Saturday, October 25, 2008

Detroit Day Two

Hello everyone! This is a short summary of the Day Two activities that I attended at the 2008 PRSSA Convention. 

This morning started off with a continental breakfast followed by the key note address by Ofield Dukes. Dukes wears many hats, he taught at Howard University for 17 years, he has been a communication consultant for every presidential campaign since 1972, and he also started his own PR firm, Ofield and Associates. He delivered a timely and inspiring address about the state of the nation and public relations' role in the economic recession. He said that we all need to tighten our belts, but we will get through this recession like we have throughout American history. He also discussed the need for us, as students, to keep up with the social media revolution. 

He called the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie the "public relations bible". He said that he required his Howard University students to read the book as part of their introduction to public relations course. He talked about how it is easier to make friends if you are interested in them, rather than trying to make them interested in yourself. 

After Dukes finished speaking, the first lady of PR Ms. Betsy Plank spoke for a brief moment about the history of the public relations student society. She's a PR celebrity in that as soon as she stood and walked to the podium everyone started talking pictures of her. It was like the crowd suddenly woke up on this cold Detroit morning. 

After Plank spoke, the each national committee member spoke about the different projects that they had been working on. Then, we had roll call. A lot of universities made snippy comments about each others' football teams. It just so happened that we were sitting in front of Tennessee. We did a big Bama spell out followed by a resounding "Roll Tide Roll". 

After the long roll call, (there are 290 PRSSA chapters) we went to lunch before the first sessions started. 

The first session I attended was the "Motor City Metamorphosis", it featured a panelists of public relations professionals from each of the "big three" automotive manufacturers. The conference is sponsored by GM and is in the GM Renaissance Center. They are also allowing PRSSA members that are 21 or older to test drive the new GM hybrid vehicles in downtown Detroit. I didn't have time to make it by there today, but I will before the conference is over.  Anyway, I say all this to point out that during the discussion the "big three" panel was moderated by another GM public relations person. The person from Chrysler had only been in her position since July 1st. The gentleman from Ford had no background in public relations, prior to beginning his employment at Ford about a year and half ago. The GM person on the panel had been with GM for 22 years. At one point the GM moderator turned the audience and asked which of the "big three" advertising campaigns could be recalled. Not surprisingly, from inside the GM Renaissance Center, the students could only recall GM advertising campaigns. 

The next session I attended was the Health Care PR session. It was very interesting I throughly enjoyed the crisis communication aspect. One particularly interesting situation that she spoke about was a patient being shot inside their hospital room.  She said that she greeted this situation some what differently than most crisis situations. Typically, she said, you would send the CEO out to speak with the media, but in this case, the CEO went to each patient's room and reassured the patients of their safety during their hospital stays. She said that she set-up camp in the waiting room at the hospital and kept the media constantly updated. She said that because of this, not many of them attempted to interview hospital employees or other patients. 

Finally, I attended the Internal Communication session. While this session was also taught by a healthcare profession, it was about developing campaigns for the use of internal employees. internal communications is an interested aspect of public relations, as most of the professionals whom fall into that field report to human resources people. This field is big in healthcare public relations right now because of the nursing shortage. 

I am looking forward to an exciting third day of posting and light twittering!

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