ICON 2020: Offerings for New Pros

PRSA’s international conference is going virtual this year, and that means it’s more affordable than ever for new public relations pros to attend. Forget the travel fees and business cards — all you need to attend ICON 2020 is a reliable computer, a clock set to EDT*, decent internet and your event registration.

From Oct. 26 through Oct. 29, attendees can expect to learn from educational offerings, virtually explore exhibit halls and network with professionals from all over the world.

Not sure where to start? Here are our top, relevant offerings for PRSA New Pros to attend.

Day One: Oct. 26

After attending the 10 a.m. ICON Orientation to make the most of your virtual experience, hop on over to the 11 a.m. Opening General Session. ICON’s keynote speaker, Jon Meacham, is described as “one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals.” Listen in to find out why.

After that, join The Future Is Now: Recruiting, Retaining and Developing Future PR leaders From Millennials and Generation Z with our very own National New Pros Committee Membership Chair Landis Tindell! He’ll share insights about New Pros with co-speaker Eric Wilson.

At 1:30 p.m., check out Exploring Advocacy, Activism and Related Trends (And What They Might Mean for Your Organization) as you consider how businesses are responding — and which ones you want to work for in the future. 2:30 p.m. begins Navigating Through Crisis With Confidence: Lessons in Crisis Management From COVID-19, which promises to share timely lessons learned.

Attend CCO Therapy: Tips, Tricks and Advice for New (and Aspiring) Communications Leaders at 3:30 p.m. for best leader practices and consider meeting a few industry veterans at the Opening Night Reception from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Day Two: Oct. 27

The second day of ICON kicks off with Carolynn Johnson, chief executive officer of DiversityInc Media LLC and today’s keynote speaker taking the (virtual) stage at 11 a.m. Next, Bridging the Integration Gap: How Communications and Marketing Can Work Together to Create a Unified Brand Strategy will give real collaborative insight into how you’ll work with Marketing as a public relations pro at 12:45 p.m., though you may consider skipping out early to attend the Silver Anvil Awards at 1:45 p.m. and get a close look at what we consider exceptional work.

Humanizing Communications: How To Create Thoughtful and Inclusive Narratives at 3:30 p.m. focuses on incorporating diverse voices and recognizing unconscious biases. After that, the schedule is wide open for you to attend the Diversity & Inclusion Celebration: Transforming the Landscape event taking place at 6:30 p.m.

Day Three: Oct. 28

Keynote speaker and author of How to Lose the Information War, Nina Jankowicz, will open ICON at 11 a.m. What Every PR Pro Needs To Know About SEO prepares New Pros at 12:30 p.m. with ways to boost search engine optimization. Attorney and keynote speaker Lata Nott is known for sharing insights relating to the freedom of expression and internet speech policy, and will be speaking at 1:30 p.m.

3:10 p.m. reveals many relevant sessions for New Pros, but we think the most promising is Grace Under Pressure: Balancing Human Dignity With the Media Frenzy Around the Coronavirus. Not only will it center on COVD-19 crisis communications, but it’ll specifically tackle tough topics like neutralizing hostile audiences in the heat of the moment and dealing with “fake news” in real-time.

Sessions that look ahead often provide inspiration for our own day-to-day (especially as new professionals who may not have much experience to draw on), and The Future of PR: Today’s Trends That Shape the Profession of Tomorrow at 4:10 p.m. does just that.

Next is networking! If that’s an area you struggle with, never fear — you can easily mix and mingle at the Expo Hall Exhibitor Reception and Virtual Happy Hour. Don’t be afraid to jump into public and private chat rooms from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Day Four: Oct. 29

Our final keynote speaker features Laurie Garrett, an award-winning science writer and author speaking at 11 a.m. The Upside of Downturn: Unlocking the Hidden Benefits of Crisis at 12:30 p.m. offers opportunities to prepare before a crisis (and explains why crisis comms is nothing to run away from).

At 1:30 p.m., Insights on Inclusion: Addressing Covering and Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace tackles very real problems for New Pros and discusses why there’s always room (and a need!) for inclusion in the workplace. A Candid Conversation on the Impact and Challenges of COVID-19 to Hospitals, VA and Health Insurance Providers will feature a panel at 2:30 p.m. with four guests talking about very real public relations challenges they continue to face in the time of COVID-19.

Whether you’re on the hunt for a job or have already secured one, Strategically Developing and Promoting You, Your Image and Your Career: A Career Action Plan Workshop at 3:30 p.m. will offer best practices for navigating your career. The final event takes place at 4:30 p.m., and Finding Resiliency for Your Membership and Yourself During a Pandemic is a great way to end ICON with the confidence and information you need in 2020.

Now that you’ve seen our recommendations, take a look at ICON’s full schedule yourself to make sure you don’t miss any sessions that may better pique your interest. Every offering available on the schedule has been hand-picked by PRSA, and will only benefit you to attend. The sessions listed here may be best for New Pros just getting started, but only you can decide which events will specifically benefit you most.

See you at the conference!

