Council of PR Firms Critical Issues Forum 2011

By Lippe Taylor / Posted on 28 October 2011


The Council of PR Firms kicked off their insightful Critical Issues Forum called Social Revolution; Are you Mobilizing Communities or Just a Voice in the Crowd? The conference focused on the corporate implications of grand scale social changes in consumer, corporate, and diplomatic culture as caused by social  media. Featured speakers were Pete Cashmore of Mashable and former White House strategist and advisor to President Barack Obama, Robert Gibbs.

The event began with an informative presentation from Mr. Gibbs, who reflected on the role that social media played in planning President Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, “Our campaign was centered around a technology based grassroots movement…so many people are living their lives through technology, how can we expect their interaction with politics to be different?” stated Mr Gibbs who went on to articulate how government officials can react, respond, and gain crucial citizen insight from services like Twitter, “Rapid response is no longer a press release… It’s a tweet.”

Mr. Gibbs was followed with an in depth conversation about the dramatic changes in media and marketing and the effect on the public relations industry. Taking part was Maryam Banikarim – Chief Marketing Officer, Gannett Co., Inc. Jane Harrell – Associate Producer,, Gary Hoenig – GM & Editorial Director, ESPN Publishing,  Dustee Tucker Jenkins – Vice President, Communications, Target,  & Evan Welsh – Global Media Relations Director, SAP. The dynamic group compared their own personal relative in field case studies of corporate crises, corporate social responsibility, and the overall shift in consumer communication in our current age of internet fueled transparency. One of the most interesting and revealing quotes was from Dustee Tucker Jenkins, who stated “Soon it won’t be called social media; it will just be called media.”

The event concluded with a conversation with Pete Cashmore; we learned about the young CEO’s origins and how an early entrepreneurial spirit and fascination with technology put him on a natural course to greatness with the creation of Mashable at age 19. Cashmore had been selling imported smoke ring blowers in Scotland, then realized the power of the internet when he sold his first on site advertisements at $3,000 / month. Cashmore went on to describe the tremendous changes in the corporate world that he’s witnessed first hand, but later went on to state”PR is in a great place” which was the most comforting quote of the entire afternoon :-)