Key Takeaways from ICON 2021 

By Becky Kazenoff

PR leaders are caretakers of the company, but it isn’t an excuse to neglect your own care. 

I enjoyed the Icon session “Managing Our Mental and Physical Health in the Hybrid Work Era” with Mark Mohammadpour, a business owner and Chief Wellness Officer. He stressed the importance of mental health post-COVID-19 and how mental health can still be prioritized in the workforce. This session enabled those in attendance to share their advice and experiences. I learned that vacation days increase one’s productivity and work satisfaction, actually boosting financial benefits later on. Moreso walks after a virtual workday helps your brain come to terms with the workday ending, along with dedicating certain spots of the house for work versus sleep and relaxation. I liked this session because it normalizes mental health since the more we talk about it, the less we stigmatize it.

PR professionals are resources to help people tell stories.

The general session with Yamiche Alcindor was captivating. She put PR in a different perspective using Emmett Till as an example that if PR was as evolved as it is now, the Emmett Till story would’ve had even greater exposure and possibly even a different response and reaction from certain audiences. It’s vital to portray a story as it was intended. Media professionals have the duty of reminding people of important moments and standing up for what’s right and who is marginalized. PR professionals are there to serve as translators and messengers. 

Surround yourself with mentors and a support system

Yamiche Alcindor says mentorship is important, especially for postgraduate students just starting in their industry. Mentors and peers who are happy for you will help one’s professional growth, even in the dark times. Having solid relationships with colleagues helps especially if ever laid off or transition into another job because they can counsel you and cheer you on from the sideline.  

Although things are changing so quickly, some fundamentals will never change and have become even more important in PR.

From this ICONversation I learned how important skilled writing, relationship building, and good judgment are. Good judgment can be in the context of knowing when you’ve said enough. Sometimes saying nothing makes a bigger statement than anything else. Further, skilled writing can go as far as the content in that it needs to cater to the reader and be current and relatable. Speakers from this session emphasized executive presence which means radiating a persona to everyone in the room that you are confident, capable of leading others, and in charge. PR professionals are supposed to be trusted and in order to do so, one needs to embody that through their behavior. Lastly, I learned that your fellow employees should be your biggest advocates. Having good relationships internally is just as important as externally. Valuing other staff can bolster a more positive, supportive environment and work culture is of utmost importance for mitigating job turnover. 

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