The Sky’s the Limit… Aim High, Our Future’s in Reach

The Phoenix Chapter hosted the 2013 Western District Conference at Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale on April 18-20. It featured nationally recognized keynote speakers, interactive round-table discussions, informative workshop sessions, and numerous networking and social opportunities.


Watts Wacker, Futurist, CEO, FirstMatter
Steve Cody and Clayton Fletcher, Peppercomm Comedy Experience
Mickey Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2013 Chair and CEO PRSA
Jonathan Heit, President, Allison+Partners Public Relations


Top 10 Topics to Research in 2013
Unleashing Creative Thinking

Topic: Aligning Community Outreach with Corporate Goals
Presenter: Sydney Ayers

While the notion of corporate social responsibility and community outreach has become more prevalent in companies across America, it also has caused a great deal of confusion around what it is and how it works best. Sydney Ayers, APR, of Mitchell Communications Group will discuss the impact, benefits, challenges and communications of successful community outreach. Participants will learn how to align corporate goals with their corporate social responsibility strategies through identifying appropriate community partners, leveraging and building upon existing relationships, engaging internal and external stakeholders and promoting results.

Topic: Why Diversity is no Longer a Four-Letter Word
Presenter: Patricia McMahon

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In our global economy and in an age of instant communication, it’s become even more important for a business to appropriate community with cultural sensitivity and awareness. Businesses utilizing diversity in recruitment, hiring and retention broadens their ability to reach new markets and access untapped customers. But what prevents a company from expanding its diverse workforce and how can this problem be solved? Patricia McMahon from the EEOC-Denver Field Office will discuss the pitfalls many companies fall into when attempting to diversify the workforce and how they can be resolved.

Topic: Social Media in the Workplace
Presenters: John Balitis and Lori Higuera

During this session, attorneys John Balitis and Lori Higuera of Fennemore Craig will guide participants on how to effectively manage social media and digital communications issues in the workplace during all phases of employment – before the hire, at hiring, during the hire and after employment ends. They will also lead a discussion on how social media is used in the office setting and how it implicates workers’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Topic: A Data Driven Approach to Nonprofit Communications
Presenter: Carla Sandine

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Nonprofits communicate to raise money, advocate for issues, and strengthen programs. Measuring the effect of PR campaigns can be elusive. In this session, Carla Sandine, owner of Highway Twenty, which specializes in providing graphic design, web development, and CRM strategy/integration solely to nonprofits and NGOs, will explore ways that nonprofits can collect and use data to make more informed decisions when it comes to communications strategy—with the ultimate goal of strengthening relationships with supporters. We’ll look at case studies and creative examples of implementing the methods discussed.

Topic: Raising the Bar for Professional Communicators – Case Study
Presenter: Kris Schindler

Regardless of our area of concentration – advertising, design, journalism, marketing, public relations – many of us “professional communicators” aren’t always great at communicating. Kris Schindler, APR will explore real-life examples of poor communications, and define tactics on how to improve communications one-on-one and within groups and committees. This case study session will share best practices to help attendees become better communicators and acquire insights on how to respond to demands on our time.

Topic: Pop! Goes the Icon – Case Study
Presenters: Peter O’Neill, Sara Gorgon, and Shane Collins

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Las Vegas is nothing if not a spectacle – the newest, hottest, and shiniest are always in demand. However, sometimes it’s just as important to take existing world events and use them to generate interest and buzz. During this session, members of R&R Partners who have worked on several successful pop culture-influenced campaigns will take participants on a journey to Sin City, focusing on specific instances in which pointing to pop culture made headlines – including capitalizing on the massive interest in electronic dance music to promote the DJ culture as well as this past summer’s Prince Harry “situation.” The session will focusing on being fast, focused, clear, fun, fizzy and all things pop culture to reach effective results.

Topic: Anatomy of a Crisis – Lessons from the Aurora Theater Shooting
Presenter: Tracy Weise

In this social media era, crisis communications plans have evolved to include this new media. Public relations practitioners are responsible for the streamlined messaging during a crisis situation and managing the impact from traditional and social media. Tracy Weise of Weise Communications, Inc. will provide a candid and emotional case study featuring the Aurora Theater Shootings, including an overview of managing patients, families, employees, physicians and media during a community-wide catastrophic event. Utilizing storytelling photography, Weise will discuss the social media implications, tips learned from the crisis, new tactics for effective media management and strategies to include in crisis planning and program execution.

