National Press Club

National Press Club Communicator members seek to connect with Journalist members

November 6, 2014 | By Varun Saxena | vsaxenaster@gmail.com

NPC President Myron Belkind (left)  interviewed Larry Weber, chairman and chief executive of Racepoint Global, during the Oct. 24 Communicators Summit at the National Press Club.

NPC President Myron Belkind (left) interviewed Larry Weber, chairman and chief executive of Racepoint Global, during the Oct. 24 Communicators Summit at the National Press Club.

Photo/Image: Tom McMahon

Communicator members of the National Press Club want to bridge the divide between their side of the journalism profession and the editorial side represented by the Press Club’s Journalist members.

The NPC's Communications and Marketing Committee tries to make that connection happen.

“Communicator members of the National Press Club primarily want to build professional relationships with journalists to become trusted sources on the subjects their organizations represent,” said Tom McMahon, chair of the NPC's Communications and Marketing Committee. “The events sponsored by the National Press Club provide insight to the challenges reporters face so that Communicators can be more helpful to them.”

The sold-out Communicators Summit on Oct. 24 is an example of such an event. One hundred attendees participated in the summit, which explored brand storytelling.

“The panelists at the Communicators Summit gave an up-close look at how news organizations are embracing a variety of digital platforms to reach and engage audiences,” McMahon said.

The summit featured CNN head of social media Samantha Barry discussing the network’s use of Twitter and the channel’s website as a way to gain viewers.

In a format fitting for the event, the audience members’ tweets were collected on the website Storify by McMahon. The tweets underscored the point that traditional media still has a role to play in story telling.

Danny Selnick of the PR company Business Wire, citing panelist Matthew Buffington, deputy director for the State Department, tweeted: “Arab spring: social media was important to it, but still wouldn't have happened w/o AlJazeera. Old, new media married.”

Indeed, the importance of combing various media was one of the themes of the conversation. Also citing Buffington, Kristin Brown, a PR professional, tweeted: “Broadcast, print still important. Make all media work together for you.”

Other issues discussed during the summit included native advertising, the controversial pairing of promotional content that appears similar in format and style to the editorial content surrounding it; gamification, or purpose-driven gaming to promote a message; and PESO, which stands for media that is paid, earned, shared and owned.

The one constant is change.

"At the end of this panel, we'll have great ideas that will be well on their way to being obsolete," said American University journalism professor and former Club President Gil Klein, according to the Storify page.

Regardless of the social-media platform, the quality of the message is paramount, summit participants said.

Citing panelist Sam Huxley of FleishmanHillard, Vicki Stearn tweeted: “The idea of having to change strategy instead of tactics is wrong. Core message has to stay the same.”

Huxley also said that members of Congress love BuzzFeed listicles -- those infamous numbered lists of random topics like “17 Surreally Creepy Abandoned Places Around The World.” He even targeted senators with an issue listicle, according to Brown’s tweet on Storify.

The headliner of the summit was Larry Weber, chief executive of the marketing communications agency Racepoint Global and founder of The Weber Group, which became the world’s largest public relations firm within a decade of its creation.

During his conversation with NPC President Myron Belkind, Weber discussed his latest book, The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric.

The event achieved its goal of helping communicators grasp the dramatic changes taking place in journalism, McMahon said.

“Technological advancements, along with effective storytelling, are redefining communications and the consumption of information,” McMahon said.