March 11, 2014


Given that the polar vortex has made this winter one for the record books, it comes as no surprise that Midwesterners already are booking their summers with fun vacations.

things to do in springfield mo
Springfield, Mo.

Before the summer schedule fills up, I would encourage public relations professionals to register for the PRSA Midwest District Conference.

There are several reasons to attend the conference, which takes place June 18-20 in Springfield, Mo.

  1. You’ll get to hear excellent programming sessions. Jim Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, also known as “America’s Crisis Guru,” will deliver the conference keynote. Joseph E. Cohen, APR, this year’s PRSA National chair, will be speaking as well. In addition, there are tons of breakout sessions covering various topics.
  2. Connect with other public relations professionals. The PRSA Midwest District covers chapters from eight states, so you’re bound to meet someone new. In addition, I connected with other public relations professionals from my home chapter when I attended the last two PRSA Midwest District Conferences.
  3. Develop your PRSA leadership skills. On June 18, the conference starts with a QuickStart program, which is an educational and motivational networking event designed to help attendees learn what it takes to succeed as a PRSA leader.
  4. See a new city. I’m looking forward to visiting Springfield for the first time. For those interested in touring Branson, it’s less than an hour’s drive away.

By the time you’re in Springfield this summer, the polar vortex will be a distant memory. 

Connect ’14 is like déjà vu

March 11, 2014

Guest post from Jim Streed, APR
2012 MW District Chair & Secretary, Employee Communications Section

When I left the District board, I was able to spend more time supporting my other PRSA priority: the Employee Communications Section. I’ve been a Section member for a long time and part of the executive committee for about three years.

The Section has sponsored an annual conference – called “Connect” – with the idea to give employee communications professionals an opportunity to focus on their PR niche. Employee communicators often say they’re frustrated with the content of many conferences. It’s too basic, they say, or it’s too focused on big-budget tactics, or doesn’t translate to the not-for-profit world.

Working as a member of the planning team for Connect ’14 (www.prsa.org/conferences/connect) took me back to 2012 when we planned our first District conference in about a decade. We’re back in Chicago this year (May 20–21) and at Loyola’s Water Tower campus, once again. I feel like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day!

I don’t want to take anything away from the 2014 Midwest District Conference in Springfield (MO). In fact, I’ll be speaking there myself! I’m equally excited – as internal comms guy – that Connect ’14 focuses on employee communication in a special way. First of all, it features some of the best employee communication minds in the business: people like Maril MacDonald, a true pioneer in strategic internal communications as founder of Gagen MacDonald; Linda Dulye of Dulye & Co., whose work on improving managerial communication has been vital; and Tyler Durham, who runs the change practice for Ketchum and helps companies and leaders grow and unleash the potential of their employees and brands. These three are our keynoters this year.

Our theme is “Embracing constant change in the new economy.” The breakout sessions are split into skill-building and case studies. Speakers are drawn from agency and corporate, academic and not-for-profit, all unified under the theme of change, and demonstrating how employee communicators can become empowered to lead change. We’ll cover health care reform, streaming video, reputation management, employee events and much more. It’s a full agenda that will help any internal communications professional build capabilities in this increasingly critical area of corporate communications.

If you’re specializing in employee communications, give Connect ’14 a look. And if you have questions, contact Section Chair Sean Williams or me, Jim Streed, APR. We’d be happy to….wait for it…connect!