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PRSA International Conference: An Interview with Kristi Marquardt and Annette Albrecht of Brandpoint

In just a few short weeks, a team from Brandpoint will be making the trip down to San Diego for this year’s PRSA International Conference. The group of four will be running a table (booth 67!), attending sessions and even hosting a cocktail party. (Keep reading for more details on that get-together.)

For those of you who’ve gone to a professional convention before, you know how much work it can be. However, Kristi Marquardt and Annette Albrecht are seasoned pros. Since I’m still a convention newbie (I’ve got two under my belt!), I thought I’d sit down with these members of our media team to get their thoughts on PRSA ICON, what they’re looking forward to this year and tips for surviving conferences in general.

We met for coffee on a rainy day in Minneapolis to talk about what these two are planning to do in sunny California.

kristi and annette

Kristi and Annette

PRSA International Conference 2019

MaDonna: Hi, guys! How excited are you to go to San Diego for the 2019 PRSA International Conference?

Kristi: So excited! PRSA always picks great destinations — they’re a good mix of fun and business, like DC or New Orleans.

Annette: Yeah, I was in Austin last year and I had such a great time at the event during the day and exploring the city at night. This year, the event takes place right on a marina in San Diego — it looks beautiful, especially since we’re already seeing snow in our forecast here in MN.

San Diego Marriott Marquis

M: No kidding. How many times have you both gone to PRSA ICON?

K: Oh, my God … it’s been like 10 years since I’ve gone. It’s been a long, long time, but I’ve been three or four times now. I went to Health Academy last year, and you went to ICON, right, Annette?

A: Yep, I was there last year! The first year you spend so much of your time just absorbing everything that happens and getting your bearings on how the conference goes. This year, I have a way better idea of what to expect and can be a little bit more prepared for what goes on.

M: I totally get that. When I went to Content Marketing World for the first time this September, I went on autopilot at a point. There’s so much to take in and figure out, there’s not a lot of time for much else. How do you find time for socializing?

K: They’re definitely extremely full days! You go to the sessions during the day and you go out for dinner and drinks at night with colleagues or contacts. Going to conferences like this can be the first time you meet some of your clients in person. It’s fun to put a name and face together, make that personal connection and learn about all the fun things they’re doing at PRSA.

A: I’m meeting with a few different girls that I met last year — it’ll be great to see them again. Some of my local Minnesota partners are going to be there, too.

K: I’m planning to meet up with some local PR agencies, too, and see MN PRSA members who are excited to hang out.

Networking at conferences

M: Do you have any networking tips for those of us who are still new to going to work events?

A: If you have a booth, it’s easy! But, when you’re out and about, it can be a little intimidating at first. My trick is to find a mutual connection and ask to be introduced.

K: You just have to be willing to put yourself out there. The last time I went, another coworker from Brandpoint and I met two women from another company and ended up having a great time with them. They joined us for our happy hour session, then we went out to dinner together — it was nice to connect with new people and to hear what they’re working on.

Brandpoint’s Cocktail Party

M: That reminds me … I’ve had a little bird tell me that we’re hosting a cocktail party at the event.

A: Yes! Two hours of drinks with Brandpoint!

K: Our event is in The Living Room at the Marina Kitchen right at the Marriott Marquis where the conference is taking place. It’s on Monday, October 21, from 6-8 pm.

A: We’re looking forward to meeting people from all over. It’s just another great opportunity to make connections and have some fun with people you don’t get to interact with that often.

K: We’ll be there, along with David, our SVP, and Melissa, our Director of Sales. I can’t wait to see the themed drinks we’ll have on the menu!

Brandpoint Cocktail Hour


M: Networking, themed cocktails and waiting to see where David makes dinner reservations all aside — there is so much to learn at a huge event like this. What speakers or topics are you looking forward to?

A: PRSA does such a great job of finding speakers that are both relevant to the industry and are actually fun to listen to.

K: I mean, Richard Dreyfuss. Laura Ling. Those are going to be great sessions. Some of our business partners even have keynote speeches this year.

A: Last year, I really loved the first keynote of the general session. Jonathan Mildenhall, who worked with Airbnb and Coca-Cola, talked about purpose-driven marketing and just showing up as a kind, genuine human being to work every day.

Come see us at the booth!

M: What about what you guys plan on talking about at the event? What do you think conference-goers will be most interested in hearing about from Brandpoint?

A: Our new product launches! We have been coming up with some new ways for our clients to partner with their brands on social media and with thought leadership. So many people are already so excited about this, so I’m sure it’ll be a big part of our conversations.

K: Bylined articles, video production, social amplification. Even our new CBD distribution opportunities — I think that’ll be huge. There were so many sessions and a lot of interest about CBD at last year’s Health Academy. It’ll be really interesting to hear what everyone’s doing about it in the area and what’s been evolving in the industry.

Brandpoint PR Team

Kristi, Annette, Melissa and David

Survival tips

M: Okay, now onto the most important part. Conference survival tips. Go!

K: Two pairs of very comfortable shoes.

A: I second that! I always tell new people: you buy good shoes, not cool shoes. My second tip: bring some sort of wrap with you.

K: Oh, yeah. It gets chilly. Always bring a bottle of water, too!

A: Granola bars, battery packs, phone chargers. Always have some Ibuprofen.

K: And Band-Aids! Always have a good notebook and pen with you.

A: There is so much going on, so I always have my notebook with me or my laptop open at all times taking notes. You might think you’ll remember everyone’s name, but you’re bound to forget something in the whirlwind of it all.

K: Keep the coffee going to help power through the days. Make sure you have plenty of business cards. Don’t be afraid to schedule one-off meetings over coffee or lunch to get to know people even further!

A: Or schedule a meeting out by the water!

K: I’m so excited about the water!

M: Have you started packing yet?

K: I’m already planning my clothes, deciding what’s easiest to pack. I’ll have a carry-on suitcase and it’ll be full.

A: [laughs] Oh, no. I’ll pack two days before. I just bring a backpack, that’s it.

Looking to 2020

M: What are the steps you take after you get home from an event? And, more long-term, what are your predictions for 2020?

K: Well, right after the event, I find a really good Netflix show that I’ll want to spend the next few nights watching.

A: Oh, same here.

K: The adrenaline is just so high, by the time you get on the plane on the way home, you just crash.

A: For 2020, I’m excited to figure out more ways that we can help our clients. It’s awesome to take inspiration from the innovations we see at PRSA and move our product development along with that.

K: I’d agree. That’s how we’ve built a lot of our new products, just based off of product demand. We’re going to have so many great takeaways. Stay tuned for our recap blog after the event!

See you in San Diego!

Be sure to follow along on our social channels to see how Annette, Kristi, David and Melissa are doing at this year’s PRSA International Conference! Are you going to be at the event? Let us know! Come visit us at booth 67, stop over at our cocktail hour on Monday night or drop us a line to set up a meeting.