Communication Lessons Learned on the Journey to IPO

In the start-up world, where founders have clear exit strategies from Day 0, communication professionals have an incredible opportunity to lead the development and narration of a company’s story – who they are, what they do and why they matter – to the world.

In this session, Sarah will share lessons she’s learned in her career working with venture-backed companies, specifically:

  • about how communications can not only raise the visibility of a brand and shape a company’s overall image, but
  • also move the needle in other aspects of the business in preparation for an exit, IPO or strategic sale.

Recommended social handles and hashtags:  @PRSA_NPD, #PRSAGameChangers, @sarahtatone, @vacasarentals


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference


Photo courtesy of Vacasa.

Adventures in Storytelling

In an era of shorter attention spans and ‘fake news’, how are brands leveraging their owned channels in smarter, more impactful ways? Join us to hear from storytellers at Starbucks, KPMG and Microsoft who will share their insights and their Top 5 lists of do’s and don’ts for creating breakthrough content.


  • Linda Dahlstrom, Director of Storytelling, Starbucks, Global Newsroom
  • Manuel Goncalves, Executive Director, Media Relation and Corporate Communications, KPMG LLP
  • Michael Wann, Director, Communications, Microsoft
  • Doug Dawson, General Manager, Influencer Relations, Microsoft (moderator)

Learning outcomes:

  • Gain a better understanding of how your company can build trust – and an audience – through smarter branded storytelling
  • Identify the types of content, channels and platforms your company can leverage to tell your own story
  • Measuring impact – what does success look like? How do you measure it?

Recommended handles/hashtags: @microsoft,  @KPMG_US, #storytellers, #influencer #PRSAGameChangers


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Looking Ahead; The Communications Strategy Behind Defeating the Trump Travel Ban

Seven days after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, launching nationwide protests. Within 72 hours, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his legal team swiftly filed suit in federal court arguing the ban amounted to religious discrimination, as well as other constitutional and statutory violations.

But unlike other individual challenges, Washington’s strategy argued harm to the state’s businesses, universities, tax collations and its very citizens. With statements of support from global tech giants Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and others, Ferguson successfully argued the case; landing a stunning legal defeat and political blow to a new president within weeks of taking office. An international chess master, Ferguson is a keen strategist. In this fascinating case study, hear how planning, communications, strategy and message factored into the court victory and the narrative, and how Ferguson leveraged a national spotlight to shape an important public conversation amid a historic period of conflict.

Recommended handles/hashtags: @AGOWA, @BobFergusonAG, #travelban, #PRSAGameChangers


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Tales from the Eclipse: Lessons Learned from Luna

Dave Thompson, APR, Public Affairs Program Manager, Oregon Department of Transportation

2:00 Pm, Sunday, April 22

The eclipse was just over the horizon, and as many as one million people were headed to Oregon to watch. State tourism folks were overjoyed at the expected huge economic boost; virtually every farmer in Central Oregon was renting roosts for campers to come witness the celestial marvel.

Transportation officials, on the other hand, were starting to sweat: How would about 250,000 more cars fit on Oregon’s rural two-lane highways? Easy answer: They wouldn’t. Car-mageddon? Apoc-eclipse? And all those travelers would point fingers and demand to know why we weren’t prepared for them. It’s not like we didn’t know this was coming!

But then tourism officials stated their goal, clearly and succinctly.

And that saved the day.

Life-safety agencies saw how to help travelers avoid cosmic traffic jams and heat-related health issues on the way to and from the celestial dance.

The tourism goal led to the overall state strategy that allowed usually negative Nellies in transportation and health to write positive, even almost poetic, press releases.

It’s what every strategic communicator craves.

Oregon Department of Transportation Public Affairs Program Manager Dave Thompson, APR helped lead the state of Oregon’s communications response for the Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse. He will narrate the true tale of how Oregon planned for a scheduled but uncontrollable event, pointing out valuable lessons learned. The good, the bad, and the unbelievable.

Learning objectives:

  • You’ll learn how the right goal, properly stated, can lead to collaborative strategies, even when your planning partners have different missions and therefore differing goals.
  • You’ll learn how to craft smart objectives that measure stakeholder behavior, not your “busy-ness” factor, even though you may not be able to measure behavior directly.
  • You’ll learn how to use the “power of 3” to craft memorable messages and metaphors. And you’ll learn how to control numbers—from our mistake.
  • You’ll learn how to avoid the “mistake of assumption”—when well-meaning communicators think they know your messaging, only to get it wrong. (Oregon suffered some gasoline hoarding because of this.)
  • You’ll learn how situation-specific crisis simulation training can prepare you and help test your messaging—and prepare you when it happens in real life.
  • You’ll learn just how incredibly cool a total solar eclipse is!
Recommended handles/hashtags: ,, ,


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

From PR to Pie and Beyond; Lessons Learned

Chris Porter, Founder, A la Mode Pies

4:00 p.m. Sunday, April 22

Presenting Sponsor T-Mobile

Have a dream? Grab a cocktail and a lollipie, and get ready to laugh and learn with colleagues. With dreams of pie and a lot of hard work, smart, savvy and warm-hearted Chris Porter quit his PR career and took a giant leap. Less than eight years later, he’s stuck a fork in it; now lauded as one of the top 100 fastest growing businesses in the Seattle region and rolling in dough–literally.  His jump from the office to the oven, and upward will give you insights for your own dream and career. Chris, T-Mobile and the PRSA North Pacific District Conference welcome you to Seattle in a memorable cocktail reception that will leave you energized, inspired, and dreaming of your own ‘pie in the sky.’

