Thursday, Sept. 19

8:30–9:30 a.m.
Opening keynote

Harness empathy to power your stories and boost your bottom line

A compelling and distinctive story can cut through the cluttered landscape of content and help you define and communicate your organization’s unique attributes. Don’t let technological tools or the plethora of latest trends distract you from the crucial emotional connection you must create with readers. Storytelling has become a powerful business tool in today's digital age because it begins and ends with empathy, driving an immersive and emotional experience for all audiences and stakeholders. Though not every tidbit is a story, an interesting narrative that’s dynamically told can cut to the core of your values and inspire your audience to act. In this interactive opening keynote, Miri Rodriguez, storyteller and head of the global internship program for Microsoft, will share how you can effectively tell your best stories with empathy, along with practical tools to help you become a skilled storyteller.

Head of employee engagement, diversity and inclusion
Microsoft
Read bio
9:40–10:30 a.m.

10:40–11:30 a.m.

Sharing narratives that matter: How activism and storytelling can go hand in hand

It can be intimidating to take part in politically charged conversations and comment on hot-button social issues, but your organization’s beliefs and values can become the center of your business story. More and more consumers are looking to organizations to take stands on important issues, so take a page from the playbook of an ice cream brand that considers itself an “aspiring social justice company.” Sean Greenwood, grand poobah of PR for Ben & Jerry’s, will show how the company speaks out about climate change, criminal justice reform, controversial legislation, racism and more. Through flavors such as “Pecan Resist” and “Empower Mint,” Greenwood will highlight the ways in which the company weaves its mission and purpose into its storytelling efforts, along with how you can bolster your brand voice to include important initiatives alongside news and product launches.

You’ll learn:

  • Considerations for taking part in controversial conversations so you can avoid backlash
  • Tips for partnering with other organizations and people in and outside your community to strengthen your messages and campaigns
  • How to balance your branded tone and voice with social initiatives and corporate social responsibility aims
  • Ways to encourage employees, executives and more to embrace your mission and help you tell your most important stories
Grand poobah of PR
Ben & Jerry’s
Read bio
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Networking lunch

(provided onsite)

12:30–2 p.m.
Interactive session

Transform your stories from ho-hums to high-fives

Everyone can find or craft a good story—all it takes is stretching your storytelling muscles and getting the creative juices flowing. Come ready to dive into this fast-paced, interactive session that will reveal the steps to take to transform your stories from mundane to memorable. Working in groups, you’ll choose a story, brainstorm the elements and deliver a pitch, complete with headline, teaser, key elements, visuals and more—in less than 90 minutes. Put your writer’s cap on: This exercise will move quickly. Award-winning journalist and longtime editor Jim Ylisela will give assignments and work with each group to develop story ideas that are ready for prime time.

In each group, you will:

  • Work with team members to select the best story to pitch
  • Brainstorm reporting needs and “nice to haves”
  • Map out a lead photo and potential use of video and infographics
  • Craft a social media post that will draw a crowd
  • Write a great headline and teaser that will entice clicks
Jim Ylisela
Co-owner and managing partner
Ragan Consulting Group
Read bio
2:10–3 p.m.

3–3:30 p.m.

Networking break

3:30–4:20 p.m.

Give them something to talk about: Content strategies that drive success

Communicators can escape such common pain points as low consumer engagement and lackluster media coverage by unearthing interesting stories and brainstorming content ideas that trump traditional product announcements and corporate “news.” How can you get started—and grab executive approval? Jessica Lange Hollister, director of communications and events for The North Face, will share the secrets of the savvy content strategy that the organization uses to launch successful brand narratives and boost media relations, traditional marketing efforts and communications initiatives.

You’ll learn:

  • How to generate buzzworthy content and ideas that will spark conversation
  • Why content marketing is a shared effort across PR, internal and executive communications, and marketing departments
  • How PR pros can overcome content obstacles and come up with fresh solutions to uncover the stories that must be told
  • Ways content can drive other successes, including media coverage, paid advertising and social media engagement
  • Tips for well-rounded influencer programs and relationships
Director of communications and events
The North Face
Read bio
4:30–5:30 p.m.
Special keynote

Editorial content director
Disney Parks
Read bio
6–8 p.m.

Networking cocktail party

Hosted by Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

Friday, Sept. 20

8:15-9:15 a.m.
opening keynote

The #HiltonEffect: Highlighting impact, accomplishments and the future through the lens of human storytelling

Every organization is creating content nowadays, but are people responding to it? As Hilton celebrates its 100th year as a leader in global hospitality, it’s also building a content strategy centered around people: travelers (both business and leisure), employees and the people of the communities and countries in which Hilton operates.

