Be Human: 4 Lessons From xPotomac 2015

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Between the launch of live video streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope in March and recent blow up around the Ashley Madison hack, 2015 has proven how fluid communication has become and how quickly the media can carry a message.

Social media has certainly rendered the communication world a shade of murky gray, making the explosion of creating and distributing content seem untamable in this already loud world.

Last Thursday, the 2015 xPotomac Conference in Washington, D.C. provided attendees with insightful lessons from major industry leaders, including Mark Schaefer, Maddie Grant, Jamie Notter, Jodi Gersh, Jen Nycz-Conner and Andy Gilman.

Discussions touched on the way technology has shaped how we share content, work together, report the news and respond in the midst of a crisis. One theme kept resurfacing throughout the day: we must remind ourselves to be human amidst the constantly changing and evolving communication horizon.

Here we take a deeper dive into each of the speaker’s presentations:

1. Surviving a content tsunami

Mark Schaefer started the day off with a few impressive, yet terrifying content statistics. Did you know that over the next five years, the amount of information on the Internet will increase by 500 percent? If that’s even close to being true, you will have to shift your content marketing strategy.

After comparing the future influx of information to a tsunami, Mark calmed everyone down by reassuring us that The Content Code has all to do with being human and less to do with SEO tactics.

We share content because we want to be the “cool” kid—it’s an extension of our identity. We recommend a funny video or article because we want to make others laugh—it’s an act of kindness or generosity. We share content created by someone we love to follow—it’s all about trusting relationships.

If you want content to take off and go viral, think about emotional storytelling, not necessarily what everyone else is doing. Bring your own unique story.

Want your content to stand out? Click here for outside-the-box content marketing ideas in our free white paper!

2. The rise of millennials and its business impact

During their “When Millennials Take Over” talk, Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter explored how companies need to reassess their culture as the 80 million “digital natives” start to take over upper-level positions.

Per Jamie, your company won’t be successful unless you’re crystal clear on what your culture is and how it will drive success. While there’s no single formula to follow, Maddie and Jamie emphasized the need to let relationship-building drive how decisions are made, who makes them, how fast they’re made and what technology is used as a result.

Examples from their recent book covered how a “no email” culture helped increase one company’s productivity and communication, while a “no call center” solution increased a bank’s customer service.

Employees are the users of a company’s culture, and we must be sure they’re engaged before we can get them to say “I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

3. Serve your audience what they want/need

Jodi Gersh and Jen Nycz-Conner started their panel with a mini timeline of their respective careers and how technology led them to create new positions for themselves.

Stemming from that discussion came a question many parents are familiar with: “How do we get people to eat their vegetables?” To connect and engage with an audience, media outlets must know what vegetables their followers prefer in order to keep them nourished by the news.

A media outlet could try to implement strategies for every new app in the book, but if it’s not serving the right portion or meal, its audience will be left hungry.

4. Preparing for crisis

Andy Gilman ended the day with his crisis communication boot camp. Looking at Marriot’s detailed strategic media wheel, it became perfectly clear how necessary a crisis communication plan is to a company’s everyday success.

Even though responses to flash crises differ greatly from reactions to chronic crises, the key to successful crisis management is keeping the situation from getting worse. “Risk management is so much harder and more expensive today,” says Andy.

Identifying all of the platforms your company will need a strategy for is only the first step. Working as a team and putting an actual face to an issue is what helps divert a crisis from blowing up even more. Targeting your follower’s emotional reaction is essential to solving, or starting, a crisis, while working together as a team is the key to preventing a crisis from taking your company down.

At the end of the day, attendees of the 2015 xPotomac Conference left feeling inspired and refreshed, their brains buzzing with new ideas to bring back home.

Crisis Communication

About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.

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