By Austin Miller

The second week of October I was lucky enough to be able to attend the PRSSA National Conference in Boston with three other amazing students from my chapter back at Arizona State University. This was my first time attending, as I just joined PRSSA this year, and boy, do I wish I had joined sooner.

The week was invaluable. We attended countless seminars, learned from some of the best professionals in the industry, received advice on how to set ourselves up for a successful career and got the chance to meet and network with students from all over the country (and globe)! I had underestimated just how incredible attending the conference would be, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of PRSA Phoenix.

Although it was extremely difficult to sit down and try to narrow down my experience to just one short piece, there was one presentation that truly stuck with me more than any other. When Carol Cone of the Purpose Collaborative spoke on the power of purpose, it mustered up a feeling of inspiration I haven’t felt in a very long time.

She spoke about how caring for the world and communities that we live in was no longer just a nice thing for corporations to do, but instead a must-do if they want to succeed in the modern market. Cone stated that now, more than ever, it is important to follow your gut, find your purpose and turn feelings into actions.

Companies must start speaking to the human spirit. It’s now one of the smartest business strategies.

Cone used hard data to support her claims. When it comes to Millennials, 87 percent buy based on their values – and 76 percent will boycott based on their values. Overall, 92 percent of consumers want to do business with brands that share common values!

She went on to mention the best practices for leaders and businesses to consider when making decisions:

Lead – Powerful programs are leader led.

Construct – Align with core capabilities, stakeholder and societal needs.

Customize – Customize for local execution.

Integrate – Employees first, then NGOs, influencers and others.

Measure – Build performance measures up front.

Narrate – Story, short story and visual.

Engage – Consumers, communities and government.

Evolve – Evolve programs to stay relevant.

Overall, it was a remarkable presentation that added even more to an already unforgettable week of learning. Cone left us with this quote:

“You are the captain of your own ship,” she said. And I couldn’t agree more. As we move forward in life and our careers, it is important to remember that although we can’t set the current, we can adjust the sail. Life is all about how you react to the situations that are thrown your way.


Austin Miller

Austin Miller is a senior at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication studying public relations with a minor in special events management. He currently is a marketing intern at CityScape Phoenix.

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