This week, PRSA Detroit had another fascinating event about effective storytelling. The event was titled ‘How Communicating Innovation Can Help Companies Stand Out,’ and it had an impressive panel.
- Jodi Brooks, Managing Partner and Tech Practice Lead, Finn Partners
- Jeff Seedman, Senior Partner, Finn Partners
- Greg Schwartz, COO and Co-Founder, StockX
- Sarah Carlson, Senior Manager, Communication, OSRAM Opto Semiconductors
- Heather Monaghan, Communications Manager, Ally Financial
- Mike Ramsey, Research Director, Gartner
There was a great conversation about how companies need to address innovation head on. Mike added that communicators must focus messaging on the problem its company is solving (with it’s product, service, etc.). This approach allows organizations to align with trends and show their value to media. Sarah noted that when it comes to innovation, we live in a ‘what’s next?’ and future-focused society. It’s important that companies have an answer and vision for the future to expand upon with media and all target audiences.
We also discussed how transparency can lead to greater innovation. This transparency can come in many forms like acting on customer feedback and sharing new ideas with leadership. In adopting a transparent policy, internally and externally, companies can thrive.
Reaching the Right Audiences
With a problem-solving mindset, companies need to identify their audiences needs before they even know they have one. This means going the extra mile to understand what your audiences are concerned of or care about. Heather discussed how Ally provides paid time off for their employees to volunteer at nonprofits and as a company, is heavily involved in charitable causes because employees value that as a priority. She also talked about reaching employees effectively via a podcast. They now even have metrics to confirm that people listen most often on their phones (AKA on the go). The podcasts focus on employee interviews and company news – genius!
Detroit is Booming
An uplifting topic that the group kept circling back to is Detroit’s story. Our city’s revitalization is rivaling that of Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley and more. The need for us all to be storytellers and ambassadors for our city is high, and we all have to do our part to incorporate the ‘Detroit story’ into our organizational narratives.
BONUS: Advice to New Pros
The panel shared sage advice for new PR pros, as there were many students from Wayne State University in the audience. These included:
- Focus on your strengths – it’s just as important as sharpening your skills in your weaker areas
- Check your ego at the door and be willing to do anything and everything.
- Intern as much as possible – experience is priceless.
- Be helpful to reporters, so that you can build relationships with them…and always be honest!
- Network network network. Reach out to those you admire and try to get a mentor if you can.
Many thanks to Finn Partners for being our host for this lovely event!
Megan Bonelli (formerly Peterson) is a Senior Account Executive and Franco and a Detroit PRSA board member/blog committee chair.