Rites of Spring: Why PR Agency Leaders NEED Counselors Academy

By Deborah Weinstein

I’m sure you, like me, are bombarded with a barrage of invites to attend conferences you may, or may not, need to attend to catch-up with the latest and greatest advents in the PR industry, in addition to your clients’ various sectors.

Attending conferences is expensive and time-consuming and once you get to a certain stage in your career, you, like me, are more likely to consider conference participation as a keynote, or featured speaker, rather than as an attendee.

My big exception to what has pretty much become my norm, is Counselors Academy Spring Conference, an annual gathering of Public Relations agency leaders that has become my annual, MUST attend, Rite of Spring.

A competition-free, real-life gathering of more than 100 senior PR pros and agency owners, this year’s conference, The KEYS to Agency Business, takes place in Key West, Florida, May 4-6 and will feature a mother lode of actionable advice, and insights on how to run a better PR firm, and deliver the kind of measureable results clients covet.

Gateway to Learning

1622101_10152236500308023_1714685266_nHosted by Counselors Academy, the volunteer Senior Leadership Division of The Public Relations Society of America, Spring Conference is the perfect gateway to #CAprsa’s year-round social networking and real-life, event-driven learning opportunities.

It’s the perfect place to laugh, learn – even cry and commiserate – with agency leaders who face the same type of issues and opportunities you do, each and every day.

How to handle difficult clients, RFPs, global procurement, managing millenials, mergers and acquisitions, new social platforms, turning a profit in parsimonious times, are just some of the tantalizing, and often verboten topics under public discussion at Counselors Academy. And what’s even better, is that the speakers are willing, even eager to consult with you, free-of-charge, to help solve your problems, real, or what if?!

I spend a lot of time, these days, travelling to and speaking at public relations and social media conferences throughout North America, and CAprsa is one of the very few conferences I still find time and money to attend. And it’s well worth the investment!

Here’s why:


  • The opportunity to meet, greet, learn, and hangout with agency leaders from across North America who share willingly and openly. Check out this Twitlist of social PRs who attended last year’s conference in Austin, TX, in May 2013;
  • Leading-edge speakers with original, need-to-know content, context and contacts who are as eager to know you, as you are them, and who stick around to socialize if they can. This year’s agenda  features Shonali Burke on “Harnessing People Power by Dismantling the Digital Divide”; and lawyer Michael Lasky on “Controlling Legal Risks: Publicity Materials, Social Media and Beyond,” to name-drop only two MUST attend sessions;
  • A superbly well-organized event with non-stop opportunities to network and build contacts that will last a lifetime;
  • FREE access to expert legal, financial and HR advice on how to run a better biz;
  • Finding like-minded PR pros to partner with beyond your local, regional or national borders;
  • And last, but certainly not least, a content-heavy agenda full of non-stop keynotes, breakouts and round tables, combined with parties, after-parties, cocktails and nights-out on the town.

1622875_10152236500618023_86269655_nProfessional Payback

I’ve been attending Counselors Academy since 2000, and was proud and honoured to be invited onto its Executive Committee a year ago. Everyone on our 13 person volunteer team, who are featured throughout this post, owns and operates an independent PR Agency, and is equally committed to improving the practice of our PR profession and bettering our businesses.

It’s an entrepreneurial environment that takes time and commitment, but is totally rewarding both in terms of giving back to our professional community, and furthering individual learning, networking and good fellowship.

The photos featured here were taken at our executive committee meeting in January at the Marriott Beachside Hotel in Key West, Florida, home of Spring Conference, May 4-6. We hope you’ll sign up to get in the picture and join us this May in #theKEYS. 


Your #CAprsa Executive Committee in #theKEYS. Front Row (L-R): Vada Wilson, (PRSA), Indra Gardiner, Abbie Fink, Dana Hughens, Ann Barks, Deborah Weinstein, Terri Howe

Back Row: Chuck Norman, Jon Goldberg, Martin Waxman, Tom Garrity, Mike Neumeier, Don Bill (PRSA), Alison King, Aaron Blank


  Jon Goldberg made the scene with former Conference Chairs Dana Hughens, Martin Waxman

and PRSA’s Don Bill


Toronto’s Alison King communed with Raleigh, NC’s Chuck Norman


The dress code was Key West Couture with Deborah Weinstein, Abbie Fink,

Anne Barks, Martin Waxman and Dana Hughens


Deborah Weinstein, @DebWeinstein, is co-founder, partner and president of Strategic Objectives, an international award-winning, full-service public relations agency that delivers smart ideas and better solutions to many of Canada and the world’s leading brands. Headquartered in Toronto, Strategic Objectives is IABC/Toronto PR Agency of the Year 2014, 2012, 2011, and 2009. It employs more than 35 top public relations professionals, in addition to associates across Canada, and PR partners around the world. Deborah is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee Medals for Outstanding Service to Canada and its Communications Industry.