PRWeek Conference 2014: 5 Unexpected Takeaways From Good Business Better Business

PRWeek Conference 2014: 5 Unexpected Takeaways From Good Business Better Business

By: Nicole E. Spears

image via @Lindsey_Stein

Over the last couple days, the People’s Climate March took our social spaces captive. Instagram, Twitter and word-of-mouth were spilling over with snapshots of the event and the worthy cause it represented. The most recent example of a social cause igniting a spark across boundaries, both geographic and philosophic, came at an interesting time.

Just a few days before news of climate change engulfed your Twitter feed, a group of influential PR professionals gathered in midtown Manhattan to broaden their thinking on social activism in the work of their clients, their corporations and their agencies. At the 2014 PRWeek Conference, Good Business Better Business, media professionals and entrepreneurs came together to discuss topics including non-profit media, sustainable business, one-for-one models and so much more.

Lucky enough to join the gathering, I walked away with a greater understanding of the state of philanthropic business practice, and brimming with ideas for LaunchSquad and our clients. While it’s true that networking events are known for their archetypal idioms, I’m here to share the most impactful learnings.

The Big 5 – The Expected + Unexpected Takeaways from PRWeek Conference 2014

1. Expected: Content is king.
Unexpected: The value of great content will never fade.

Often stated, and rarely truly understood, is the value that unique and validated content can have for your company. As stated by WNET’s Neil Shapiro, the platform and delivery of content as we know it is constantly changing. However, the influence that unique insights and third-party validations offer a storyline is an untouchable asset.

2. Expected: Any publicity is good publicity.
Unexpected: Your employees want to be defended in the media.

We all want to work toward something we believe in. While criticism in the media can be seen as a threat to the external and financial health of a company, Catherine Mathis of Standard & Poor’s says it can also pose a threat to internal morale. Messaging that reinvigorates and defends your internal team should be more than an afterthought.

3. Expected: Do good, feel good.
Unexpected: Workplace philanthropic initiatives can lessen feelings of employee frustration.

The Battle of Big Ideas panel pitted five diverse communications professionals against each other to sell their audience on the value of better business. Plenty of great insights were shared, particularly the reminder that altruism may not exist. Doing a solid for a friend has a positive physiological effect on the actor.

4. Expected: Millennials have different needs in the workplace.
Unexpected: Corporate social responsibility is a priority to millennials as they evaluate job offers.

If you can bear hearing one more bit of information regarding the millennial generation, it’s worthy to note that many entry-level employees now factor a company’s philanthropic initiatives into their dream job wishlist. A solid argument raised by PRSSA National President Heather Harder, as she introduced us to her remastered Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs regarding millennials in the workplace. CSR is key to your new employees’ self-actualization.

5. Expected: You get what you pay for.
Unexpected: While a one-for-one business model (such as Toms, Warby Parker or Soapbox Soaps) may get you a first-time buyer, only exceptional quality will create a loyal customer.

The founder behind the up-and-coming one-for-one company, David Simnick of SoapBox Soaps, let us in on the key to getting and keeping your mission-driven buyers. He’s learned that you can sustain the higher price point that will allow for a social business model only if your quality is on par.

The night ended with the PRWeek 40 Under 40 Awards, where our own “unsung PR rock star” Beth Sanzone was recognized for her outstanding work in the PR industry.

Check out the conversation on Twitter for more from #PRWeekConference.

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