PR Students Experience the Arthur Page Conference
In April, four School of Media students from the Public Relations – Corporate Communications volunteered at the annual Arthur W. Page conference in New York City. This is the 14th year the elite public relations society has selected Seneca students to attend the conference, waiving the $2,800 registration fee. Jharna Bajaj, Neha Rustagi, Ziwei Chen and Ruchi Pithadia seized the opportunity to help out at the esteemed conference.
“The opportunity to be part of Arthur W. Page Society seminar is just a perfect closure to my experience at Seneca. This seminar will be life- changing and the most highlighted experience of my career,” said Neha.
School of Media chair Beth Agnew couldn’t agree more. “This is a great opportunity for our students to network with working professionals in the public relations industry. In addition to being able to sit in on a range of informative conference sessions, they can rub shoulders with the luminaries of the profession. What a great learning experience!”
“Hearing the names of top PR professionals and dreaming of meeting them at some point is coming true. The Arthur W. Page spring seminar is going to be the most valuable experience that I will gain while stepping in the public relations field,” said Ruchi Pithadia.
Jharna Bajaj shared a recap of the event and what made it such a valuable experience to be part of.
When Professor David Turnbull first mentioned the Arthur W. Page Spring Conference to our class in November last year, it instantaneously piqued my curiosity. It was a remarkable opportunity to volunteer and be in the midst of one of the largest conferences organized by the most prestigious society in the world of public relations. Flash forward, it was April 2nd and I found myself beginning the journey to New York. A journey that turned out to be one of the most memorable throughout my duration of study at Seneca College.
The conference was being held at the Conrad Hotel in New York City and was centred around the theme Authenticity, Agility and Action. The two day conference was strategically curated, bringing together more than 300 PR professionals and academicians, including 100 chief communications officers from the world’s largest companies such as General Motors, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mitsubishi, Harley Davidson and the likes.
Throughout the conference, several topics related to the field of communications and public relations were discussed. Through discourse, questions were raised for young professionals like myself, to ponder on. What does the future of communications look like? How can communicators help in making an impact — for their organizations and serve the public interest? How can public relations achieve better results through effective measurement?
In my opinion, the conference was an unparalleled platform for professionals to learn from. For young professionals who are just starting off, it was a platform to draw from the experiences of seasoned professionals. For others, it was the opportunity to re-learn and reinvent.
The conference also brought together a distinguished list of speakers. Michael Sneed and Joaquin Duato from Johnson & Johnson spoke about the organization’s core values or what they like to call ‘credo’. They discussed in detail what this is and how it is integrated into every single communications effort undertaken by the organization. Bill Wohl (United Rentals), Omar Zaafrani (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and Tiffin Jernstedt (PVH Corp) reflected on internal culture, employee engagement and the communicators role in facilitating a healthy, viable and sustainable work culture.
Cargill CCO Devry Boughner Vorwerk and CEO David MacLennan concluded the proceedings for day one with an engaging and emotive session about their experiences at the organization. They shared insights on how the legacy brand has stayed true to its core values through decades while still evolving every day in the face of transformation and change.
Day two began on a strong note with Daniel Jorg of Farner Consulting sharing his views on ‘CommTech’ and how PR pros can add digital tools to their existing tool boxes, learning from digital marketers. To end the conference on a high note, CCOs from Google, LinkedIn and Twitter got together to discuss challenges faced by social media platforms in today’s world. They discussed how communicators can play a significant role in helping their organizations overcome these challenges, by maintaining transparency, truth and timeliness.
Along with three other public relations corporate communications students from Seneca, I was honoured to have played a role in facilitating this. From setup to registrations to wrap-up, we had the opportunity to help with it all, while learning and gaining invaluable experience as we went along. I, for one, feel like this week has taught me so much more about the industry and provided me with a new lens to look at certain aspects with. This would have not been possible without the tremendous opportunity provided by Seneca College, Professor David Turnbull and guidance by the Page Society Team.