Corporate strategy, content and philanthropy top discussions at the World Business Forum

December 2, 2015

By Zach Wallens, Specialist, Global Disclosure & Financial Reporting Services

Whether you’re an account executive at a boutique PR firm or a senior investor relations officer (IRO) for a Fortune 500 company, storytelling is likely among your most fundamental job functions. All companies, regardless of their industry, have long communicated stories to customers, investors, internal stakeholders and media. As we adopt various digital technologies, the platforms on which these narratives are consumed continues to change. To thrive in this evolving environment, we can often learn from those who are truly innovators –business leaders, entertainers or, sometimes, people whose profession falls somewhere in between.Panel-7-Herminia-IbarraEarlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the World Business Forum in New York, where, for two days, thousands of executives from around the globe gathered to absorb knowledge from some of the world’s most renowned innovators. With a lineup of speakers that included Herminia Ibarram the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning, and Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s Vice President, Global Marketing Solutions, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, the conference certainly provided the audience with thought-provoking business ideas, stories and laughs. The theme of this year’s conference was storytelling – specifically, how and why companies should disseminate their unique, compelling stories.

The event hosted by World of Business Ideas (WOBI), and its speakers lectured about wide-ranging topics, and some, in particular, are of definite interest to Business Wire clients. Here are the top business trends and strategies discussed during the conference:

  1. Brands must communicate their stories using several platforms and multimedia is no longer optional

Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. news releases. blogs, email campaigns. In today’s business world, nearly all PR and marketing professionals are familiar with these storytelling channels. However, there is a distinct difference between distributing content via various platforms, and having high audience engagement. According to Facebook’s Carolyn Everson, successful brands don’t just tell their stories, they show them to consumers.Panel-9-Carolyn-Everson“Billions of photos are shared and uploaded, now we’re seeing an explosion of video. Eight billion video views a day on Facebook alone. Every time we estimate video growth, we under estimate it,” Everson said. “Brands love to tell their stories through sight, sound and motion.”

Because mobile devices and apps are such an integral part of consumers’ lives and purchasing decisions, companies must also consider how they can integrate these platforms with their core products, Everson said, noting that Facebook now adheres to a “mobile first” philosophy.

Kevin Spacey echoed many of Everson’s points, particularly her message about businesses needing to convey their stories using new platforms. He also stated producing the best content is still the most important.Panel-13-Kevin-Spacey

“What is it that really elevates these companies to be able to hover above the competition? I tell you, it is the story they are able to communicate, and when we tell better stories, our businesses have a better chance to provide a memorable experience and achieve success,” said Spacey, an Academy Award winner and star of Netflix’s first original show, House of Cards.

“The good news is,” Spacey continued, “with the emergence of new tools and new technology, I think there has actually never been a better moment to make vivid stories that stand out from the crowd.

“The storytellers who thrive are the ones who understand how to use these platforms to elevate their stories.”

Storytelling and content creation were two of the major topics throughout the conference, but other presenters, each from a different industry, spoke more about developing a corporate culture, collaboration and philanthropy.

  1. To build a successful, innovative company, it’s imperative that executives invest in their employees and promote a collaborative work environment.

Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, stated that for organizations to achieve sustainable success, companies must invest in their employees, through salary raises, wellness programs and affordable health benefits.Panel-11-Mark-BertoliniAccording to Bertolini, human capital is a company’s scarcest resource, and the ability to maintain engaged, front-line employees is vital to success within any industry. This sentiment was reiterated by Walter Isaacson, who has written biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. Jobs, Isaacson said, once told him that the team at Apple was the most important product he ever built.

Isaacson further discussed the lessons he gained writing about the world’s most celebrated innovators, and he centered on the necessity for leaders to encourage collaboration among employees. “Innovation relies on collaboration,” he said. “It takes teams of people, rubbing up against each other, to make true imagination into real innovation.”Panel-12-Walter-Isaacson (1)Several of the speakers, including Richard Branson, said that successful business leaders hire employees who are better than themselves. The Virgin Group founder also wasn’t shy about his hatred of ties, his belief that employees’ dressing comfortably spurs creativity, and that Virgin’s corporate culture is an important part of its achievements.

“All a company is, is a group of people,” Branson said. “What sets Virgin Atlantic off against British Airways is the people on the plane, it’s their attitude. So we try to find leaders from other companies who genuinely love people.”

  1. To meet climate change and global development goals, the business community must get more involved.

Branson and Everson each spoke extensively about the philanthropic endeavors of Virgin and Facebook, respectively. The business community, Branson said, has made significant progress in its aim to curtail climate change and develop impoverished countries, but much more is still required.Panel-10-Sir-Richard-Bronson“If business people can join with politicians and social workers and adopt programs, and we’ll have enormous fun overcoming those problems, I really do think we can overcome most of the problems of this world so that our children and grandchildren can have as wonderful life as we’ve all had,” he said.

