Public Relations

PRSA 2023 Public Affairs and Government Summit: Connection. Commitment. Community. 

By: Emmet McCormick 

In June, I had the opportunity to attend the PRSA 2023 Public Affairs and Government Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Industry professionals from 44 states and three countries participated in this conference to engage in networking, knowledge sharing, and professional development. Attending this conference allowed me to meet individuals from diverse backgrounds, engage in stimulating discussions, and hone my public and government affairs skills. 

As I networked and interacted with my fellow conference attendees, I soon realized I was the youngest. Admittedly this was initially intimidating, but I quickly realized that this was an incredible opportunity for learning and growth as I engaged with experienced individuals, gaining valuable insights, and expanding my professional network.

Day One: Joint Information Center Best Practices

The summit’s first day focused on understanding and implementing best practices for running a joint information center (JIC). Through interactive sessions, we explored crisis management strategies, the importance of having a hazard plan, the significance of clearly defined roles, and the effective utilization of social media during crises. 

The day’s highlight was a simulated experience of dealing with a real-life crisis —an airplane veering off the runway and catching fire. As the scenario unfolded, additional complications arose. During this situation, I had the incredible yet nerve-racking opportunity to lead the first press conference in front of all attendees. It was quite an experience, and I felt I could embrace the challenge and handle myself with confidence and composure, effectively addressing the issue and responding to session leaders’ questions. The day was wrapped up with a quick social networking event to further get to know the other attendees. 

Day Two: Engaging Sessions and Inspirational Speakers:

The second day they featured an array of captivating sessions led by speakers from across the country. A presentation by the Library of Congress highlighted their innovative approach to social media engagement, sharing a fascinating story of how they collaborated with celebrity musician Lizzo. During her concert, Lizzo’s use of a historic flute from the Library of Congress exemplified the power of creative partnerships. It generated significant interest in the library from other celebrities and the general public.

Additionally, representatives from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve discussed the fundamental traits that define a successful brand—trustworthiness, innovation, and public service. They shared their organization’s goals and explained how they have effectively increased engagement on social media by hosting events throughout the year and offering exclusive tours to those who sign up for their email list.

Other notable sessions delved into workplace confrontation management and cybersecurity incident handling, addressing relevant and timely concerns in the field. 

The day concluded with a beautiful boat tour of downtown Minneapolis along the Mississippi River and a dessert social gathering at the hotel.

Day Three: Making Waves and Inspiring Change: 

The final day, although a half-day, was jampacked with relevant and engaging presentations. The speakers included an individual from Meet Minneapolis and the Minneapolis City Council president, who shared their experiences and strategies in revitalizing tourism after the unfortunate events surrounding George Floyd’s death and subsequent riots. Their insights offered valuable lessons on fostering positive change and rebuilding community trust.

Another intriguing presentation provided practical guidance in navigating complex and sensitive situations. Lastly, examining the ethical considerations of AI technologies served as a thought-provoking discussion, offering attendees valuable insights into the intersection of AI technology and public affairs.

In conclusion, the 2023 PRSA Public Affairs and Government Summit was an exceptional event that facilitated valuable networking opportunities and professional growth. Through engaging sessions and thought-provoking presentations, I gained insights into best practices, emerging trends, and real-world case studies. The knowledge I gained during this conference will allow me to bring new ideas and best practices back to Providence. This conference provided me with a wide variety of knowledge that applies to our work at Providence. From ethical AI practices, creating engaging and compelling content, how to handle the media and develop key messages during a crisis, best practices for developing a crisis plan for clients, how to treat coworkers with decency, best practices for handling conflict in the workplace, and much more. 

As a young professional, I seized the chance to learn from experienced individuals and leverage the conference’s offerings to maximize my learning experience. Overall, the summit was a resounding success, leaving me inspired and equipped with the tools and connections to make a lasting impact in our field. 

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