2018 PR Summit – A Recap on the Minds & Brands Driving Pittsburgh Forward

By: Ashley Jones

On Wednesday, November 7, Pittsburgh PR professionals in various stages of their careers and aspiring students took time from the typical evening of late-night work and last-minute essay writing to attend this year’s annual PR Summit at SLATE STUDIOS. Located in the Strip District, the recently opened event venue has been freshly renovated, however maintains its original molded ceiling – a feature common among buildings in historic areas such the Strip and South Side. Its mix of restoration and antiquity served as a most fitting setting for this year’s PR Summit theme: Legends of Pittsburgh: Old, New & Resurrected.

After an indulgence of Iron City Beer and Iron Born Pizza, President of the PRSA Pittsburgh Chapter Meredith Klein kicked the night off with an eloquent introduction that reminded all attendees to use the occasion as an opportunity to network, pose questions, bounce ideas and, ultimately, celebrate the profession and the city in which we all have found our individual successes.

The evening’s keynote speaker, Melissa Wade, Senior Communications Director, VisitPITTSBURGH, delved into what makes Pittsburgh “hot.” In other words, what makes Pittsburgh an attraction? How do we get people here? From the arts to the scenery to the food to (who could forget?) the sports, Pittsburgh has a multitude of diverse activities and culture incomparable to other cities and alluring to anyone who isn’t a native. While the current foodie scene and tech boom earn Pittsburgh current recognition and entice outsiders, its rich history is also embraced. Wade reminded the room that Pittsburgh is, and always has been, a city of innovation. Pittsburgh brought the nation the first movie theater, the Polio Vaccine, the Big Mac, among other milestones. But, what makes Pittsburgh truly welcoming, unique and resilient? The people who drive it forward.

“We’re not just a city of the future. We ARE the future,” said Wade in her closing sentiments.

Following Wade’s presentation and a brief intermission was a panel truly representative of the “old, new & resurrected.” Panelists included Chris Daley, Senior Manager, Digital Media, UPMC; Anthony Vennare, CEO & Co-Founder, Fitt; and Ben Butler, APR, Founder, Top Hat — the agency of record for Iron City Beer. Dan Ayer, Founder, Field General Communications, served as a comedic moderator as he guided the conversation and Q&A segments for topics including ideation, growth and recreating relevance. From the consistency of a staple like UPMC, to the formation of a new company, to the revival of an original Pittsburgh brand, attendees were exposed to various perspectives and approaches to branding and PR at the different stages of a brand’s journey.

Despite what phase we as professionals are at in our careers, or what stage our clients are in in their own journeys, Chris Daley said it best, “It’s about having the best idea and doing it service.”

Thank you to our sponsors, speakers and attendees for making PR Summit such an enjoyable and informative event.

Reminder – Call for entries for the 2019 Renaissance Awards is OPEN! Submit your best work, now!

Interested in serving on the 2019 PRSA Pittsburgh Board? Contact Meredith Klein or Ben Butler to learn more about the opportunities currently available!

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