PR Now & Next Conference

PR Now & Next Conference

July 20-21, 2017
Price: $1395
Member Price: $1145
  • Increase your recognition—and earn bigger budgets
  • Learn new secrets of getting hired or promoted in PR
  • Fire up brand ambassadors with honest storytelling
  • Shoot videos that move audiences—and boost the bottom line
  • Get a jump on the trends shaping the PR of tomorrow
  • Pitch A-list journalists in a live "pitch tank"

Master what's now • Discover what's next • Get ahead • Stay ahead

Twitter hashtag: #prnow

Can't attend in person? Sign up for our live webcast!

Presented by:     Sponsored by:
Ragan PRSA: Public Relations Society of America PR Daily Incharged

Product Code: Y17CR0CH
Ragan Insider Members. Remember to login to secure your member price.
  • Learn more about sponsoring this event
    Featuring keynote presentations from:
    Mike Erwin, director of corporate communications and social media
    Take charge of your career: Exclusive hiring trends and career advice for communicators
    Shannon Cason THE MOTH
    Shannon Cason, host and Mainstage storyteller
    Truth to power! Brutally honest storytelling is the future of PR
    Joseph Ogden, professor of communications

    Be brilliant: Turn "big idea" campaigns into tomorrow's competitive edge
    Also featuring:
    Jenn Herman, author of "The Ultimate Guide to Instagram"
    Take breathtaking Instagram photos: Secrets of a visually stunning feed
    Justina Chen MICROSOFT
    Drew Keller, content developer, video team
    Concept to can: Essential videography skills to save your job
    Michelle Mermelstein SPRINT
    Michelle Leff Mermelstein, media relations manager
    The "write" stuff: Craft a perfect media pitch in less time
    Michele Weldon, professor emerita
    Brave the media pitch tank: 10 seconds to succeed or die
    Gail Marksjarvis CHICAGO TRIBUNE
    Gail Marksjarvis, personal finance reporter
    Brave the media pitch tank: 10 seconds to succeed or die
    Kit Graham, founder and blogger
    Brave the media pitch tank: 10 seconds to succeed or die
    Stephen J. Lewis, features producer
    Brave the media pitch tank: 10 seconds to succeed or die
    Showbiz Shelly B96 RADIO
    Showbiz Shelly, entertainment reporter, co-host (The J Show)
    Brave the media pitch tank: 10 seconds to succeed or die
    Beth Nyland, lead instructor
    Cut the bull! How to write short in the age of "less is more"
    Carolyn Shelby TRONC
    Carolyn Shelby, director of SEO
    How to trend: Get into Google News with a killer headline and lead
    Tony Amrich VIRGIN AMERICA
    Tony Amrich, director of social media
    Oh, Snap! Join the Snapchat party to engage your millennial audience
    Kate Talbot Oh Snap! You Can Use Snapchat for Business
    Kate Talbot, author of "Oh Snap! You Can Use Snapchat for Business"
    Oh Snap! Join the Snapchat party to engage your millennial audience
    G. Andrew Meyer FACEBOOK
    G. Andrew Meyer, creative lead, global marketing
    Next-level Facebook strategies: Interactive ads and new tools to tell—and sell—your story
    Buddy Scalera Dell
    Sarah Luden, global communications consultant
    The future content strategist: Update today's content plans for tomorrow
    Sandra Fathi AFFECT
    Sandra Fathi, president
    State of the union: Future-proof your PR team in the era of fake news, emerging tech and "reputation as currency"
    Siobhan Aalders SHUTTERSTOCK
    Siobhan Aalders, vice president of communications
    State of the union: Future-proof your PR team in the era of fake news, emerging tech and "reputation as currency"
    Shel Holtz, principal
    Communicating in a screenless world: Get ready for chatbots, augmented reality and mixed reality
    Jill Pollack, founder and director
    "Hyperlocal" isn't hype: Tell micro-focused stories for macro results
    Peter Doherty THE WALSH GROUP
    Peter Doherty, director of public relations
    "Hyperlocal" isn't hype: Tell micro-focused stories for macro results
    Louis Gray GOOGLE
    Louis Gray, advocacy team leader, Google Analytics
    The next phase of analytics: Go beyond the numbers to transform data into action

DAY 1—The speed summit: What's now in practical PR

Thursday, July 20

8:30-9:10 a.m.
Take charge of your career: Exclusive hiring trends and career advice for communicators
Mike ErwinCommunications jobs are in flux like never before—thanks to disappearing silos, reallocation of corporate budgets and a rash of exciting new platforms. Join this interactive session with CareerBuilder's director of corporate communications and social media for a look into the state of the PR and communications field—and fresh ideas for getting hired or promoted today. Whether you're a media relations manager at a social media giant, an AE at a growing agency or a digital specialist at a nonprofit, this informative and inspiring exchange will arm you with insights you need to successfully map out a more rewarding and successful career path. Come ready with questions!

