Rumblings from the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NYC

Day 1
So it seems like a lot of PR professionals are getting the hang of this 2.0 thing. Over the course of my two-day PRSA Digital Impact experience, I shared tips with my new PR friends about how to subscribe to Tweets (aka Twitter posts) posted by others attending the conference and learned how to use TWhirl and Summize applications on Twitter. Oh but that’s not all…the conference was chock full of useful tidbits to help get me more acclimated into the digital world. Here are some of my thoughts.

Josh Bernoff, social technology industry analyst at Forrester and co-author of “Groundswell, Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies”, kicked off the event with the morning keynote. His discussion touched on how social technologies are creating a groundswell of viral opportunities where people connect with and draw power from each other. He discussed how essential it is to create and stimulate conversations without attempting to control the message. He also gave some colorful examples about how brand can be affected by social technologies, including the YouTube video of the Comcast technician sleeping on the job, or how you don’t want to stir the Internet hornet’s nest because you might get stung.

If you haven’t already picked up Bernoff and Charlene Li’s book, it sounds like a must-read.  Groundswell’s Social Technographics Ladder is also a great tool to help understand the impact of social technologies. If you want to learn more, click here or, of course, just buy the book.

The media lunch session presented a good networking opportunity, but not much value in terms of learned lessons or discussing 2.0 trends outside of those I already follow. The panel included Stephen Baker, BusinessWeek, Michele Gershberg, Reuters, Betsy Alexander, Early Show, Richard Wilner, New York Post and Jude Biersdorfer, New York Times. But I have to say, it’s always nice as a west coaster to get the chance to get face to face interactions with NY-based media – people with whom I’ve developed relationships over the years. It’s always good to show your human side.

Oh and by the way, people can’t stop talking about Google: how to optimize your press release and marketing materials on Google, how to do research on Google, how getting visibility on Google will make or break your launch, etc. Google would have been flattered by all the attention.

The finale…a moderated discussion with Spencer Ante from BusinessWeek who talked a little about his book, “Creative Capital” and a lot about his perspective on offline and online media and how advertising on social media will be an interesting topic to track in the next year. Ante’s on Twitter, but only for professional reasons and don’t try to become his friend on Facebook…reporters don’t need more spam. 

Day 2
David Carr from the New York Times opened the morning, talking about his years in the business, his Carpetbagger column and how he likes to cover the Oscars. 

However, what I found most useful was Paul Gillin, author of “The New Influencers”, who gave a how-to talk about new social technologies and practices – which ones to follow and which ones can empower you to become your own SEO or SEM. I definitely feel smarter about the technology and about ways in which I can help measure the impact of PR in the blogosphere, in social media and beyond. Conversation mining tools like Nielsen BuzzMetrics and CyberAlert seem like handy PR tools that help get an accurate read on client’s brand affinity in the social media-sphere. These were obviously just the highlights, but I’m sure there’s more detail that can be found on Paul’s blog here.

There are two kinds of people in the 2.0 world, those inside and those outside the 2.0 bubble –basically those who get it and those who don’t. Fortunately, I think I can now say that I’m actually in the bubble, and I hope this bubble doesn’t burst. There’s a plethora of cool opportunities and unique tools at our fingertips and us PR folk are tasked to evolve along with the trend or get ahead of it.

— Danielle Brincko