It’s Martin semi-solo, this week; Gini and Joe are off.

I’m here with Tom Garrity, president of The Garrity Group and chair of the PRSA Counselors Academy conference for PR agency leaders, which takes place in Key West, Florida, May 4 to 6.

Tom and I start off by chatting about how some PR specialists are also hot air specialists. Actually that’s not quite true. We got on the subject because Tom’s agency represents the Alburquerque International Balloon Festival, one of the more visually exciting events around.

If you follow Inside PR, you’ll know we’ve discussed Counselors Academy before – that’s where Gini, Joe and I met. We’ve been to the event many times, recorded a few episodes there and I was conference chair in 2012.

I’ve said this a number of times: CA is my one must-attend PR gathering of the year, a chance to meet and get to know a smart, friendly and lively group of PR agency movers and shakers.

Unlike other conferences, Counselors is focused on the business of running a PR agency and provides an opportunity to take part in top notch professional development and lots of idea-sharing over casual conversations, coffee or drinks.

This year, one of Tom’s highlights is the closing presentation at Hemingway House, with keynote speaker and ad agency owner Steve McKee, who offers insights from his new book, Power Branding: Leveraging Success of the World’s Best Brands.

Other keynotes include 9 INCH marketing founder Stan Phelps talking about branding and strategic marketing and Shonali Burke on successfully integrating research into your PR plans and pitches.

Tom’s also looking forward to the Bold Moves session – raw conversations about major changes agency owners made in order to transform their business. It’s a Ted X type format moderated by past Counselors chair and Mitchell Communications CEO Elise Mitchell. Speakers include Aaron Blank, president and CEO, The Fearey Group, Lynn Casey, chairman and CEO, PadillaCRT, startup entrepreneur Forest Featherstone and Janet Tyler, founder and co-CEO, Airfoil.

There’s a round of short Ignite presentations, breakout workshops, roundtables and a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Tom recommends Counselors because it always helps him improve his agency and fill in what he doesn’t know.

Here’s where to go for the schedule. There’s still a bit of time to register if you’re interested. Or you can follow the hashtag on Twitter #CAPRSA.

I’ll be there and will interview some of the presenters for upcoming episodes of Inside PR. Stay tuned.

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Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

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