Saturday, May 18

Industry Visionaries Share Perspectives on the Future of Marketing and Communications at The PR Net Future Focus Conference

–News Direct–

On April 12th The PR Net hosted its second annual Future Focus Conference at Kimpton Eventis dedicated event space, SECOND, assembling top industry figures to discuss the future of marketing and communications.

The full-day conference featured six panels interspersed with networking sessions and attracted a diverse audience of senior executives from various sectors. Panels were themed around hot topics such as the reinvention of modern media, the future of events & experiences (presented by Snap, Inc.), what's next in influencer marketing (presented by Trend Companies), the effects and applications of AI, affiliate marketing strategies, and the value of brand marketing.

To purchase professionally produced recordings of the conference, showcasing all panel discussions from the day for $49.99, click this link here.

Reinventing Modern Media

Moderator: Brian Strong, Global Head of Communications, Bloomberg Media

Panelists: Samantha Barry, Editor-in-Chief, Glamour; Amanda Smith, President, Fairchild Media; Willa Bennett, Editor-in-Chief, Highsnobiety and Simone Oliver, Strategic Advisor & Editor at Large

'Reinventing Modern Media' panel featured industry leaders discussing the dynamic nature of media today. Samantha Barry, Glamour's Editor-in-Chief, emphasized the universality of good content, noting, Sometimes, as a brand, we can go down a rabbit hole of this is a Gen Z thing, or this is only for millennial women, etc. Oftentimes, good content will reach them all, regardless of generation. Amanda Smith, President of Fairchild Media, highlighted the importance of brand clarity, stating, I think we're all being rewarded for having total clarity on who we are and what defines our brand IP. The more we can articulate that in the marketplace, the better off well be. Willa Bennett, Highsnobiety's Editor-in-Chief, emphasized the value of long-term content investment, saying, If you invest long term, the traffic will come. Simone Oliver, Strategic Advisor & Editor at Large, discussed the shift in content engagement and distribution, noting, Engagement has been the clear winner in terms of how people engage with your content and what you're producing. You want people to see what you make, you want the message to get out there, but distribution has changed. She also highlighted the evolving nature of content discovery, adding, Discovery has a different face now.

The Future of Events & Experiences

Moderator: Jed Weinstein, Founder & CEO, Rise & Set

Panelists: Bronson Van Wyck, Founder, Workshop and DIO; Rachel Racusen, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Snap Inc. and Allison Barrie Rand, Head of Experiential Marketing & Talent Partnerships, Walmart

The 'Future of Events & Experiences' panel explored immersive experiences and media's evolving landscape. Bronson Van Wyck, Founder of Workshop and DIO, emphasized holistic experiences, stating, You want to give someone an opportunity to return to the womb where every aspect of their needs, physical and emotional, are being taken care of. Rachel Racusen, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at Snap Inc., highlighted quality over quantity in media, noting, If you have an amazing New York Times story that is meant to reach a certain audience and that's the only story you get on something, that could provide a lot more value than twenty stories. Allison Barrie Rand, Head of Experiential Marketing & Talent Partnerships at Walmart, discussed the intangible nature of creating memories, noting, We are fundamentally in the business of making memories. And that's hard to measure. Rand also emphasized using technology to foster community and connection, stating, Tech needs to be leveraged as a tool to help further enable community, to help further enable connection. She cautioned against expecting every experience to achieve all objectives, stating, When we expect every single experience that we do to boil the ocean of objectives, that's not going to get us so far.

What's Next in Influencer Marketing?

Moderator: Faye Halligan, Director of Talent Relations, Trend Companies

Panelists: Ted Raad, Founder & CEO, Trend Companies; Anna Kai, Content Creator, @itsmaybeboth; Nena Evans, Content Creator, @nenaevans and Emily Fauver, Content Creator, @emily.fauver

The 'What's Next in Influencer Marketing?' panel delved into the evolving influencer landscape. Ted Raad, Founder & CEO of Trend Companies, stressed the importance of creators remaining authentic to their audience, noting, The most important thing… is that they are saying who they are to their audience, and the audience will matter more than any campaign. He also highlighted creators' influence on both their audience and fellow creators. Emily Fauver, Content Creator, mentioned the continuous innovation in content creation on established platforms, saying, The fact that we're still coming up with new ways to create content on platforms that have been around for a while, I think its just getting started. Anna Kai, Content Creator, expressed confidence in the enduring nature of social media platforms, stating, Social media is gonna be around forever whether it's TikTok or MikMok, so we'll figure it out. Nena Evans, Content Creator, discussed the uncertainty of future content sharing platforms, stating, At the end of the day, the value that we're creating, it has to be shared somewhere. It might not be TikTok, it might not be Instagram, it might be an unknown. We really don't know. She emphasized the current importance of relatability and authenticity in connecting creators with their audiences.

