Public Relations Tactics

Striving to Be the Best in Our Evolving Profession

March 2, 2016

Show me a PR person who is not a perfectionist, and I’ll question if that person actually works in the profession.

Think about it: We fuss over commas. We argue over one space versus two. For those of us who remember a time before Microsoft Word’s “track changes” function, the red ink of our bosses shouted: “Not good enough!” and “Make it better!” Check the facts. Find the most recent research. Attribute your sources. Do your best. Be the best. Hire the best.

Conducting research to find answers

I recently returned from Puerto Rico for a planning meeting for this year’s Counselors Academy Spring Conference, which will take place on May 1-3 in San Juan. During that trip, I went to Old San Juan for a little tourist time. I bumped into some of the others from our group who were in serious pursuit of finding the best piña colada on the island.

This was not a frivolous mission with intoxication as the goal. This was about validating a claim and finding the best. It started with the assertion by a local establishment, which has long been in friendly competition with another local establishment. Both boast to be the home of this famous libation that conjures up images of drinks with paper umbrellas, and, without fail, gets that 1970s song stuck in my head every single time. There was only one thing for our group of truth-seeking PR pros to do: Research.

Addressing the changes

The process of conducting this research struck me as quite similar to the process that we go through each year to plan the Counselors Academy Conference: Gather live feedback. Read online reviews. Try something new. Decide what you think is the best. Accept that everyone might not agree on what is the best.

Can you imagine the pressure of trying to plan the best-ever conference for 150 other perfectionists, I mean, PR professionals? I chaired the conference in 2013 and have been involved in the planning for six years now. The desire to make it the best has not changed.

What has changed, however, mirrors the changes in our profession, and those we are addressing for our companies and clients each day. Our conversations in San Juan and for the past several months come back to two questions: What do senior PR agency leaders need to know about managing agencies today? And, how do we get the word out about the conference? In other words, it comes down to content and marketing.

The answers to these questions continue to change, influenced by always-on communications, video, mobile, search and analytics. As an agency owner, I know that what my clients need to reach their audiences has changed and continues to change. The skills required to be an effective PR professional have changed. How do I hire for the right skills today? Once equipped with a team of strong writers, social media strategists, video producers and interactive communicators, how do I sell services beyond traditional media relations to clients?

These are some of the questions that will be answered during the Counselors Academy Spring Conference, which is designed to help you address our profession’s changes and be the best you can be.

As for marketing the event, we’re employing a mix of tactics to spread the word. You can find the agenda on, and we’ll be sharing updates in The Official Counselors Academy Facebook Group and from @CAPRSA on Twitter.

If you are an agency leader looking to be the best at keeping up with the changes in the PR profession, then I hope you’ll join us in San Juan. Participation in determining the best piña colada is optional.

Dana Phelps Hughens
Dana Phelps Hughens is CEO of Clairemont Communications, based in Raleigh, N.C. She serves as an assembly delegate for the North Carolina Chapter of PRSA and is on the board of the Counselors Academy. She is known as @blah2voila on Instagram and Twitter.


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