When my UnSummit co-chair, Emily Bruce, and I began working on this year’s conference, one of our initial tasks was developing our event theme. As we discussed what we envisioned for the UnSummit and what we’d want to see as attendees, the idea of evolution kept popping into my head. As PR practitioners, we’ve all witnessed the evolution of the newsroom, the integration of more technology into our work and even the changes in how many of us go to work each day – from flex schedules to hybrid, remote and more. It’s why the theme PR Evolving became the perfect building block for PRSA Dallas’ first post-Covid, in-person UnSummit.
We’ve planned a day filled with dynamic speakers on everything ranging from what it took to tackle an evolving crisis at the Dallas Zoo and the latest DEI business insights from the Dallas Regional Chamber to the ethics of AI and learning how to leverage it safely and efficiently. And we even have a meditation practice mixed in with the great networking that only comes at in-person events. With so much content, we want to ensure everyone takes full advantage of UnSummit: PR Evolving, so I’d like to share a few tips on getting the most out of your experience.
- Get ready to network. Can you believe it’s our first in-person UnSummit in four years?! If that doesn’t resonate as an opportunity for networking, I don’t know what does. If you’re going solo, take a chance and sit next to someone you don’t yet know. If you’re going with your team, take time to break off and work the room a little bit. To get outside my comfort zone, I set a goal of trying to meet at least three new people at every event I attend. Do what works for you but take advantage of the time together. You never know whom you might meet and the connection it may provide now or down the road for new business, a job opportunity or friendship. And, if you have the time, plan and schedule a get-together with someone or a group of friends following the UnSummit. Who doesn’t love an early Friday happy hour?
- Come prepared and follow up. It may seem obvious, but often the obvious is the first thing we forget. When planning for your day at UnSummit, have your phone fully charged (with a battery pack on hand if you think you might need it) and bring your favorite tools for taking notes and plenty of business cards – they’ll come in handy with all the networking. If you’re like me, you may not always be great at keeping track of the business cards you receive. I’ve learned to take photos of the ones I receive or, better yet, use the moment to ask if it’s ok to connect on LinkedIn and do it then. It’s challenging and extra work, but if you make an interesting connection, send a quick follow-up note after UnSummit.
- Keep what you’ve learned top-of-mind. Our speakers will offer great industry insights, best practices and forward-looking thinking. You want to ensure you walk away with as much knowledge as possible, so when you take notes, do it in a way that what you learned will still be fresh once you’re back in the frenzy of home/work life. I find that even if I take copious notes, it helps if I write down the speaker’s name and company along with three to four specific takeaways with a flagged detail to follow up on, learn more about or perhaps suggest as an opportunity for our agency. You (or your company) are paying valuable dollars to attend the UnSummit, so make sure you make it worthwhile.
- The shameless plug. Finally, It would be wrong if I didn’t do my job as co-chair and remind all of us that PRSA Dallas is only as strong as the members who actively engage in and support it. So, in addition to registering yourself, invite a friend or a colleague who works in PR but may not be familiar with PRSA. UnSummit is also a great way to introduce young professionals to PRSA’s educational and networking opportunities and benefits. And finally, consider becoming a sponsor for the UnSummit. Not only do the dollars support continuing education for our region’s PR professionals and help PRSA provide excellent programming, but they can also reap benefits for your company, including greater awareness, job candidates and possibly new business. You can register and learn more about sponsorships here:https://prsadallas.org/meetinginfo.php?id=221&ts=1690486751
By Mary Kate Jeffries, Vice President & Real Estate and Development Practice Leader