Lou Dubois, global director of content for Hilton Worldwide, led Hilton’s 100-year-celebration with a storytelling narrative that celebrated not just the company’s gorgeous properties around the world (5,500 and counting in 113 countries and territories), but the people who have helped the organization reach this incredible milestone. He’ll share successes and takeaways from an effort to focus on human stories that transcend borders, languages and cultures. Learn how you can use human-centric storytelling, a global online newsroom strategy, organized archival assets and your biggest brand advocates—your employees—to help achieve content goals, boost your brand image and ultimately help create a smarter and more effective organizational narrative.

Global director of content
Hilton Worldwide
Read bio
9:25-10:15 a.m.

Channel your inner journalist: Secrets for finding and telling strong stories

Creating content that says the same thing as previously published blogs, podcasts and more means that your work will face tall competition out the gate. Plus, does creating something that’s already available to audiences deliver value for readers, viewers and listeners? It is possible to find ideas and produce content that answers questions and identifies trends that others haven’t created. Through best practices and storytelling secrets such as her “chicken test,” Michelle Park Lazette, senior writer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland who worked in newsrooms for roughly a decade, will show you how to uncover stories within your organization that sing—and ways you can best tell them to make a splash.

You’ll learn:

  • Five sources you can regularly mine for truly differentiated story ideas, even when you think your content well is dry
  • A strategy for testing story ideas to be sure they warrant becoming content
  • How to spice up storytelling—even if the content is seemingly dull
  • Tips for thinking like a journalist when selecting and writing your narratives
Senior writer
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Read bio
10:25-11:30 a.m.
Panel

Punch up your social media content with video and visuals

A picture can quickly say a thousand words, and GIFs and videos can relay even more messages in a short time. Visuals are a necessary addition to outstanding storytelling efforts, especially when you’re competing for attention with other social media users and content creators. In this interactive panel, you’ll have the opportunity to ask digital content experts your questions and glean insights on how you can get a jump on relaying your narratives with images and videos instead of walls of text.

You’ll learn:

  • Considerations for tailoring and sharing videos across different social media platforms
  • Rules for shooting and editing video that captures attention, keeping in mind the device your viewer is using
  • Ways to tell your story (and brand mission) through visuals
  • Tips for striking the right tone and voice with your social media content, with or without using words
Social media marketing manager
Vancouver Clinic
Read bio
Editorial content director
Disneyland
Read bio
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Networking lunch

(provided on-site)

12:30–1:20 p.m.

Use data to beef up your content creation efforts and storytelling skills

An interesting fact or startling statistic can capture audiences’ attention and make a compelling story, but your content strategy can benefit in a variety of other ways from gathering analytics and information about your audiences and your efforts. It can ultimately help you deliver your stories to the right people, which in turn can boost your organization’s bottom line, and also help you bolster your brand image and cut down on wasted dollars. Ian Cohen, global head of content and innovation for PayPal, will share takeaways from the company’s Content Center of Excellence and lessons learned from crafting and distributing branded and partner content that resonates.

You’ll learn:

  • Why data is crucial to effective storytelling and outstanding content creation
  • How to use data to target (and retarget) audiences who will help you achieve your goals
  • Ways to move beyond “transactional” content and embrace the human side of storytelling
  • Tips for working with executives and your organization’s subject matter experts to deliver the heart of your best stories to members of the news media
  • How to harness data before, during and after you create a piece of content—and how it fits into a rolling news cycle
Head of global content innovation and creation
PayPal
Read bio
1:30–2:20 p.m.

Boost digital content and online engagement through social media ads

A steady stream of compelling content and interesting stories is crucial to a successful social media strategy. However, the changing algorithms that top social media platforms have implemented mean that even outstanding content can get buried in the timelines of your targeted audiences. To compensate, you can marry your digital content campaigns to your social media ads. James Chong, senior manager of social customer engagement at TOMS, will show you how to combine paid tactics with a constant feed of stories to produce results without blowing your budget.

