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PRSA International Conference Detroit: A Halloween Perspective

Posted on Oct 20th, 2008
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    Next weekend, I will be deployed to Detroit, MI  to attend 2008’s PRSA International Conference titled “The Point of Connection” and will be sharing thoughts on several sessions, in addition to general overviews of the event itself, on behalf of Online Marketing Blog readers. So what am I looking forward to most about the PRSA International conference?

    Visiting Detroit, of course!  When most think of Detroit, they will no doubt reflect on the history of Motown, past flawed baseball greats such as Ty Cobb and Denny McClain, or “Detroit Rock City”.  My nerdom leads me elsewhere, however.

    For me, Detroit will always be immortalized as the city that hosted the monumental world premiere of  “Night of the Demons” in Halloween of 1988.  Per IMDB’s invaluable trivia feature, had this filmed opened nationwide with the numbers posted in Detroit, it would have ranked among the top grossing horror films of the decade.

    The reason I begin the post with this story is not simply that this conference is being held just before Halloween, but rather the conference itself is populated with excellent sessions with a true bend towards social media and ROI – two oceans I navigate through seemingly daily in my work at TopRank Online Marketing.

    The pre-conference workshop, “Optimizing Content for Optimum Search Results: Search Engine Optimization for News” run by TopRank’s CEO Lee Odden promises to shed light on (and in the process dispelling any zombie like myths) the intersection of search engine optimization and news content. Journalists and bloggers use search and the social web for more efficient research and this workshop will show PR professionals how they can leverage SEO to faciliate both “PULL PR” and increased online news distribution.

    In the session “The Changed PR Landscape: What Works, What Doesn’t” (including a panel of digital PR experts including moderator Peter Himler, principal, Flatiron Communications LLC, Rob Key, founder & CEO, Converseon, David Bradfield, senior vice president and partner at FH Digital and CEO Lee Odden) social media channels and tactics such as wikis, Twitter, Facebook, etc, will be discussed at length – and the question posed will be – with the advent of social media, should PR professionals throw out traditional PR techniques in favor of increased focus on these new channels?

    This session will help with this critical question, which is one I have to answer on behalf of many of my clients whose objectives we achieve by harnessing the streams of new marketing techniques and PR.

    Will the future see distributing press releases to traditional media outlets as our highest impact tactic towards our clients end goals, or will creating a Twitter account where CEOs can express their innermost interests (favorite horror movies, as I did above, for instance?) in an effort to humanize themselves be most effective?

    The answer is dependent on ROI – another major focus of this conference, particularly relevant in our tougher economic times.

    Going back to Night of the Demons, imagine if the producers would have had the foresight to spend the extra distribution costs to distribute nationally, rather than just geographically.  On the other side of that coin, imagine if other horror producers learned from this film that their latest budget conscious opuses could turn a tidy profit with a geographic focus.

    Sessions like “True Tales From the Social Media Measurement Trenches — Using Research to Learn and Improve Your Programs” (featuring Shonali Burke, vice president, media and communications, ASPCA and Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO, KDPaine & Partners) will illustrate how a measurement system tied to public relations will help to further overall marketing results, while  “What’s the ROI of Your Press Release” (featuring Laura Sturaitis, senior vice president, media & product services, Business Wire and Greg Jarboe, president, SEO-PR) will describe how to get the most out of traditional press releases in our web 2.0 world – again, with the objective of increasing overall marketing results.

    Other sessions I look forward to attending include:

    • Media Myths & Realities with Nicholas Scibetta, global director, global media, Ketchum
    • Word of Mouth Online v. Offline with Jeffrey Graham, executive director,customer insight, The New York Times
    • How to Leverage Current Consumer Trends and Most Effectively Communicate With Green Media, with Annie Longsworth, president, San Francisco office, Cohn & Wolfe

    I look forward to this conference and to checking in with TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog readers starting next week!

    If you’re attending PRSA International in Detroit next week, be sure to register for the half day pre-conference session on SEO for PR and News Content” Saturday, October 25, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.