The Student Perspective on Break Through 2019

Wednesday, March 6, marked IABC Waterloo’s third annual Break Through Communications Conference. As a second-year public relations student at Conestoga College, I heard about the conference from my teachers and communications professionals within my network.  

I was given an assignment by one of my teachers to volunteer at a local event to see how they are run and coordinated. After a few inquiries, I was put in touch with the Break Through Conference Director, Tara Parachuk, whom I was able to shadow on conference day.

For those who couldn’t make it, here are my greatest takeaways from my experience as a volunteer, and as a keen listener to the talks.  

Customer feedback is extremely important 

Throughout the day, I watched IABC board members interact with attendees to get feedback on the speakers, the venue, the food, and the overall atmosphere. Board members were also checking social media to see what attendees were saying, re-sharing content, and celebrating when #BT2019 was trending in Waterloo on Twitter. Feedback received from attendees during and after the event will be used to improve the Break Through experience next year.

As Naheed Somji said, “A brand exists in the eyes of the customer”. It’s important to know what your customers have to say about you, and how they see you and your brand.

Video Content NEEDS to be a Priority

Videos can now be shared on all social media platforms. Whether you’re creating landscape videos for YouTube and Twitter, or portrait-style videos for Instagram and Facebook stories, it’s important to have that content available to reach corners of your market or audience you might otherwise not be regularly interacting with.

During their talk on platform strategies, Sandra Muir and Kim Elworthy said, “The content your audience is looking for, isn’t what we’re typically asked to be posting”. To meet both demands, provide the content that your client or business is asking for but take advantage of video options that are now available on social media.  

Your brand has to stay relevant

The communications industry is shifting. Traditional media continues to be important but the power of social media cannot be overlooked. In an increasingly saturated market, both your messages and the content you use to deliver those messages must be relevant.

How you deliver your messages, whether that’s through traditional or social media channels, should be targeted to the audience you want to see the messages. Who you are targeting might not necessarily be who you are speaking to based on who follows you or is targeted by the algorithms. Likewise, you need to know what is relevant to your audience and what resonates with them so you know how best to target them.

I am so grateful for the opportunity and experience to be involved in the 2019 IABC Waterloo Break Through Communications Conference. I was fortunate to sit in on six speakers who shared their insights on a range of topics all applicable to my future studies and client projects including social media, strategy, digital marketing and the evolving communications landscape.

 For any students who want to come next year, stay tuned to the IABC Waterloo social media channels to learn how you can be involved. 

By: Laura Briston

Kaitlyn Holbein