Some attendees at PRSA's international conference deemed it the best one in years. Indeed, there was a palpable sense of enthusiasm that pervaded.
One virtue of the conference was a strongly conceived central theme of "evolution," driven by chair Larry Weber, chairman of W2 Group. Many of the professional-development sessions related to issues such as social media, video blogging, and "buzz." The meeting rooms were sometimes packed beyond capacity where those topics were being addressed.
Just when you thought everyone had said everything they wanted to say about new media, the PRSA conference demonstrates that perhaps there are still large pockets of the industry that have yet to move in this direction.
Equally, many who have strong interest in what the new-media paradigm can do are seeking ways to help their companies push ahead and overcome internal resistance and ignorance.
There is also a growing sense in the industry that many communications majors are not completing college programs armed with cutting-edge insights into how the social media applications they use in their private lives apply to their future jobs.
PRSA is, in many ways, an ideal organization to meet these challenges. One of the perceptions of the organization is that it does not always retain the involvement of senior people. As a result, it can be seen as something of a junior community, even as agency CEOs and corporate communications VPs are prominently featured in the speaker ranks and in some leadership roles.
This is a chance for the PRSA to turn what was previously seen as a weakness - its critical mass of junior and mid-level involvement - into a strength. Corporations and firms struggle enough to keep up with what's new. A strong community to help keep all levels of the organization informed and educated is more vital than ever.