By Elise Perkins and Jackson Gaskins

The 2022 DC PR Summit, in concert with ADWKDC & Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit, was a spectacular display of some of the top minds in public relations, journalism, marketing and advertising. On Thursday, November 3, hundreds of practitioners gathered at the beautiful Capital One Hall to review top insights from this year and set up for a busy 2023. 

Here are our top takeaways from the event.

Find Your North Star, Remain True to Yourself

News moves quickly, and can upend the best of plans. As much as we might anticipate it, external events will always find their way to throw us off track. The NFL’s Washington Commander’s Chief Communications Officer, Jean Medina, making an appearance the day after the Synders hired B of A Securities to explore “potential transactions”, was a bold testament to that edict. 

Prepare for the unanticipated, but ensure that your team is ready to communicate and achieve its true goals and highest potential, regardless of external pressures or impediments. With no shortage of crises afoot, communicators must see the trees through the forest. 

Experience is an Incredible Gift

It was a joy to hear the perspective of Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea, as he shared his 20-years of insights from his original concept for organic and fair trade iced teas as he launched a new offering, Just Ice Tea. [Our favorite was the Half-Tea Half-Lemonade]. Goldman exclaimed how one post on LinkedIn was the (truly) overnight catalyst for their decision to re-enter the tea business after Coca-Cola decided to sunset Honest Tea earlier in the year, proving that depth of knowledge, nimbleness and close networks can help mission-driven organizations catch fire, twice. And, the audience appreciated the cheeky nods to compliance as he shared they had adapted the Honest Tea slogan from “just a tad sweet” to “just sweet enough” for Just Ice Tea.

Other notes at the top? TikTok is fast growing, and Twitter remains…uncertain. Journalists continue to chase data, numbers and dollars. Packing up everything neatly is a great and respectful way to engage, and hopefully improve your pitching chances. 

Inclusiveness is Imperative

It is not necessarily surprising, but certainly stunning to remember that the greater disability community has $5B of spending power in the United States alone. Sarah Day, a former Special Education Teacher and Research Scientist now running her own consultancy, Daylight Consulting, reminded the audience that chopping out one quarter of the population by not making your products inclusive is a big miss.

Today, people are identifying differently and finding new things out about themselves. How do businesses support them in this journey of self-discovery? Simplicity of language, layouts and contrast on websites are a great first start. Shonali Burke, Chief Marketing Officer of Arena Stage, shared the inclusive pricing model for Pay Your Age that the theater uses to encourage accessibility for those under the age of 30.

Striking a balance between what the customer wants, and the business needs, is needed more than ever.

It’s All About Smart Brevity

It was such a pleasure to hear from Mike Allen, co-founder of Axios and co-author of the new bestselling book, Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less.

Allen commiserated with the crowd that the old mantras of “the more words the better” no longer rang true. As evidenced by the sweeping format changes of newsletters, punctuated by social media constraints, humans have become more conditioned to expect…smart brevity. 

All the old incentives were wrong, and yet we brought them into the digital world. Today, it’s all about fewer words with bigger impact. 

Our favorite notes from the session:

  1. People will remember one thing. Don’t make them pick. Tell them what it is.
  2. Say out loud what you’re about to write. Reading out loud is an illuminating process.
  3. What’s the tweet? Twitter is the ultimate smart brevity tool. 
  4. Don’t waste a reader’s time, nor their intelligence.

Shockingly, we remembered at least four things from that session 😉 

Until next year, our thanks to Capitol Communicator for a tremendous event. 

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