Over two and a half days in July, nearly 170 public relations professionals gathered atLoyolaUniversityinChicagofor the 2012 Midwest District Conference, hosted by PRSA Chicago. The campus was alive with excitement and fun as attendees from as far away asTexasandKentuckyand as close asMilwaukeeand of course,Chicago, networked and shared tips and techniques and enjoyed the personal interaction.
District leaders participated in the pre-conference QuickStart on Wednesday before the conference, keynoted by Cheryl Proctor-Rogers, APR, Fellow PRSA. Cheryl is a longtime member of both the Suburban Chicago and Chicago chapters, a former PRSA National president, and was the chair ofChicago’s Suburban Committee when PRSASCC was formed 20 years ago as the Greater O’Hare chapter. Cheryl started the pre-con with an overview of the importance and role of leadership in success in professional, volunteerism and personal lives.
PRSASCC started the fun Wednesday evening by hosting an informal meetup at the Signature Room Lounge on the 96th floor of theHancockTower. Although the clouds teased us with occasional revealing hints of the spectacular city skyline, they didn’t put a damper on the event. Those who stayed afterward were treated to the sight of a classic Midwestern thunderstorm at eye level.
The two days were filled with professional development sessions and networking opportunities, highlighted by a candid conversation with Al Golin, founder of GolinHarris; an in-depth discussion of crisis communication case studies by PRSASCC and Chicago chapter board member John Brooks, along with Jack Yeo of MSL Group here in Chicago; a panel discussion on working with the media in a social media era; and break-out sessions on branding, measurement, reputation management, mentoring and entrepreneurship. Thursday’s sessions ended on a high note, with former Chicagojournalist Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, followed by the media panel featuring Robert Feder of Time Out Chicago, who pointed out a startling new facet of media relations in the online age, “Because of social media, we don’t need you, and you don’t need us.”
Mary Henige of General Motors started Friday out on the same high note with an overview of her company’s implementation of social media as a global branding strategy. The day’s breakout sessions featured a variety of topics including ethics and transparency, employee engagement, and blogger relations, then closed with a five-star panel featuring representatives from Google, Twitter, and Facebook discussing the latest developments at their companies in specific and social media in general.
If the success of a conference is judged today by the buzz, then chalk the 2012 Midwest District Conference as a success. Just check out what people were saying on Twitter:
I had a blast at #PRSAMDC! It was an amazing learning experience and I got to meet some really cool people 🙂
Plans are already underway for the 2013 and 2014 conferences, so if you missed out this year, you’ll have another opportunity next year. Congratulations to PRSA Chicago and the Midwest District Conference Committee for a great conference!