The ICON Webinar That Changed My Way of Thinking

As someone who is eager for a career in public relations, thinking about where the industry will be in years to come is fascinating, but also poses lots of questions. However, when Ray Day, the vice chair of Stagwell, spoke at ICON on Oct. 18, he painted a clear way of how we can currently think about the future with more ease. 

Day led the session “Growing Your Career in the Face of Adversity”, and the topic was selected by PRSSA National due to the perception of job and internship searches being considered hard. This also comes along with questioning if public relations is a lucrative career. Through addressing these worries, Day explains how attendees should change from a firefighting mindset to a future one. 

“Most people who go into this profession felt a calling,” Day said. “You don’t just do this profession as a job; it really is a lifestyle.” 

Day divided his presentation into three parts: communicating in a changed world, understanding what has not changed and preparing for the future of communications. Throughout this article, I will explain what stood out most to me.  However, before analyzing these parts, Day provided a spectrum of reflection, of what he looks at every night, thinking of how he spent his day: firefighting, managing or transforming. 

Firefighting means putting out the “fires” or fending off the problems of the day. 

Managing is how to handle the status quo. 

Transforming is how much time is spent thinking about the future. 

Day paints these elements like a car driving on a road. Your windshield should be much larger than your rearview mirror as you need to be focused on what’s ahead and not the past. 

Through looking at the future, Day first spoke about Communicating in a Changed World. 

Communicating in a Changed World.

Day explained how our profession is evolving like the world around us. He split this section into different pillars: consumer, technology, business, information consumption and more. Even as Day presented separate statistics for these areas, they seemed to all run together. As new technology evolves, so do business and consumer needs. 

However, through his presentation, Day broke down the potential fears that audiences have of Artificial Intelligence. Even as there is the perception that AI will be taking over human jobs, Day explained that it is actually enhancing our work experience and helping more enter the workforce. 

Day also noted that we need to be digitally savvy in order to flourish in business and help consumers. Humans have an 8% attention span due to information overload and our favorite way of consumption is through video. Consumer preferences now will be factors that help businesses evolve over time, however, this will always change. It is important that our skill sets continue to grow and adjust to the times in order to supply consumers with the personalized content they want. 

Understanding what has not changed.

Even as most skills continue to emerge and die, storytelling is one that is timeless. Day summarized the history of storytelling coming from the beginning of time, how we value it now and how it will be an asset in the future.

“Our number one role is to be a storyteller,” Day said about the PR profession. “The most successful among us have never forgotten that.” 

Storytelling has now evolved to work into the Paid Earned Shared Owned (PESO) Model. Through combining story creation with asset management and data & insight, a campaign will obtain more success than those who forget about stories. 

Preparing for the future of communications.

This section is based on Day’s advice on how to be successful in a public relations profession in the future. 

He first explains that data will be the competitive advantage as it measures progress, produces real-time results, and computes risks and opportunities.

Another tip that Day presented that resonated with me was to have people know you for your name and not your title. This is important as you can do amazing things no matter where you stand. 

A final tip, which I will always take with me is when Day said to never stop learning. As someone with a journalistic background who covers different stories, I always love learning about new topics and people. I am so glad PR also gives me the option to keep learning, which shows that the career continues to evolve. 

Day’s session not only gave me a positive outlook on my career, but to always go through life with a transformative view of what’s to come. 


Holly Jenvey is a senior at DePaul University double majoring in public relations & advertising and journalism. She is the vice president of events for DePaul PRSSA and has two journalism internships. In her free time, she loves going on nature drives.

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