Reflecting on My Virtual Experience at ICON 2020
When 2020 began, no one had a clue what was in store. Being the start of a new decade, everyone expected the year to be full of growth and new opportunities. But once the pandemic hit, everything drastically changed. The University of Memphis PRSSA Chapter had so many events planned for the New Year, including hosting the PRSSA International Conference in Nashville, Tenn. Once we knew we could no longer attend the conference in-person anymore, we were devastated.
Screenshot of Virtual Conference Lobby, via Destiny Hinton
But, just like everything else in 2020, we quickly found a way to cope and adjust to the new normal: A Virtual PRSSA International Conference.
I’m not going to lie; I was a bit skeptical about getting the full experience from a virtual conference. Having attended the International Conference last year in San Diego, Calif., I had debated waiting on next year’s conference when everything would (hopefully) be open again. However, I am glad that I did not skip out on this opportunity. I truly enjoyed my time at ICON much more than I expected!
I loved the webinar format that PRSSA created for the conference because it made maneuvering throughout the event easy and accessible. I attended sessions on Diversity and Inclusion, Misinformation in 2020, AI and Technology in PR, and more. When I wasn’t in a session, I almost always checked out the virtual booths from this year’s conference sponsors. These booths often felt like I was right there in the moment talking to an agent about a job, product, or graduate degree! The personalization I experienced virtually was very lifelike, and I never thought I would say that about a virtual conference. It was so cool!
The 2020 conference made me realize not only how far we’ve come with technology, but a virtual event doesn’t mean the overall experience would be tainted. If you just put yourself out there and attend events out of your comfort zone, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the experiences you’ll find.
Destiny Hinton is currently a junior studying public relations at the University of Memphis, and plans to graduate in 2022. She currently serves as the Memphis PRSSA Secretary.