*All listed times represent Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

PRSA New Pros 2016 ICON Recap

The Public Relations Society of America’s annual International Conference was held Oct. 23-25, 2016 in Indianapolis, Ind. We’re thrilled that a number of New Professionals section members were able to attend, and if you weren’t, read on for our recap.

New Pros Breakfast

The conference officially kicked off Sunday, with New Pros gathering for a networking breakfast.

Thanks to all who joined our New Pros session at PRSA International Conference – it was great to meet some fellow new pros and hear from seasoned professionals from the College of Fellows. We covered tips including first jobs and how to get involved in PRSA. If you’re interested in getting more involved and volunteering for the New Pros section, reach out to get involved! – Jessica Noonan, Chair, PRSA New Pros

Planning to join PRSA in the next couple months? Use the code AM16 to get a free New Pros Section membership when you apply to become a PRSA Associate Member.

“Where Are They Now?” – New Pros Panel at #PRSSANC

The New Pros section also hosted a panel for students at the PRSSA National Conference. Top tips included:

My advice to my 21-year-old self would be to relax. Don’t worry so much about graduation and focus on making the most of your last classes, internships and time as a student. – Nick Lucido, Immediate Past Chair, PRSA New Pros

You can rely on your network for support and guidance for the job search. But if you’ve gone dark on a person for a nine months and reappear asking for help it may not be as helpful as if you kept the relationship strong over time, so stay in touch with your connections. – Brian Price, Chair-Elect, PRSA New Pros

I was once told, “The only person holding you back is yourself.” Don’t be a roadblock to your own success. Believe you can achieve everything you dream of, be confident, and don’t let fear keep you from trying. – Heather Harder, Programming Chair, PRSA New Pros

Management Session Recap

On the final day of conference, the section led a session for New Pros (and their supervisors) on how to manage your first intern/new hire, client, project, and more. Top takeaways include:

To effectively manage up or be managed from below you must clarify and manage expectations and respect the boundaries and communication style preferences of the people that you work with on a daily basis. – Ruthann Campbell, Programming Chair, PRSA New Pros

When it comes to first-time managers, you have to be flexible. Remember that you are combining someone with little experience in management, with someone who has little experience in being managed. To effectively support your new hires, remember the 5’s: set expectations, structure, share (time, knowledge and networks), support and self-growth (because new pro managers learn too!). – Andrea Gils, PRSSA Liaison, PRSA New Pros

New Pros should begin managing their first client account or project once they have a successful track record of work, can handle an increased workload and have set expectations. It’s good exposure for them, especially with upper management and for mentorship opportunities. – Hanna Porterfield, Blog Chair, PRSA New Pros

Want to learn more on this topic? Join our next #NPPRSA Twitter chat on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

ICON Testimonials

Wondering if it’s worth going to PRSA ICON as a New Pro? Looking to convince your employer to help you attend next year? Simply want to learn more? We’d love to see you!

This was my first time experience with a PRSA conference. Attending would not have been possible without my involvement with PRSA New Pros as it was through volunteering for the national committee that I was presented with the opportunity to speak. It was invigorating to be able to meet new people and hear about the similar struggles and challenges being faced by professionals in all stages of their career and industries. I learned a lot about new tools and strategies to help me be more effective in my role at a non-profit. If you have the opportunity to get involved and participate at any level of PRSA, I highly recommend that you do so and in the words of a College of Fellow representative, don’t’ just join, join in! – Ruthann

#PRSAICON has been THE highlight of my year. I can’t believe it was my first conference and I was able to present too – all thanks to PRSA New Pros! My favorite part of this year’s conference was being able to talk to a new pro after our session. She was so engaged not just during our presentation but afterward as well. She was facing challenges that we’ve all have faced as new pros and it was very rewarding to be able to listen to her and help her tackle her challenges. I think there’s a perception that PRSA New Pros is for those who just graduated from college or PRSSA – and it is – but it’s also for those who are seasoned pros and may be new to public relations. Our session showed me that there are a variety of New Pros, who are all equally interested in our section and what it has to offer. – Andrea

Check out more recaps from general sessions on PRSA’s website. Contact any of our section committee members to learn more and see you at PRSA ICON in Boston, Oct. 8-10, 2017.

Join PRSA New Pros at PRSA ICON

The PRSA New Professionals Section is very excited to announce our networking session during the upcoming PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis from Oct. 23-25!

PRSA New Pros will host a networking breakfast and discussion on Oct. 23 featuring:

  • Updates from the New Pros Section leaders
  • Information on how you can get more involved
  • A guest speaker from the PRSA Board
  • 30-minute networking and Q&A session to meet new pros from around the country


We would love our members’ input on what you would like included during the networking time. Please comment below with any ideas around what would be most beneficial to you during the networking session. Feel free to also pre-submit questions you would like to ask during the Q&A portion, which will include discussion with other New Pros to help solve challenges you’ve faced professionally. You may also submit ideas and questions via email to Jess Noonan, Heather Harder and/or Ruthann Campbell or tweet us @PRSANewPros.

Please RSVP for the breakfast here.

We look forward to seeing you at #PRSAICON!

 —The New Pros Committee Chairs

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!