This year at the PRSA International Conference, to be held in Boston, five members of the Porter Novelli and Cone family will be sharing essential strategies for keeping ahead of the trends that continue to disrupt the media and technology landscapes communication professionals rely on. Porter Novelli’s CEO and Senior Partner, Brad MacAfee, and the Atlanta Office Managing Director, Alicia Thompson, will be shedding light on distinct aspects of leadership, including innovation and mentorship. Cone’s Vice President of Content Strategy, Christian McGuigan, will also be providing insights into why organizations should uphold their values in the face of controversy. Andrea List, senior supervisor on Cone’s Account Planning team, will be talking data and how to use it to drive strong results.

Brad MacAfee on Innovation in Leadership

Porter Novelli CEO and Senior Partner, Brad MacAfee, believes leaders should prioritize creating environments that encourage innovative thinking and drive organizational success.

“Over my career, I have come to realize that it’s not my job to come up with all the great ideas. Rather, one of the best ways I can lead is by fostering an environment where great ideas can happen anywhere from anyone,” said MacAfee.

To learn how to inspire your employees, understand success metrics for employee engagement, and hear examples of what engaged employees can do to materially impact business success, join Brad at Innovation in Leadership, Monday, October 9.

Christian McGuigan on Society, Politics, and Responsibility

Christian McGuigan, Vice President of Content Strategy at Cone, recognizes that today’s turbulent, sociopolitical media landscape has complicated the relationship between businesses and their key stakeholders.

“In today’s turbulent world, many companies are struggling with if, when and how they should take a stand on the important issues hitting headlines today – especially when the time to act can be sudden and unexpected,” said Christian, “This session will prepare brand marketers to take a stand on issues by better understanding consumer expectations while also providing a roadmap for what authentic issue and brand alignment looks like.”

By participating in Christian’s workshop, It’s No Longer What You Stand For, But What You Stand Up For, on Tuesday, October 10, you will experience an analysis of Cone’s 2017 CSR study. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of how consumer behavior guides a company’s social stakes and environmental footprint.


Alicia Thompson on the Art and Science of Mentorship

Though PR professionals widely recognize the value in providing and receiving mentorship, the Managing Director of Porter Novelli Atlanta, Alicia Thompson, knows that effective mentorship may not come so intuitively.

“Young professionals attending the Becoming a PR Leader: The Art and Science of Mentorship session on Sunday, October 8, will learn about the importance of mentorship, the different types of mentors and will gain practical tips and advice for building and fostering mentoring relationships. The recommendations will be validated by research insights from a Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations survey of more than 400 millennial PR professionals and 50+ PR professionals and students across 5 countries.”

– Managing Director Alicia Thompson

Andrea List on Data driven results

On Oct. 9, conference goers will have the chance to experience senior supervisor on Cone’s Account Planning team, Andrea List’s, panel discussion entitled, Crunching the Numbers: How Data Analytics and Measurement Can Improve Results. This session will outline how to collect and scrutinize data about your stakeholders.  Afterwards, the panel will teach audience members how to leverage their findings to improve corporate reputation, expand markets, engage employees and meet competition head on.

“So often, PR professionals can relegate the value of their work to impressions and placements. In this session, I’m sharing the vast opportunity data and analytics can have to prove the importance of PR across the life of the work, from strategy planning to optimization, to measurement,” said Andrea.

Other panelists include Michael Cornfield, Ph.D, Research Director, Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University and Lawrence J. Parnell, Public Relations Program Director and Associate Professor, Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University.


If interested in scheduling a meeting with any of the speakers at the conference, please contact Kate Cusick at