Key Insights from the 8th National Summit on Strategic Communications

“If you want to truly achieve something, then learn to thrive in ambiguity. No rule books. No instructions. Envision the reality you want to happen and then Go. Ahead.”

“Moral and intellectual courage can be harder to find than physical courage!” 

 “Actual fake news is a gateway drug to say that everyone you disagree with is fake news.”

 “In 2016, 72% of voters got their candidate info from Facebook vs. 18% in 2012.”

“Growth isn’t something you get. It’s something you do.”

 “It’s about the why. Helping people find meaning.”

 “Information saves lives.  Never hesitate to communicate.”

 “We have to get rid of perfect. We have to be fearless.”

 “Authenticity takes on many forms. How we act defines us.”

The above quotes uttered by leaders from business, academia, media, military, government, and nonprofit sectors last week at the 8th Annual Summit on Strategic Communications capture the range and dimension of topics, insights, and lessons shared among more than 100 attendees. Sprinkled through hard hitting stories from the last presidential election (former Digital Director, Donald J. Trump For President, Inc.; and Media Producer, Showtime’s The Circus: Inside the Biggest Show on Earth), deeply insightful lessons on talent curation (Characteristics of Highly Effective Entrepreneurial Employees – our own Jim Weiss), and warnings about “fake news” and the dangers inherent in calling anything you don’t agree with fake, there were inspiring tales of heroism from Colonel William Reeder recounting his brutal captivity in Vietnam.

The common theme throughout this year’s Summit was focused on a world in constant motion, driven by technology and its impact on perception, opinion, realism, productivity, and purpose. Respected brands such as Hershey’s, FedEx, Takeda Pharmaceuticals (W2O Group client), Johnson Controls, GE Oil and Gas, Capital One, and Arrow Electronics shared the stage with the U.S. Army, Politico, Bell Helicopter, and others to paint both a challenging yet hopeful picture for finding success.

As Summit Co-Chair, W2O Group, including Jim Weiss, Bob Pearson, Aaron Strout, and myself injected both a strategic archway supporting the new weight placed on communicators and marketers in a world of big data and the comforting cushion of translating information to insight and precise action.

Check out the panel I moderated on the foreign policy of global business.

Bob Grupp, Summit Director, who created the forum, moderated the two-day session, called it the “best overall content in the eight years it has been held.”

In capturing the top-line takeaways for use in our day-to-day experience, four specific points emerge:

  1. Communicate in Tight Windows…Brevity Breaks-Through
  2. Explore Behaviors to Understand Cause…Stop Chasing Symptoms
  3. Challenge Your Truth…Experience Life Through Other’s Eyes and Ears
  4. Instead of Hitting Back…Try A Little Humor

We captured most of the speakers in our “What 2 Know” podcast – moderated by our CMO Aaron Strout. You can experience for yourself the energy and expertise emanating from the summit – simply subscribe and listen for yourself.

“It’s so important to our future to be engaged in meaningful conversations directly and indirectly impacting business and society,” offered Bob Pearson. “The Strategic Communications Summit provides a 360 degree view of the world today and a glimpse of what’s ahead.”

Check out Bob’s panel on data that turned the world upside down

Perhaps the most practical comment came during Jim’s talk, when he told the group a key to individual success is contained in the phrase: Pick up the trash. 

Check out my conversation with Jim on the traits of entrepreneurial employees 

“This is personal to me,” he said. It’s a metaphor When I started W2O Group, I picked up every piece paper I saw on the floor and now 16 years later I still do. And I notice when people do the same. It speaks of ownership. It speaks of respect. It speaks of attitude.”

Learn about the National Summit on Strategic Communications.

Gary

PS:  Special shout-out to Ally Masi who managed the event from beginning to end providing discipline, creativity, and support throughout!

Check out some of our favorite moments from #STRATCOMMS17 on Twitter!

Gary Grates
Gary Grates
Principal
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