PR Issues for Associations

I had the opportunity to attend a workshop of that same title yesterday morning put on by the local chapter of PRSA downtown.

Our speakers included:

  • Peter Panepento of the Chronicle of Philanthropy on creating a social media footprint
  • Tracy Cooley of BIO on the future of association meetings
  • Mark Neidig of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation on winning the Pepsi challenge
  • Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions (and general awesomeness) on Google+

The session consisted of round robin roundtables.

I have to admit, I skipped the session on the Pepsi challenge (not relevant to my organization, although it is relevant to our members) in order to spend more time with Shashi. Big geekin’!

Top takeaways included:

  • LinkedIn is likely the future of business social networking (seriously – check out the Chronicle’s LI group, although you will have to wait to be approved for membership).
  • Google+ is still a niche network (40 million users, mostly social media early adopters, as opposed to FB’s 800+ million), but there are good reasons to be on it as a brand: so you don’t get brand-jacked (like happened to Bank of America), because it will positively influence your SEO in Google (try Googling Dell), and because it’s a great platform to launch campaigns because it’s easy to aggregate multimedia.
  • The association meetings market is changing quickly and radically. We have to be willing to experiment equally radically and be prepared to dump what’s not working equally quickly, regardless of internal political support.
  • Association meetings professionals MUST work with marketing to generate buzz and get bodies in the door.
  • When it comes to the broadening definitions of what constitutes “news media,” trust but verify. Err on the side of being generous with your free press registrations for first timers, but request clips.
  • Engage media who can’t attend your conference through social media. Are you following your organization, profession, or industry’s media influencers on Twitter yet?
  • For smaller events that aren’t inherently newsworthy, look for the buzz and try to get it to play in the local media wherever your event takes place.

What have you learned this week?