Being the Best in Our Changing Industry

By Posted in - Counselors Academy & Raleigh PR Agency on July 11th, 2016

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of PRSA’s Tactics. You can read it online here.

Being the Best in Our Changing Industry

Dana Phelps Hughens

Show me a PR person who is not a perfectionist, and I’ll question if that person is really in the public relations industry.

Think about it. We fuss over commas. We argue over one space versus two. For those of us who remember a time before track changes, the red ink of our bosses shouted, “not good enough!” and “make it better!” Fact check. Find the most recent research. Attribute your sources. Do your best. Be the best. Hire the best.

I’ve just returned from San Juan for a PRSA’s Counselors Academy conference planning meeting. Over the weekend, I went to Old San Juan for a little tourist time. I bumped into some of the others from our group who were in serious pursuit of finding the best piña colada on the island. This was by no means a frivolous mission with intoxication as the goal.

This was about validating a claim and finding the best. It started with the assertion of a local establishment that has apparently long been challenged by another local establishment. Both boasted to be the home of this famous libation that conjures up images of drinks with paper umbrellas, and without fail gets that 70s song stuck in my head every single time. There was only one thing for our group of PR pros seeking the truth to do: research.

The process of conducting this research struck me as quite similar to the process we go through each year to plan the Counselors Academy conference. Gather live feedback. Read online reviews. Try something new. Decide what you think is the best. Accept that everyone might not agree on what is the best.

Can you imagine the pressure of trying to plan the BEST EVER conference for 150 other perfectionists, I mean PR professionals? I chaired the conference in 2013 and have been involved in the planning for six years now. The desire to make it the best has not changed.

What has changed mirrors the changes in our industry, and those we are addressing for our companies and clients each day. Our conversations in San Juan and for the past several months come back to two questions. 1) What do senior PR agency leaders need to know about managing agencies today? 2) How do we get the word out about the conference? In other words, it comes down to content and marketing.

The answers to these questions continue to change, influenced by always-on communications, video, mobile, search and analytics. As an agency owner, I know that what my clients need to reach their audiences has changed and continues to change. The skills required to be an effective public relations professional have changed. How do I hire for the right skills today? Once equipped with a team of strong writers, social media strategists, video producers and interactive communicators, how do I sell services beyond traditional media relations to clients?

These are some of the questions that will be answered during the Counselors Academy conference, May 1 to 3, in San Juan, Puerto Rico that is designed to help you address our industry changes and be the best you can be. As for our conference marketing, we’re employing a mix of tactics to spread the word. To mention a few, the conference agenda can be found at, and we’ll be sharing updates in The Official Counselors Academy Facebook Group and from @CAPRSA on Twitter.

If you are an agency leader looking to be the best at keeping up with change in the PR industry, I hope you’ll join us in San Juan. Participation in determining the best piña colada is optional.

Dana Phelps Hughens is CEO of Clairemont Communications based in Raleigh, N.C. She serves as an assembly delegate for the North Carolina chapter of PRSA and on the board of Counselors Academy. Dana is known as @blah2voila on Instagram and Twitter.



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