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Fake News. Influencers. PR Opportunity or PR risk?

In a world of fake news – actual fake news, not fact-based reports a particular individual doesn’t like – the need for reliable sources of accurate and insightful information has never been greater. Journalists and public relations professionals alike must be increasingly vigilant in how they collect, attribute and disseminate information in order to maintain their credibility amid considerable public skepticism about the work they undertake each day.

Add to this dynamic the rise of influencer marketing – where select individuals with wildly different backgrounds, missions and agendas – can project a digital voice as far and wide as some traditional news outlets, and it’s clear every new communications opportunity the digital/social age affords comes with its own potential pitfalls.

No brand is immune to this reality. The question is how do we, in the PR profession, navigate this. “The best way to keep pace with the various opportunities and risks that today’s market presents is to directly engage with journalists, influencers and peers,” says Dave Curley, SVP and Corporate Communications and Reputation Management Team lead at Sandy Hillman Communications.

One place to do this is at the PRSA Maryland Conference – the Rise of Influencer Communications on June 12, which includes a media panel discussing the implications of Fake News as well as a panel of Influencers and PR strategists decoding influencer marketing strategy.

Ultimately, PR teams that succeed in this environment recognize that “credibility is the ultimate currency,” says Curley, who encourages clients to embrace four communications tenets:

  • Speak with authenticity and authority
  • Don’t speculate – share vetted, fact-based information
  • Act quickly and aggressively to correct inaccurate information in public forums
  • Own your mistakes and apologize when you’re wrong (and vigorously defend yourself when you aren’t)

Is your PR team living these tenets? Are you positioned to leverage the burgeoning communications opportunities in the age of influencer communications?


PRSA Maryland 2018 June Conference Related Sessions

The Fake News Phenomenon with Tom Baden, Jr., editor, The Daily Record; Colin Campbell, reporter, Baltimore Sun; Kelly Swoope, news anchor, WMAR-2; Dr. Richard Vatz, professor of rhetoric and communication, Towson University; Moderator:  Debra Schindler, regional director of PR and media, MedStar Health

Explore the state of news media and the fake news phenomenon sweeping the world. Members of the media reveal how fake news impacts their work, how they report news now, and the future of journalism. Learn how communication professionals can work with members of the news media to ensure the highest caliber of information is delivered. Get a sneak peek into newsroom discussions and the editorial decision-making process in the modern age.

Rise of Influencer Communications:  Changing the Face of PR and Marketing with Christine Carter, influencer and global consumer marketing strategy analyst, McCormick & Company; Jill Smokler, founder, Scary Mommy; Margaret Nam, influencer and social media manager, Planit; and Jessica Fast, Abel Communications

Connecting with target audiences and increasing earned reach in social media is becoming difficult due to restrictive content algorithms. Enter influencer communications. Get a 360° view of social media influencer communications and learn how it’s changing the face of PR and marketing. You’ll interact with agencies and influencers to discover how and why influencers are changing how brands reach today’s audiences. Get tips on where to find influencers who are best for your brand and key how-to’s from pay v. trade, contracts, and measuring.

What PR can learn from the Tupperware

So, what does Tupperware have to do with PR in a digital world? “Indeed, 60 years later, the Tupperware business model has resurged into a ‘digital’ house party for the 21st century mom,” explains Millennial Mom, influencer and marketing exec for McCormick, Christine Carter. She has a whole lot more to say about the digital remake of Tupperware but her key message on June 12 will be how PR professionals can and should embrace Millennial Moms, the $2.4 trillion social media influencers.

Christine Carter will speak with authenticity as a Millennial Mom, Influencer, McCormick Exec. And she said in our interview, she wants to meet you! She loves to share stories.

The top reason you might want to get to know Christine Carter is because she knows black Millennials and Millennial moms. First, she’s one of the them and secondly, she’s been writing, blogging and speaking for and about Millennials for 10 years. She’s got lots to enlighten us about in terms of connecting with and meeting the needs of Millennials. Take for instance her Forbes post on “Moms Under 30 Are Changing Their Work Status & Other Millennial Mom Career Insights.” In this post dissecting research she writes: Millennial moms are proud to be working parents, but they are not defined by their careers. Rather, they believe their position contributes to their serving as positive role models for their children.

Beyond helping all of us better understand this market, you might want to get to know Carter because she is an influencer who can share her own case study as a micro-influencer for Brick Bodies. A prolific blogger and writer whose work has appeared in Time, Ebony and HuffPost, she has nearly 23,000 followers on Twitter and 35,700 on Instagram.

There’s still one more reason to connect with Carter – she is on the global marketing team for McCormick. She’s a Baltimore native so she knows a thing or two about this iconic Baltimore company. Now on the marketing team, she is connecting her influencer background and Millennial insight to corporate brand strategy.

