I was always the kind of kid who loved summer camp. My parents sent me for the first time when I was 7 or 8 years old and the experience stuck. Instead of getting homesick, I kept asking for more and more Kum Bay Yah- time in the mountains. I loved the camaraderie of meeting new friends, experiencing new perspectives and conquering new skills. When I finally outgrew camp and needed a summer job, I became – you guessed it – a Camp Counselor, strapping on a backpack for the next six summers.
That may be why I’m so passionate about Jackson Spalding’s partnership with PROI Worldwide, a global network of best-in-class PR and marketing agencies from all corners of the world. Just a week ago, Jackson Spalding hosted 80 of our PROI partners as we sat around the metaphorical campfire in Atlanta and traded content marketing best practices, industry trends and our best public relations campaigns. This action-packed session featured more eye-opening moments than I can possibly describe in a short blog post. We heard from leaders who direct marketing and PR for top consumer brands. We met the guy in charge of editorial quality control at CNN. We picked up new treasures through idea-sharing sessions. And, we were inspired by some of the best communications campaigns I’ve ever seen.
Here are a few key learnings:
“The story is the content is the story.”
The PR story today is all about content marketing that tells entertaining stories designed to change behaviors. As one partner said, “video is the currency of the web,” but traditional media, and increasingly, online influencers, play supporting roles as visibility channels. Check out this example.
The best ideas are born from a marriage of collaboration and discipline.
To produce great content, you need a blend of skillsets around the table from the start. You won’t get there with a casual brainstorming session. The real jewels come after sifting through days of research to get to the unspoken truth at the heart of the client challenge. Once your team finds this truth, they need a fire-starting idea that illuminates it in an unexpected way.
Customer engagement is key to brand affinity, but how do you connect when attention spans are shrinking to a 3-second swipe on social media platforms?
Tie your brand to an absurd analogy. Design a social experiment to expose a problem. Create a fantasy experience to make your point. There are lots of paths to the holy grail, but you’ve got to bushwhack new territory to get noticed.
New digital marketing technologies are keeping us on track.
Some of our partners see marketing automation as the next frontier to drive leads to clients. Others, like us, are beginning to play with 360 degree video. One partner from Mexico even showed how his funeral home client is gaining an edge by including QR codes linking to life tributes in standard obituaries.
PROI “camp”, like all great camp experiences, didn’t disappoint, despite a few days of rain (that’s not a metaphor – it rained. A lot.) When our farewell lunch rolled around last Sunday, I felt like I always felt at the end of camp. A little sad and a little tired. Enlighted and uplifted. Stronger because of who I know and what I learned through PROI Worldwide.