There were many wise words provided by PR veterans to more than 1,000 students at last week’s conference of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) in Washington, D.C. Perhaps the most significant session was titled, “A Conversation with Living Legends,” featuring Thomas Hoog, former president and CEO of Hill+Knowlton, and Maril MacDonald, CEO and founder of Gagen MacDonald. There was also a keynote by Pam Jenkins, president of Powell Tate. I wondered which words made a lasting impression, so I took notes and thought I’d share some of their terrific pearls of wisdom here:
Hoog: “In PR, we’re all about truth. Not hype, not spin, but truth. There’s no place for spin in our profession.”
MacDonald: “Loving to learn is the number one characteristic I look for when hiring. I look for people who are engaging. They are interested and interesting.
Jenkins: “Five years from now this industry will look different than it does today. Embrace disruption–and cause it.”
Hoog: “Listen, incubate, initiate.”
MacDonald: “Take the job that scares you the most and jump in!”
Jenkins: “We’re living in the Age of Engagement. When it comes to every day things, we turn to each other rather than experts.”
Hoog: “I believe in the ‘three bone’ theory of recruitment. I look for people who have a funny bone, a backbone and a wish bone.”
MacDonald: “Everyone is clamoring for people who are good at storytelling and making things very visual.”
Jenkins: “Most companies want to tell their stories directly to their customers. We in PR agencies need people with new skills (including) video producers, designers, creators, people who know analytics, who understand the news media, plus we need MBA’s and PhD’s.”
Hoog: “Clear, concise and credible communication is essential for PR leadership.”
There was no shortage of good advice at the PRSSA conference. Which of these pearls of wisdom resonate for you? Which will you remember? And what will inspire you to do something different on behalf of your own public relations career? Your thoughts?