Dallas PR executives discussed how media and technology are shaping the public relations profession with SMU students Wednesday night in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.
“Public relations is going to become more and more of a dialogue,” Director of Communication for Toyota Motor North America Nancy Banks said. “It’s not going to be information we push out, it’s going to be information that we get and turn into usable and valuable stories.”
Crayton Webb, the CEO and Owner of Sunwest Communications and former Director of Communications for Mary Kay Cosmetics, also spoke about the impact of technology and social media on PR.
“Traditional media is still extremely powerful and social media has only made it more powerful,” Webb said.
The two speakers have over 70 years of combined experience working in communication, PR, journalism, and politics across the country. Their variety of experiences and various job positions allowed them to give broad perspectives on the future of PR.
Webb spoke about the importance of art and storytelling in society and emphasized the need for PR in the future.
“Today in society and in education, there is so much emphasis on STEM, but what we can’t lose sight of is this art and I do call it an art of storytelling,” Webb said.
Both speakers referred to themselves as storytellers during the discussion. In relation to storytelling, Banks addressed how social media is forcing PR professionals to find new ways to build trust and reputations for clients.
“Now we have to start looking for those other stories,” Banks said. “How can we tell the story of our brand, the story of the people or places that we are charged with amplifying and magnifying that goodwill and understanding?”
Over 30 students attended the panel and had the opportunity to ask questions at the end. They asked about what experiences in their career as PR executives molded them most and they also inquired about the rising role of influencers.
“I most enjoyed learning about all of their experiences and how all of their work in different fields molded them today,” SMU sophomore Ali Bedell said. She enjoyed hearing from Webb most because he has experience in politics and she hopes to work in politics as well.
The panel was put on by SMU’s Public Relations Student Society of America. PRSSA hopes to improve the public relations profession by developing well-educated professionals who promote PR and champion diversity.
“PRSSA has given so much to me over the years and I am so excited to serve this amazing organization this year,” SMU PRSSA President Hayley Reardon said.
The next PRSSA event is October 16th. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page:.