AIs Effect on Marcomms

Moderated by Samyutha Reddy, Head of Corporate Marketing, Jasper AI

Panelists: Paul Miser, EVP, Group Director, HOW (a 5W Agency); Aaron Kwittken, Founder and CEO, PRophet and CEO, Stagwell Marketing Cloud, Comms Tech Unit and Alexia Adana, VP, Director of Creative Technology, Edelman

The panel on "AIs Effect on Marcomms" delved into how artificial intelligence is reshaping marketing and communications strategies. Paul Miser, EVP, Group Director at HOW, highlighted that AI complements human roles, enabling faster validation of insights and ideation. He emphasized, [AI] is not going to replace your role, but it allows you to validate insights faster, it allows you to ideate faster, it gives you analytical models that are faster. Miser also stressed the importance for agencies to understand AI's role in enhancing relationships and expediting validation processes. Aaron Kwittken, Founder and CEO of PRophet, urged professionals to embrace a mindset of becoming communications engineers. He discussed the significance of predictive AI, stating, Anytime people talk about AI, they think about generative. But predictive AI will be most potent, consequential and revolutionary for comms pros." Alexia Adana, VP, Director of Creative Technology at Edelman, emphasized the need to become proficient with AI tools, stating, On an individual level, it's getting comfortable with having a back and forth with AI tools in a way that's going to help you approach problems and your goals in a far more efficient way than if you were just solely relying on your individual brain.

Elevating Affiliate Marketing Strategies

Moderator: Jeremiah Corley, Affiliate Director, Dreamday

Panelists: Teresa Grammatke, Senior Director, eAccountable; Taylor Kendrick, Senior Manager, Channel Partnerships, impact.com; Jacqueline Goldstein, Vice President, Commerce, NY Post and Leilani Han, Executive Director, Commerce, The New York Times Wirecutter

The "Elevating Affiliate Marketing Strategies" panel offered dynamic insights to supercharge affiliate approaches. Teresa Grammatke of eAccountable highlighted a shifting audience perspective, noting, The audience has changed and people assume that you're getting the money now. So it's not as big of a deal for the audience to know that they're earning off of it. Taylor Kendrick from impact.com emphasized the critical need for proactive affiliate engagement, stating, You have to be diligent with following up with all these affiliates, just make sure you continue and continue to reach out to them. Jacqueline Goldstein of NY Post discussed the pivotal role of offering competitive benefits to affiliates, like free fast shipping. Leilani Han of The New York Times Wirecutter emphasized the strategic importance of commerce content publishers, stating, For the performance PR professionals, commerce content publishers don't just represent a number in the tally of coverage you garner, now we are also adding value to your clients bottom line. Han also stressed the vital nature of nurturing affiliate partnerships, noting, An affiliate link isn't a spigot of revenue where you just put up an affiliate link and turn it on. It's a constant feedback loop, its important to be constantly nurturing the partnerships.

Is 2024 the Year of Brand Marketing?

Moderator: Celia Jones, Chief Marketing Officer, FINN Partners

Panelists: Ana Andjelic, Chief Brand Officer, Ex Esprit, Banana Republic; Colin Kavanagh, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard; Samina Virk, North America CEO, Vestiaire Collective and Crystal Vinisse, Vice President – Global Brand Leader, Lifestyle & Luxury Brands, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

The highly anticipated panel, 'Is 2024 the Year of Brand Marketing?' delved into the evolving landscape of brand marketing, with experts providing insights into the strategies and approaches that will define the year ahead. Ana Andjelic, Chief Brand Officer at Ex Esprit and Banana Republic, characterized brand marketing as a strategy of cultural influence, advocating for continuous engagement with culture and creativity. Samina Virk, North America CEO at Vestiaire Collective, preferred the term "brand growth," emphasizing the interconnectedness of brand marketing with overall business growth. She stressed the importance of understanding the customer to create authentic brand moments, stating, Focus on who your customer or your client is. Because I think that will help answer which moments you speak about and marry that with what is authentic. Crystal Vinisse, Vice President – Global Brand Leader at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, underscored the experience-driven nature of today's economy, noting that brands must deliver on their promises to maintain customer trust. She remarked, We are still very much in an experience-driven economy. So that means, while I might have an emotional connection to your brand, there's less forgiveness and grace if I have an experience that isn't what you marketed to me. Colin Kavanagh, Chief Marketing Officer at Pernod Ricard, emphasized the importance of authenticity in brand messaging, stating, You have to be authentic. That's the key thing for me and you have to stay true to that.

The Future Focus Conference provided attendees with invaluable insights about the latest trends and future predictions for the marketing communications industry. The networking breaks throughout the day were embraced by the audience, which included representatives from brands like Sephora, Bumble, Fritz Hansen, Hilton Hotels, Brunello Cucinelli, Turkish Airlines, Match Group, Pernod Ricard, J. Crew, Leading Hotels of the World and Campari Group, and agency leaders from M&C Saatchi, Weber Shandwick, BPCM, Magrino, H&S, Finn Partners, 5W, Derris, Quinn, Day One Agency, KWT Global, Karla Otto and LaForce. The summit culminated with guests gathering in SECONDs bar area for the cocktail hour, enjoying cocktails by Redemption Whiskey, Gray Whale Gin, Cantera Negra Reposado Tequila, and Josh Cellars Wines.

Photos: Link HERE (credit: Adele Makulova)

ABOUT THE PR NET: The PR Net is the premier global network for marketing and communications professionals. It is a modern take on the classic networking club and an "industry insider favorite for executives looking for a central platform for industry intelligence and connections. Founded by industry veteran Lisa Smith in 2015, The PR Net consists of online content that reads like a magazine, member-only services, and highly sought-after digital and in-person member events.

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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No A News Week journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.