Communications Lessons From The Summit

After nearly 100 speakers, hundreds of news stories and three days of live coverage (followed by a little time off), I am now able to reflect on some of the lessons of The National Summit.

The first-of-its kind gathering of business and government leaders was a memorable career experience for everyone involved.  More than 250 credentialed journalists covered the event, resulting in a steady flow of news content from Detroit over the three days (and in follow-up stories since).  

As promised, there are a few items worth sharing that are reminders for all of us in communications:

-Perspective continues to play a role in news coverage, even with shrinking numbers of journalists and new ways of communicating.  In this case, local (Detroit) newspaper reporters and columnists were very concerned with whether the Summit was a good idea, whether it would result in any change and how Detroit would look.  The national media, conversely, was much more straightforward and was there, primarily, to cover the content of the sessions and the comments of the CEO speakers afterward.

-The event was a reminder that journalists are asked to do more than ever while on-site.  For example, in addition to anchoring a three hour morning show, conducting interviews throughout the day, moderating panels and posting via Twitter during sessions and between interviews, Fox Business Channel’s Alexis Glick blogged from the site, including this piece on her top “takeaways” from The National Summit.  

-When Don and I started Tanner Friedman, we admitted “we don’t know everything.”  PR looks so “easy” to those on the outside, we often have to convince clients that they can’t do it themselves.  With an event this big, with so many “moving parts,” I really appreciated the opportunity to work closely with seasoned professionals who brought varied experiences to the job.  Our core media relations team consisted of a veteran media center orchestrator, an expert in national broadcast media, a corporate communications insider with extensive event communications management experience and a longtime executive speech and copy writer, in addition to my role as the event spokesperson and regional media contact.  All in all, it takes a team to make any significant project a success.  That’s a lesson we need to remember every day in our business.