PRSA Finger Lakes Conference Draws Crowd of 175
The Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Finger Lakes chapter hosted a highly successful Northeast District conference on April 28 that drew 175 communications professionals to the Radisson Hotel in Corning.
The daylong event, “PR Means Business,” opened with a presentation by Ross Levi (pictured above), vice president of marketing initiatives for Empire State Development (I Love NY), who pointed out that tourism is the fourth largest industry in the state and now accounts for 1 in 12 jobs.
Levi said the driver behind the growth in tourism is the state’s I Love NY campaign, which has focused on three core PR strategies: pitches, media nights and media visits. The aggressive PR effort has resulted in dozens of newspaper and magazine articles in state and national media, which have reached an audience of more than 88 million people, Levi said.
“We have a targeted proactive approach that involves talking and listening to what reporters are interested in and what they are writing about,” Levi said.
The other keynote speaker at the conference was Katie Delahaye Paine, a data analyst and consultant from Durham, N.H. In her lunchtime talk, Paine said that better measurement of PR efforts and a focus on “customer-centric outreach” will increase the effectiveness of communications strategies.
“Corporations do realize customer-centric outreach really matters — not media,” she said. “And customer-centric outreach requires communications and marketing to be in sync.”
Paine outlined a six-step system to measure outreach that includes: defining the goals, parameters, benchmarks and metrics; collecting good data; and analyzing it. At the end of the process, organizations should “rank results from worst to best, and stop doing the worst stuff,” she said.
The conference also featured 17 workshops on topics ranging from social media ethics to writing for the web to collaborative PR. The event concluded with a Finger Lakes wine tasting at the Rockwell Museum in downtown Corning.
Organizers of the conference said the event exceeded their expectations because of the quality of the presentations and the collaborative planning across the district over the past year.
“The speakers were fantastic,” said Yvette Sterbenk, president of the PRSA Finger Lakes chapter and conference co-chair. “I knew we had a good program, but seeing them all in action — I was blown away by the quality and diversity of what they presented.”
Scott Fraser, chair of the Northeast District, said the event showed that “the shared conference model is the only way to go. As many know, the Finger Lakes Chapter is the smallest in the Northeast District. However, with the shared model, members from around the district worked with the Finger Lakes team to make this year’s event a success.”
Next year’s Northeast District Conference will be held on June 1, 2018 in Buffalo. Along with glass vases from the Corning Museum of Glass and bottles of Finger Lakes wine, one free ticket to the 2018 conference was given away as this year’s conference ended.