Â Some 150 PR professionals filled the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1 for PR News' How-To Conference, which spanned a full range of topics essential to the modern PR practitioner—from new strategies in social media measurement to proven tactics in crisis communications. Though much of the day focused on creating and implementing strategies for newer digital platforms, there were other sessions that covered how to conduct a communications audit, how to launch a new product or service with savvy PR and how to distinguish the impact of PR efforts on ROI, among others.
Idil Cakim, SVP of interactive media for GolinHarris’s Dialogue group, spoke about identifying and engaging with online influencers. “Stay in touch, follow relevant thought leaders on Twitter, and when there’s an appropriate time to elaborate or comment, then jump in,” she said. “Be prepared for badvocates, know the clout of naysayers and have a plan for how to respond. Assess whether they are skewing facts and whether you need to get engaged in that fight.”
Rich Pesce, Sprint’s senior manager of social media and digital communications, addressed how to measure social media efforts’ impact on increasing sales, brand awareness and/or a company’s reputation. “Measurement approaches must be multifaceted," Pesce said. "At Sprint, we do this qualitatively by looking at brand sentiments, and qualitatively by analyzing specific trends with a device or issue with a software update. It’s best to break it down into categories, then divide it among business communities: brand image, customer care, competitive watch and marketing.”
While the event’s attendees engaged with one another throughout the day by tweeting under the “#prhowto” hash tag, the day’s keynote panel discussion held the crowd’s full attention. Moderated by former CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, a panel of journalists spoke about how PR professionals and the media can maintain quality relationships. “There are certain people in PR that I really admire. The gold standard PR person is someone with whom I already have a relationship with, or someone who has done their research and tells me that they read my piece last week,” said columnist Eliza Newlin Carney of the National Journal. “When they say they’ll get back to me, they do so within a couple of hours. It’s Business 101: maintaining personal relationships and building trust.”
Shauna Casey, communications director/social business strategist for Ant’s Eye View, led an energetic and insightful session discussing how to leverage Twitter and Facebook to advance a company’s PR efforts. “It’s always a good idea to keep your blog strong, but another great strategy is to push to Facebook as your information hub rather than your blog,” she said. “Since people are already spending so much time on Facebook and may be reluctant to leave for your blog, its a good idea to engage them where they are.”