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Other than your own skillset, a PR professional is only as good as their network. While the right connections are critical to getting your story out to the market, equally so is the power of your own personal connections. The ability to continually learn from others and tap into resources that extend beyond your own wheelhouse has never been more important – and accessible – than now. 

But your time is valuable! How do you know which events are a good use of your time, will have a beneficial outcome, and enable you to actually enjoy yourself? Consider these four reasons to get up and out there: 

  1. Meet like-minded people. If you’re the only PR or communications team member at your organization, that can feel isolating. Attending PR events gives you an opportunity to ask questions, vent and bond over the same PR bloopers.
  2. Build your personal brand. You don’t have to be job hunting to care about how you’re perceived in the industry and increasing your clout. Add more contacts to your LinkedIn or find a mentor. This is a referral business and the more people you know, the more helpful you will be to the network you already have.
  3. Keep your hiring pipeline hot. Whether you’re hiring now or in six months, engaging potential candidates at local events will help promote your agency to them. While your personal brand may lead you to an event, once you arrive you are representing your company or agency whether you think so or not. You’re a walking Glassdoor ad. Bring your business cards. 
  4. Grow your new business pipeline. If you’re representing an agency, meeting an in-house PR person could lead to a potential customer or future referral. The old saying goes, people buy/work with people they like. So aim to do some industry mingling this year.  

With that in mind, I’ve looked at a few of the more influential PR events in Silicon Valley and San Francisco in 2020. I hope to see you at one of these!

March 18 – SF CPG’s “How-to Startup” Panel Focused on Successful Media Strategies

Come hear from Heather Mack of Wall Street Journal, Anna Starostinetskaya of VegNews, Andrew Noyes of JUST and moderated by Larissa Zimberoff of Bloomberg on how to create a successful PR and communication strategy. Even if you don’t typically work with consumer food products, attending events in other fields can stir up ideas and help us think outside the box.  

March 26-27 – Secrets of Media Relations Masters

Michael Smart, a media pitching coach, presents a two-day event designed to help PR pros achieve superior results in today’s quickly changing media landscape. The event takes place at the AMA Conference Center in San Francisco and would be the most academic of our events listed. This would be a great event if you’re looking for a more classroom setting to grow your skills.

March – Women in Business Panel 

Look out for this event, hosted by PRSA  which is focused on women in PR. More info to come.  

Events to look out for: 

October – Meet the Media: Emerging Technologies Unpacked 

The second event of its kind, Merritt Group and PRSA Bay Area will host another panel full of emerging technology reporters to discuss the latest trends in media. Last year, Khari Johnson of Venturebeat, Doug Dineley of InfoWorld, and Rachel Wolfson of Grit Daily/Formerly Forbes discussed their passion for emerging technology and even their favorite PR horror stories. Nothing is better than hearing the behind the scenes secrets from the reporters writing about the newest technology today. Look out for who Merritt Group locks down for the 2020 panel. 

November – 14th Annual Media Predicts Gala 

Last year, this event was held at the Marriott in San Mateo and while the ticket is pricey (around $100,) you can enjoy drinks and dinner while mingling with your PR friends and hearing from some of the top technology reporters in the game. The 2019 event hosted Ina Fried of Axios, Laura Mandaro of Forbes, Mike Isaac of the New York Times, and Ryan Mac of Buzzfeed and left room for a Q+A. Insider tip: don’t drive there but instead organize a group trip using Uber or Lyft. The drinks keep flowing. 

Ongoing – SF Public Relations Round Table

Every month, the SF PR Round Table organization hosts an event with PR experts and local media including SF Examiner and SF Business Times. Their 2020 schedule is not available yet, but follow them to find out when their next event takes place and sign up quickly. Their events sell out.  

New events will surface as the year goes on, but register for the above events or sign up for their email lists to be the first to know when the event gets on the calendar to increase your skills, network, and stay on top of the latest PR happenings in the Bay Area. 

If you’re interested in hosting an event with PRSA Bay Area, contact me. As co-director of Special Events at PRSA Bay Area, I can work with you to host a gathering of your own.

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