It was an amazing feeling to enter a room filled with thousands of PR professionals from around the U.S., knowing that they share the same challenges, triumphs and have all come to call this profession their own. How many stories were in this room – of crises, strategies, innovative approaches? You name it and someone in the room likely experienced it.
We shared a common language and understanding. It’s like going to a cousins’ convention and realizing that you’re related to people you never met before – people who “get” you and who you could call upon if you needed help.
Meals and breaks here became an opportunity to get to meet our PR kin upfront. You never knew what stories you might hear from the person next to you. During the evenings we went out to dinner – with members from the Northeast District, special sections, or people we met during the course of the day –and had the chance to get to know them better.
The keynote speakers were nothing short of inspirational. Human Rights Advocate Derreck Kayongo, who started the Global Soap Project; NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent the longest time in space; cybersecurity expert and former White House CIO Theresa Payton; and Mark Stratten, viral and social marketing expert – and all around funny guy – were the highlights. Not only did they discuss relevant topics like communication and authenticity, but they also inspired us to fulfill our passions and contribute to the greater good.
When it came to the educational sessions, I felt like a kid in a candy store. There was so much to choose from, and because sessions were running concurrently, I couldn’t get to all of them. There was something for everyone – measurement, branded newsrooms, using a science-based approach to improve outcomes, motivating audiences to act, crisis communications, copy strategies – and so much more.
With work and family responsibilities, it can be easy to come up with reasons not to attend conferences, but you owe it to yourself to make the time and attend ICON. It’s a way to nourish your PR soul, fill yourself with new ideas and strategies and meet your PR “cousins” — some of the most amazing PR professionals. And, with conference coming to Boston this year, it’ll be easier than ever to attend.
Diane Pardes, Delegate and past president, PRSA Boston