Boston University PRSSA Regional Conference 2015: Breaking Barriers

By Chapter President, Brooke Drost

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Another year, another regional conference. As president of Salem State University’s PRSSA chapter, I realize how truly lucky we are to have so many fellow PRSSA members at local universities throughout the Northeast Region. We braved the snow, the bitter cold winds, and the tire popping potholes for an opportunity to be immersed in the world of PR and to be surrounded by students who care about it as much as we do.

A few of our favorite agencies were present at conference this year: Shift Communications, Jack Morton Worldwide, Schneider Associates, Weber Shandwick, Fleishman Hillard, and Mullen. All had excellent advice to offer and funny, but educational stories to tell. Various “breakout sessions” were offered to mix things up and give us the opportunity to explore the aspects of PR that are most appealing to our individual interests.

Breakout sessions included:

  1. Content Creation and Marketing
  2. Our Relationship With Journalists
  3. Analytics and Marketing
  4. Creating Engaging Campaigns
  5. Social Fandom

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 1.48.49 PMWhile I appreciated every session I attended and every speaker I listened to equally, I have to say there was one speaker who particularly captured my interests; Graham Kahr. Graham was speaking on behalf of Zappos.com and their public relations and experiential marketing tactics. I have never been more inspired by a company. Prior to Kahr’s presentation, I knew very little about Zappos. My basic understanding was that they were a place where you could buy things, and that was about it. Not much to go on. However, after watching Kahr give his speech, to see how passionate he was about this company, and to learn about all of the amazing things they do for their customers, I will definitely start buying all of my products from Zappos in support of their outstanding business. 

Here are just a few of the amazing stories Graham had to tell:

  1. You can call Zappos any time, anywhere, for anything. Seriously. Craving pizza? Call Zappos and ask them where the nearest pizza place is in relation to your current location, and they will make sure your pizza craving is satisfied. Fun fact: the longest recorded phone conversation with a Zappos customer was ten hours long.
  2. Zappos sends more than 10,000 bouquets of flowers a year to customers who have lost loved ones.
  3. There is no hierarchy at Zappos. Employees do not have position titles because they want their employees to feel equally important and unique.
  4. Zappos set up a surprise pop up stand at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (#MBFW) and handed out all kinds of cool, free stuff to random passerby; $100 gift cards, goody bags, free massages, outlets to charge their electronic devices, and best of all, tickets to fashion week!
  5. They sent a woman and her family seven pizzas because they had been without power and trapped in their home for three days from a blizzard.
  6. They set up a “wheel of fortune” baggage claim game at JFK and Dallas airports, handing out all kinds of cool prizes and gadgets to travelers on the worst travel day of the year (see video below). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3C0AFTk150
  7. It is not uncommon to walk into the Zappos office and witness an event such as, “dress up like your favorite superhero day,”.

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Zappos has taken marketing to a whole new level. What did I take away from these stories? At the end of the day, never forget how important your client is and always strive to make everyone around you as happy as possible, even if it is just a small act of kindness. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that count for the most.

The Countdown until next PR Advanced Regional Conference begins… now!

Image Credit:

Example of Zappos office life

(photo credit: http://hub.aa.com/en/aw/zappos-tony-hsieh-las-vegas)

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