All eyes are on Austin, Texas this week as SxSW events are officially underway. This marks the 5th year that educators, nonprofits, students, thought leaders and more have convened for SxSWedu – a series of events meant to help foster innovation in education. We, at the W2O Group Center for Social Commerce are proud to be a part of this conversation.

Founded in 2012, the Center is a novel academic/industry partnership between W2O Group and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University that aims to ensure students are exposed to the evolution of the communications industry and the role that social media, social commerce and analytics play within it. This model helps bridge gaps between what’s happening in the “real-world,” and what’s not always easily accessible from the classroom.

Today, as part of its mission to provide students and educators the opportunity to take part in meaningful research initiatives, the Center is proud to announce the release of its first report.

“Thriving and Coping in a Social and Digital Age” takes an in-depth look at the evolution of corporate communications functions. This report is the culmination of several months’ worth of original research and includes insights from interviews with top communications executives at five leading corporations. It reveals telling patterns about the challenges of managing communications functions in an evolving social and digital landscape.

Students, professionals and seasoned executives alike can all glean insight from this report, as it offers unique perspectives from leaders across a wide array of industries. Many spoke candidly, not only about their organizations’ success, but also their challenges, and provided considerations on what it takes for corporate communications to be successful in the future.

We hope you’ll give the full report a read. Below is a preview of three key themes that emerged:

Moving from a coverage to an influence model

Press releases aren’t what they used to be. The media environment is quickly shifting from “coverage” to “influence,” where a mommy blogger can have just as much influence as the New York Times on topics important to your brand.

Organizational charts replaced by a networked system

As one executive stated, “The org chart is no more. We have to integrate and collaborate cross-functionally to achieve success.”

Analytics and data fuel new insights

Digital and social analytics tools have enabled communicators to develop more impactful content and targeted messaging.

We know that the future of our industry is contingent on preparing the next generation of workers with the knowledge, tools and resources they’ll need to be successful in their chosen profession. The W2O Group Center for Social Commerce looks forward to continuing the conversation about how we can innovate in education and prepare current and future students.

We’d like to hear your feedback on the report. Don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts below!

If you’d like to learn more about the Center for Social Commerce, visit our website at and follow us @SocCommSU.

Thank you,

Gary Grates & Maria Russell

Co-Directors, W2O Group Center for Social Commerce