Notes from Philly

By: Chris Smith, Greater Fort Worth PRSA President

PhillyPhoto-IndependenceHallLRSay “cheeeeeeeese.” Click. Another photo taken of friends, colleagues or speakers. Say cheese again, but this time to go along with your traditional Philly cheeseteak. Then think “cheesy” for just a second when you first see those outlandish Mummers costumes.

Fun, photos and food certainly made the trip memorable, but add to that the latest and greatest in professional development and the result was exceptional value from this year’s PRSA 2013 International Conference in Philadelphia.

My own personal experience reflected the conference theme, “One World: Connection. Community. Collaboration.” That is, I truly felt “connected” to my peers through thought-provoking conversations and warmly received by new colleagues and senior-level practitioners freely offering sage advice.

On top of it all, our Chapter shined with Gigi Westerman, APR, being named a new PRSA Fellow, and Julie Wilson, APR, receiving the Lloyd B. Dennis Distinguished Leadership Award. Additionally, Margaret Ritsch, APR, shared her expertise on an Educator’s Academy panel about starting a student agency.


Indeed Fort Worth was well represented. Other members attending the conference or pre-conference were Carolyn Bobo, APR, Fellow PRSA, Doug Newsom, APR, Fellow PRSA, and Holly Ellman.


Consider attending next year’s conference in Washington, D.C. to build upon your own professional career. There’s simply no equivalent when it comes to professional public relations conferences.

Below are takeaways from my own perspective this year, but to find out what others experienced and thought, do a Twitter search with the #PRSAICON hashtag. There are plenty of blogs and videos already popping up to give you a sense of being there.

  • “Brands are now people and people are now brands.”
  • “Social media risk training is the new sexual harassment training of our era.”
  • “I can work from anywhere with technology.”
  • “Be authentic. Be who you are.”
  • In video communication, you need a mix to get out your message. The media mix is ESPO (earned, shared, paid and owned).
  • “Be resilient in the face of adversity.”
  • “The role of a leader is not to know everything, but how to find the answers for what your team needs at that moment.”
  • In presentations, use the 10.20.30 principle: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font.
  • Your brand is a combination of “functional and emotional” value.
  • “Public relations is about collaboration, co-creation.”
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