Edelman Academic Summit has great tales to tell

Everyone likes a good story. And in the digital era we live in, everyone wants that story fast. That point is being brought home to a gathering of PR professors at the 2014 Edelman Academic Summit in Chicago.

Stacey MacNeil, HP
Stacey MacNeil, HP

Everyone likes a good story. And in the digital era we live in, everyone wants that story fast. That point is being brought home to a gathering of PR professors at the 2014 Edelman Academic Summit, taking place at DePaul University in Chicago.

The 2014 Academic Summit, being presented in partnership with DePaul and the University of Notre Dame, is a biennial gathering that is meant to teach the teachers who are shaping tomorrow's PR leaders. This year's theme is "Storytelling at the speed of now." It is bringing one of the real industry buzzwords - storytelling - to life through an impressive array of the sector's leading communicators.

Today's session put a trio of powerful brands center stage.

Stacey MacNeil, VP of employee comms at HP, kicked things off by underscoring the importance of activating your employees' voice. This starts with making sure you tell your stories to employees. A newsroom approach to content creation and execution is a preferable way to facilitate this.

In addition, HP took the bold approach of giving employees a platform to share their thoughts on the future of the company - and they did so at a time when the company was in crisis. This engages, enthuses, and empowers employees - which can only bolster the brand's overall storytelling.

A pair of senior directors from Samsung followed by discussing the keys to aligning cultural moments with brand moments - all in real time. A key consideration is to make sure your program is true to your brand and doesn't appear to be simply trying to capitalize on the flavor of the moment. Amidst the speed of real-time marketing, strategy remains vital.

Gary Sheffer, VP of comms and public affairs at GE, as well as current chair of the Arthur Page Society, talked about crafting a story that truly captures what the brand's character is. And a vital element of that is telling your own story, not letting others tell it for you first.

Equally important is to engage your audience - and the only way to do that is to give the public a window into your company. Again, storytelling is the best way to do this.

In a span of four hours or so, the professors in attendance walked away with valuable lessons they will surely impart on their students - and there are many more to come in the next two days. Given the objective of the Edelman Academic Summit, an event PRWeek is proud to be associated with as media partner, that is the real story.

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