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 2014 International Conference Highlights

This year, the PRSA International Conference was in Washington, D.C. and a few members of the PRSA New Professionals Section executive committee and members of the Section overall were in attendance to give a recap and highlights.

Here are a few key insights shared to #PRSAIcon throughout the conference:

What was your favorite part of this year’s PRSA International Conference?

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!


A New Pro’s Guide to #PRSAICON in Washington D.C.

403 x 403(1)The annual PRSA International Conference is just a few weeks away from October 11-14 in Washington D.C.! The theme this year is “Leading the Way. A fearless future for PR.”

You may be so busy meeting up with old PRSSA and PRSA friends or old colleagues that you might not have time to plan out what sessions to attend once you get there. The time to check out and plan out sessions is now.

To start, there are five tracks you can follow, which include:

  1. Integration
  2. Tools and techniques
  3. Specialization
  4. Strategy and Measurement
  5. Leadership and Management

Or you can pick your own path. I suggest looking at the tracks first to see if you’re interested in one, but there are so many sessions to pick from you might want sessions around a variety of topics.

Here is a list I’ve put together of sessions/events I think will be particularly useful for new professionals:

When: October 11 from 5-8 pm
Where: Marriott Foyer Mezzanine
Hosted by the PRSA Diversity Committee and sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company

  • Newcomers Orientation

When: October 12 from 10-11 am
Where: Washington 3/4
Why attend: This is a newcomers orientation for first-time attendees so you can connect with and get tips from veterans and learn all the opportunities/events you can attend.

When: October 12 from 3-4:15 pm
Where: Virginia A/B
Track: Leadership and Management
Why attend: It can be hard to work with different generations, we all know that. This session will show you ways to create a team and a results culture that spans the ages, as well as hear ideas and approaches to managing, motivating and mentoring across multiple generations.

  • New Pros Mixer!

When: October 12 from 5:30 to 9 pm
Where: Mission Restaurant in Dupont Circle
Why attend: Join the PRSA New Professionals for a happy hour New Pros Mixer on Sunday to network and meet up with New Professionals attending PRSAICON. RSVP here.

When: October 13 from 10-11:15 am
Where: Coolidge
Track: Strategy and Measurement
Why attend: Learn how to track and evaluate media coverage, measure public opinion, and shape internal and external perceptions during critical communications campaigns, crisis events and product launches.

When: October 13 from 3:15-4:30 pm
Where: Maryland C
Track: Integration
Why attend: This session is hosted by the New Professionals Section. It will cover how to become a hybrid PR professional in order to lead more successful, integrated campaigns and will also identify skills and traits optimized for the digital age.

When: October 14 from 8-9:15 am
Where: Maryland A/B
Track: Specialization
Why attend: Expectations of a career in PR really differs from the reality of a practitioner’s everyday life. This session will discuss strategies to manage expectations and learn how to face challenges of the work-life fit.

Other things to check out:

  • The exhibit hall
  • Mentoring with the College of Fellows
  • Demystifying to APR on October 12 from 11 am to 12 pm
  • Reigniting AT&T’s Engaging with the LGBT Community on October 13 from 10-11:15 am
  • 11 Deadly Presentation Sins on October 14 from 2:15-3:30 pm

There are many more sessions to check out, these are just a few that stood out for new professionals (in my opinion). Make sure you look at the full International Conference program for more sessions, events, coffee breaks, trainings and boot camps.

Comment below if you want to plug a session or if you see another you think new professionals should attend!


0114bd7Lauren Gray is a Project Manager at The Visual Brand in Westport, CT and also serves as the PRSA New Professionals Section blog co-chair and PRSA New York new professionals co-chair. She also served as the PRSSA 2012-2013 National President. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkgray and connect with her on LinkedIn.

The Future of Public Relations Depends On You: Calling All Teachers!

173312870Those of you who are just starting out in your careers can probably remember the college professors who, not very long ago, did the best job motivating you, captivating you and exposing you to the possibilities in the world.  We need more teachers like that in the public relations profession.   We’re talking about teachers who can bring a combination of real-world experience and in-depth knowledge of the profession to the classroom.

The “Learning to Teach” program is a collaborative effort led by PRSA’s College of Fellows Educational Initiatives committee, PRSA’s Educational Affairs committee and PRSA’s Educators Academy.  It is designed to give those PR professionals who want to teach – as either an adjunct or full-time professor – an introduction to academia and a foundation for success in the classroom.

Last year, we began with some research of our PRSA members and discovered that only 1% of respondents had taken the “Learning to Teach” course, though 60% said they were very likely to consider an adjunct position in the future and 26% said they were very likely to consider a full-time teaching position.  63% said they would take the “Learning to Teach” course if it were offered remotely.

About Learning To Teach

Anyone can take the “Learning to Teach” course…whether they are interested in  teaching now or in the future.  The course covers:

  • Guidelines on looking for a teaching position
  • The application process
  • The “honeymoon vs. reality” behind teaching – duties and expectations
  • Basic tools & resources for developing materials
  • Tips for effective course planning & researching the history of your course
  • Measuring learning

This year, several PRSA Sections, Chapters and Districts are sponsoring programs on Learning to Teach – via teleconferences or via programs piggybacked on their conferences.  If enough people register, the course might also be offered at the PRSA International Conference in October 2014 in Washington, DC.

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If you have any questions about this course want to learn more, contact Robin Schell at rschell@jjwpr.com or 603-770-3607.


This post was written by Judy VanSlyke Turk, APR, Fellow PRSA and Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, co-chairs of the Educational Initiatives Committee of the PRSA College of Fellows.