Media Predicts Celebrates Mentorship and Community, Examines Role of AI and Social Media in Silicon Valley
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Silicon Valley chapter's Media Predicts 2023 gala was held in the ballroom at the Grand Bay Hotel, right next to the Redwood Shores Lagoon.
For the first time in Media Predicts history, the board voted for proceeds to go to PRSA Silicon Valley Diversity & Multicultural Scholarships. A team of 11 student volunteers and recent grads – including scholarship recipients – did an outstanding job helping the event team with set up, registration, multimedia content creation, and clean up.
Five honorees step into the limelight
Gerry Corbett presented the national PRSA Fellows award medallion to David Vossbrink. President Meghan Fintland and President-elect Jeannie Entin presented volunteer awards to Camille Clark, Alannah McDermott, and Jeremiah Lineberger.
Rochelle Nadhiri presented the inaugural President's Unity and Purpose Award to Yvette Noel-Schure, Schure Media Group, publicist of Beyoncé, John Legend, Jessica Simpson, Chloe X Halle, and other artists.
Real talk from Silicon Valley journalists
As is the tradition, a star-studded panel of journalists – Shawn Chitnis from CBS News Bay Area, Connie Guglielmo of CNET, Kali Hays from Business Insider, and Eric Savitz of Barron's – offered their thoughts on the year gone by and the year to come. In contrast to previous years, content was lighter on predictions and heavier on advice like learn how to use AI, know how to spot misinformation, and consider journalism instead of PR as a profession.
Rochelle Nadhiri moderated the panel with energy and thoughtful questions throughout. Event sponsor MeetingPulse provided a free web app with a full digital program and interactive functionality to make asking and upvoting questions for the Q&A portion at the end a breeze.
Eric Savitz mentioned ChatGPT, saying it's a constant popular news topic "because every tech worker is affected by it."
Kali Hays of Business Insider exclaimed, "AI will affect everyone, which is very rare."
Connie Guglielmo, CNET, commented on the historical significance of GenAI: "We've lived through many evolutions in our lifetime," including computers, the Internet, and now Generative AI.
When asked about remote work, Savitz said it's a "work in progress. Most of Barron's employees are in New York. I work from home." Savitz said he used to commute from Palo Alto to San Francisco, so he's seen both sides. "You do not need to be in the office," he added.
The challenges of fast story filing
Guglielmo noted that the 24/7 news cycle, probably kicked off by CNN, stands out as a sea change in journalism. She said it annoys her when journalists take shortcuts and do irresponsible things like leave out 'proof links' in stories.
Savitz brought up story goals, "Right now, stories need to get links and clicks and be filed first," adding that SEO is important.
Let's talk about X baby
Moderator Nadhiri brought up X, formerly branded Twitter, and asked what panelists thought. Hays quipped, "Social media is not the place to get your news."
In referring to Elon Musk, who took over Twitter, Guglielmo said boldly, "The richest man in the world is not the smartest man in the world," which set off a few audience cheers. Musk is widely known for not appreciating public relations advice. Hays added, "I can't use or quote anything I learn on Twitter (X). I can't rely on it."
Workplace trends and the future of work
Savitz advised workers, especially technology workers, to spend several hours a week using AI "or risk becoming obsolete in 2024." He said you must be a Renaissance worker and be able to do various tasks these days.
Chitnis appeared to agree with this and gave advice directed to the students in the audience: "You have no excuse for not playing with AI."
Guglielmo discussed how much work has changed with AI and made an astute analogy, "60% of the jobs today did not exist in 1940," adding that a newer job that deals with AI is a prompt engineer.
Guglielmo said AI is already causing companies to downsize: "People are putting profit in front of everything else."
Nadhiri then brought up public policy and news. Guglielmo immediately mentioned misinformation, advising that election year is an excellent time to get smarter on the topic. Chitnis brought up people going after Anna Eshoo's Congressional seat because she's retiring soon.
In some ways, the predictions were less 'predictive' and more instructive this year. Many speakers seemed more focused on mentoring the many students present. For one, Hays said to consider journalism as a career, citing that there are six to seven PR professionals for every journalist.
Savitz mentioned that employees from key companies will become very rich in 2024 and create a new class of people in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
When the topic steered away from AI, it didn't stay for long. It was brought up repeatedly, somewhat mimicking the news: Guglielmo emphasized that AI is big news because a lot of money is at stake.
When asked what stood out during the panel, the President and CEO of The Hoffman Agency, Lou Hoffman, commented, "Naturally, a sizable chunk of the discussion landed on AI. I liked the way Connie netted it out. It always comes down to money. Who has it? Who wants it? Who stands to lose it?"
What is the hottest tech?
Nadhiri asked which tech area was the most lucrative, e.g., fintech, climate tech, or health tech. Guglielmo immediately chimed in with "Health tech," citing a Mayo Clinic tech breakthrough. "You record your voice, and the clinic can tell if you have diabetes!" she explained.
"Will the Internet ever be made safe for children?" Nadhiri asked. Savitz said, "Making the Internet safer for children via politics and legislation isn't going to happen."
Nadhiri wanted to discuss augmented and virtual reality; Chitnis brought up a way KPIX was using it, for example, in a story about the Ferry Building in San Francisco. He was animated about it.
Audience member Hoffman noted that the panel surfaced some exciting scenarios on how AR and VR might be applied to the media world.
Guglielmo parlayed with criticism, "The problem with AR and VR is that it's expensive."
Hays commented, "It would be nice if there were a lot of cool tech that changed the world. It's not AR/VR."
When asked what he thought after the panel, Hoffman responded, "The Media Predicts panel never fails to deliver."
Next-level event management, volunteering
After the panel, the audience chatted by the dessert table, talked up the panelists, participated in a wine pull, took to the dance floor with tunes from DJ Bert Blank of By the Bay Productions, and took both 2D and 3D photo booth snapshots.
Dozens of hard-working volunteers helped with this year's event over months. Notably, PRSA-SV board member and VP of Programming Tara Thomas, led the event management, bringing a new level of professionalism and attendee experience to this 16th annual industry event
Attendees enjoyed a photo booth, spotlight lights that projected "Media Predicts" and Hollywood-themed images on the walls, bold lit-up PRSA letters, window decals that started in the networking area and flowed through the ballroom, and a media-themed cocktail that included gin and Italian sparkling wine, and fruit juices concocted just for the event. Attendees commented that the drink recipe represented 'next level' event planning and creativity.
Thank you to this year’s event sponsors The Hoffman Agency, Zeno Group, Manhattan Strategies, BOCA Communications, Hotwire, Meeting Pulse, and Edwards Portraits.
Thank you also to our student sponsors Michelle McIntyre, Vanessa Yanez, Karen Cage, Jeannie Entin, Meghan Fintland, The Hoffman Agency, Edelman, Aircover Communications, Hotwire, Zeno Group.
Event photos are available for free at this gallery link: https://jamaledwardsphotography.pixieset.com/prsa2023rwc/
Stay tuned for more insights and updates from our volunteer content creators!
Michelle McIntyre, author of this story, is the Editorial Director and 2024 VP of Marketing for PRSA Silicon Valley. A member of the board since January 2023, Michelle is an award-winning technology PR consultant based in Silicon Valley. An IBM vet, she specializes in B2B and B2C tech PR – including AI, robotics, cloud computing, and martech. She has also been published in Huffington Post, VLAB, Buzzfeed, Business2Community, IABC, and Women in Consulting.