What young professionals can gain from frank
As young professionals get started in their communications careers, they can become overwhelmed with opportunities. From incredibly knowledgeable colleagues to new and emerging communications strategies, there are so many things to explore and places that foster a genuine community of mission-driven communicators. The annual gathering of public interest communicators, frank, in Gainesville, Florida, is the prime space where this community comes together to exchange ideas and share stories.
Every year for 10 years, social scientists, activists, communications professionals, practitioners and students have convened to create a community focused on driving positive social, institutional and behavioral change. As an early-career professional, attending this “un-conference” uniquely positions you alongside some of the leading public interest communications professionals in the world. Hearing their stories just may spark something in you that clarifies your path forward.
Among the greatest benefits of attending frank are learning about ongoing social justice movements, embracing emergent digital communications strategies and networking with people who are working to change the world and would love for you to join them.
Looking at the world, there is never a shortage of issues waiting to be fixed, and at frank, there is never a shortage of people looking to fix them. Topics of conversation range from the modern abolitionist movement to the intersection of feminism and labor, from self-care for survival to creating a new network of trusted messengers in the 21st century media landscape. Part of frank’s appeal is the smaller, more intimate space that promotes collaboration and diversity in subject matters being discussed, researched and debated in real time. If you have the desire to engage in that, you’ll be met with wide smiles and open arms because attendees are more than happy to share their work and discuss what you’re working on as well.
One of the most exciting elements of the frank experience is learning about emerging strategies that we can implement in our future public interest communications work. On the second day of frank, Spitfire’s own Wyatt Closs delivered a presentation about Creative Resilience, a project that centered on unique creative and cultural strategies during a breakout session set within the walls of a local worker-owned co-op and community space in downtown Gainesville. This body of work is a new practice for Spitfire that infuses actionable messaging into cultural experiences to reach audiences in a new, dynamic way. Closs offered a peek behind the curtain of how the Spitfire team brought to life a 10-day pop-up art show about the labor movement for working-class Los Angeles residents of color.
On this same day, attendees heard from Mikka Kei McDonald of Community Change and Ashwath Narayan of Social Currant about their work using social media content creators as messengers ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. On the main stage, they explained how through their partnership they piloted paid content collaborations with TikTok creators who mainly created lifestyle content to spread awareness about the child tax credit. Traditional communications tactics such as earned media are still excellent things to think about. However, these emergent strategies are crucial to remaining adept at our craft. Through their work, McDonald and Narayan achieved 12.3 million views of the 140 short-form videos that creators produced through their partnership. With ongoing support and process refinement, the amount of awareness and reach driven to the issue would be exponential.
Public interest communications is swift, critical and impactful work that enables the change we wish to see in our world to become a reality. At frank, those change-makers are shoulder to shoulder with you in coffee shops and local bars; exchanging ideas and strategies will likely come to fruition later in life. As a young professional, this is a prime opportunity to connect with distinguished scholars and leaders to begin imagining what your own career paths could look like. As you meet your fellow attendees, you truly see the world of possibilities in front of you that’s ever expanding with each handshake or hello you interact with. You’ll never know when one of your fellow “franksters” might be your next client, boss or partner in an endeavor that will change the world for the better.
Senior Account Executive