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Arianna Huffington: Meeting with A Legend

November 14, 2009

Arianna Huffington at NC09

Over 3,000 public relations and marketing professionals and students piled into the Marriot hotel last Saturday for the 2009 PRSA International Conference.  Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, gave an outsider’s perspective on public relations. Her striking confidence and frankness made her keynote address feel more like an intimate conversation than a formal speech.

Huffington stressed the importance of cultivating relationships with publics by opening up a dialogue instead of traditional one-way communication. Here are some bits of advice from Arianna:

  • “Promiscuity may not be great in relationships, but it is very good online,” she joked while discussing the benefits of using multiple social media outlets.
  • “The great thing about the current state of communication is that things can be course corrected almost as fast as they are disseminated.”
  • “We are all so used to massive streams of information there now must be drama for something to stand out (she used ‘Balloon Boy’ as a light-hearted example). All information must be framed in a dramatic way to draw attention to the core issue you are communicating.”
  • “We all have the capacity for empathy… touching people’s hearts is so much more important than touching people’s minds. It’s the most powerful way to get people to act.”- My favorite quote of the day.

Arianna concluded the keynote with a candid interview with Wendell Potter, senior fellow at the Health Care Center for Media and Democracy, to discuss ethical practices in public relations and relflect on his courage as a whistle blower.

Rachel & Arianna Huffington at PRSA NC09

After the event I purchased her book just for an autograph and photo opp! The book looks interesting- and biased but honest and passionate. So I walked away with a book I may never read and a blurry picture to boot! However it was completely worth it to meet such an inspiring woman and pioneer.

FYI- Book title: Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe (What a mouthful!)

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