2011 PRSA Int’l Conference – The Good, The Bad & The Bizarre

October 18th, 2011

I just returned from the 2011 PRSA International Conference in Orlando. Wow. It was amazing. Even as a professional communicator, it’s hard for me to put into words what occurred at this year’s conference and what I took away from this monumental experience. I’ll go ahead and give it a try though. And now, for your reading enjoyment…the Good, the Bad and the Bizarre from the 2011 PRSA International Conference.

The Good

Here’s just a small sampling of the good stuff.

  • Chris Brogan.  Enough said.  Actually, quick story. I sat at the table next to the one Chris was sitting at in the hotel bar for over an hour, too chicken to go introduce myself. Finally, after much urging from my tablemates, I went over. And guess what – he was such a nice guy! We commiserated over stories of our five-year-old boys and their cuss words of choice. FYI…his likes the f-bomb, mine prefers the good old s*@t.  I got a picture with him and left him feeling awesome. By the way, the next day he tweeted that shy people should use conferences as a way to practice not being shy. Great advice…would have been a great way for me to break the ice if he had tweeted it THE PREVIOUS DAY! Oh well. It was still a highlight of the conference…oh, and his keynote speech was unbelievable as well.
  • I had no idea that Google no longer includes Facebook shares and Twitter real time search results in their Google search results. Wow, that was a shocking fact to learn. I guess I better get my clients and myself up on Google+ right away. Wow, I guess I better learn how the heck to use Google+ right away.
  • Apparently, after 16 years in the business, I have no idea how to write a news release. At least, that is how I feel after hearing Ann Wylie explain the right way to write one. Think like a reader. It’s so simple, but so true. I can’t wait to start implementing what I learned from this amazing woman.
  • I WON AN IPOD TOUCH!!! It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I am now the proud owner of a new iPod Touch; complete with the musical library of amazing 80s and 90s songs we rocked out to at the Sunday Night Reception. Yeah me!
  • The 3,000 attendees. While I obviously didn’t get to meet all of them, I did meet many wonderful people at this year’s conference. I tried to talk to everybody I ran into, whether it was in the elevator, the hallway or even the bathroom (when appropriate of course.) I met Tom who works in the Netherlands on an Army base but hopes to move back to Colorado next year. I met Kelly and Natalie, two Independent Practitioners who have been hugely successful in their own careers and who have convinced me to join the PRSA Independent Practitioners Alliance (I think!) And I met Greg, who is now my BFF and works somewhere in Jacksonville…he’s told me several times but I can never remember. I am going to try really hard to stay connected with many of the people I met at this year’s conference, because they really were one of the main reasons it was so amazing.

The Bad

Nobody is perfect (although Chris Brogan comes close!) The same holds true for this conference. For all the greatness that was the 2011 PRSA International Conference, one huge dark cloud hung over the entire conference experience. No coffee, no soda, no snacks during breaks. That’s right. After paying over $1,000 registration to attend this conference, plus more than $600 to stay in this fancy hotel, I had to fork over $2 every time I wanted a Diet Coke. No coffee in the morning or during breaks was more than some people could take. It got a little ugly at times. There was even talk of “Occupy Marriott Grande Lakes” at one point. It’s such a simple thing. It’s common sense and just the decent thing to do. It’s also Event Planning 101. Trust me, before I register for the 2012 PRSA conference, I’m going to make sure I can get a Diet Coke and a cookie without having to break the bank.


The Bizarre

Usually, after the good and the bad comes the ugly. But in this case, I have to share the bizarre events and people that were a part of this year’s conference.

  • The Red Man. If you attended the conference, you know exactly who I’m talking about. A tiny man dressed all in red is bound to get attention. Add to that a penchant for asking odd and downright confusing questions at EVERY presentation and you have The Red Man. To learn more about this exotic creature, check out his tweets at @PRSARedMan. Good times.
  • The Eartha Kitt Sighting. For those who are too young to remember, or too cool to admit it, Eartha Kitt played Catwoman during the third season of the 1960s Batman television series. She was also a famous singer, Broadway star and writer, but most people remember her for her time in the famous black cat suit. Well, last night, I would have bet anything that we saw Eartha Kitt at a restaurant in Orlando. This woman looked exactly like her, and seemed to have three bodyguards with her as well. We tried to take pictures on the sly (we weren’t real smooth unfortunately!) We even tweeted about it! This would be a great story if not for the fact that Eartha Kitt died three years ago on Christmas Day. This fact was brought to our attention the next day, after a quick Wikipedia search. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t her though. Hey…some people say Elvis is still alive. Maybe Eartha Kitt is too. You never know!

I could keep writing for pages about everything that I learned and experienced at this conference, but I’ve probably written too much already. If you want to hear more amazing stories and anecdotes from the conference though, just give me a call. I’d love to share.

I’ll close with a big thank you and good job to Bonnie Upright, Pete Scott and Andrea Finger, three of the people that worked on making this conference happen. There were many others, but these are the guys I personally know. You all did an amazing job and you should be very proud of the results. You guys rock.

And finally, to my crazy, party animal cohorts. Bryan, Sam, Roxie, Angela, Cyndee, Missy and Noelle. Thanks for making “Conference Diane” so much fun! You’ll see her again at the 2012 Sunshine District Conference in Tampa!


Final note…this blog post is optimized because I learned that we should optimize everything. Not just news releases that get sent to the media. Duh!!




2 Responses to: 2011 PRSA Int’l Conference – The Good, The Bad & The Bizarre

  1. I hope Red Man and Earthy Kitt make an appearance to 2012 Sunshine District Conference!! *fingers crossed*

  2. Angela Walters October 18th, 2011
  3. I enjoyed reading your recap of the conference! Even though I was there, obviously all attendees had a unique experience. Fun, and thanks for sharing!

  4. Noelle Anderson October 19th, 2011

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