I Sipped, I Savored, I’m Back: My SMPS PRC Experience

My experience at the 2018 SMPS PRC, Wave in the Vineyard: Cultivating Marketing Excellence in Napa, CA last month can quickly be summarized with some statistics: 3 inspiring days with people who “get” marketing, 6 amazing sessions attended, 3 fun networking events joined, 5 meals enjoyed with marketers from around the country, 27 new connections made that I will actually follow up on (and many more that let’s face it, I probably won’t get to) and 20+ bonds forged with fellow Seattle chapter members who made the trip.

What these numbers don’t tell you about is the incredible amount of learning, kinship, and encouragement that I experienced and the motivation I brought back. Simply being around so many talented marketers who are doing great things in their firms and who understand and experience many of the things that I also experience was a good reminder of the similarities we share. It was great to hear from those with more experience than me, especially the strong women who paved the way for generations of women behind them, as shared by the presenters of the session, “Uncork Your Leadership Potential: Lessons from Top Female Marketers.” It was equally interesting to listen to the younger professionals coming behind me, and hearing their points of view about their role in the industry.

Those who attended the session, “Bold Flavors: Diversity and Inclusion in A/E/C Marketing” were treated to the delightful facilitator, Damion Morris (Vanir Construction), who entertained us with his high-spirited delivery but who also sobered us to the fact that we have a lot of work to do in our industry in order to become a true reflection of the communities where our firms are located. I sincerely hope that this subject continues to be a large part of the conversation at future conferences.

The session that most applies to my every day job as a marketing consultant and proposal specialist was “Clarity and Color: Seven Graphic Design Principles,” presented by Julie Shaffer (Shaffer Creative). Proposal layout and design is one of my favorite topics, and it was extremely valuable to see principles that I employ neatly packaged in a way that I can share with my clients. My other two takeaways—that there exists such a thing as an InDesign conference and that you can become an InDesign Certified Expert—spoke directly to my inner InDesign geek.

Beyond the learning, everywhere I turned there were opportunities for personal connection, savoring Napa’s restaurant scene, and yes, lots of WINE (wine vending machines—who knew?). Those of us from the frigid north soaked up the sun as much as we could in between events, and the beautiful Meritage Resort offered a picture-perfect setting for everything PRC had to offer.

Thank you, SMPS, for providing me, as an owner of a small business, with this scholarship opportunity, and for continuing to provide a forum for comradery, learning, and personal and professional growth.