Topic: 10 Metrics that Matter Most in Social Media
Presenter: Terri Douglas & Christie Denniston, APR

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Social media has fundamentally changed how people communicate and share information. Public relations practitioners have leveraged social media platforms as a key cornerstone of many strategic plans and programs in an effort to connect and engage with key audiences. Yet PR professionals often struggle to measure and gauge the effectiveness of social media tactics. In this session, Catapult PR-IR’s Terri Douglas and Christie Denniston, APR will share specific examples of key metrics for organizations to measure social media programs and outputs. Attendees will learn how to audit and evaluate their own social media efforts, create meaningful metrics and begin to create not only fans, but brand champions.

Topic: Hispanic Outreach: The New Norm
Presenter: Carolina Guana

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The burgeoning Hispanic market is quickly on its way to becoming the next American majority population. With an estimated 50 million Hispanics living in the United States, attendees will learn how to reach this critical demographic through marketing and public relations programs that demonstrate a deep understanding of their interests, values and aspirations. Carolina Guana of Allison+Partners will share the trends motivating and influencing these demographic segments and how to develop media relations programs that are relevant, meaningful and appealing, while ensuring the brand’s message is never lost in translation.

Topic: Creating Presentations, Not PowerPoints
Presenter: Chris Cook

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Communications professionals create thousands of PowerPoint presentations daily for client pitches, business development meetings, training seminars and more. However, template-driven, bullet pointed PowerPoints are missing an essential ingredient: a visual story. West-MEC Media Director Chris Cook will focus this session on teaching participants how to create storytelling presentations using design techniques and on changing one’s thought process of how presentations should be created and delivered.

Topic: 7 Lessons to Brand You
Presenter: Cyndee Wooley, APR

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Marketing and public relations professionals excel at branding their companies and clients. Yet how many of these professionals take the time to brand themselves? Drawing on examples from the nation’s top brands, as well as her own journey of building a brand and a business, branding author and C2 Communications owner Cyndee Woolley, APR will share seven key lessons to building a unique and successful personal brand.

Topic: Part 1: Secret Agent Tactics – Research Measurement and Evaluation
Presenter: Paula L. Pedene, APR

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(Not a prerequisite for Part 2 on Saturday, but it will be helpful in leading up to Park 2.) Even James Bond (007) has to do some research before he saves the world. Like Bond in order for us to be the best at what we do, we need to develop our research to gather the evidence we need to figure out our strategies. We do this through research, measurement, and evaluation to ensure our operations go smoothly. Join the fun in this Bond themed class with three-time Silver Anvil awardee Paula L. Pedene APR, where participants will learn the value of evidence based research, and process that help you peer into the future.

Topic: What’s Your Agency’s ROI on Pitching? How to Determine and Use This Insight for Better Results
Presenter: Aly Saxe

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What kind of return is your team getting from outbound pitching? 20%? 10%? How well is your team performing and what areas need to be tweaked for greater media results? Aly Saxe of Ubiquity PR will share with attendees what pitch ROI means, the importance of it and how to determine the pitch ROI per team, agency, client and individual. Saxe will elaborate on how to use this measure to improve performance and client relations.

Topic: Show Me the Money – Word of Mouth in the Mobile Era
Presenter: Jitendra Gupta

Mobile technology is a game changer in social media. However, public relations can lead the communications industry by bringing together the best enabling technologies in mobile and social-digital media. Drawing from his expertise in software engineering, Jitendra Gupta of Punchh will provide an in-depth perspective to help communicators optimize and measure online word of mouth and show bottom-line results. Attendees will gain a clear understand of social loyalty and learn to drive and measure digital word of mouth results.