You can read more (see below) before you met and talk with her on June 12 when she joins us for the session, Rise of Influencer Communications: Changing the Face of PR and Marketing. Joining her are Jill Smokler, founder, Scary Mommy; Jessica Fast, account director, Abel Communications; and Margaret Nam, influencer and social media manager, Planit.

The McCormick exec who inspires Millennial Moms (Bizwomen, Business Journals)

Christine Michel Carter Forbes Site

Follow her @cmichelcarter

Want to join us on June 12? Click here for more information including the full program and registration details.

5 Reasons to Use the Right Influencer

If 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising (according to Forbes.com), who do they? Influencers! And by the way, 92% of consumers say they trust influencers more than traditional celebrity endorsements (MuseFind) while 49% of people rely on influencers’ recommendations when making a purchase decision (AdWeek). 

We recently chatted with social media expert Margaret Nam at Planit Agency about influencer strategy. Margaret will be one of our strategists on the Rise of Influencer Communications session at the June 12 PRSA Maryland conference. She is also a micro-influencer. One of the tips she shared is 5 things an influencer can do for a brand beginning with getting through the digital clutter.


Another point she made is the value of micro-influencers. “As the popularity and rates of macro influencers continue to rise, I see brands shifting toward working primarily with micro-influencers (those with followings in the thousands/hundreds) who are hyper targeted toward their audiences,” wrote Margaret in a MarTechExec post.

Check out her blog post on the topic at Planitagency.com and an interview with USA Weekly. And come to the session on the 12th to ask your questions, meet Margaret and founder of Scary Mommy Jill Smokler, Christine Carter, influencer and global consumer marketing strategy analyst and Jessica Fast, account director, Abel Communications.

Top 7 Reasons to Attend the 2018 PRSA Maryland Conference

Get Ready to Supercharge Your Professional Development Plan

PRSA Maryland’s largest communication/PR education and networking event of the year is June 12, 2018 at the Baltimore Sheraton North in Towson. This event is being built around you and your professional development needs. 

Here are 7 reasons to attend the PRSA Maryland Conference:

1. Discover more about the “Great Convergence: Redefining Brand and Our Jobs in the Experience Economy.”  Here’s a sneak peek video featuring Ed Bodensiek.

2. Learn about the “Rise of Influencer Communications and how it’s Changing the Face of PR and Marketing.”

3. Understand the “Fake News Phenomenon.”

4. Get insights into “Advanced Analytics in Public Relations.”

5. Peek inside an “Award-winning Reputation/Brand Management Campaign with the National Aquarium and Golin.”

6. Uncover the “New Role of PR: Meeting the Needs of Today’s CMOs.”

7. “Harness the Latest Changes in Social Media.”

Boost your knowledge, career, and professional network by attending the PRSA Maryland Conference on June 12, 2018 at the Baltimore Sheraton North from 7:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Registration includes continental breakfast and lunch. Free parking. Early bird and multi-staff discounts available. Sponsorships are still available, too. Click here to see who has already signed up! 

Click here for more details about the program and to register. 


3-2-1 Liftoff! Buckle Up and Prepare for the Coming Convergence

Keynote Speaker to Take Conference Attendees on a Journey into the Future

By Claudia Ciolfi, PRSA Maryland Chapter president, and Stephanie Vander Veen, Communications Committee chairperson.

Something big is coming. The engines of change are revving up. Fasten your seatbelt and prepare to launch your career into the future.

Keynote speaker Edwin (“Ed”) Bodensiek, Chief Client Experience Officer at Miles & Stockbridge, foretells the coming convergence between the marketing, communications, PR, and customer experience (CX) industries at the 2018 PRSA Maryland Conference.

Don’t let the future pass you by. Hop on this crazy rocket and let’s explore new territories together! Want a preview? Check out Ed’s video below.

Ticket to Ride

Get your ticket to the 2018 PRSA Maryland Conference:  The Rise of Influencer Communications today so you’ll be prepared for tomorrow’s expectations. This year’s conference will be held at the Sheraton Baltimore North in Towson on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 from 7:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Destination:  The Future

This conference will help prepare you for the future. We’ll feature knowledge experts on social media, influencer communication, analytics in PR, the changing roles of PR and marketing, and more.

Check out the full program here.

Register here

Looking to bring the entire team? We offer a multi-staff discount! Send three or more staff members from the same organization and receive $20 off each registration. Click here for multi-staff registration form.   


Thank you to our conference sponsors!

Program Host Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance 
Event Photographer Coyle Studios
Design Strategic Factory
Breakfast Hosts Renegade Communications and Loyola University Maryland, Emerging Media 
Break Host University Of Maryland Eastern Shore
Media Partner Capitol Communicator 

Interested in becoming a conference sponsor? Several levels are still available.

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors

Thank You to Our Chapter Sponsors