Weber Shandwick Voice Boxx event at the Samsung Experience in the Time Warner Center in NYC

I had the opportunity to attend Weber Shandwick’s Voice Boxx event at the Samsung Experience in NYC on Leveraging Communication as an Innovation and Business Performance Driver. The panel, moderated by Jeff Chu, Senior Editor at Fast Company, included:

The most innovative thinking from the event seemed to be a reminder that the new mediums are just that – mediums to communicate and engage consumers and that content is still king. Jack Leslie summed this up best by emphasizing to the audience that regardless of how we communicate it’s still about creating content that people want.

This creates a push-pull situation where you engage your audience by creating relevant and interesting content to bring them together where they then create more content that helps to build and support your existing message. Stephanie Anderson from Sylvania approaches this by creating a social media board that meets once a month to make sure that they are in-sync with their audience. All agreed that it is critical to understand your audience and create relevant content that adds value to the clients.

The question that begs to be asked is “how do you capture and leverage user created content?” If content is king, and the consumer creating that content is your biggest potential advocate, then it would follow that leveraging this content across a broader range of communication (branding, PR, marcom, etc.) would be essential. There is no right one right answer. I promote the power of advocacy to my clients and it means something different to each one. The key is to make sure that I pull the right levers to create a mix that will ultimately meet both business and marketing objectives.

The discussion around content led to the comment that ‘your brand is ultimately owned by your audience.’  This sentiment was echoed by both Peter Land from PepsiCo and David Steel of Samsung North America.    All agreed that there is a delicate balance that takes place when trying to weave your message in with that of your audience.  Bruce Jasurda, U.S. Army believes that to make the information credible it needs to be uncensored.  While most of the panel concurred, there was also a hint that there are times when the “invisible hand”, as it was called by David Steel, needs to monitor the flow of information to ensure accuracy.

One of the challenges that struck at the core of the panel is measuring the impact of social media.  While there didn’t seem to one “ah ha” moment the panelists agreed that measuring social media is not very different from measuring the impact of other branding and communication programs – time is a key element regardless of the medium.  Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any instant gratification or Holy Grail.  Stephanie Anderson provided insight into how Sylvania approaches measurement in a B2B market, suggesting that reach and time spent are important, but it’s equally important to measure the 2nd tier network you reach – those who follow your followers.

Overall this was a very well-orchestrated event by Weber Shandwick and Samsung. The panelists where extremely knowledgeable and reminded us that the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis aren’t unique and that we shouldn’t get away from our roots because we have new avenues available to us. Our customers can be our strongest advocate and in the world of real-time communication we need to remember this and continue to focus on building loyalty.

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