Imagine mingling with like-minded communications professionals in a commodious conference room in DocuSign’s San Francisco headquarters, where a wall-sized window admits the vast expanse of the San Francisco Bay into view. Throughout the evening, you partake in tasty hors d’oeuvres while sharing each other’s best practices in marketing and internal communications.

Sound appealing? This was precisely the vibe at the recent SF IABC event, Make Your Brand Sizzle Not Fizzle, an interactive occasion where five facilitators held their own stations and topics of discussion. Attendees stopped by each station for timed, 20-minute intervals to exchange ideas on the respective topic at hand.

The Facilitators and Their Topics

 Kristie King: Planning for Crisis

Kristie is a Senior Communication Specialist at CSAA Insurance Group (a AAA insurer), and VP of Channel Strategy for SF IABC. As part of her role at CSAA, Kristie leads a cross-functional catastrophe communication response process for large insurance policyholder events like the wildfires in Shasta and Butte counties in 2018 and the North Bay fires in 2017. Connect with Kristie.

 Sean McGill: Using Video to Power Your Brand

Sean is the U.S. Business Director at 90 Seconds and VP of Membership for SF IABC. Sean’s more than 20 years of video experience includes producing live video streaming and produced content for the Olympics, red carpet premieres, multiple Super Bowls, NBA and MLB All-Star Games, concerts, the Tour de France, major trade shows, conferences, corporate town halls and product launches. Connect with Sean.

Nic Pearce: A Brand Is No Longer About the Words: Moving To the Era of Socrates 2.0

Nic is an independent advisor, experienced CEO and business leader. He has more than 30 years of global sales, marketing and communication experience across four continents for some of the world’s most successful companies. Throughout his career, he’s touched on nearly every facet of marketing and communications. Connect with Nic.

Shineh Rhee: Getting Buy-In for Your New Brand: A Complex Re-Branding Journey

Shineh is the Senior Communications Manager at Alluma (formally Social Interest Solutions), a social tech nonprofit creating better solutions for health and human services. Shineh is a social change strategist, accelerating progress through the power of smart communications. She currently directs communications at Alluma and launched the organization’s complete rebrand in the summer of 2019. Connect with Shineh.

Paul Rosenfeld: Building the Foundation of a Great Brand

Paul is the Chief Marketing Officer at Keap, a leading CRM and marketing automation software company for small businesses. Paul has held executive leadership positions for over 25 years with notable brands such as American Express and Intuit. He’s also led marketing teams for five startups. Connect with Paul.

Special shout outs to Jeff Leslie for securing the meeting space at DocuSign and for giving everyone a free, one-year DocuSign subscription and to Tyana Harte for organizing the event!

Digging Deep

At the end of the evening, everyone shared the best tips and insights of the night. Here are just a few:

  1. Use a motivator (carrot) to elicit behavior change.
  2. Brand your change management team to increase recognition and buy-in for their initiatives.
  3. The larger the company, the harder it is to keep the corporate culture strong, which makes it all the more important to have a strong communications strategy in place.
  4. You can’t prepare for every crisis, but you can and should have a plan that includes a process for the continued response once the crisis ends.
  5. While you can’t plan for every crisis (as noted above), create pre-approved legal statements for those you can. That way, your response is released in a timely manner when a crisis happens.
  6. It was posited — based on industry buzz — that 90 percent of decisions are influenced by emotions. With that in mind, creating compelling content means writing content that stirs emotions to ultimately inspire action.
  7. In light of social media, today’s communications are more about holding a two-way dialogue rather than a one-sided soliloquy. It’s important to listen to and respond to today’s audience, not talk at them.
  8. The best brands stand for one big idea. What’s yours?
  9. As visual communication takes over the written word, brevity trumps quality. Today’s audience wants details in short, snackable instances that create a trail of information, rather than all of the information in one lump sum, which makes it harder to swallow.
  10. Can your brand pass a torture test? Create a scenario where you can test whether it can actually do what it claims.

What do you think? We’d like to hear about your experiences employing these practices. Share your comments below!

And if you missed this SF IABC event, catch the next one, also sure to engender inspiration and new relationships!