A tale of two conferences: Counselors Academy and CPRS

I don’t usually attend two conferences in two weeks – much less two PR conferences. However, that’s what happened early in June when I twice ventured west: first for Counselors Academy in Palm Springs and then for the Canadian Public Relations Society in Vancouver.

And I thought it’s worth noting some of the similarities and differences.

Both conferences focused on social media and its application to PR; both had knowledgeable presenters and tier one keynote speakers (including Robert Stephens, Steve McKee, Brian Solis and David Suzuki – to name a few); and both had PR students live-blogging/tweeting about the events.

I personally thought having the students actively involved added a fresh energy to the events.

However, and I don’t know if this is a U.S./Canada or an agency/client thing, but the general knowledge of and enthusiasm for social media seemed less prevalent at the CPRS event. Certainly there was interest, but not the same kind of passion I witnessed from agency heads (mostly from the U.S.). Or maybe Canadians are just a bit more resistant to change.

Now, there’s no doubt Counselors is all about the agency business and, if you’re an agency principal, there’s nothing that compares to it. And, as counselors, it’s incumbent on us to be up to be on top of trends in order to offer more intelligent counsel to our clients.

I don’t have the answer to this.
I did notice that there was a lot less live tweeting at the CPRS conference; a few people were active.

But maybe it’s the small number of agencies represented (from out East, I mean). And that could be due to the economy, but I think it’s a shame that there isn’t a bigger agency president at CPRS national and Toronto.

Which begs the question: why aren’t Canadian agencies more actively engaged in CPRS? I asked my friend Scott Farrell, president of PRSA Chicago and he said they were trying to get more clients to participate; they had lots of active agency members.

And, as the president of CPRS Toronto, I throw this question out to PR folks. What would it take to make agency people want to get more involved?

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