Communications professionals are constantly tasked with staying up to date on industry trends and best practices. The industry moves at a fast pace, and it can be a challenge keeping up with the latest and greatest service offerings, PR and integrated marketing practices, creative agency initiatives, and more. That’s why it’s important to have a close network of professionals that you can rely on for insights and in-depth industry knowledge.
We recently sat down with PAN Communications’ very own John Vernon – the 2018 President of PRSA-SF – to uncover how the PR industry is developing in the San Francisco region, what trends he’s seeing, and what he’s learning in his current journey with PRSA.
1) What does your role entail as President of PRSA’s San Francisco Chapter? What do you enjoy most?
As President of PRSA-SF, I’m in an exciting position to lead our board’s incredible team of talented volunteers to provide members – and the larger PR community in the Bay Area – with a variety of networking and PD opportunities and resources. There are so many aspects of the role that I enjoy. A major one is engaging with our current and potential members, partners, sponsors, etc. to learn more about how PRSA-SF can best serve them, to brainstorm event and program ideas together, and to make sure we’re providing value.
2) How did you first get involved? What are the benefits of joining PRSA-SF?
A few years ago, I became a member and attended my first PRSA-SF networking event. The first person I had a conversation with was Naomi Hunter, who I later learned was the Chapter President. I remember instantly feeling part of a larger community – one beyond the walls of my office – that would help me grow professionally and personally. Several events and awesome conversations later with some of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever been privileged to meet, I pursued an opportunity to get involved on the board – initially serving as Membership Director, then President-Elect, and now President.
Some of my favorite benefits of joining PRSA-SF include the invaluable networking opportunities (we’re fortunate to be one of the largest Chapters and have a very active community) and the vast library of PD resources.
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3) What differentiates the San Francisco Chapter from others in the nation?
There are a lot of unique aspects of PRSA-SF. One significant differentiating factor that I’d love to highlight is our Chapter’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion. In 2016, PRSA-SF released its first-ever D&I statement, and in 2017 we were proud to receive PRSA’s Chapter Diversity Award – given annually to the Chapter that best embodies and demonstrates key values in D&I and contributes to advancing diversity locally and nationally. D&I continues to be a common thread among all our events, programs, and initiatives.
For example, earlier this year, in celebration of Women’s History Month, we launched PRSA-SF’s inaugural PR Woman of the Year award, recognizing a local woman whose D&I efforts have made a positive impact in the community. Check out our Q&A with this year’s honoree, Kim Bardakian, to learn more about her career and her advice for PR pros looking to focus on D&I and grow their careers.
As another example, in celebration of LGBT Pride Month, we hosted a “Meet the Media” event at the SF LGBT Center for a panel discussion on LGBT issues and how they’re being covered by journalists.
4) Any current PRSA-SF goals that you can share with us?
At our board’s kickoff retreat in January, one of the goals I expressed focused on trying new things this year. This is something I’ve encouraged the whole team to keep top of mind when brainstorming events, programs, and initiatives – and after an exciting first half of 2018 (I can’t believe we’re already at the mid-year point), trying new things will continue to be a priority and goal for the second half of the year.
Back in February, for example, we turned our traditional monthly networking event into a fundraiser for Larkin Street Youth Services – raising more than $1,000 from ticket sales, a fun raffle, and tips on drinks served by members of our board as guest bartenders.
In May, as another example, we teamed up with the Oakland A’s for an amazing sports PR and journalism panel and night at the ballgame!
5) What events are coming up that you’re most looking forward to?
We’ve got a lot of great events in the works for the second half of 2018 – including several more networking opportunities, a joint “Inside the Newsroom” event with PRSA’s Silicon Valley Chapter, and so much more!
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6) What are some current PR trends that you’re seeing in the San Francisco region?
This is an exciting time to be a PR pro! As one of the country’s major PR hubs, San Francisco is seeing – and playing a big role in driving – the trends surrounding the integration of PR and marketing. As the lines between PR and marketing blur, it’s interesting to see the impact this is having on the services PR pros provide – whether they’re an independent practitioner, in-house, at an agency, etc. – as well as the skill sets required to succeed in this industry.
For example, we recently hosted an event in collaboration with TrendKite and the American Marketing Association’s SF Chapter, at which one of our panelists said “PR people today should understand digital marketing inside and out.” We’ve seen and adapted to similar trends before, such as when social media first came onto the scene and, over time, integrated with PR strategies. And as these trends continue to shape the industry, PRSA-SF is excited to provide events, programs and resources that help PR pros stay ahead of the curve.