ICON 2018: On the Road Again

November 2, 2018

[john elsasser]

In this issue, we’ve dedicated ample space to the PRSA 2018 International Conference, which took place on Oct. 7-9 in Austin, Texas. Highlights include summaries of the General Sessions, short Q-and-A interviews with the speakers, and a listing of individual award recipients and Chapter diversity winners.

This marked my 23rd Conference with PRSA. As always, I returned home energized and full of story ideas for future issues. With each passing ICON, I notice its continued evolution, such as the recent arrival of the Conference app to customize our schedules plus the barcode badges that eliminate the need for individual event tickets.

However, other aspects of the Conference have remained the same, providing a familiar comfort. These include:

• My recorder: I may use my iPhone or digital recorder for work-related interviews, but during speeches or other live presentations, I’ll often break out my trusty cassette player to help supplement my notes. For the past 20 years, my Sony TCM-150 with the Clear Voice recording system has served me well.

Admittedly, I do receive puzzled looks from anyone under the age of, say, 50, when I use it in the wilds of a banquet hall. It’s as if people also expect me to then pull out a portable typewriter. Regardless, my cassette recorder has never failed me. Plus, it’s easy to use and still plays all my old mixtapes. (Try doing that with your portable CD player!)

• The step-and-repeat banner: Sure, it looks so unassuming set up there in the distance, ready for photo opps, but have you ever tried to assemble one — by yourself?

I recall one Conference where a co-worker asked me to help her build it. Then, she disappeared, leaving me alone with parts and instructions that only a mechanical engineer could decipher. Still, through the years, putting this thing together has been a fun bonding experience with co-workers.

• The photographer: Albert Chau has been a constant presence serving as the official Conference photographer. We always appreciate his pleasant demeanor and dedicated work ethic, visiting every PD session and special event to help document the proceedings.

• A jam-packed schedule: The Conference always provides an opportunity to visit great cities, which for me have included Seattle, Salt Lake City and Indianapolis. Unfortunately, given so many PRSA-related activities at the JW Marriott this year, I didn’t have time to see much of Austin. I took a quick walk before the Opening Night Reception on Oct. 7. My travelogue consisted of a shot of the state capital — that someone else was photographing at the exact moment — and nothing else.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning ahead, mark your calendars for the PRSA 2019 International Conference in San Diego on Oct. 20-22. I hope to have more photos to share from that experience!

John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.



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