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By Sarah Collins, Senior Account Executive

 

A career in public relations inherently keeps you on your toes. Although it may seem that no two days within a week are the same, as creatures of habit, we unavoidably fall into routines from time to time. I try my best to prevent that and personally believe you should seize every opportunity to break outside the confines of your normal workday, even if it makes you uncomfortable or uneasy. It’s in these non-traditional days, weeks or even months where the potential for exponential growth and learning lives.

So when Lou Hoffman asked if I’d be interested in representing our agency at the 2018 Sprout Agency Partner Summit, I jumped at the chance. Although I was nervous to travel solo across the country to Chicago (a city I’d never been to before) and break away from the day-to-day account work, I knew there was no better opportunity to be fully engrossed and surrounded by social media education.

I guess you could say, I was ready to let the Windy City blow me away!

To note each and every lesson, idea or practice I gleaned during this three-day adventure would literally be impossible (and I truly mean literally, not figuratively). I promise I won’t do that to you. However if I were to pull together the CliffsNotes, they would look something a little bit like the following.

 

PowerPoint is Still the Universal Language of Business

I’m a millennial. I took my first PowerPoint class in sixth grade, and I’ve used it on a consistent basis throughout my entire educational, and now professional, career. Because I feel I know it like the back of my hand, I frequently fall into the trap of overlooking the true possibilities of the classic presentation program. There are very few programs or practices that are universal no matter the industry, business or location, but PowerPoint is most certainly one of them.

 

 

So when it comes to packaging additional value for our clients’ customers, why do we so often turn to recommendations such as eBooks and whitepapers? If we ourselves don’t even rely on these mediums for consuming information, why do we expect others to do so? Those are the types of questions Ty Heath, the Global Lead of Market Development for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions challenged us to think about during her presentation titled, The Future of B2B Marketing: Trends for the Contrarian Marketer.

So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, why not embrace it? If we know professionals are frequently using PowerPoint (30 million time a day to be exact!), we should be harnessing that universal power for good — making our clients shine by structuring their assets in a way we know is easily digestible, enjoyable and reusable.

 

Transparency is Scary, but Mission-critical

Sometimes the thought of being honest on social media is downright scary. Putting thoughts out for the world to see makes people feel vulnerable and exposed – like every thought has to be curated and censored. That doesn’t mean the instinct is to lie, but sometimes it’s more comfortable to omit the truth as opposed to being completely transparent. Jamie Gilpin, the CMO of Sprout Social, however, made the argument that in today’s digital climate, transparency is more important than ever during her presentation, How Sprout Sees It: Digital Transformation.

With stats like these, it’s really hard to dispute that transparency is really the only strategy in 2018.

 

 

Ultimately it made me reconsider the way I think about handling difficult situations on social media. By simply avoiding the mention of something, it doesn’t mean the conversation will stall; maybe we need to be more open, honest — and dare I say transparent? — with our key audiences, whether we’re dealing with the good, the bad or even the ugly.

 

The Sales Funnel is Dead

The traditional sales funnel is something that almost every person who has studied business, marketing, PR or any affiliated major has reviewed at one time or another. In the most simple of terms, marketing efforts lead to sales generation which ultimately, and hopefully, creates a customer. While this may have been the Northern Star at one point, modern business isn’t always a perfect little funnel. That’s the argument that Angie O’Dowd, Global Partner Marketing at HubSpot made during her presentation titled, How to Talk to Clients about Holistic Business Growth.

 

 

Instead she pointed out that customers should really be at the heart of everything we do. Sales, service and marketing should instead orbit around them in tandem, in order to build loyalty and optimal customer experience. Rather than think of PR as a stand-alone activity, this new flywheel model suggests we look for better ways to advocate for holistic integration with service and sales activities for more consistent results and brand awareness. Once this is actualized, clients can’t help but notice a more consistent customer experience that results in higher client satisfaction.

 

The Bean is a Tourist Trap, but Worth It

 

 

I’ve traveled a decent amount in my day, everywhere from Nicaragua to Orlando, Florida (equally exotic and foreign when you were born and raised in the Pacific Northwest), and that’s probably why I carry the “hipster” mentality that tourist traps should be avoided at all cost. I don’t like crowds, lines or hordes of selfie-taking masses, but The Bean was worth a visit. It may be over-hyped, but I have to admit it’s pretty cool and worth an in-person viewing.


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