Imagine Helen Ostrowski leading a session on Porter Novelli’s consumer practice strategy. Or Pam Edstrom discussing WagEd’s secrets to maintaining its long-standing Microsoft relationship. How about Richard Edelman opening up on his firm’s digital strategy? Now imagine the audience they’re addressing is comprised of CEOs of other top public relations firms. In each session, Helen, Pam and Richard would answer any and all questions about the good, the bad and the ugly in creating these services, relationships and strategies. Never happen in a million years, right? Right.
But, a variation of that scenario occurs every year at the PRSA’s Counselors Academy’s Spring Conference. We have small and midsized agency leaders opening up and describing their most strategic products and services, their toughest challenges and their deepest, darkest professional secrets. Why? Because we all become better as a result and, as we know, a rising tide lifts all boats.
Shared intelligence and mutual trust are the secret sauce of the Counselors Academy. Each year, I come away from the Spring Conference knowing a little bit more than when I arrived. And I can’t think of another professional organization that provides that same benefit. So, while we compete against one another during the year, we lay down our arms for a 48-hour truce and share our war stories. And, I get to listen to all-stars like Lynn Casey and Rick French and Jason Anthoine and David Warchawski tell me how they compete, differentiate themselves and attract and maintain talent. And, I get to ask them any question I like.
Could you imagine how much more strategic and effective our industry as a whole would be if the big guys followed the example of the Counselors Academy? It certainly merits further discussion but, in my mind, will never come to pass. Oh well. I can dream. And, in the meantime, there’s always next year’s spring conference in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to look forward to.