Event Recap: Diving into Digital

Last week, the next generation of local PR practitioners gathered at Edelman for PRSA-LA YP’s third panel discussion of the year, which focused on the timely and topical issue of digital.  Speakers Siobhan O’Neill of our host agency and Heather McConnell of Hill & Knowlton discussed the various digital tools available to PR professionals today and made recommendations on how we, the young professional demographic, can leverage them not only to be the best advocates possible for our clients but also to advance our careers.

Appropriately, @angelcityblues began her introduction by asking us all to smile as she took a Twitpic before giving us a brief background on how she got into the PR field–specifically as a result of having no previous experience in PR.  She is currently an account supervisor in the digital practice at Edelman.

@HMcConnell introduced herself with a story of working at network giant Cisco Systems convincing executives that this “blogging thing” may catch on and they should look into it.  From her experience there, she nailed down an account supervisor position at Hill & Knowlton, handling digital.

Both speakers covered a broad range of topics and emphasized a number of best practices for social media and integration of digital tools into PR plans.

Some takeaways:

  • Clients will not always cooperate, and while you may be the expert, they are ultimately paying the bills, so you may need to travel a path you don’t necessarily agree with.  Give them a baseline of what they want…and then start preparing what will work.
  • The people who bubble up to the top in social media are really good at talking about…themselves.  In PR this game is about being effective and strategic–not about mindlessly loading up on followers.
  • PR is poised to own the social media space in a few years, but for now, it’s a shared endeavor with other entities.  Play nice, but have the mindset that you are a leader.
  • Assume that everything you do online is public.  Everything!
  • Facebook and Twitter still reach two different audiences.  Most Tweeters are on Facebook, but the reverse is not true.  At all.
  • You don’t control your message with social media.  The public does.  Don’t try to bring the people to you.  Go to where they are.
  • If you represent a brand, make friends with bloggers and folks via social media.  If they like you, they will defend your brand.
  • At the end of the day, what people are really looking for is for companies to be human.  They want people to be real with them.  Authenticity goes a long way.

These are just a few of the takeaways from the discussion last Wednesday night.  For more info on the event, log into Twitter, follow @LAPR and search the #prsaypevent hash tag for all the live tweets.

How are we doing?  This blog and the @LAPR Twitter feed are available as resources for you.  What can we do to make the experience better?  Please leave comments, tweet us or hit my personal page with a DM.  We love feedback!

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