You'll learn:

  • The state of communications jobs since the recession
  • What's hot: The communications and social media jobs expected to grow the most over the next five years
  • How a spike in college PR programs is changing the job market
  • What's important in a résumé—and how to increase visibility for yours
  • How to ask for—and get—a raise
  • And more ...
Mike Erwin is the director of corporate communications and social media at @mverwin

9:20-10 a.m.
Take breathtaking Instagram photos: Secrets of a visually stunning feed
Jenn HermanInstagram has skyrocketed from a simple app to a social media stalwart with more than 600 million users. Yet many of those users—and most brands on the platform—waste resources on uninspired, boring or poorly-shot photos. Whether you're just now adding Instagram to your program or you're already far down the path, have no fear. This session will supply you with the know-how you need to shoot and share more engaging images that will make your feed look like a professional photographer's.

You'll learn:

  • How to create and distribute buzzworthy images
  • How to keep an eye out for cinematic moments
  • The essentials of lighting, angles, props and more
  • What to look for in colors, shapes and lines
  • Framing and grid tips: How to apply the "rule of thirds" on the fly
  • The latest features and filters—and how to use them for better pics
  • Quick editing tricks and apps to punch up photos for social media
  • And more ...
Jenn Herman is the author of "The Ultimate Guide to Instagram." @jenns_trends

10:10-11:30 a.m.
Concept to can: Essential videography skills to save your job
Drew KellerVideography is among the most sought after PR skills today. How do you add the essentials to your repertoire—or polish the visual storytelling fundamentals you already possess? Answer: Join this intensive, hands-on video training workshop with Microsoft storyteller and professional videographer Drew Keller. In two information-packed hours, he'll show you how to script, shoot and share amazing videos that convey your values and messages across today's leading social media channels. If you're looking for a surefire way to not only stay relevant but become more valuable to your organization or client, this two-hour workshop will guide you through the entire production cycle—from concept to can.

You'll learn:

  • The core elements of video storytelling
  • How to plan videos through storyboards and scripts
  • Best production practices: camera height, framing and environment—including how to capture a great image in bad lighting
  • What equipment is essential—and what's a waste
  • Tips for using smartphones and tablets in video production
  • How to nail down great sound
  • How to attract audiences to your video on social media
  • And more ...
Drew Keller is a content developer and member of the modern learning and video team at Microsoft Corp. @drewkeller

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Lunch on your own
*Gift cards provided for nearby eateries

12:30-1:10 p.m.
The "write" stuff: Craft a perfect media pitch in less time
Michelle Leff MermelsteinPitching busy journalists can be challenging and daunting—especially when you're working at cyber-speed under tight pressure from bosses and clients. How can you pitch the press more easily and more effectively when time is short? Learn how to quickly craft pitches that sizzle, sell and survive in front of today's skeptical editorial gatekeepers—whether via email, a 10-second voice mail or 140 characters on Twitter. Not only will you learn the structure of a perfect pitch, but you'll also learn the magic words and phrases that compel readership every time.

You'll learn:

  • A fresh methodology for planning stellar pitches
  • The anatomy of winning pitches—top to bottom
  • How to find sexy trends and research to punch up your pitch
  • Better email pitches: Secrets of smart subject lines
  • Social media pitches: What works, what doesn't—and which social networks get the most bang for your pitching buck
  • Verbal pitches: How to turn follow-ups, voice mails and live pitches into gold
  • Packaging pitches and, yes, press releases: Make it easy!
  • And more ...
Michelle Leff Mermelstein manages wireless product media relations at Sprint. @michelleleff

1:20-2 p.m.
Brave the media pitch tank: 10 seconds to succeed or die
Michele WeldonGail MarksjarvisKit GrahamStephen J. LewisShowbiz Shelly

Feeling fired up and ready to capitalize on a unique opportunity? Put your enthusiasm to the test when you face a panel of A-list journalists. Not only will you discover what it takes to connect with and pitch busy reporters live, but you'll also gain the instant insight and feedback you need to dramatically improve your pitches. The best part? You could actually earn headlines if you turn heads in this fun, interactive workshop.

