SMPS PRC 2019: More Than Surf and Sand!

I have attended the SMPS Pacific Regional Conference seven times, all hosted by different chapter cities. As the location changes from year to year on a rotating cycle, so does the theme of the conference and the topics they choose to focus on. This was my first PRC on a tropical island, and the setting was as diverse and unique as the sessions presented at PRC 2019. This year I attended sessions with topics of generational differences and how the traditional marketing role is expanding into an integration of marketing, human resources, finance, etc.

The keynote and session presentations offered many takeaways for the new and mid-level marketer. During the sessions, I recall thinking how valuable this information would have been to me 10 years ago instead of learning the hard way, generally through trial and error. Now at the manager-director level, there was not a whole lot of new information, but I found that many sessions were good reminders of best practices that are easy to stray from when you are in the day-to-day trenches of managing a marketing department. Below are a few takeaways from some of the more compelling presentations.

The Keynote

Through A Different Lens: Marketing Lessons For Professionals From An Avid Photographer | Howard J. Wolff, FSMPS

The opening keynote illustrated though photography the importance of juxtaposition when dealing with marketing. It focused on how easily, especially within the AEC industry, we can fall into a certain pattern of thinking and if we change our view or “lens” this may create a whole different approach.

The Special Speaker

Christine Camp, CRE, CCIM

This presentation was more of an inspirational story, which focused on Christine’s rise in the industry to become President/CEO/Owner of one of the largest development groups in Hawaii. The takeaways were focused on the philanthropic work and her focus on built environment development with a purpose to better the community.

The Sessions

Where The Surf Meets The Sand: Marketing Strategies That Support Your HR Initiatives | Jenn Bollenbacher & Alina Houston

This session was an in-depth look at how one might apply their marketing strategies and client retention to the HR function at the firm. Both the speakers were extremely knowledgeable and as heads of people and culture within their respective firms, made a compelling case to treat talent recruiting like you would client pursuits.

How To Win Work By Putting Yourself In Your Client’s Flip Flops | Michelle Hoalton, CPSM, MBA, Tiffany Sikora

They opened the session with, if you learn empathy for your client then we have been successful. The rest of the session was focused on how to best put yourself in your clients’ position and how empathy will most times lead to a better understanding of the project and pursuit goals.

Surfing The Generational Swells For Epic Business Development | Patrick Cotter

This session impressed me on two differential levels. The first was content. It expanded the traditional generational conversation we all have on communication and culture to also focus on doing actual business development with the different generations and how one might approach this endeavor. The second was the use of interactive and live polling software to create a more dynamic presentation and integrate the generational beliefs of the audience.

Epic Strategy: Growing And Leveraging The Marketer’s Role | Ted Sive, FSMPS, Honorary AIA, Lauren Hamilton, Paula Stamp, Ph.D., Sarah Bell, LEED AP

The final session I will recap was one of the most intriguing. This was a panel format and offered four distinct views on the position of marketing in the AEC firm. The conversations focused on breaking the glass ceiling, not just in the traditional gender sense, but also the generational glass ceiling and the non-technical glass ceiling that exists in many firms today.

Thinking Outside the Sessions and Receptions!

As usual, networking is one of the greatest benefits to a business development professional. There are the countless traditional networking opportunities from meeting new connections to fostering those relationships into potential future teaming and project opportunities. PRC is also a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends, like Hacker to discuss an upcoming higher education teaming effort or CTA on a forthcoming federal contracting opportunity.

Peer-to-peer learning has been the most underappreciated and underutilized benefits of my PRC experiences in the past. This year I made a conscious effort to have focused conversations with peers, specifically those outside my normal network, to discuss and exchange information regarding best practices. I believe this is one of the best education opportunities for senior marketers.

SMPS PRC 2019 had a lot to offer at all levels. As I outlined above, there are networking and learning opportunities for those at all levels of marketing and business development. The sure path to having a valuable and positive experience with any conference is to focus on more than a single aspect. I encourage you to expand your channels of education. When the sessions might seem a bit junior to the senior marketer, take advantage of peer-to-peer education. When the networking opportunities seem stale and repetitive, reconnect with your existing network to find new opportunities. There is a direct correlation of effort to ROI.

Written by:
Gregory Fritz
Pacific Regional Conference Representative
PBS Engineering and Environmental
Phone: (503) 417-7731


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