One of the keys to being a confident and savvy solo PR pro is professional development.
Yes, we know. Professional development isn’t as easy as it may have been before you went solo. There’s typically no department conference budget or boss urging you to attend the latest networking event on behalf of the company.
However, as a solo PR pro, it’s your responsibility to set yourself apart by making time for you.
That’s why PR conferences and events are one of the best ways to hone your skills so you can bring even more value to your clients. Who doesn’t want that?
In between writing press releases and managing content, it's difficult to find the time for professional development — still, the benefits are too good to overlook. When you attend PR conferences, you get access to workshops, talks and panels led by industry professionals, plus the chance to network and brainstorm with PR professionals just like you.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to stay a few steps ahead of the competition by endlessly improving your strategies and tactics.
10 PR conferences you can’t miss in 2021
Despite the challenges presented this year, 2021 offers tons of virtual and in-person opportunities for you to develop your skills and meet like-minded PR pros who can help you advance in your career.
Across marketing, communications and PR, these are 10 conferences all solo PR pros need to know about.
*Be sure to check with each conference individually for up-to-date information on logistics due to the pandemic.
1. PRSA ICON 2021
How would you like to learn from industry leaders at a conference by the nation’s leading professional organization? The largest group for PR pros nationally, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has 110 chapters and more than 30,000 professional and student members.
Its annual ICON conference is your opportunity to develop your skills, share ideas, learn fresh ways to grow yourself and your business, all while immersing yourself in a fostered community of professionals and resources that can enhance career knowledge.
In 2020, PRSA held the ICON conference virtually for the first time and explored social injustice, strategic communications, misinformation, the pandemic and more — stay tuned for details about what 2021 has to offer!
Mary Deming Barber, a member of our Solo PR Pro Facebook group, says she always attends PRSA’s conference. “It's a good investment and way to both learn from a wide range of professionals and build relationships with those who can help you. There are opportunities to meet other Solos as well as a wide range of other specialists.”
For Mary, “It's the must-attend of the year.”
Conference Date: October 17-19, 2021, at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando, FL.
2. Counselors Academy Spring Conference
This is another conference worth attending by PRSA. This time, it’s through one of its professional interest sections, which are communities that solely focus on areas of expertise and provide access to specialized content, networking opportunities and more.
For independent practitioners like us, there’s PRSA’s Counselors Academy Section. Through its Spring conference, additional events and community resources, it has connected senior public relations counselors for more than 50 years.
The virtual conference held this year focused on the post-pandemic world and how to lead the agency of the future. Conversations also shined a spotlight on how agency leaders can spur innovation amid challenging times as well as inspire progress and spark growth.
If this conference sounds like the right one for you, bookmark the page and keep an eye on more information about how to register for 2021.
Conference Date: May 16-19, 2021, in Nashville, TN.
3. AMEC Global Summit on Measurement
Whether you’re a marketing or PR executive, a PR pro interested in media intelligence or one who manages communications, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has the conference just for you.
You’d definitely be in good company — AMEC is the world’s largest media intelligence and insights professional organization for professionals who provide media evaluation and communication research. With more than160 members in 86 countries worldwide, it’s no wonder previous conference destinations have been Barcelona, Prague and Bangkok.
The AMEC Global Summit on Measurement attracts delegates from over 35 countries, so you’d get to dive into the best practices of communication measurement and evaluation, plus analysis and actionable insights from an unparalleled line up of global speakers.
After attending this year’s virtual event, Julia Petryk tweeted, “AMEC Global Summit back in July was amazing! I got both: knowledge and inspiration.”
Conference Date: TBD. Stay tuned for more details.
4. Content Marketing World
Hosted by the Content Marketing Institute — a.k.a. the leading global content marketing education and training organization — Content Marketing World is “the one event where you can learn from the best in the content marketing community.” Plus, you get to spend four days with the bustling #CMWorld community comprised of thousands of marketers from all over the world.
On Twitter, Michelle Garrett wrote, “I’ve always gotten a lot from Content Marketing World. They have a strong writing track [and] lots of sessions that #PR folks would find valuable.”
She’s not wrong: During the conference, you get to attend more than 100 sessions, workshops and industry forums led by leading brand marketers and experts. Plus, you can bet on speakers to arm you with the materials and knowledge you need to create and implement a content marketing plan that’s sure to grow your business.
Besides an agenda that covers every aspect of content marketing, there’s also a ton of networking events so you can learn and connect even more.
Conference Date: September 28 to October 1, 2021, at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, OH.
