Annual Conference Program

Throughout the years, the PRSA Georgia Annual Conference has become known for its remarkable line-up of presenters and attendees who represent major corporations and small businesses, local and national nonprofits, agencies, independent contractors, and beyond.

We are again proud to offer compelling sessions on the latest trends in the public relations and communications field. 

 

Opening Keynote (8:00 - 9:15 am)

The Media Needs a Group Hug: A Conversation on Journalism Today

Today, White House press briefings feel like a bizarre attack game of Wack-A-Mole and “Saturday Night Live” parodies of Sean Spicer keep getting more painfully funny. Even Mayor Kasim Reed, standing before a room of journalists, recently said that the media “needs a hug.” These are unprecedented times. Audiences have never been more divided, and seemingly confused by the tsunami of information with which to decipher fact from fiction. So, what does this mean for the state of journalism and how editorial decisions are made? And how does that impact how PR pros work with reporters? Hear from a panel of these esteemed journalism leaders as they discuss the media’s role today:

  • Kevin Riley, editor-in-chief, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Richard Griffiths, former CNN vice president and senior editorial director; current Industry Fellow at the James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia.

Moderated by: Jodi Fleisig, Senior Vice President, Media Strategy & Relations, Porter Novelli

 

Plenary Session 1 - Choose One Breakout Session (9:30 - 10:20 am)

How Video Storytelling Can Inspire Audiences and Elevate Your Brand
Clay Broga, co-founder and CMO, Freethink

A record-high of 77 percent of Americans say our country is divided. Trust in society’s institutions – including business and media – is plummeting. So how does your organization stand out with a trusted voice? One way is through authentic video storytelling about real people in your community. Do you have employees or volunteers whose work has transformed the lives of others? Customers whose life stories are inspiring and represent what you stand for? It's time to tell their stories. Through examples and case studies, this presentation will share the Freethink secrets to making and spreading meaningful, compelling videos that will powerfully convey your values and impact, elevate your brand and inspire your audiences.

 

Blazing a Trail: Communicating Change
Tyler Pearson, Director of Public Relations, WellStar Health System

Change is never easy, but it’s a normal part of our personal and work lives.  When we analyze change initiatives, we find that most fail and communication is often at the heart of this failure.  April 1, 2016, WellStar Health System more than doubled in size by merging with West Georgia Health in LaGrange, Ga. and acquiring five Georgia hospitals from Tenet Healthcare.  The overnight change made WellStar the largest health system in Georgia. Communicating this change to myriad internal and external audiences produced numerous challenges and culminated in the creation of an 8 step strategy to communicating change.  Whether large or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, this strategy can be applied to all levels of change, providing clarity in purpose as an organization blazes new trails.

 

Freedom of Speech: Public Speaking Secrets To Connect With Every Audience, Every Time
Dez Thornton, Executive Conversations & Presentations

In case you haven’t heard, today’s audience has an incredibly short attention span. No amount of natural talent can substitute for your need to speak with confidence, clarity and connection. Whether conversation or presentation, you are constantly judged on how well you speak. It is arguably the most important factor in gaining and sustaining client relationships. Surprisingly, few professionals effectively use speech to advance their ideas or persuade others to their point of view. Whether your goal is to take your speaking game to the next level or you’re just tired of being confused, frustrated or stuck- this session is for you! Participants will learn to:

  • Confidently grab and hold their audience’s attention
  • Increase clarity and inspire action using simple structural concepts
  • Create lasting audience connections with ease and eloquence

                     

Plenary Session 2 - Choose One Breakout Session (10:30 - 11:20 am)

Agile Marketing: Knowing Your Audience
Melanie Babcock, Senior Director, Agile & Content Marketing, The Home Depot

Have you heard of Agile Marketing? Well, if not – you should…and this session is for you. Companies are rapidly adopting Agile Marketing into their ways of working and yielding big results. Learn how the Agile Marketing team at The Home Depot is structured and how it can collaborate with PR & Communications to deliver insight-driven messaging that’s centered around a deep-rooted understanding of the core customer.

 

Strategies For Building Your Video Verve*
Tod Plotkin, Principal, Green Buzz Agency

Videos on your comms plan? – Check. But how do you make the most of this medium? Whether you rely on in-house production, outside vendors or your own iPhone, Tod Plotkin from Green Buzz Agency will give insider tips on video know-how, from conceptualizing your idea to distributing your video on social media. You'll learn how to discuss your project with video professionals, create your own internal video shop, and hear about the latest visual techniques to make you stand out from your competition. You’ll learn about:

  • How to ask the right questions and work with video professionals, saving you time and money.
  • The technological advances making corporate videos aesthetically competitive with the visual storytelling of TV and film.
  • The trends in video production storytelling techniques and how content creation is evolving.
  • Things to consider for developing Facebook Live, YouTube and Instagram strategies.

*session repeated

 

Fostering Innovation in Employee Communications
Moderator:
Dave Watson, Vice President, Employee Engagement, Edelman

Panelists:

  • Lillian Govus, APR, Director of Communications and Community Relations,
    City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management
  • Nelson Mumma, Senior Director, Communications, Cox Automotive
  • Elisabeth Wang, Executive Director of Communication and Public Relations, Piedmont Healthcare

Employees have never been more important as partners in their company’s mission or as advocates for their brand. No matter the industry or sector, employees today want to know that their employer has a bigger purpose beyond just profit—and to be a part of it. Join three of Georgia’s internal communications leaders to discuss innovative and effective ways to reach, engage and inspire employees in the success of their organizations, whether they’re hi-tech or low-tech, at their desks, on the floor, in the field or in their communities.

