We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Never was a truer sentence spoken.

The world changes whether we like it or not, and for many of us, unless we have to change, we don’t. Most people are only too aware of what they don’t know, and the last thing they need is for you to rub it in.

Bob Pearson points to the conundrum in his book Storytizing. “Even when we face reality as it is, we tend to see the world in today’s terms. We rarely push ourselves enough to truly look around the corner and open our minds to how reality will change before our eyes.”

“Will we embrace the revolution in digital communications and marketing and use it to our advantage—perhaps even guiding the change at times—or will we make the leap to what’s new only when we have no other choice?”

What’s the best way to adapt, learn and grow in a dynamic marketplace?

The answer is ironically obvious: look outside! Most of us stay within our industry sphere to help us become better at what we do. To truly think differently, though, we need to step away from our desks, get outside our sphere of influencers and learn something different. If we see and learn how others solve problems, we can rejuvenate our thinking.

W2O Group recently concluded W2O at SXSW, its annual lineup of events around SXSW that center on thought leadership and innovation—and what’s next. This same spirit of learning and innovation continues at the National Summit on Strategic Communications on May 9-10, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

The Strategic Summit—now in its eighth year—is, by design, different. The Summit attracts a unique mix of senior corporate communications and agency executives, military public affairs officers and government relations executives along with experts at NGOs and leading universities.

Innovation is the thread that runs through all Summit content. The Summit is global in scope, attracting leaders from at least a dozen countries. Says Summit Director Robert Grupp, “You meet leaders at this Summit who you normally would not meet anywhere else. This is where learning takes place.”

Great leaders see opportunities. They never see barriers; they visualize solutions. And they know how to unlock their personal innovation. Jim Weiss, CEO and Founder of W20 Group, will deliver a plenary “Summit Snapshot” on being “Future Ready” and harnessing:

  • Curiosity – Always looking for the why and what’s next
  • Embracing technology – Seeing new solutions and benefits
  • Utilizing data and insight into planning – Becoming savvy about analytics in uncovering opportunities
  • Innovating fast and frequently – Seeking out new approaches and methodologies and learning quickly.

W2O Group is excited to participate as “Summit Co-Chair,” extending the learning from W2O at SXSW, encouraging colleagues to think differently and equipping professionals with sophisticated new tools to better understand how brand messages proliferate and who helps shape them.

Other Summits highlights include:

BRAND STORIES: The disruption being experienced in all sectors means we have to pay even greater attention to the customer experience with our brand message across every channel on which it appears. Case studies by Chief Communications Officers from Bechtel, FedEx and The Hershey Company will reveal strategies to ensure that a brand story is well-told wherever the customer finds it.

DATA DOESN’T LIE: But we’re only as good as the analysts are at telling us how to make data actionable and change behaviors. Brad Parscale, former Digital Director for the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign, will explain how the data operation ran everything from TV buys to the ground operation, revealing “persuadable targets” and virtually everything the campaign needed to know to win.

GLOBAL MINDSETS: For global organizations, sensitivity to cultural differences enables employees to overcome inevitable challenges in diverse global teams. W2O Group’s Gary Grates will moderate a discussion among CCOs from multi-national’s including Johnson Controls and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company on how to develop a distinct completive advantage by developing employees who are adept at working across borders.

PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS: Many voices have claimed that pollsters lost Brexit and the U.S. election because their predictions were so off the mark. We can’t predict the future, but we can identify patterns in peoples’ behaviors. W2O Chief Innovation Officer Bob Pearson joins Politico’s Director of Audience Insights Rebecca Haller to explore how to optimize your marketing spend with reliable predictive analytics.

THE CIRCUS: Debuting last year on Showtime, this was a highly rated docu-series that took viewers through the weekly madness of the 2016 presidential race. Now back for a second seasons and subtitled “Inside the Biggest Story on Earth,” the Strategic Summit welcomes co-producer Mark McKinnon, who will pull back the curtain and show the story behind the headlines and the human drama of what goes on in political work and in the Trump Presidency.

“We encourage every Summit speaker and panelist to push the boundaries of today’s practices and identify and anticipate what skills will be required and what techniques and tools will be used tomorrow,” says Summit Director Bob Grupp. “It’s a challenge for people to talk only about what’s coming next—versus what’s happening right now—but that’s where ‘aha moments’ occur, when the solutions to problems suddenly become crystal clear.”

Finally, Bob Pearson will lead a popular, high-energy closing session—encouraging delegates to “think two years out”—a closing session that will succinctly identify major takeaways from the two-day Strategic Communications Summit.

“Most of us resist change at first,” Bob adds. “We’ll keep reading the same reports and secondary research our competitors have. We’ll do the same primary research using the same methodology we’ve employed for the past decade.”

But we can rejuvenate our thinking.

Join us at the 2017 National Summit on Strategic Communications (www.strategicsumit.com) and choose to learn differently. Evolve your models, and commit yourself to understanding how the marketplace is truly changing.

See you in Arlington on May 9-10!

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NOTE: Register online at www.strategicsummit.com using discount code C881W20 and receive 15% off standard registration.

Robert Grupp
Robert Grupp
Director and Graduate Program Director & Instructor, University of Florida

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