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Communications Week Event Rewind: PRx, The Future of Public Relations & Media

By Jenna Saper | On October 24, 2014

So long Communications Week! For the unfamiliar, Communications Week was a week-long celebration of the public relations, communications and media industries consisting of events held at different locations around New York City and online. Tiffany Guarnaccia, CEO of Kite Hill PR, founded Communications Week and according to her, “We are living in a time where the lines have blurred between the public relations and media industries. Now is the time to focus on how media is being disrupted and how both established and emerging businesses can improve and disrupt their own communications strategies.”

Affect was one of the proud sponsors of a Communications Week event on October 21, called PRx: The Future of Public Relations & Media, that took place at the Yale Club in New York City. The event was designed to bring together leaders and innovators from public relations, media, non-profits, corporations and government entities that are shaping the future of communications.


In case you missed it, here’s a brief recap of each speaker’s presentation:

1) “Improvise: Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO”- Fred Cook, CEO, Golin International
In his witty opening presentation, Fred reflected on the concept of “improvising” which he defined as taking something ordinary and making it special. Fred discussed his personal journey that ultimately drove him to the C-suite, and as the title of his presentation suggests, it was anything but conventional. From being an entrepreneur and starting his own anti-drunk driving company called “Sober Chauffeur”, to becoming a California tour guide without ever having been to the West Coast, Fred reiterated to the room that the more experiences you have in your back pocket, the more interesting options you will have in your career. He also suggested to think of your life as a magazine rack- always pick out a different magazine to read so you stay sharp and knowledgeable about diverse things.

2) “Gender and Racial Diversity in the Executive Ranks”- Barri Rafferty, CEO, Ketchum North America
Aside from championing diversity, the main takeaway of Barri’s discussion was for women to be confident in their professional life and to not apologize for being self-assured. Based on statistics and her personal experiences, women tend to be called ‘aggressive’ when they are being assertive during meetings, while when men are being assertive, they are not called anything because it’s just the norm. Another important lesson: female leaders perform best on these four management traits: leading by example, communicating openly, admitting mistakes, and bringing out the best in others.

3) “Opinions: How Contributed Content has Changed the News Media”- Richard Galant, Senior Editor, Opinion; CNN Digital
In this Q&A lead by Affect’s Sandra Fathi, Richard offered information that every PR person is dying to know: how to get your client’s byline into CNN. For starters, Richard discussed what the Opinion section looks for in contributed content: timely material tied to the current news cycle, originality, a conversational tone that is broad in reach, and stories that have an unpredictable, interesting ending. Richard also noted that the media is now more like curator than gatekeeper.

4) “An Unconventional Path to the Future”- Chris Allbritton, Senior Editor, The Daily Beast and Freelance Writer
Chris opened up his conversation by discussing how through his years as a journalist, especially on the ground in Iraq, he learned about the value of obtaining credible sources, which are difficult to come by. PR people need to keep in mind that when offering sources to a reporter, they risk the integrity of their own brand if that individual is not credible. Additionally, Chris honed in on the idea that the erosion of traditional trade media has paved the way for more progressive, conversational outlets like the Daily Beast, Mashable and Buzzfeed.


5) “The News, But in Fewer Words: The Rise of Visual Storytelling”- Megan Hess, Assistant Editor, Mashable
Megan’s presentation talked about Mashable’s use of visual storytelling within long form journalism (inserting photos/videos/links/Infographics into text). Its ultimate purpose is to make content more presentable, digestible and accessible to a wider audience, and it truly allows the actual content to shine. Mashable’s tactic is to do so simply without all the bells and whistles so that content loads correctly on mobile devices, which is the primary way that its audience views the site.

6) “How to Manage Communications in a State of Constant Change”- Brendan Lewis, Director of Communications and Laura Covington, Communications Manager, Foursquare

Hosted by PR Week’s Editor in Chief, Steven Barrett,” this interview-style discussion delved into how Foursquare deals with change. Both Brendan and Laura noted how as a rule, Foursquare is open with their users about changes to the app. For the company, a defining measure of success was when reporters stopped defining what Foursquare was and spoke about it in familiar terms, making them feel well-known and accomplished within the tech and mainstream media.


The PRx conference featured a variety of senior executives with highly diverse backgrounds covering critical topics like personal accounts of rising to the top, diversity, and the ever-changing media landscape. We’re grateful for everyone who spoke and attended the event. It was an informative and valuable conference.

Jenna Saper

Jenna is an Account Supervisor at Affect, where works closely with her clients on day-to-day account activities and assists the communications team in carrying out long-term goals. Jenna is primarily responsible for media relations and content development. Jenna joined the Affect Team from Hill+Knowlton Strategies, where she was an assistant account executive in the Corporate Communications department.