Thursday, May 10, 2012

Remaining Relevant

If you work in today's version of American business and industry, how do you remain relevant with customers, clients and constituents?

Well, that is the trick, isn't it? The business landscape is littered with failed (and failing) companies that were consumed by the relentless advance of technology, and in some cases, those that neglected to address the task at hand -- adapting to the new environment. Netflix is but one example of this technological roadkill.

So how does one maintain relevancy in a changing environment? That question was addressed at the 17th annual Portland Communicator's Conference sponsored by the Portland Metro Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators on Wednesday, May 9 at the Governor Hotel in my hometown -- the City of Roses.

Keynoters included Gerry Corbett, Chair and CEO of PRSA (above), James Lynch of Intel and David Armano of Edelman Digital, along with nationally renowned writing coach Ann Wylie.

Corbett discussed the state of public relations today, including its strengths and weaknesses, and how to manage a communications career in today's environment. He reminded attendees that networking is a two-way street. "Part of it is what your network can do for you, but it's also about what you can give back to your network," he said, paraphrasing John F. Kennedy.

Ann Wylie, always the enetertaining and engaging speaker, discussed how to "catch your reader" by grabbing attention. "Lead with the benefits" when writing copy that sells, she advised attendees.

The conference kicked off the evening of May 8 with a reception and dinner at the Heathman Hotel, where we had the rare and privileged opportunity to have in-depth conversation with national thought leaders in the fields of communications, public relations and social media. In addition to the keynoters, the conference the next day featured break out sessions focusing on internal audiences, branding and integrated communications.

Always nice to return to Portlandia, where the art compliments the architecture (below) on Southwest Park Avenue and (appropriately) Salmon Street in the downtown Park Blocks.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pre Functions

This weekend marks the beginning of a solid eight weeks of world-class track and field at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field (above) with the Oregon Twilight Meet.

Over the next two months, the denizens of Eugene-Springfield and anyone else willing to travel to Track Town, USA can witness the "best of the best" in American track and field. Still to come: the Pac-12 Championships, the Prefontaine Classic and the piece de resistance, the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Hayward Field (named after Bill Hayward, the first of several legendary UO track and field coaches -- including Bill Bowerman, Bill Dellinger and Vin Lananna) has recently spruced up its image and now stakes its claim as the capital of American track and field. Despite their recent success in the realm of college football, the Ducks have traditionally been known for their track and field prowess.

Chief among those icons of the UO track is Steve Prefontaine (below), the long distance phenom from Coos Bay who held every American record from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters at the time of his death in a car accident at age 24. Pre was a ferocious competitor on the track and he helped inspire the “running boom” of the 1970s along with his coach, Bill Bowerman, who founded the Nike enterprise along with another Oregon runner, Phil Knight.

Starting now and continuing through the end of June, Hayward Field will feature a veritable smorgasbord of track and field competitions that will be sure to delight fans from near and far.