ICON 2020 Session Highlights

This post is part of PRSSA’s ongoing ICON 2020 coverage. Be sure to check out our student recaps on Progressions as well as other coverage on PRSay, the official blog of PRSA.

ICON 2020 featured four days full of breakout sessions covering various areas of the communications industry. PRSSA student attendees were able to attend all the PRSA breakout sessions this year for the first time.

Members of the Publications Subcommittee were asked to share their thoughts on a session they were particularly interested in. See below some of the sessions these PRSSA students enjoyed attending:

Minding the PR Talent Gap From Both Sides of the Aisle- Christina Billie

On the first day of ICON 2020, I attended a session called “Minding the PR Talent Gap From Both Sides of the Aisle” with Dan Farkas.

Although this was a virtual conference, this session was extremely interactive and informative. This session was based on psychology, which I personally enjoyed a lot. Farkas discussed how young people entering the workforce straight out of college don’t have fully developed brains — brains don’t develop until they are 25 years old, and some people enter the workforce at 21 or 22 years old. He also discussed how cell phones have negatively impacted our brains. Due to cell phones and being constantly surrounded by technology, our attention span has gotten a lot shorter. He also told us that multitasking isn’t actually very good for you, which really surprised me (considering I do this every day).

As stated before, this session was very interactive. Throughout the session, he wanted us to type in the chat feature how we were doing, and he also told us to type certain things if we related to something he said. For example, he said if we ever watched the musical Hamilton to type “Peggy” and if we ever experienced Zoom fatigue to type “clap.” Throughout the session, he also sent us words of encouragement. Being on Zoom all day and having to learn on it is very difficult. He told us that we can do it and we can do anything if we set our minds to it. Overall, I learned so much in this session and I’m so happy I chose to attend this session.

Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results- Ama Akoto-Boateng

“Data doesn’t get you remembered. It is stories that stick.“ This was my key takeaway from Rob Biesenbach’s workshop called “Unleash the Power of Storytelling: Win Hearts, Change Minds, Get Results,” at ICON 2020.

Rob Biesenbach is the author of an Amazon bestseller, which doubles as the theme for his workshop. He started out by sharing an interesting incident that happened during a client meeting he attended a few years ago, in which people around the table merely recited their LinkedIn profiles when asked to “go around the table and introduce themselves.”  He called this the “Alphabet Soup Syndrome”.

Rob believes that stories are more than the sum of our LinkedIn profiles, elaborating further that stories have the power to break down walls, build trust and influence people to act.

He mentioned stories are beneficial because they are experiential, and they also connect and humanize us. Furthermore, he said some of the key ingredients of your great story should include your career highlights, challenges, skills, patterns, performance reviews, LinkedIn recommendations, awards and accolades, as well as feedback from your colleagues.

Overall, it was a session that reminded all attendees that stories are what really allow us to connect with others, not accolades.

There is a lot more to unpack with this year’s ICON 2020. To read more about PRSSA at ICON 2020, click here, for recaps on the ICON 2020 general sessions, see PRSay.

Christina BillieChristina Billie is a junior at Temple University. She is majoring in public relations and has a minor in digital media engagement. She serves as the secretary of the Temple PRSSA Chapter, as well as a junior account executive for PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s student-run PR firm. She is also a marketing and media intern for Campowerment, an organization who holds retreats and events for women. In her free time, Christina enjoys swimming, writing, and babysitting.


Nana Ama Obenewaa Akoto-BoatengAma Akoto-Boateng is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in communication at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. She serves as a 2020–2021 PRSSA National Publications Subcommittee member. In her free time, she enjoys singing, trying out new recipes and going on a road trip. She is passionate about sustainability and public relations, and has been at the forefront of a number of award-winning sustainability initiatives. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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