Top Tips for First Time Conference Attendees

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The PRSA 2014 International Conference “Leading the Way. A fearless future for PR” is less than a week away, October 11-14 in Washington D.C.!  If it’s your first time attending PRSA Icon here are some tips from previous first-timers (and New Pros committee members) to help you prep and get the most out of your experience:

151f848Hilary Jurinak, Binny’s Beverage Depot

  1. Perfect your intro. What do you do? Where are you from? Agency or corporate? You are going to hear these questions more than you can imagine. Have a 30 second intro ready as it’ll help when you’re looking to network with many individuals.
  2. Take your time. Spend some extra time talking to vendors at the expo. Stick around for the full dinner and luncheons. You might feel the need to rush around the venue, but you’ll feel less anxious if you try to take more in.
  3. Create goals. What do you want to learn? Who do you want to network with? If your employer is sending you, sit down beforehand with your boss. Let them know what sessions you plan on attending and what you hope to get out of them.
  4. Start digging. Check out the attendee roster that PRSA will have available. Connect with other PR pros beforehand. Plan happy hour meetings, see who’s attending similar sessions or connect with other New Pros attending.
  5. Plan time for fun. This is probably your first big conference working in the “real world.” Plan time for yourself to explore Washington, DC. You deserve it.

Amy BishopAmy Bishop, DigitalRelevance

  1. Plan out your top 6 must-attend sessions. It can feel overwhelming when you look at the PRSA International Conference program 5 minutes before a set of professional development sessions starts. Before you get to Conference, select your top 2-3 sessions for each day to prioritize your time and avoid the feeling rushed.
  2. Make New Connections. It comes naturally to use PRSA International Conference as a reunion with your long-standing PR friends. But take time to get to know a few new connections. Invite your new PR connections to join you for drinks or dinner sometime during Conference.
  3. Sleep. I know PRSA International Conference only comes around once a year, and many PR professionals consider it a holiday in itself. But to make the most of your days and evenings, make sure you get a good nights rest. Also, being well rested will help you transition back into post-conference work more easily.
  4. Remember your job responsibilities. International Conference is a great time for learning and connecting with other professionals. But don’t forget to take a few minutes each day to check your work email and catch up on any work assignments you need to complete that week. You’ll be grateful you took the extra time when you return to the office with a slimmed down inbox.
  5. Join the PRSA New Pros Mixer at Conference. Join the PRSA New Professionals for a happy hour New Pros Mixer on Sunday, October 12 at Mission Restaurant in Dupont Circle.

Bio_PhotoJessica Noonan, Burson-Marsteller

  1. Take handwritten notes. Putting away the laptop is something all of us multi-tasking PR pros have issues with, but you’ll get more out of your sessions if you pay attention. If your employer paid for you to go, make sure to share your notes when you return.
  2. Use social media. As you may have learned from PRSSA conferences, connecting through hashtags is an easy way to engage with fellow attendees. Meet your tweeps in real life at Monday’s #PRSAICON Tweetup.
  3. Meet a board member. While networking in general can be intimidating, go out of your way to say hello to a PRSA board member. It will be well worth your time for a brief conversation that could lead to you understanding more about PRSA or even a future leadership role.
  4. Get to sessions early. I’m not just being Type A here. Some of the most popular sessions fill up even 15 minutes prior to the start time. You’ll have enough time to go to your hotel room and take a nap in between sessions, but consider if the time would be better spent speaking to a presenter or checking out the exhibition. Furthermore, have a back up session you’re also interested in.
  5. Download the app. For those times that a session is full, it’s handy to look in the phone you already have in your hand. Additionally, you can engage with fellow attendees ahead of time. If you don’t know where to start check out our PRSA New Pros session – Navigating the Future of Business as a Hybrid PR Professional – on Monday!

Get the most out of your experience by planning ahead and make sure to have fun too!


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