Context is Queen: Key Takeaways from In2 Innovation Summit North America

Emily Holt

For years, PR and Marketing professionals have come to embrace the mantra that “content is king.” At In2 Innovation Summit New York though, her majesty Context – also known as “the queen” – reigned supreme. Particularly in how leaders have been embracing social/digital tech solutions to tell a more detailed story to their audiences in a climate focused on finding purpose.

integrated marketing and PRAs we live in a more technology pervasive society – where AR, VR and more are becoming part of our daily communications tool kit – the ability to provide a deeper, connected understanding to the core value and message that we offer has never been greater. It’s also never presented more challenges to ensure that said message doesn’t get lost in a sea of +1s, likes and other flashy add-ons.

When it comes down to it, the ability for a brand to engage and influence its audience has everything to do with context. Context is derived by harnessing data to better understand the moments in which your audiences are viewing your message. Having this information is critical to determining what you say and how you want to say it. Context also gives you the credibility to lend your brand’s voice to societal, political, emotional and controversial issues without losing authenticity – a key measure in how consumers evaluate and connect with brands.

At the New York In2 Innovation Summit, we heard from companies including Ben and Jerry’s, GE, Microsoft and American Greetings along with industry pundits and analysts including David Kirkpatrick, Teddy Goff and Joanna O’Connell. While the conversations and topics varied, what became evident is that the future of technology needs to center around providing context to fuel and foster customer engagements.

As communicators, it is our responsibility to leverage technology and data to establish a layer of trust with our customers. Trust is earned when brands engage with the intent and ability to impact a situation, not for the sake of engagement – and context is the change maker.

GE chief communications officer Deirdre Latour laid it on the line when she said, “I think there’s a realization that reputation is vital to the company’s ability to operate and that reputation can be damaged very easily. I would say that if you work for an organization that doesn’t understand the value of reputation, go to work somewhere else.”

As PR practitioners, the main takeaway from In2 Innovation Summit New York is that we need to learn how to be masters of context.

To do this, remember the following:

  • There are three sides to every story – Immerse yourself in the data and details. The more you know about the different points of view, from different audiences and varying sources, the greater your ability to deliver meaningful engagements. People respond best when you expose the full story, not just a great chapter.
  • Think like a consumer – Remember that ultimately, we are consumers in our own right. How do we like to be marketed to? When and where do we feel the most impact? Try hard not to drink the Kool-Aid, but rather use your own experience to help inform the one that you are trying to improve.
  • Purpose is not about posturing – Establishing purpose is not about a way to gain greater Share of Voice or reach a new group of potential buyers. Credibility is established through authenticity. If you are not doing something from a place of caring, you will not be successful.

What were your main takeaways from In2 Innovation Summit New York? Have you mastered the art of context? Share your thoughts with us @PANcomm.

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