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ICON 2016: It’s over but I’m not over it

By Becky Graebe posted 10-31-2016 05:13 PM


I knew going into the 2016 PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis that I would walk away with new connections, ideas and tactics to take back to work. But I participate in a lot of conference and industry events, so I didn’t expect to be wowed. I was wrong.

Keynote speakers were the first to breathe life into the conference themes of innovation and connectivity. Human rights advocate and founder of the Global Soap Project Derreck Kayonco was a favorite. His ability to combine service, education, leadership and faith – not to mention humor and magnetic charm – reminded me just how powerful we can be when we bring our whole selves to what we do. His refugee background led to his mission to collect donated hotel soap (the bars most of us use once and leave behind), reprocess it and redistribute it all around the world. It got me thinking about what bits and pieces lie in wait in our own organizations – abandoned ideas, untapped data – that could be reshaped into something amazing.

Scads of breakout sessions, including that of Section member Sean Williams, founder and CEO, Communication AMMO Inc., offered more tactical insights. Williams and a panel of experts shared preliminary findings from their work to develop standards for measurement of employee communications. I can’t be the only one cheering about this important effort!

Another session that stuck with me was one focused on writing and speaking respectfully to the LGBTQ employee audience. I'm proud that our professional organization is willing to talk about this and make it a priority. Jaron Terry, president, Jaron Terry Communications Ltd., and Jacob Nash, founder and president, Margie’s Hope, offered actionable steps on ways to use more inclusive language and were so open to a whole myriad of questions and scenarios presented by attendees.

I also walked away with a stack of ideas from corporate communications consultant and Connect ’16 speaker Rob Biesenbach who shared simple yet compelling ways to modernize PowerPoint slide decks with fewer words and more images. These are ideas I'm not only planning to put into use myself but share with our leaders and those who present all the time on behalf of our company. 

But it's probably no surprise that meeting new people and personally connecting with fellow Employee Communications Section members at The Slippery Noodle was the most rewarding part of my experience. We swapped stories, laughed about our mistakes, discovered about a million things we had in common, and made promises to get back to one another with one resource or another. It was fitting that we gathered at Indiana’s oldest bar, since many of us left feeling like lifelong pals.

If you were in Indianapolis chime in with your favorite takeaways and memorable moments, then mark your calendars to participate in ICON 2017 in Boston, Oct. 8-10. Oh, and prepare to be wowed.

Employee Comms Section dinner at ICON 2016
Live jazz provides great ambiance as Employee
Communications Section members gather for
some face-to-face time at The Slippery Noodle
during ICON. 




11-08-2016 12:49 PM

Thanks for this, Becky - as always, it was great to speak, and to catch up with many colleagues. Unfortunately, an assignment was drawing to a close (exciting! launching both portal and website!) and that meant not much in the way of sessions and development. Would love to have been able to stay through Tuesday, but glad to have been at our section soiree on Monday night! 

11-01-2016 11:33 AM

I was a first-time participant in the Rally and Assembly this year and totally agree -- I learned a lot. It was inspiring to hear what people in other chapters and sections are doing to connect with one another and grow the profession. Good luck to you as you take on your leadership role, Lorena!

11-01-2016 11:12 AM

Great recap, Becky. I attended the Leadership Assembly as a Chapter Delegate from Orlando and it was great meeting--informative and well-organized. I left reenergized about the value of public relations and the necessity of using our voice as a Chapter to make a difference in the organization as a whole.