Social Commerce in the ‘Cuse: Syracuse University PRSSA Hosts a 2014 Regional Conference

From Feb. 29–March 2, the William P. Ehling PRSSA Chapter at Syracuse University hosted a Regional Conference called “Cuse Con: The Secret to Social Commerce.” Throughout the weekend, I had the pleasure of networking and listening to speakers from across the communications realm, met students from other PRSSA Chapters and bonded with members from my own Chapter.

From left to right: Imran Khan, creative agency lead at Google, Kristina Weise, director of global PR at Soundcloud, Craig Radow, dIrector of media relations at 20th Century Fox, and Kate Brodock, director of the Center for Social Commerce and adjucnt Newhouse professor. Photo courtesy of CuseCon

From left to right: Imran Khan, creative agency lead at Google, Kristina Weise, director of global PR at Soundcloud, Craig Radow, dIrector of media relations at 20th Century Fox, and Kate Brodock, director of the Center for Social Commerce and adjucnt Newhouse professor. Photo courtesy of CuseCon

The conference kicked off on Friday when several of our executive board members spoke during a Chapter Development workshop. I spoke about our development program, EDGE, and the public relations benefits it has given our members and the Chapter as a whole. Hill Communications, Syracuse’s award-winning student-run public relations firm also presented. We were more than happy to share our Chapter’s passion for public relations with other PRSSA members so they could create similar programs at their schools. The evening ended with a concert at a local venue featuring student bands. It was a great way to bring PRSSA members together in a more relaxed environment so they could enjoy the music, each other’s company and delicious waffles.

Saturday began with the opening ceremonies and a student-run acapella group that opened the show and energized the crowd. Bob Pearson, president of the W20 Group, then led the keynote presentation, where he spoke about the importance of data and analytics and how this is changing the scope of public relations. After the opening ceremonies were several breakout sessions featuring both guest speakers and Syracuse faculty. I attended Google Creative Agency Lead Imran Khan’s presentation about creative storytelling. The presentation served as a useful resource for communications students because it showed the importance of captivating audiences and really humanizing brands in order to access consumers. Following Khan’s presentation, I watched Syracuse professor Dr. William Ward present about Google Glass. As a Google Glass explorer, Dr. Ward was able to demo them on students, allowing for a fun, interactive session. The final presentation of the day was by Kristina Weise, director of global public relations for Soundcloud. Weise gave great advice about how the world of public relations fits into a startup; and I really enjoyed hearing about Soundcloud’s global experience program that sends employees overseas. The conference attendees reconvened late on Saturday night for some ice-skating and bonding time.

Sunday morning started with a joint presentation by MWW’s Joe Cohen and YouTube’s Matt McLernon. Both speakers did a phenomenal job presenting on social commerce for your personal brand, as well as giving advice for starting a career in an agency. The closing ceremonies capped off an inspiring weekend and featured Kate Brodock, director of the Center for Social Commerce and adjunct Syracuse professor; Joe Cohen; Imran Kahn; and 20th Century Fox’s Craig Radow. All speakers discussed how they use social commerce in their fields. It was the perfect way to end the weekend, and I think everyone left Cuse Con feeling like they had finally been let in on the secret to social commerce.

What is your definition of social commerce?

Kirkley Luttman is a senior public relations major from Boston and is the current co-director of development for PRSSA. She also runs the EDGE Program, which is designed to give undergraduate students an introduction to public relations writing skills and techniques. This summer she served as a corporate communications intern at the digital marketing and advertising agency, Digitas, in Boston, Mass. 

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