5. Beyond Digital Conference
The Atelier Collective was created for ambitious women in business — not specifically PR or marketing, but its digital conference is the place to be if you identify as a woman and want to be united with others from across the globe who share in Atelier’s collective pursuit to thrive.
For instance, the Beyond 2020 conference catered to tenacious entrepreneurs wanting to expand their business as well as ambitious career women interested in climbing the ladder as they adapt to the new work environment.
If nothing else, attend for the lavish immersive experience. This year, that included a holiday party with live music, guided champagne tasting, charcuterie board design and a keynote speech by Mindy Kaling. (Yep, that one!)
Check out the incredible things solo PR pro Crystal Richard tweeted about the conference: “
“What I love about the Atelier Collective events is that they found creative ways to bring the conference experience to our homes around the world with the option to purchase a VIP ticket that includes an Atelier Collective Experience Box. From the cookies or energy bars you would have snacked on at the break, to the Veuve Clicquot you would have sipped at the event's happy hour, all of these items are shipped right to your home.”
Conference Date: TBD.
All solo PR pros need to understand the relationship between PR and marketing to better execute strategies — that’s why attending the MarTech conference for professional development is a no-brainer.
Here, the entire conference experience is choreographed. As you mingle with members of the MarTech community who can accelerate your career and strengthen your skills, you’ll also get a front-row seat to presentations packed with actionable tactics and time-saving solutions that deliver ROI.
Attend for sessions, keynotes and networking, and keep coming back for the killer opportunity to connect with leading marketing technology vendors.
Conference Date: April 2021 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, CA.
Every year, PRWeek magazine hosts the PRDecoded conference to lead a conversation about how essential it is for every brand and corporation to communicate their purpose authentically.
This conference is filled with inspiring and enlightening discussions, numerous networking opportunities, not to mention the chance to hear ideas from top-level executives and industry practitioners across worldwide renowned brands. In the past, that has included Coca-Cola, Sprint and McDonalds.
Details for the 2021 conference have yet to be released, but it’s usually held in Chicago and includes presentations and roundtables, plus more.
Conference Date: TBD.
8. International Conference on Communications Management and Public Relations
This conference is for any PR professional who wants to learn more about the academic side of the industry.
The World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology is an open science research organization dedicated to the advancement of science, engineering and technology. The International Research Conference it hosts gathers the best researchers, academic scientists and scholars to exchange experiences and research results on all aspects of communications management and PR.
In 2021, the conference will provide a “premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered” in the PR and communications landscape.
Although this conference is virtual, check out other conference offerings in Miami, FL and Cape Town, South Africa in 2021 and 2022.
Conference Date: Virtually on March 11-12, 2021.
9. Confab: The Content Strategy Conference
According to the Confab conference’s website, it sells out every year — that means you’d better hurry if you’re interested.
Hosted by Brain Traffic, a content strategy advisory and events company, Confab is the event for people who care about making content better for their users and organizations. In 2021, it’ll provide a three-day live broadcast with an array of events to professionals of any level who plan, design, build or manage content.
Keynotes, panel discussions, fireside chats, small-group discussions and watch parties make up the schedule, plus attendees get access to an exclusive Confab Slack workspace to engage in conversations about the program and meet new friends with common interests.
“The Brain Traffic team has always done a good job of presenting talks which put humanity first — it’s full of content strategists after all,” Stephen R. Fox tweeted after this year’s virtual conference. “This year, though, they went above and beyond to give us opportunities to have real chats about the real struggles this year has presented.”
Conference Date: Virtually on May 5-7, 2021.
10. Page Spring Seminar
Arthur W. Page Society, or just Page, is “the world's leading professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives and educators.” It's where professionals go to become stronger leaders and learn from their peers around the world.
The annual Page Spring Seminar gives communications and PR practitioners the chance to dig into the next era of communications. During the 2020 virtual seminar, attendees focused on the idea that as more businesses go digital, it becomes critical to use data to profoundly understand and interact with stakeholders.
Through lessons from experts about immersive CommTech and online chats and breakout sessions, professionals got to learn from CEOs and other c-suite executives, chairpersons and more.
More information about the 2021 Page Spring Seminar will be released soon.
Conference Date: April 13-15, 2021.
Happy conferencing! We hope one of these PR conferences suit the growth you seek to supercharge your solo PR pro skills.
Did you attend a PR conference this year or in the past? Leave your response in the comments section below or tag us on social media using #solopr.