Ann Curry highlights final day of 2019 ColorComm Conference

The conclusion of the sixth-annual event also featured counsel on tech and talent from 2019 PRWeek Power List honorees.

Journalist Ann Curry at ColorComm 2019. (Photo credit: Gideon Fidelzeid)
Journalist Ann Curry at ColorComm 2019. (Photo credit: Gideon Fidelzeid)

MIAMI: "Our ability to communicate is what makes humans special," said award-winning journalist Ann Curry as she described what inspired her to pursue her chosen career during the closing keynote of the ColorComm Conference 2019. "Journalism is church."

As a prominent Asian-American reporter, Curry said she accepts being a role model to all women of color aspiring to reach the top of their profession.

"If you’re mindful that your success helps others," she noted, "you get superpowers."

When asked about her well-publicized 2012 departure from NBC’s Today, as well as her exit from the network in 2015, Curry got a bit emotional.

"I’ve always loved and tried to be of service to the people who watch me," she shared. "Even when covering some of the hardest stories of my career, that gave me strength. It still does."

During a fireside chat with Burger King CMO Fernando Machado, the 2019 PRWeek Power List honoree opined on a miscalculation some marketers make.

"Marketers tend to jump into technology without thinking about whether it will actually help them," he said. "First figure out the problem you’re trying to solve. Then figure out if technology, and what technology platform, will solve it."

He also noted that while brands tend to get excited every time they introduce a new tech offering, that euphoria is not automatically shared by customers.

Brands laud themselves every time they create an app, but "everyone has cool apps," noted Machado. "My job is to come up with the great idea to make consumers care about ours."

Another responsibility he said he embraces is the need to prove his team’s bottom-line impact.

"My ultimate goal is to be an Olympic athlete on connecting creativity to business results," said Machado, who studied mechanical engineering before pondering a marketing career. "It allowed me to combine my interest in math and art."

Some of PR’s top leaders also took center stage. In Creating Allies & Advocates, a trio of agency heads championed the importance of inclusiveness and equity.

"Inclusiveness is not controlled at the top," explained Margery Kraus, founder and executive chairman of APCO Worldwide. "It must come from all individuals. And equity is not just about advancement. It’s about [employee] ownership."

Melissa Waggener Zorkin, global CEO and founder of WE Communications and a 2019 PRWeek Power List honoree, advised, "You need to build a place where everyone’s differences become the overall company’s superpower."

In terms of ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce, Weber Shandwick North America president Sara Gavin noted, "If we aren’t equal in how we bring people together, we are not taking advantage of the great work everyone is doing."

A quintet of Circle Award winners also returned to address the 500-plus-strong delegation.

Combs Enterprises president Dia Simms challenged everyone to "introduce new stimuli to become your best self. Otherwise, you are training yourself to be complacent."

The crowd roared when April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, repeated a quote from Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968: "If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

And when asked the most important quality to being an inclusive leader, Porter Novelli’s Soon Mee Kim, EVP of global diversity and inclusion, suggested, "People don’t care what you know until they know that you care."

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