Digital marketing expert, Jay Baer, gave a keynote speech to thousands of public relations professionals at the PRSA National Conference on Tuesday morning, informing them of how Public Relations should focus on strategies, not tactics.

Baer began his speech by saying, “public relations professionals are the creators and propellers of word-of-mouth.” What this means is that it’s ultimately up to future professionals in the industry to decide what consumers say about their experiences with a certain product or service. “People trust other people– not companies.” He explained.

Most of the speech was centered around the concept of ‘talk triggers’. Talk triggers are essentially what get people talking about a brand, company, or product. The main types are Talkable Empathy, Talkable Usefulness, Talkable Generosity, and Talkable Speed. Baer went more into detail about these and gave relevant examples of how companies are implementing new strategies to grow.

When discussing Talkable Empathy, Baer gave an example of an oral surgeon who personally calls their patients one week before they are scheduled to come into his office, and asks them if they have any questions or concerns about their upcoming surgery. What this does is create mutual trust between the physician and their future patient before they have even met in person. This reassures the patient that they are in the best hands, which will influence them to recommend this surgeon to their friends and family.

With Talkable Usefulness, Baer explained how instead of having a business card, he has actual bottle openers with all of his contact information on it so that he stands out to others. Baer said, “Someone told me one day, ‘I know exactly where your business card is in my house. I still use it at every barbeque!’” This way, not only does the person have Baer’s business card, but it also gives them a useful product that they can use for other purposes as well, which can get others talking.

Talkable Generosity happens frequently with the online company, Amazon, when they sent out emails refunding their customers after a product’s price had been lowered by the original producer. “It’s like Amazon is saying ‘oh, we paid you too much. Here is your money back.’ That never happens with a large company!” Baer exclaimed.

Lastly, Talkable Speed can be found with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines when they have a puppy run to each customer at the airport and return belongings they had left on their planes. This was very effective because sometimes people would not even realize they left an item until after the puppy had run over to them and returned it. This gets people talking right away– especially since humans have a soft spot for babies and puppies.

All in all, I really enjoyed listening to this keynote speech because Baer was very charismatic and funny and learned a lot about strategic communication as a whole. Sandra Akufo, a Junior from American University said, “I thought he was engaging because he used humor as an avenue to get people to listen to the message.”

Baer did a great job of demonstrating how talk triggers must be a collaborative effort between the PR, legal, marketing, and sales sectors in order to be effective. He closed out by telling the audience, “public relations professionals are the creators and propellers of word-of-mouth.” He received a round of applause and standing ovation from everyone in the room.