You’ll learn:

  • How to stand out in crowded online newsfeeds and marketplaces
  • The most effective social media platforms for ads and sponsored content
  • How to build a cost-effective audience targeting strategy online
  • Ways that TOMS boosts engagement (and sales) with promoted social media posts, along with tips for doing the same
Senior manager of social customer engagement
TOMS
Read bio
2:30–3:30 p.m.
Closing keynote

Thursday, Sept. 19

8:30–9:30 a.m. Pacific time
Opening keynote

Harness empathy to power your stories and boost your bottom line

A compelling and distinctive story can cut through the cluttered landscape of content and help you define and communicate your organization’s unique attributes. Don’t let technological tools or the plethora of latest trends distract you from the crucial emotional connection you must create with readers. Storytelling has become a powerful business tool in today's digital age because it begins and ends with empathy, driving an immersive and emotional experience for all audiences and stakeholders. Though not every tidbit is a story, an interesting narrative that’s dynamically told can cut to the core of your values and inspire your audience to act. In this interactive opening keynote, Miri Rodriguez, storyteller and head of the global internship program for Microsoft, will share how you can effectively tell your best stories with empathy, along with practical tools to help you become a skilled storyteller.

Head of employee engagement, diversity and inclusion
Microsoft
Read bio
9:40–10:30 a.m. Pacific time

10:40–11:30 a.m. Pacific time

Sharing narratives that matter: How activism and storytelling can go hand in hand

It can be intimidating to take part in politically charged conversations and comment on hot-button social issues, but your organization’s beliefs and values can become the center of your business story. More and more consumers are looking to organizations to take stands on important issues, so take a page from the playbook of an ice cream brand that considers itself an “aspiring social justice company.” Sean Greenwood, grand poobah of PR for Ben & Jerry’s, will show how the company speaks out about climate change, criminal justice reform, controversial legislation, racism and more. Through flavors such as “Pecan Resist” and “Empower Mint,” Greenwood will highlight the ways in which the company weaves its mission and purpose into its storytelling efforts, along with how you can bolster your brand voice to include important initiatives alongside news and product launches.

You’ll learn:

  • Considerations for taking part in controversial conversations so you can avoid backlash
  • Tips for partnering with other organizations and people in and outside your community to strengthen your messages and campaigns
  • How to balance your branded tone and voice with social initiatives and corporate social responsibility aims
  • Ways to encourage employees, executives and more to embrace your mission and help you tell your most important stories
Grand poobah of PR
Ben & Jerry’s
Read bio
12:30–2 p.m. Pacific time
Interactive session

Transform your stories from ho-hums to high-fives

Everyone can find or craft a good story—all it takes is stretching your storytelling muscles and getting the creative juices flowing. Come ready to dive into this fast-paced, interactive session that will reveal the steps to take to transform your stories from mundane to memorable. Working in groups, you’ll choose a story, brainstorm the elements and deliver a pitch, complete with headline, teaser, key elements, visuals and more—in less than 90 minutes. Put your writer’s cap on: This exercise will move quickly. Award-winning journalist and longtime editor Jim Ylisela will give assignments and work with each group to develop story ideas that are ready for prime time.

In each group, you will:

  • Work with team members to select the best story to pitch
  • Brainstorm reporting needs and “nice to haves”
  • Map out a lead photo and potential use of video and infographics
  • Craft a social media post that will draw a crowd
  • Write a great headline and teaser that will entice clicks
Jim Ylisela
Co-owner and managing partner
Ragan Consulting Group
Read bio
3:30–4:20 p.m. Pacific time

Give them something to talk about: Content strategies that drive success

Communicators can escape such common pain points as low consumer engagement and lackluster media coverage by unearthing interesting stories and brainstorming content ideas that trump traditional product announcements and corporate “news.” How can you get started—and grab executive approval? Jessica Lange Hollister, director of communications and events for The North Face, will share the secrets of the savvy content strategy that the organization uses to launch successful brand narratives and boost media relations, traditional marketing efforts and communications initiatives.

You’ll learn:

  • How to generate buzzworthy content and ideas that will spark conversation
  • Why content marketing is a shared effort across PR, internal and executive communications, and marketing departments
  • How PR pros can overcome content obstacles and come up with fresh solutions to uncover the stories that must be told
  • Ways content can drive other successes, including media coverage, paid advertising and social media engagement
  • Tips for well-rounded influencer programs and relationships
Director of communications and events
The North Face
Read bio
4:30–5:30 p.m. Pacific time
Special keynote

Editorial content director
Disney Parks
Read bio

Friday, Sept. 20

8:15-9:15 a.m. Pacific time
opening keynote

The #HiltonEffect: Highlighting impact, accomplishments and the future through the lens of human storytelling

Every organization is creating content nowadays, but are people responding to it? As Hilton celebrates its 100th year as a leader in global hospitality, it’s also building a content strategy centered around people: travelers (both business and leisure), employees and the people of the communities and countries in which Hilton operates.

