Why Counselors Academy is a Must for PR Firm LeadersToday’s guest post is by Deborah Weinstein.

Leading a successful PR firm is a delicate balancing act.

I speak from experience as an entrepreneur and president of Toronto PR firm, Strategic Objectives.

Founded in 1983, we remain proudly independent and prove the power of PR to build brands, change minds, and sell stuff, everyday.

Balancing your people, clients, and communities with growth, creativity, and the bottom line is an agency leader’s constant challenge.

You must hone your knowledge and skills, get ahead of the trends and try to live a meaningful, fulfilling, real, and social life … all at the same time, 24/7!

As an independent, I can tell you, it’s lonely at the top.

In Toronto, I can hardly call up my esteemed peers at rival agencies down the street for advice while they’re likely coveting, and potentially courting, your valued colleagues and clients – not to mention competing for the same new business!

Counselors Academy to the Rescue!

Enter Counselors Academy, #caprsa, the senior leadership division of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). It’s a year-round social networking and real-life, event-driven community for PR firm leaders in exactly the same situation as you and me!

The Counselors Academy annual spring conference is a competition-free, must attend, real-life gathering of more than 100 of North America’s senior PR pros and agency owners – both independent and multi-national – all dedicated to improving our skills and bettering our business.

Always located at a gorgeous, warm-weather destination, this year’s conference takes place June 9-11 in Austin, Texas, which is also home to the infamous South by Southwest.

Come Get Weird in Austin!

In keeping with Austin’s hip reputation, Counselors Academy has redefined the city’s WEIRD motto as its conference theme: Weird, Entrepreneurial, Imaginative, Results-Driven. WEIRD, eh?

Focused on the latest management techniques, revenue-driving business, and premier networking opportunities, key learnings abound. Check out the agenda here.

Keynote presentations include:

  • Bradley E. Wilson, CMO, Travelocity, NA;
  • Hugh Forrest, Director, South by Southwest Interactive;
  • Katherine McLane, VP, LIVESTRONG Foundation; and
  • Richard Binhammer, social media and corporate reputation manager on Building a Social Business.

There are more than a dozen additional panels and breakout sessions to choose from, with tantalizing topics including:

  • The Smart, the Dumb (or Dumb Luck), and the Colossal: Agency Decisions that Fired Up or Backfired
  • The Path to Profitability/Growing Your Agency Organically: Tips, Tools, and Tactics
  • The Play’s the Thing: Acting-Based Techniques for PR Pros

Friends with Benefits

I’ve been attending #caprsa since the year 2000 and have formed spectacular, mutually beneficial friendships throughout the years. The group is a who’s who of the PR industry and everyone is open and willing to welcome and work with newcomers to make the most of your time together, in the moment, and for the future. I’ve met and witnessed a wide variety of PR pros grow and prosper through my years attending Counselors Academy.

They include:

  • Elise Mitchell, PR Daily PR Agency Professional of the Year 2013, and recently appointed CEO of Dentsu Public Relations Network.
  • Gini Dietrich, social PR extraordinaire, chief rabble rouser at Spin Sucks and Arment Dietrich, co-author of Marketing in the Round.
  • Steven Cody, who has grown his NYC-based agency, Peppercomm , into a major independent force.
  • Ken Jacobs, a wonderful, warm, and witty business coach who rocks advice on how to delight your agency clients and your team.
  • And my dear friend, and uber-volunteer, Indra Gardiner, this year’s conference chair and chief influence officer at i.d.e.a, a San Diego firm that’s blowing down the silos of traditional PR.

They are but a small sampling of the great PR pros you’ll get to tweet, meet, and mingle with in Austin this June.

Deborah Weinstein is president of Toronto public relations agency, Strategic Objectives; IABC/Toronto PR Agency of the Year 2012, 2011, and 2009; and the only all-Canadian firm named to the PR News Top 10 CSR Agency A-List 2012 and the United Nations Grand Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Relations. Deborah was honored to receive the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals for Outstanding Service to Canada and its communication industry. She is a new member of the PRSA Counselors Academy Executive Committee.