By Taraneh Fultz, APR
One of the things I love about volunteering with PRSA is that you get the freedom to do things here that you could never do at work.
That’s why every new PRSA volunteer experience of mine has started with “what if?”
It’s led to some pretty interesting adventures:
- Watching my friend and mentor, Barbara Kerr, APR, receive her College of Fellows medallion and crying my eyes out next to her husband (see image).
- Talking Joel Stein into coming to Portland for less than a third of his regular fee and watching my idols ask for his autograph.
- Serving as my chapter’s first millennial president the same year I celebrated my 10th anniversary of membership.
- Flying to Boston for 24 hours to attend a national strategic planning committee meeting and sneaking in a game at Fenway (luggage in tow, straight from the airport).
- Going to my first past presidents’ dinner where I got to meet folks who were chapter president at a time when I was learning to ride a bike.
- Turning a nominating committee meeting into a backyard dinner party and introducing colleagues to Persian kebabs and baghali polo.
- Eating oysters for the first time while at ICON in New Orleans with my fellow PRSSA members after having sold our weight in Krispy Kremes to raise enough money to finance the trip.
Now having joined our District’s leadership team, when faced with the knowledge that the next district conference was during my term as chair, the question I asked was “what if we could have a conference with ICON-level programming (without ICON-level pricing) that had the bonding opportunities of an old-school slumber party like ‘Thirteen Going on Thirty’?”
Jacque Coe (aka my new PRSA BFF and your District conference chair) took up the challenge, and the 2018 North Pacific District Conference was born.
- First, we found the perfect venue. The Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle’s meeting spaces have floor-to-ceiling windows, so we’ll never feel like we’re learning inside of a coffin. Plus, their food is yum, and their rooms are wow.
- Next, we have a cocktail reception with Chris Porter because who doesn’t want to start off a conference with beer and wine? Not us! He’ll talk about the transition from a PR director into the owner of Seattle’s “best pie shop.” Plus, there’s pie. “Best pie shop” pie. Mmmm.
- Then we have our keynotes. There’s Frank, the guy who leads communications for Microsoft, the company that basically ushered in personal computing; Scott, who was the longest serving press secretary under George W. Bush, and who we bet will have some rather interesting things to say about the current team in the White House; and Nick, who before returning to Wired as its editor-in-chief revitalized the newyorker.com as its editor by focusing on — what else? — “telling better stories.” He’ll be talking about technology and fake news, among other awesomeness.
- Rounding out our program is a list of session speakers that could have been keynotes. Here’s a partial list: a senior adviser to the Clinton White House, an artist and writer whose work has been described as “our favorite reason for the Internet to exist,” an Emmy-Award-winning TV reporter, producer and photographer, and (spoilers!) Washington’s attorney general, who’s going to talk about the communications behind fighting Trump’s travel ban. (And we’re still collecting more.)
- Finally, we’re bringing the fun back to networking. Frank’s thinking about hosting a morning run. I’m looking into how to pull off a mini-slumber party with a screening of “Sleepless in Seattle,” a PJ fashion show, followed by a dance party for those hopped up on sugar and spiked punch. And since I’m pregnant, there’s talk of bringing in baby shower games, like guessing how big my belly is.
The bottom line? Even if you come to the conference a stranger, you’re going to leave a friend. A friend with a lot of new inspiration, tips and tricks to up-level your game at work, but a friend nonetheless. And isn’t that really why we joined PRSA in the first place? To be surrounded by people who get us, push us and make us better?
So what about you? Why are you excited about the upcoming conference?
Seriously. Inquiring minds want to know.