Topic: Social Media Barometer
Presenter: Martin Waxman, APR

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Beyond Pinterest and Facebook’s latest changes, what are the emerging trends and issues communications professionals need to understand? Martin Waxman, APR of Martin Waxman Communications, offers a weather report on the current social landscape and the prevailing winds of change. Waxman takes a strategic look at the latest digital and social media developments, examines innovations and discusses how they fit into, expand or break existing communications models. By analyzing pressure points, identifying issues and demonstrating how to integrate the tools into a goal-oriented program, attendees will have a greater understanding of what a future strategic forecast for communication professionals might be in this ever-evolving landscape.

Topic: Why should I care? Tips on how to achieve meaningful and effective public engagement in an era of shrinking attention spans.
Presenter: Christina Byrne

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Not too long ago, the only way transportation agencies communicated with the public during road construction was through detour signage. Today, it is a whole new ballgame – and changing on what seems a daily basis. During this session, Orange County Transportation Authority’s Christina Byrne will educate participants on multi-faceted and transparent communications planning, including its own social media, automated call program, interactive GOOGLE detour maps and info-graphics that have been incorporated into their own marketing communications toolbox to engage and inform the thousands of busy commuters and residents affected by complicated freeway projects.

Topic: Part 2: Your Mission Possible: Strategic Planning
Presenter: Paula L. Pedene, APR

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If you’ve done your research you’ll know that James Bond (007) doesn’t leave his country without his top secret mission plans. But knowing when to twist, turn, and maneuver can’t be left to chance. Instead you have to be prepared to be one step ahead in the game. Knowing those steps and how they can keep you on the cutting edge of your mission is part of the Mission Possible in this Bond themed class with three-time Silver Anvil awardee Paula L. Pedene APR. Now the question is, “will you accept this mission?”

Topic: Managing and Motivating Millenials
Presenters: Ken Jacobs

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Communications leaders, generally Boomers and GenXers, willingly share their frustrations about Millennials, AKA “Gen Y.” But it’s critical for you to learn how to lead and engage this group, the largest and fastest growing pool of PR practitioners. You’ll understand “The 10 Most Important Millennial Traits,” and learn “The 20 Most Important Actions You Must Take” to help you manage and motivate Millennials more effectively.

Topic: Earning a Seat at the Table: How PR Practitioners Prove Their Value to the C-Suite
Presenter: Linda Gorman, APR

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To many CEOs, the role of public relations is a nebulous one. Despite PR staff delivering glowing news coverage and social media results, there remains a disconnect between PR results and the organization’s bottom-line goals. As a result, earning a seat at the executive table continues to prove difficult for many practitioners. Given the vital role of PR in protecting an organization’s reputation, the ramifications of not having a senior PR practitioner among this executive group are very real. How can practitioners convince CEOs and other executives the importance of having a seat at the table? Learn from a practitioner who has made this journey, AAA Arizona’s Linda Gorman, APR, who will offer realistic advice, guidance and things to avoid in your path to the top.

Topic: How To Become a PR Technologist
Presenter: Lisa Gerber

It’s no secret our job as public relations professionals has been completely revolutionized by changing technology in the past decade. Customers are using the web to find solutions to their problems, and marketers have to understand the web in order to connect with their prospects and buyers. As in any industry, for any professional, it is our job to stay ahead of trends so we can provide our clients and our employers with the best service and advice to help them reach those audiences and get results. Becoming a technologist means more than just being able to use Facebook and Twitter. It means understanding how to use a content management system and knowing the principles of search engine optimization. You know what inbound links mean to your site traffic. You know how to do keyword research. And you know how to look at analytics and understand what they mean. Lisa Gerber, founder and owner of Big Leap Creative Integrated Communications, will start you on this valuable journey.

Topic: The Legal Side of Blogging: 10 Questions to Ask Before You Hit “Publish”
Presenter: Ruth Carter, Esq.

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Ruth Carter, attorney and owner of Carter Law Firm in Phoenix, which focuses on intellectual property, social media law, business formation and contracts, and flash mob law, will cover the 10 questions you want to ask before releasing a blog post to ensure that you’re not setting yourself or your client up to be accused of copyright infringement, defamation, or invasion of privacy. It also will address the issues of who owns the content and the best way to protect it from infringement by others. The goal is to provide direct answers to your common questions without confusing you with excessive legalese.

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