that PRSA Pittsburgh was hosting a PR Summit here in our hometown, we were thrilled to support it as a silver sponsor!

Marketing and communications is a constantly evolving, fast-paced industry. With the changing media landscape and rise of new social media channels and digital tools at our disposal, it’s critical we stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

At WordWrite, we encourage our employees to take full advantage of these professional development opportunities. And with an office full of PR and social media pros eager to learn, grow and offer the best services to our clients, it doesn’t take much convincing. Below are key takeaways that members of the team learned this year at the PR Summit.

Paul Furiga, President & CEO

“The big takeaway for me is that even as technology changes, the core of great public relations is two-way connection and communication.

Jenn Bane from Cards for Humanity made that clear in her keynote. Cards is a smart, millennial-conceived and millennial-run company that is supremely smart about social media marketing. At the end of the day, the marketing is all about a card came, quite literally printed cards used not in a virtual reality but when people get together. At the end of the day, social media tools make it possible to connect in ways that we didn’t know about two decades ago. That connection is still between real people, with real dialogue and real interactions.”

Noah Fleming, Digital and Inbound Marketing Specialist 

“Events like the PR Summit are perfect for networking whether you are a student or working professional. It’s an opportunity to meet people in the PR field and make connections with people you wouldn’t normally talk to on a regular basis.

I learned a lot about what actually goes into planning a Super Bowl commercial. The commercial itself is only a small piece of the puzzle. Website creation, social media strategies, and PR placements are what drives the overall messaging for the campaign before, during and after the commercial actually airs.”

Louis Spanos, Account Coordinator

“As the newest member to the WordWrite team, I was excited to attend the media panel. It was great to get some face time with the reporters I pitch to, and to also hear what they look for in a story. Megan Harris from 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR affiliate, gave great insight when she stated that she likes when reporters tell her what types of sounds she can use for a broadcast story. Whether it be interesting textures or someone with a great speaking voice, sound is paramount to an engaging radio story, so the pitches should reflect that.”

Diana Dugina, Creative Director

I thoroughly enjoyed the first PRSA Summit keynoted by Jenn Bane. The Cards Against Humanity’s community manager delivered an insightful and surprisingly undisruptive event. I kept expecting a pop-up to appear on the stage somehow. Never-the-less, Ms. Bane told a witty and compelling story. The concept and application of ‘disruptive advertising’ is a thought-provoking approach. It requires the advertiser to weigh and measure if they can sell that hat and wear it well: a much easier endeavor for a newly established company or advertiser.

Jenn Bane’s address led us to the evening’s second keyword ‘authentic.’ As advertisers, we can portray anything with authenticity, but the market is increasingly savvy, and they check to see just how that hat is worn. The unexpected and beautiful 84 Lumber Super Bowl spot was indeed a successful example of the disruption and authentic approach. From the perspective of a wistful girl on her difficult journey with her mother, the advertisement certainly stood out from the KFC Colonel, Mr. Clean and Go Daddy. I don’t know how many refugees or immigrants they have since employed, but I hope they’ve donned their hat and sweater and are wearing them well.

Robin Rectenwald, Senior Account Executive

“This year’s PR Summit theme was all about disruption and how to communicate authentic messages that resonate with your audience. For me, the biggest takeaway from this year’s conference was “just do it.” Many of the speakers admitted they don’t necessarily know what they are doing – they just try things out and go for it. For example, Jenn Bane from Cards Against Humanity said, “You don’t need to have all of the answers to get started, you just need to start.”

I also enjoyed the inside peak into Pittsburgh’s top newsrooms – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, TribLIVE and 90.5 WESA. Jeremy Boren, the Digital Managing Editor at TribLIVE said he gets at least 12 pitches every hour! Here are some of my favorite quotes from the media panel:

  • “Sell it to me in six words.” – Megan Harris, 90.5 WESA
  • “Make your name known to reporters. Ask for coffee or lunch to get to know them.” – Jeremy Boren, TribLIVE
  • “When pitching, know what the reporter covers.” – Joyce Gannon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • “Lead your pitch with an action. Act like you’re telling a friend what you did at work over a beer.” – Megan Harris, 90.5 WESA
  • “We’re curious people and we want to hear something new and interesting just like our readers do.” – Jeremy Boren, TribLIVE

Thank you to PRSA Pittsburgh for planning and hosting an inspiring evening for our PR community! We were happy to be a part of it!

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