PRWeek embraces new ideas at Chicago conference

Chicago's Ideas Week from October 15-21 is an appropriate context for PRWeek to convene the PR industry for its high-profile and inspiring annual conference.

Some of the top-level speakers headlining this year's PRWeek annual conference.
Some of the top-level speakers headlining this year's PRWeek annual conference.

PRWeek U.S. is looking forward to a conference road trip to Chicago as we gear up for our 20th anniversary celebrations.

On Thursday, October 18, we will convene at the iconic Merchandise Mart in the Windy City for PR Decoded, a fiesta of inspiring content, superb networking, diversity, and top-level inspiration brought to you by some of the premier PR pros in the business, plus a sprinkling of CMOs and CEOs.

The show kicks off via a fireside chat with Matt Maloney, founder and CEO of online food ordering company Grubhub. The Chicago HQ’ed brand straddles the tricky divide of retaining its disruptor status while being a leader in its brand segment.

Founded in 2004, Grubhub has 15.6 million users who place in excess of 423,000 orders from more than 85,000 takeout restaurants in over 1,600 cities. Maloney led the company through five rounds of investment funding, a 2013 merger with Seamless, which launched in 1999, and a 2014 IPO.

He was named one of America's most powerful CEOs aged 40 and under by Forbes magazine in 2016 and one of the top 50 business people of 2014 by Fortune. In this session we’ll find out how Maloney and Grubhub used storytelling to reach these impressive milestones in such short order.

Each year, PRWeek’s Power List celebrates the most influential players in the PR industry. In recognition of this, we are gathering together four members of the list in Chicago to discuss the evolution of the communications industry and the increasing importance of the PR function to enterprises of all types.

Jano Cabrera is SVP of U.S. communications, global media and PR at one of Chicago’s iconic employers, McDonald’s; Janice Kapner is EVP of communications and engagement at mobile comms operator T-Mobile; Dave Samson is GM, public affairs at energy behemoth Chevron and was recently unveiled as one of this year’s PRWeek Hall of Fame honorees; and Charlene Wheeless is principal VP, corporate affairs at Bechtel and a former chair of jury at the PRWeek Awards.

Delegates will benefit from the wisdom and expertize of four amazing communicators from four very different industry sectors. This is truly a don’t-miss session.

Brand content has been a recurrent and enduring theme in the development of enterprise storytelling and reputation in recent years, an area comms pros have had to get their heads around but for which they also have a particular empathy given their historical roots in storytelling and quick response.

One of the prime exponents of this strategy has been Coca-Cola, and the conference welcomes Kent Landers, VP of external communications in North America at the iconic soft drink manufacturer, as well as Coca-Cola Journey editor-in-chief Jay Moye. The duo will explain how Coke has made such a success of its direct storytelling channel and optimized owned media in the PESO communications mix.

One of the key tent-pole items of PRWeek’s 20th anniversary celebrations is the ground breaking Communications Bellwether Survey we have produced in conjunction with our partners at Boston University.

The survey canvased 1,500 PR pros to find out what factors most influence their day-to-day jobs and the trends shaping the profession. This session will lift the lid on the data and analyze what its findings mean for the future of PR, with BU’s Don Wright and Arunima Krishna, who oversaw the research, and Ford Motor Company’s Marisa Bradley.

Other excellent speakers and panelists to look forward to include Richard Edelman, leader of the biggest PR firm in the world; Dave Tovar, SVP, corporate communications at Sprint; DeLu Jackson, VP, precision marketing at Conagra; Chris Lynch, CMO at Cision; Sam Michelson, CEO and founder of Five Blocks; and Neil Steinberg, VP at Dataminr.

We also have a couple of high-profile surprises in the works that we’ll unveil in the next week or two.

To close out the day, we’ll hear from Jacqueline Parkes, CMO and EVP, digital studios, at MTV, VH1 and Logo. Parkes oversees marketing, creative, digital content, and social media for the Viacom-owned music and entertainment group brands.

She works with Viacom Digital Studios to develop original digital series, franchises, verticals, and other content for MTV, VH1, and Logo, and expand the brands’ combined social reach of more than 300 million followers worldwide.

All in all, it’s going to be an exceptional day for any PR pro on the in-house or agency side looking to be inspired, experience new perspectives, top up their skills, and learn from some of the most exceptional practitioners in the industry.

And finally, since you’ve been kind enough to take the time to read my pitch for our birthday event, please click on this link to secure a special discount on tickets – and I look forward to spending time with you in Chicago next month!

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