Everson cited Facebook’s internet.org, an initiative to provide internet access to the more than four billion people without it. Solving this problem, she said, would advance education, healthcare and business in developing nations.

“We believe connectivity is also a human right,” Everson said. “Because we can’t leave four billion people behind as we all continue to have access to information at our fingertips.”

You can see why Business Wire was thrilled to be a media sponsor for this event. These business tips and strategies were the main takeaways from the World Business Forum. Most interesting was that even with speakers from highly different industries and backgrounds, many shared similar opinions regarding the importance of storytelling and of embracing new content platforms. This advice holds especially true for PR and IR professionals, who must regularly communicate their companies’ stories, in press releases, videos and/or social posts. Brands are constantly telling stories to a wide array of audiences, and as the event’s speakers stressed, multimedia distributed over multiple platforms is essential for an effective communications strategy.

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Note:  Scribed images courtesy of @LudicCreatives. To learn more about visual scribing, rich pictures and infographics, visit their website at www.ludiccreatives.com.


Buy Commemorative Pins at the 2012 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting

May 1, 2012

It’s that time of year again! Business Wire is again headed to the Annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting in Omaha. As always, we’ll be selling a great item at our booth to support a great cause. This year, we’re selling commemorative Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting pins. Check them out:

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting Commemorative Pins. Ooooh, shiny.:)

Pins will sell for $3 each, or 2 pins for $5, and all proceeds will once again benefit CASA of Douglas County, Neb. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a charitable organization that provides a voice for abused and neglected children within the court system.

So if you’re at the show, stop by our booth & say “Hello”, buy a pin and support a great cause!


Business Wire Gives Back: San Francisco Tech Staffers Volunteer at Alameda County Food Bank

July 29, 2011

by Ann Bennett-Beals, Senior Software Engineer

As part of the Business Wire 50th Anniversary Give Back program, a group of Business Wire software developers and testers from the San Francisco office ventured out to Oakland, California for a memorable volunteer effort at the Alameda County Food Bank on the last Friday in June.

BW SF tech staffers (L-R): Sreelatha Chandra, Gilbert Vahanian, Ann Bennett-Beals & Judith Zeichner

We were all revved up to sort and package fresh produce for thousands of low income and hungry residents at the new volunteer center.  It was a huge warehouse filled with thousands of pounds of food that needed to be prepared for delivery to more than 275 food pantries, churches and agencies around the bay area.  The food bank distributes enough food for 300,000 meals each week and serves one in six residents of which 43% are children and teens (source: www.accfb.org).

The crew went to work bagging more than 2,500 pounds of carrots during the morning shift and 1,500 pounds of onions during the afternoon shift.  By the end of the day we had our fill of physical work but we enjoyed giving back to the community thanks to Business Wire’s generous gift of sharing. 

Volunteers for this wonderful event were Sr. Software Engineers Ann Bennett-Beals & Gilbert Vahanian,  Quality Assurance Manager Judith Zeichner, News System Developers Anastassia Sytnik & Sreelatha Chandra,  HQ Developers Almon Tang & Mariam Rajabi and Web Support Specialist Sahn Vong. Thanks, team!

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In honor of its 50th Anniversary, Business Wire is giving back by providing each of its 500+ employees up to 12 hours of paid time off in 2011 to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice. Read more about what BW employees are doing to give back.

Find out more about the Alameda County Community Food Bank.


Business Wire Gives Back: Teaching Piano to Share Love for the Arts

June 23, 2011

by Amy Yen, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire Los Angeles

Marketing Specialist Amy Yen teaches piano to Lourdes Mack for CoachArt

For the past 18 months, I’ve been volunteering with CoachArt, a Los Angeles based organization that improves the quality of life for children and adolescents with chronic and life-threatening illnesses by providing free, personal lessons in the arts and athletics. CoachArt students are matched with a volunteer coach and receive private lessons one hour a week for ten weeks at a time. Lessons can include art, cooking, dance, music and athletics, depending on the student’s interests.

I’ve taught computer graphics and art in the past, but for our 50th Anniversary BW Gives Back program, I’m teaching piano to eight-year-old Lourdes Mack from Culver City. It’s been a challenge since I haven’t played piano in years. In fact, my parents sold our piano when I left for college. CoachArt is loaning Lourdes a keyboard for the duration of the sessions, and I’ve been using a piano app on my iPad to prep for our lessons.

So far, we’ve been learning a mixture of classics like “Ode to Joy” and Disney favorites like “Someday My Prince Will Come.” It’s been a joy teaching Lourdes, whose positive attitude is an inspiration. I was lucky to have seven years of piano lessons growing up and am happy to share a little of what I learned, especially with a student as deserving and eager as Lourdes.

In honor of its 50th Anniversary, Business Wire is giving back by providing each of its 500+ employees up to 12 hours of paid time off in 2011 to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice. Read more about what BW employees are doing to give back.

Read more about CoachArt and check out Lourdes’s blog.


