A citizen journalist heads for the Coast

I touch down in San Diego Sunday morning for my first PRSA national conference in 8 years. This time, I’m attending not as a PR professional or educator, but as a PR blogger — a media person in search of a story. (Stop your snickering!)


Photo from Creative Commons.

What does this mean? I have no idea. But as a “credentialed journalist” in a tough economic year, I’m not expecting a press room stocked with champagne and caviar. OK, it would be nice. But I’m told PRSA has eliminated the media room altogether, an anachronism from an analog age.

(Update 11/5/09: PRSA email says there is a “media center” at the conference. I stand corrected, but I still don’t need it. Opps! See next update. I guess I DO need it!)

No matter. I’ll find a place to collect my thoughts and dash out a few lines of copy. But don’t count on detailed coverage of the sessions or keynoters. I’m one of those oddballs who sees live blogging and tweeting as disrespectful to the speakers.

Reining in the budget. I stopped attending PRSA conferences when the out-of-pocket cost Kirkexceeded my academic travel budget by 4-fold. This year, it’s a bit different. I snagged a cheap flight and booked a 4-star hotel near the conference at less than half the conference hotel rate. The Hilton Bayfront, via hotels.com, is just $109 a night. I’m told you can find even better rates on Priceline.com, but I don’t trust Captain Kirk since he gained all that weight and became a travel shill.

Talk to me about tweet-ups. I’ll be watching the Twitter hashtag #PRSA09 for news about social gatherings in San Diego. I way more interested in talking with conference goers than listening to presentations. But I’m thinking the place for me, at least on Monday night, is Bub’s Dive Bar in Pacific Beach.

boilermakerBub’s is where the Steeler faithful of San Diego meet to worship. If you didn’t know, our World Champions in black and gold meet the Broncos on Monday night football. That’s a 5:30 start on the West Coast. A word of caution to the Steeler Nation: No boilermakers until halftime — or about 7 o’clock.


What will I write about? Maybe nothing at all. But look for some short blasts on my Posterous site and my usual snide remarks on Twitter. I doubt I’ll have time to write much for ToughSledding until I return, since real blogging requires focus.

Update 11/6/09: Just learned the conference center doesn’t have wifi available. Who knew? So I won’t be doing any microblogging on this trip, which means no Posterous and no Twitter. That’s fine with me. It’ll improve my focus! The media center at the conference does have an Internet connection, so at least I can check my email! And don’t suggest I run out and get an iPhone. Ain’t gonna happen.

Thanks to Arthur Yann and Diane Gomez, the PR pros from PRSA, for offering me a shot a covering this meeting as a “media guy.” I wouldn’t be making the trip were it not for their invitation.

Oh, yeah. If you hear of other places where the Steeler Nation is meeting up on Monday night, drop me a line, OK? I may not make it to Bub’s, but I gotta be with my people.


5 Responses to A citizen journalist heads for the Coast

  1. Bill Huey says:

    “But I’m told PRSA has eliminated the media room altogether, an anachronism from an analog age.”

    The many layers of irony in this are weighing me down, so I’ll post:

    God forbid that PRSA suggest they have anything to do with media, and especially anachronistic non-digital media with editors and reporters!

    And name one institution in this country that could possibly be more “anachronistic and analog” than a university.

    But have a good time cheering on the Steelers.

  2. David Murray says:

    The media room business reminds me of a formative moment, and pretty much the last time I had anything like writer’s block, knock wood.

    It was in Seattle, and it was 1995 or 1996–some PRSA old-timer will remember which–and I was banging out my first PRSA conference coverage for The Ragan Report. (I was the editor, age 26 or 27.)

    It’s hard to capture a whole conference in a single story that had to be good enough to impress Larry Ragan and convince him to send me across the country to cover conferences again.

    I was desperate to write something great, but as is often the case in such times, nothing was coming out. My deadline was the redeye flight I had to catch, and around 10:00 p.m. the last night of the conference, I was the last man in the press room, and the light, on a timer, would GO OUT every five minutes, leaving the room pitch black, and leaving me to feel my way to the switch and turn it on again to sweat it out for another five minutes …..

    Somehow the piece got done. But whenever anyone says “deadline pressure,” I’m immediately transported to that press room.

    Good riddance, I say.

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      I was at that conference. Seattle, 1995. I was not an old timer then, unless you think 43 is old! Of course, the cool thing about being a citizen journalist is that I have no deadlines, no editor, no advertisers, ergo, no expectations. I do, unfortunately, have that redeye flight home.

  3. David Murray says:

    At 26, I definitely thought you were an old-timer then. Now at 40, I feel differently!

    Have fun, Bill. Go gonzo. And hang around Jack a little bit.

    (Another memory: a few years later, in Nashville, Jack waking my impossibly hungover self up at 7:00 a.m., wanting to have breakfast. “You know, Dave,” he rasps over the hotel phone, “I’m not the most popular guy at these conferences ….”

    I’m jealous.


    • Bill Sledzik says:

      I may have been old, but I remember the hangovers in Nashville very well. That was 1997. Every time someone mentions Broadway, I don’t think of New York. I flash back to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Opryland, the headquarters Hotel, really sucked. Hope to never go back there again — ever. And I am looking forward to chatting with Jack!

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