Lou Dubois, global director of content for Hilton Worldwide, led Hilton’s 100-year-celebration with a storytelling narrative that celebrated not just the company’s gorgeous properties around the world (5,500 and counting in 113 countries and territories), but the people who have helped the organization reach this incredible milestone. He’ll share successes and takeaways from an effort to focus on human stories that transcend borders, languages and cultures. Learn how you can use human-centric storytelling, a global online newsroom strategy, organized archival assets and your biggest brand advocates—your employees—to help achieve content goals, boost your brand image and ultimately help create a smarter and more effective organizational narrative.

Global director of content
Hilton Worldwide
Read bio
9:25-10:15 a.m. Pacific time

Channel your inner journalist: Secrets for finding and telling strong stories

Creating content that says the same thing as previously published blogs, podcasts and more means that your work will face tall competition out the gate. Plus, does creating something that’s already available to audiences deliver value for readers, viewers and listeners? It is possible to find ideas and produce content that answers questions and identifies trends that others haven’t created. Through best practices and storytelling secrets such as her “chicken test,” Michelle Park Lazette, senior writer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland who worked in newsrooms for roughly a decade, will show you how to uncover stories within your organization that sing—and ways you can best tell them to make a splash.

You’ll learn:

  • Five sources you can regularly mine for truly differentiated story ideas, even when you think your content well is dry
  • A strategy for testing story ideas to be sure they warrant becoming content
  • How to spice up storytelling—even if the content is seemingly dull
  • Tips for thinking like a journalist when selecting and writing your narratives
Senior writer
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Read bio
10:25-11:30 a.m. Pacific time
Panel

Punch up your social media content with video and visuals

A picture can quickly say a thousand words, and GIFs and videos can relay even more messages in a short time. Visuals are a necessary addition to outstanding storytelling efforts, especially when you’re competing for attention with other social media users and content creators. In this interactive panel, you’ll have the opportunity to ask digital content experts your questions and glean insights on how you can get a jump on relaying your narratives with images and videos instead of walls of text.

You’ll learn:

  • Considerations for tailoring and sharing videos across different social media platforms
  • Rules for shooting and editing video that captures attention, keeping in mind the device your viewer is using
  • Ways to tell your story (and brand mission) through visuals
  • Tips for striking the right tone and voice with your social media content, with or without using words
Social media marketing manager
Vancouver Clinic
Read bio
Editorial content director
Disneyland
Read bio
12:30–1:20 p.m. Pacific time

Use data to beef up your content creation efforts and storytelling skills

An interesting fact or startling statistic can capture audiences’ attention and make a compelling story, but your content strategy can benefit in a variety of other ways from gathering analytics and information about your audiences and your efforts. It can ultimately help you deliver your stories to the right people, which in turn can boost your organization’s bottom line, and also help you bolster your brand image and cut down on wasted dollars. Ian Cohen, global head of content and innovation for PayPal, will share takeaways from the company’s Content Center of Excellence and lessons learned from crafting and distributing branded and partner content that resonates.

You’ll learn:

  • Why data is crucial to effective storytelling and outstanding content creation
  • How to use data to target (and retarget) audiences who will help you achieve your goals
  • Ways to move beyond “transactional” content and embrace the human side of storytelling
  • Tips for working with executives and your organization’s subject matter experts to deliver the heart of your best stories to members of the news media
  • How to harness data before, during and after you create a piece of content—and how it fits into a rolling news cycle
Head of global content innovation and creation
PayPal
Read bio
1:30–2:20 p.m. Pacific time

Boost digital content and online engagement through social media ads

A steady stream of compelling content and interesting stories is crucial to a successful social media strategy. However, the changing algorithms that top social media platforms have implemented mean that even outstanding content can get buried in the timelines of your targeted audiences. To compensate, you can marry your digital content campaigns to your social media ads. James Chong, senior manager of social customer engagement at TOMS, will show you how to combine paid tactics with a constant feed of stories to produce results without blowing your budget.

You’ll learn:

  • How to stand out in crowded online newsfeeds and marketplaces
  • The most effective social media platforms for ads and sponsored content
  • How to build a cost-effective audience targeting strategy online
  • Ways that TOMS boosts engagement (and sales) with promoted social media posts, along with tips for doing the same
Senior manager of social customer engagement
TOMS
Read bio
2:30–3:30 p.m. Pacific time
Closing keynote