Democratic Convention Recap Kicks Off PPRA Program Year


By Adam Dvorin
Vice President for Programs
Philadelphia Public Relations Association

The Philadelphia Public Relations Association officially kicked off its 2016-2017 program year with “How We Made History Together” — a recap of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The session was a great opportunity to hear from the public relations professionals who served in the trenches in the months leading up to the convention — as well as during the event itself.

The panelists:

Anna Adams-Sarthou, Communications Director, Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention

Khaila Burke-Green, Communications Manager, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Annie Heckenberger, Social and Digital Director, Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention

Cara Schneider, Media Relations Director, Visit Philadelphia.

Cari Feiler-Bender, President of Relief Communications, LLC, was moderator.

Among the key takeaways:

  • With so many stakeholders, the need for different entities to coordinate messages was “extremely important,” according to Adams-Sarthou. “It was a priority to ensure that primary stakeholders, particularly those who regularly interacted with press, were on-message and citing the same numbers and information. This helped avoid confusion within the press as well as questions about why some numbers were different from what my team was saying.”
  • “Distributing destination guides to media early-on helped Visit
    Philadelphia shape the non-political coverage,” Schneider said, “which
    we expected, correctly, would be about 15 percent of total coverage. We had a
    full slate of resources for press which we started handing out in
    April. By comparison, Cleveland (site of the Republican National
    Convention) didn’t offer as many destination resources to media.”
  • Social media, Heckenberger said, provided a way for everyday Philadelphians to feel a part of the Convention — even though the actual event was off-limits to those without credentials: “Social and Digital was how we told the community about the events that were available to the public, and encouraged them to participate. And, we wanted convention visitors to see as much of Philly as possible – eat at our restaurants, shop at our retailers, visit our attractions – social was a huge part of that activation.”
  • The convention also succeeded beyond mainstream media coverage, Burke-Green said. “The meeting planner media world is much smaller than general consumer publications, but extremely important to us. We tracked more than 30 DNC stories in these publications between May of last year and the August this year.”

The PPRA Program Series continues  Wed., Oct. 19 with “How to Be Brave on Social Media,” a breakfast event at the University City Science Center, 3711 Market St.
For more information, visit

Adam Dvorin is Director, Media Relations
Winning Strategies

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