OK picture this. One day you're sitting in a college lecture trying to wrap your brain around the industry you're being called to work in. A wide-eyed student in the early phase of transitioning to a young professional. Associating your professor's deadlines with your future boss' deadlines, and doing everything you can to raise that GPA another tenth of a point before graduation.
Fast-forward a couple months after you've managed to land a stellar job at a sharp, fast-paced digital agency called Wieck, and take a moment to realize your life as a public relations grad and communications enthusiast is about to change for the better.
If you think this sounds like a personal story, you hit the nail right on the head. I'm one of the newest members of the Wieck team, and I'm going to tell you why the first couple months at my job were an actual dream come true.
I'll be the first to admit I didn't fully know what I was getting myself into when I began the interview process at Wieck. I quickly came to learn one of the cool things about this company: we sit in an overlooked yet vital sector of the public relations industry by providing digital content platforms and other underlying technologies to those who need it. It can be a difficult concept to grasp from the outside looking in, but a few weeks of hands-on experience here taught me things I wouldn't have learned in the classroom.
Any sizable organization needs an online newsroom to house its press material. Before working at Wieck I was blind to the constant effort and manpower it takes to keep a website of this magnitude in pristine shape. Our developers have the ability to build and design one from the ground up, and our Editorial Desk Team manages each piece of content that goes onto the site. This is a good place to explain where I fit in the picture.
I started at Wieck during the summer of 2016. My role is hybrid, meaning I work in more than one area for the company. Part of my time is spent managing clients' content as a member of our Editorial Desk Team, and the other portion of my time is spent creating social content like this blog to tell Wieck's story. Remember when I said the first couple months at my job were a dream come true? Here's where the plot thickens.
It was undeniably a great day when my boss (enter Tim Roberts, CEO - stage left) emailed me to ask if I had a passport.
The only problem I have with traveling is that I haven't done nearly enough of it. I can now check the beautiful city of London off my bucket list as a result of my first business trip, although it felt fun enough to be a vacation.
First on the agenda upon arrival in London was the IPR (Institute for Public Relations) Research Symposium. Wieck is the Official Technology Partner of IPR. At this event experts in the field discussed the latest insights around internal communication, social media and behavioral studies. Each of the seven speakers had an interesting perspective to share on work within their organizations and recent case studies they've been immersed in. Conducting research in this profession is key. Data insight leads to better decision making when it comes to stakeholder relations.
Wieck is the primary technology partner for The Arthur W. Page Society, a humbly elite group of some of the world's best and most strategic communicators. The remainder of my time in London (after some mandatory sight-seeing of course) was spent at the 33rd Page Society Annual Conference, an experience I will never forget. It was a privilege to be invited as a member of the Wieck team to help with this distinguished event, and to be in the presence of those whose careers I admire.
"The mission of the Page Society is to strengthen the enterprise leadership role of the chief communications officer (CCO). We advocate for the Page Principles, which we believe should guide communicators in their practice. Promoting truthfulness, being mindful of stakeholders’ interests, and ensuring the enterprise behaves responsibly are crucial jobs for the CCO." - Eliot Mizrachi, Vice President, Communications & Thought Leadership - The Arthur W. Page Society
The theme of this year's conference, "Clash of Empires: Building Bridges in a Divided World," set the tone for a series of eloquent speakers who discussed issues and advancements in corporate purpose and civil leadership. Global affairs have divided the world to say the least. Professional communicators have an obligation to assist in bridging these divides, even when the task seems unimaginable.
Three days with these PR industry giants is like a condensed MBA course…
Shortly after the conference commenced, Martin Wolf (Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times) filled the room with a somber aura as he addressed the profound social and economic impacts of Brexit. He attributed the current demise of the EU to a permanent crash in the workforce, lack of innovation and a serious demand problem. This didn't leave much room for optimism, but for leading communicators and change-makers this dialogue was necessary.
Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever) and Richard Curtis (screenwriter, producer and film director) both advocate for The Global Goals for Sustainable Development, a list of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by the year 2030. These sessions encouraged businesses and individuals to be something bigger than themselves, and to be part of the answer to the complicated problems in the world. It was inspiring to be part of a discussion concerning real issues with tangible solutions.
"Brands need to embrace their social purpose and use their skills to drive transformative change." - Paul Polman
Stacey Tank (VP, Corporate Communications & External Affairs, Home Depot) and Andy Whitehouse (VP, Global Communications & CCO, IBM) joined the many other thought-provoking presentations by explaining the importance of digital engagement and elevated storytelling.
Tank advised CCOs to act as builders of digital engagement systems to bring new meaning to reputation management. When your company is digitally tapped in with advanced technology and creative ideas it will bring a keen understanding of what's being said about your brand. Wieck's Social Media Listening Center enables this level of digital engagement. We filter through massive amounts of information on the web to find relevant data for your company's proactive reputation management purposes.
The 33rd Page Society Annual Conference concluded with a panel discussion from the leaders at U.S. Steel Corporation, Mario Longhi (CEO), Suzanne Folsom (General Counsel) and Kelly Gannon (CCO). On their pursuit to make a compelling case for fair trade, they devised a communication strategy to educate and involve stakeholders. This proved to be imperative for the winning of a landmark trade case, which sets an example for organizations big or small.
"None of this is rocket science. It's all about relationships and communication." - Suzanne Folsom
I was honored to attend this event as a representative for my new employer and learn from the industry's best. The Arthur W. Page Society is doubtlessly invested in the present and future of public relations.
"We produce groundbreaking thought leadership that is advancing the body of knowledge around issues like public trust and reputation. Wieck’s ongoing support of our technology initiatives has been crucial to our ability to operate as an effective membership organization and to achieve our mission." -Eliot Mizrachi
I returned home from London with a new vigor and fresh prospective on building bridges in a divided world. The upcoming 4th Annual Page Up Conference in San Francisco will encourage more relevant dialogue for professional communicators.