Get Your Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting Souvenir Pennies and Passports!

May 3, 2011

We’re just back from Omaha and the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting. It was Business Wire’s  fifth meeting as a Berkshire Hathaway company and each year seems to get better and better.

It’s safe to say that the souvenir pennies we brought to the show, run through our exclusive penny press machine, were a runaway smash hit at this year’s meeting, where we sold more than 200 sets of four commemorative coins in souvenir passport holders. (This year’s meeting theme? Planes, trains and automobiles!) We raised money for a very important charity, CASA of Douglas County, Nebraska, an organization that provides a voice for abused and neglected children within the court system.

If you were unable to attend the event, or otherwise would like to buy a set, you’re in luck! Send us your $5 CASA donation in the mail and in return, you’ll get a set of all four smashed pennies in a souvenir passport holder. To order, email BHMeeting@businesswire.com and let us know how many sets you want and where we should send them to, and then put a check (made payable to: CASA) in the mail to:

ATTN: BH COINS
Business Wire
12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1000
Los Angeles, CA 90025


Business Wire Gives Back for 50th Anniversary

February 15, 2011

In the grand tradition of our founder, Lorry Lokey, & of course, Warren Buffett, chairman of our parent company Berkshire Hathaway, this year, Business Wire is giving back to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

We are setting a goal of 5,000 hours of community service for our 500+ employees in 2011. Each employee will given up to 12 hours of paid time off to volunteer at the nonprofit of their choice, with the goal that together, we can give back at least 5,000 hours to the communities in all 32 markets where we have local bureaus. In addition, Business Wire will continue to match charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations, as it has done for more than 10 years.

We are proud to be following in the footsteps of Warren Buffett, who is a founder of The Giving Pledge, along with Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Founded in 2010, The Giving Pledge encourages wealthy individuals worldwide to give the majority of their fortunes back to society. Our founder, Lorry Lokey, is also part of The Giving Pledge, and has already demonstrated a tradition of giving, particularly to education.

All of us here at Business Wire hope to uphold their example as we celebrate our 50 years of service to the communications industry this year. Be sure to check back here and at our Facebook page for updates throughout the year on our progress toward 5,000 hours given back!


Twitter Lessons Learned at the Berkshire Hathaway Meeting

May 6, 2009

Last weekend’s Berkshire Hathaway tweeting provided us a great communications laboratory with several lessons learned.  Talk about a case study in multiplatforms and social media.  Here’s what happened:

Last summer, Leigh Fatzinger of OMV in Seattle began following Business Wire on Twitter.  Like many companies, we jumped on  Twitter, but nobody really owned the feed and updates were few.  It’s different now, but then, no one actively tweeted, so Leigh “unfollowed” us.

OUCH. That’s like saying:  “Take me off your mailing list.”

Leigh Fatziner of Seattle

Leigh Fatzinger

But it’s OK.  On Thursday, April 30 at 9:16 AM Central Daylight Time, we posted our plans to tweet live from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting.   In that blog post, we invited people to follow us on Twitter. Those who did would be entered in a random drawing to win a set of  collectable Warren Buffett posters available only at the meeting.

On Friday, May 1, at 1:58 PM, Lauren Linscheid in Business Wire’s Seattle office touted the blog post, “How Tweet It is to Attend the Berkshire Hathaway meeting,” in an email blast.

Leigh saw the email.   “I thought that was a really good headline,” said Leigh, “so I clicked on it and read all the way through to the bottom and learned about the contest.”  At 2:49 PM, Leigh began “following” us again.

On May 5, we picked Leigh’s name randomly from the 243 new followers we harvested from the contest.  We searched him online and tried to call, but the phone number we retrieved was faulty. At 11:20 AM, we followed him on Twitter and sent him the following direct message:
“Leigh, Monika Maeckle from @businesswire here.  Trying to reach u re: Warren Buffett posters u won.  Please call @ 210.527.9100. Gracias.”
I was concerned about doing this via email or Twitter because I thought Leigh might think it was dumb “You have won!” spam.  But Leigh called me within 10 minutes, we had a great conversation, and we are sending him the posters as we speak.
This is a great example of how Twitter works as one cog in the marketing wheel–which in this case utilized a press release, several blog posts, multiple emails, Twitter posts, lots of hyperlinks all around–and the good ol’ fashioned telephone.  It also illustrate other lessons.
  1. The headline is really important.  Just like a press release, what you choose to put in the ‘tweet spot’ matters–even moreso when you only have 140 characters.
  2. It PAYS to experiment.   The drumbeat of social media is: you must participate to understand.  It’s true.  We had no idea how this would turn out.   In this case, it worked.
  3. There are no silver bullets.  All these  tools, tactics and platforms work together.  This has come up repeatedly in our webinars.  People want a single, one-size-fits-all answer.  Not gonna happen.

So…Leigh.  Congratulations to you!  And thanks for helping us learn a bit more about how to use Twitter.


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