Blogging event added to PRSA conference

NEW YORK: The PRSA truly learned the power of bloggers this week.

NEW YORK: The PRSA truly learned the power of bloggers this week.

The lack of a blogging session at the organization's annual conference drew the ire of bloggers, who felt the PRSA didn't recognition the importance of the discipline in PR.

But an event cancellation, coupled with discussions between bloggers and the PRSA, resulted in a last-minute event, featuring two influential sources.

The International Association of Online Communicators (IAOC), in conjunction with the PRSA, will hold a blogging session, "Straight Talk about Blogging and PR," narrated by Steve O'Keefe, VP and founding member of the IAOC, and featuring bloggers Steve Rubel and BL Ochman, on Tuesday, October 26 from 8:30 am to 9:45 am in the Madison Room.

Rubel, a VP of client services at CooperKatz, and helms www.micropersuasion.com. Ochman, a writer and marketing strategist, helms www.whatsnextblog.com.

O'Keefe, also a published author and professor teaching online PR at Tulane University, initially approached the PRSA, hoping that the IAOC could have a blog event at the organization's conference.

"We approached the PRSA board of directors, conference committee, and tech committee to lobby for us," O'Keefe said, adding that by the time the IAOC had pitched Catherine Bolton, executive director and COO of the PRSA, she had heard about the pitch from "six different sides."

O'Keefe said Bolton declined on October 5 because of the time deadline that the PRSA enforces on event suggestions.

"We knew it would be tough, because everything [for the conference] is set in stone," O'Keefe said.

Janet Troy, PRSA's director of PR, confirmed that the IAOC approached Bolton.

"Everything was booked solid and had been since May," Troy said, adding that the blogger clamor serendipitously peaked as a cancellation in the programming occurred.

Troy insisted that the PRSA had recently become very interested in blogging. She added that the PRSA's ability to get the event set up in 24 hours and its invitation for bloggers to cover the event only confirmed that it was aware of the medium.

"I am impressed that the PRSA was even listening to the blogosphere buzz," said Rubel. "But it's even better that the PRSA was able to turn the car on a dime and add a blogging session to the conference."

The PRSA released a statement before deciding to accept the blog event. It read: "Development of our 2004 Conference program began in January with a call for submissions [and we received over 400 proposals which were rated and ranked on specific criteria]... The conference co-chairs developed the 2004 program based on this ranking in May. We did not receive one proposal specifically on the topic of blogging."

Due to that decision, the IAOC planned an alternative blog week, which now is scheduled for November 8 - 12.

O'Keefe said the event would initially be publicized when it hit the blog network. In addition, he said IAOC has a good communications network and he would be alerting the members, who will be meeting the Sunday before the event in New York.

Cedric Bess, PRSA PR manager, said the organization was putting an insert into its convention program and e-mail blasts will be sent out to members.

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