Casey blogs from IPREX Global Leaders Conference 2014

March 2014

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February 28

The first full day of the IPREX GLC 2014.

I cannot tell you how nice it was to be in a room full of people from all over the globe who understood what my job entails. You all know what I mean. I don’t think there is one PR professional out there who hasn’t experienced this conversation:
1. “So what do you do”
2. “I work in PR – public relations”
1. “Oh, cool…. what is that exactly”
2. “Ah, it’s communications…”

At this point each individual tries their best to explain the ins and outs of their role, the types of companies they work with and what they do for them.

Then of course the person you’re talking to just smiles and nods with that slightly vacant stare as if to say “please stop talking, you are confusing me and all I am hearing is ‘I play on Twitter all day’”.

PR: one of the most varied, high pressured, influential and eternally misunderstood professions. But not here, here everyone understood each other and they understood the struggle of trying to explain to your parents what you do and how no, it’s not advertising.

First up we were graced with the presence of social media visionary Laura Fitton of HubSpot, co-author of Twitter for Dummies.

She focused on methods for converting from Outbound to Inbound marketing. In a nutshell Laura discussed the importance of building relationships – with journalists, customers, influencers.

It doesn’t matter who it is you are talking to or what you ultimately want from them, we need to recognize that we are all human and to truly be successful in our jobs we need to make human connections with those we work with – or want to work with.

Simple measures such as thanking people for their efforts or for praise of you or a client can go a long way. It’s also important to listen using all avenues possible – social media, news media, and direct conversation. Be informed, take your time to get to know who you are talking to and what you are talking about and develop trust. Fantastic presentation!

After a short break where I embarrassingly got more excited than I care to admit about Clif Bars being on offer for a snack (one of those weird foreigner obsessions I have, cannot get enough of them) we were straight back into it with group discussions.

And following this was the Queen of Metrics, Katie Delahaye Paine.

Katie is energetic, passionate and knowledgeable. Her presentation was all about how we can measure our success – and not just by monetary means but how to measure your true reach and influence within your target audience.

The more memorable parts of the session were undoubtedly her analogies, the noteworthy ones being: ‘Impressions are like sperm, you don’t want all of them to reach their goal’; ‘impressions are like a construction worker whistling at a pretty girl – they might be heard but there’s no real connection made so nothing will come of it’; and finally, ‘likes and followers are like people you connect with on a dating site, you don’t actually know who they are – they could be someone great but they could be a creepy third cousin’.

What all this means is that you need to go beyond simply looking at impressions and likes to demonstrate your reach – you need to personally connect with followers and turn them into committed advocates for your brand. “Liking” is just the beginning of the relationship.

Finally to wrap up a successful day was a true veteran of the industry – ex editor of Computer World and author of four books including Social Marketing to the Business Customer, Paul Gillin.

The session was all about social media in B2B communications. He provided invaluable insights into how to introduce businesses to digital communications and methods for seeking out and connecting with niche business customers.

Again there was a focus on the need to build strong and genuine relationships – in B2C communications the transaction is the end of the relationship but in B2B it’s the beginning, hence the need for a strong relationship to base your future communications on.

All in all a full on, fantastic day of learning and interacting with each other and the brilliant line up of speakers. And the icing on the cake, an Old Town Trolley tour of Boston followed by drinks, canapés and more drinks at The Living Room.

What happens when a bunch of international PRs are set on a city fueled by wine? Well that’s for the next blog to reveal…

As always, thanks for reading.