 

Lunch Keynote (11:30 am - 12:30 pm)

Back to the Communications Basics: How to Operate in a World with No Rules
David Reuter, Vice President, Global Communications Operations, Nissan

The world is changing with unprecedented speed. Shifts in the economic and political landscape, pressures of a competitive market and the ever-evolving digital landscape all continue to transform the environment we operate in as communications professionals. Join David Reuter, vice present, Global Communications Operations at Nissan, for our luncheon keynote session where he will provide insights on how we must continually transform ourselves as practitioners based upon his more than 25 years in the profession.  David will answer these questions and more during his presentation:

  • What are the keys to thriving in this changing environment?
  • How is one of the world’s largest automotive brands transforming its communications function to compete?
  • What are the core communications fundamentals that should serve as the foundation of everything we do?

Plenary Session 3 - Choose One Breakout Session (12:45 - 1:35 pm)

Why Can’t PR and Marketing Just Get Along?!

Hear from top marketing executives on how they work to include (not exclude) PR in their organizations’ marketing efforts. See firsthand how world-class companies ensure PR and Marketing are on the same team. If you feel like a PR island in your organization, you need to attend this session to learn how to get back to the mainland. Moderator Mike Neumeier, principal of Arketi Group, lead us in a deep discussion to understand how PR and Marketing can get along – and generate amazing results.

Panelists:

  • Heather Foster, Vice President of Marketing for Worldpay
  • Gabe Romero, Director of Marketing for Accenture
  • Julie Bryant Fisher, Vice President of Communications & Marketing for Atlanta Community Food Bank

 

Your Next Move: Taking Control of Your Career Path
Lisa Ryan, Senior Vice President, Heyman Associates

Is there room to grow within my current organization, or is it time to move on? What are the opportunities available to me? How can I grow my skill set? Most communicators will ask themselves these questions – likely more than once over the course of a career. Join Lisa Ryan for an interactive discussion about how to plan ahead to maximize your professional growth, weigh your options and make smart decisions that serve your long-term goals.

 

Strategies For Building Your Video Verve*
Tod Plotkin, Principal, Green Buzz Agency

Videos on your comms plan? – Check. But how do you make the most of this medium? Whether you rely on in-house production, outside vendors or your own iPhone, Tod Plotkin from Green Buzz Agency will give insider tips on video know-how, from conceptualizing your idea to distributing your video on social media. You'll learn how to discuss your project with video professionals, create your own internal video shop, and hear about the latest visual techniques to make you stand out from your competition. You’ll learn about:

  • How to ask the right questions and work with video professionals, saving you time and money.
  • The technological advances making corporate videos aesthetically competitive with the visual storytelling of TV and film.
  • The trends in video production storytelling techniques and how content creation is evolving.
  • Things to consider for developing Facebook Live, YouTube and Instagram strategies.

*session repeated

 

Plenary Session 4 - Choose One Breakout Session (1:45 - 2:35 pm)

Shoestring Budgets that Deliver Phenomenal PR Results
Panelists:

  • Dan Mathews, M.Ed., CTRS, Chief Operating Officer, Camp Twinlakes
  • Naomi Green, Director of Partnerships, Events & Outreach, The Giving Kitchen
  • Jessica A. Corbitt-Dominguez, Director, External Affairs, Fulton County Government
  • Moderator: Jenny Odom, Communications & Media Relations Manager, Atlanta Beltline

Many PR pros have likely heard the phrase “do more with less” at some point in their career. Hear from a panel of professionals who have found creative ways to deliver impactful results with less. Whether you’re non-profit, company, agency, or solo practitioner, we can all learn lessons from these strategic, yet resourceful minds.

 

Insights and Answers
Jana Leigh Thomas, MPA, Executive Vice President, Strategic Planning, Analytics & Research, Porter Novelli

Research and analytics are important components in planning, assessing and evaluating our communication programs. But like most things in PR, the value comes when we know how to take information and make it meaningful. Translating the data into information helps us build stronger insights and smarter programs. This session will focus on different aspects of data collection and how to use data to answer key questions we need to know where to go and how much progress we are making.

 

Building Enduring Community Partnerships
Lynette Bell, Senior Vice President, Community Development, SunTrust
Callie Majors, Vice President, Marketing, Junior Achievement of Georgia

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a cornerstone of many successful PR programs when a  nonprofit partner can help bring life to a company's vision in the community and the two organizations bring synergy to each other. SunTrust has established itself as a purpose-driven organization lighting the way to financial well-being, so it's a natural fit that Junior Achievement has become a longtime partner. Find out from Lynette Bell, SVP, Community Development at SunTrust and Callie Majors, VP, Marketing at Junior Achievement of Georgia, how they make their alliance work and how it is helping shape the lives of students learning the fundamentals of business and entrepreneurship. Takeaways from the session will include steps you can take in establishing successful partnerships that will help your organization grow and thrive.

 

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