Just one week after wrapping up my WE internship and joining the agency full time, I was invited to attend last weekend’s Create & Cultivate conference hosted at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, WA. Create & Cultivate is an organization for women to create and cultivate the career of their dreams. As a woman just getting started in her career, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Create & Cultivate aimed to cause social buzz and they delivered. The space was stunning, prompting nearly everyone to go nuts on their social media channels. Not only did the volume of #CreateCultivateSEA posts impress, but powerful influencers like Kate Arends (Wit & Delight) and Emily Drewry (Forbes) raved about the experience on their platforms. Celebrity keynotes by Brooklyn Decker, Issa Rae and Mandy Moore rounded out the incredible day. After an insightful day, I found my five PR takeaways from the conference.
- “Creative is not an add-on”: WE’s creative director, Anne Alo, sat in on the “Detail Oriented” panel to discuss the business of design. Other speakers included bloggers and Amanda Manna of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. She discussed one of the benefits brands have from implementing technology by explaining how “physical and digital really have come together.” Amanda talked about how a digital VR experience brings customers into a Lowe’s store where the consumer connects with people again. So technology is the catalyst that facilitated human connection.
When asked how to maintain your brand’s creative vision when partnering with other brands, Anne talked about her love/hate relationship with partnerships. She explained that WE translates the conversation between brands and influencers. It was an expert way of explaining the intricate business we operate in every day.
Anne wowed the audience with her assertion that “if you delete creative from the world, it would be boring.” Knowing her audience of creatives, Anne reminded listeners that creative is not an add-on; it is an integral part of brand success. Without creativity, we would have nothing innovative or inspiring to offer clients. This is a key takeaway I’ll take with me as I grow in the PR industry.
- Experiential or bust: The name of the game was experience. If a brand wasn’t offering a promotion or opportunity to engage, it went unnoticed at C&C. However, it was nearly impossible to miss Microsoft’s presence because we were invited into their home (full disclosure: Microsoft is a WE client). Attendees got to experience a small portion of campus and visualize the magnitude of the corporation. In addition to hosting C&C, Microsoft sponsored the main stage and offered interactive experiences for guests. Women were invited to test out Surface features, the Surface Hub and an Office 365 photo booth. Through these experiences, it’s clear that Microsoft has products and tools for every millennial whether they work for a large company or are a freelancer. Aside from Microsoft, guests could take headshots with GoDaddy, enjoy mocktails with La Croix and get makeup touchups at the Nordstrom Beauty booth. These engaging experiences kept us entertained through a 10 hour day and elevated brand reputation.
- Put your brand on repeat: Perhaps the strongest brand presence at C&C was La Croix (go figure). No one could resist the free totes, mocktails, custom calligraphy artwork, stickers, photo booth and hat. La Croix. Was. Everywhere. The company refused to let a single attendee leave without interacting with the brand in one way or another, and at the end of the day La Croix was engrained in your brain like having a song stuck in your head. Because all attendees took a piece of the brand with them, the company was able to extend its impact beyond the day. La Croix was so in-your-face and we loved it.
- Execute the Trend: The Simon G. Jewelry booth was impossible to miss with its breathtaking floral wall. My Instagram senses started tingling and I was immediately captured by the glamorous products. Simon G. also offered free piercings in the afternoon, which I would have gladly participated in. Naturally, the line was ungodly so I had to pass. But what was notable was the brand’s capitalization on the floral wall trend. They knew the audience has a soft spot for pretty things. Many tried, but Simon G. came out on top.
- Get people to say your name: Our client The Mine made a strong impression at C&C as a sponsor. They sponsored one of two event stages, had President Michelle Newbery speak and offered up a cozy pop-up booth. But the star of the show was Finn, the company dog. Nobody can resist an adorable furry friend, so the Mine made good use of their pride and joy. Because there were only two speaker stages, the Mine came up in conversation often when attendees referred to where they were going. Forcing attendees to reference the brand was an expert way of building brand awareness.
Connect with the author, Lauren Cole, on LinkedIn and Twitter.