Recommended social handles, hashtags: @AlaModePies, @PRSA_NPD, #PRSAGameChangers, #PRSAPugetSound


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Break Through the Noise: The New Science of Being Heard

Elizabeth Edwards, Founder and President, Volume PR

10:15 am, Monday, April 23

Consumers see more marketing messages every day. How do you ensure yours is remembered? At the 2017 PRSA ICON, Elizabeth Edwards introduced how communicators can use neuroscience & behavioral science findings to increase positive PR outcomes and received rave reviews. But, that was just the beginning. Elizabeth will build off these presentations with new ways that PR professionals can use strategies & tactics based on behavioral laws that can be implemented immediately. Elizabeth will provide case studies, interactive examples, and insights to inspire participants to think in a new way, use new tactics, and increase success.  By the end of this session, you’ll earn five new communication tools you can use to immediately increase your PR media outcomes,  and learn new Rules of Engagement, building off the past PRSA presentations, to better increase your chances of breaking through the 50,000 marketing messages a day that you have to compete with to get your consumer’s attention with the help of neuroscience research and behavioral laws.  You’ll also learn the difference between the thinking brain and the breathing brain, and how to engage your audience’s brains in a way that they will remember your message and be more motivated to act.

Recommended social handles, hashtags: @PR_Virtuoso, @VolumePR, @PRSA_NPD, #PRSAGameChangers


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Power In the Palm of Your Hand – Create Professional Looking Videos on Your Smartphone!

Kelly Guenther, North American Video Specialist, Shootsta 

11:45 am, Tuesday, April 24

Smartphones have surprising video and microphone functions that rival the quality of broadcast television cameras from just a few years ago. Match that technology with the growing need for ‘authentic’ video content across an organization’s channels and your phones’ ability to upload anywhere — and you end up with a lot of power in the palm of your hand. Bring your smartphone because in this session, you’ll actually create a pro-looking video for your organization and ideally post it on one of your channels by learning just what your iPhone is capable of, simple techniques and cheap tools professionals use, and just as importantly – how to find and adjust video and camera settings on the fly.

Recommended social handles, hashtags: @shootstavideos, @GuentherGroup, @PRSA_NPD, #PRSAGameChangers


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

The Environment is the Message: Why Green Advocacy is a Game-Changer for PR and Public Interest Communication

Derek Moscato, Assistant Professor, Western Washington University

10:30 am, Tuesday, April 24

Issues such as climate change, energy projects, and wildlife conservation are not only changing the national political landscape; they’re also a catalyst for rethinking public relations practice. Companies such as Patagonia and North Face are integrating environmental activism into their corporate social responsibility approaches, while the outdoors cooperative REI has provided an industry wide rethink of retail consumption. Environmental advocates and activists, drawing from best practices in strategic communication but also a historic legacy of environmental appeals in the United States, are providing public relations practitioners with new insights into successful persuasion, but also public engagement. Hear how recent public relations cases from both companies and non-governmental organizations, as well as Moscato’s recent primary research from high-profile environmental cases (comprised of experiment-based surveys and content analysis) provide understanding for this dramatic shift.

Recommended social handles, hashtags:  @DerekMoscato, @PRSA_NPD, #PRSAGameChangers


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Two-Point Stories: Using Visuals to Connect A & B

Jessica Hagy, Founder, Indexed

10:30 am, Tuesday, April 24

More than 90% of all content shared today is visual. Headlines need pictures. Stories need illustrations. Brands need images. We’ll talk about how to turn messaging texts into sharable visuals and how to turn those visuals into stickier, more memorable brands.  Learn how to transform any complete sentence into a visual social object, create a visual brand through repetition of signature elements, and build a system for quickly generating and deploying visuals for a campaign.

Enjoy Jessica’s daily visual social images, published weekday mornings while the coffee brews, on her Webby award-winning blog Indexed.

Recommended social handles, hashtags: @jessicahagy, @PRSA_NPD, #PRSAGameChangers


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference

Professional Agility: How to Keep Up With—Or Stay Ahead Of—Change

Carla Sandine, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, PATH

1:00 PM, Monday, April 23

Due to the pace of change, the field of communications is–at times–unrecognizable from a decade ago. Today, communications and marketing sits at the intersection of technology, revenue, creative, customer, and brand – it is the powerful and exciting confluence of consumer experience and an organization’s identity. And more than ever before, data-savvy chief marketing officers are being elevated to CEO.

The evolution of technology has become the game changer; driving society and consumer behavior changes. How will you keep pace, and stay ahead of that change? How will communicators remain nimble and adapt to changes when the swift speed of transformation is upon us before we even realize we need to prepare? By the end of this session, you’ll learn:
• How to identify potential changes in your organization, and prepare to support your teams,
• How to analyze and modify your tactics to evolve ahead of the needs,
• The most important skills to develop and tools to use to adapt to change.

Recommended social handles: @CarlaSandine, @PATHtweets, @PRSA_NPD, #PRSAGameChangers


Eventbrite - 2018 PRSA North Pacific District Conference