You'll learn:

  • Editorial hot buttons by beat and media type
  • The "Pitch Report Card": How journalists grade PR pitches
  • Rapport, revelation, response: Keys to a great live pitch
  • "Black hole syndrome"—and how to avoid it
  • What to do when journalists don't respond
  • How videos, photos and multimedia can sweeten pitches
  • Common pitching faux pas
  • And more ...
Michele Weldon is professor emerita at Northwestern University and editor of The Movement Blog. @micheleweldon

Gail Marksjarvis is a personal finance reporter at the Chicago Tribune. @gailmarksjarvis

Kit Graham is a Chicago-based food and travel blogger at The Kittchen and founder of the Windy City Blogger Collective. @thekittchen

Stephen J. Lewis is the features producer for Chicago's ABC7 News. @stephenjlews72

Showbiz Shelly is the entertainment reporter and co-host for The J Show on B96 Radio. @showbizshelly 

2:10-2:50 p.m.
Cut the bull! How to write short in the age of "less is more"
Beth NylandTell it like it is. Say what you mean. Just the facts, please. That's what audiences expect today. But is your copy crisp, concise and compelling enough to survive short attention spans? Didn't think so. The good news: We'll teach you practical principles to help you write shorter so your readers can take action faster. This fast-paced session is a lightning round of creative techniques designed to help you choose words that work. In 45 minutes, you'll discover how to keep your copy short enough to fit even the most limited formats—and break through to today's time-pressed, hyper-stressed target audiences.

You'll learn:

  • How to tune your nonsense meter to spot BS words
  • Three signs your lengthy message needs a trim
  • How to cut word count while strengthening your prose
  • Practical techniques to turn vague phrases into simple language
  • How to write more clear, concise and captivating copy
  • How to create better social media posts, press releases, emails and any other PR document you're working on
  • And more ...
Beth Nyland is lead instructor at StoryStudio Words for Work. @bethnyland

3-3:20 p.m.
Refreshment break

3:20-4 p.m.
How to trend: Get to Google News with a killer headline and lead
Carolyn ShelbyOverwhelmed by SEO strategies? Not enough time to master the ins and outs of advanced search engine optimization? Don't worry: We have the abridged guide you've been looking for. This session strips it down to the basics and shows you how to supercharge the two most important PR elements you control that can result in Google News placement: your headline and your lead, whether for a press release, blog post or even white paper on your website. You'll learn how to see your copy as a search engine "robot" might see it, and how to craft your message in a way that's compelling to Google and human readers alike.

You'll learn:

  • The fundamental rules of SEO for PR, including:
    • Writing original content
    • Following journalistic standards
    • Using keywords, anchor text and metatags effectively
    • Carefully crafting your URLs
  • Why leads matter—what to include in your opening paragraph without getting flagged for keyword stuffing
  • Using keyword planners for better keywords and phrases
  • Common SEO mistakes PR writers make—and how to avoid them
  • And more ...
Carolyn Shelby is the director of SEO at tronc, Inc. (formerly Tribune Publishing). @cshel

4:10-5 p.m.
Oh Snap! Join the Snapchat party to engage your millennial audience
Kate TalbotTony AmrichJoin this fun, interactive session to learn how to build your own following with amazing snaps and stories on this hot social app. In just one hour, these two leading Snapchat experts will show you how to get more out of the No. 1 social media channel for millennials. You'll learn how to tell your brand's story through quick, digestible content and discover the latest tricks others are using to attract followers and expand their communities—all during our live group Snapchat party! Download the app—and come ready to Snap!

You'll learn:

  • The evolution of Snapchat: From sexting to storytelling 
  • How to frame, shoot and edit in the app
  • Creative ways to use custom geofilters (yes, we'll do it live!)
  • How to engage and find the right contributors in your organization for Snapchat
  • Real-world lessons and insights from Virgin America, including:
    • Brand storytelling on Snapchat
    • Product and market launches on Snapchat
    • Key metrics and ROI
  • New interface updates, tools and opportunities, including Snapchat Spectacles, Memories, Stories and more ...
Kate Talbot is a contributor to the Social Media Examiner and Engadget, and author of "Oh Snap! You Can Use Snapchat for Business." @KateTalbot2

Tony Amrich is director of social media at Virgin America. @THEmonzie

6:30 p.m. (show begins at 7 p.m.)
Special networking event at Second City Chicago
Join fellow conference attendees at Chicago's favorite comedy show!
Second City provides something for everyone in this fast-paced, highly interactive show.  You'll see some favorite scenes and songs from a rich history and plenty of improvisation created just for you. So laugh with your co-worker, laugh with your new friends, or laugh with complete strangers!  Enjoy "Second City's Legendary Laughs" Thursdays at the Up Comedy Club.

UP Comedy Club show UP Comedy Club stage

"A hilarious night out ... the best of Chicago comedy!"—The Real Chicago