Torod Neptune’s Speech from SCD Spring 2014: A Student’s Perspective

Written by Center for Social Commerce

Published on November 1, 2014

The W2O Group Center for Social Commerce officially launched its Visiting Executive Program during the spring edition of Social Commerce Days at Syracuse University. The program brings at least two executives from prominent companies to campus to lecture on topics relevant and important to the evolving nature of the communications industry. It aims to ensure students are exposed to the current evolution of the industry and are prepared as they graduate, an overarching goal of The Center.

We kicked off our Executive Speaker Series with an engaging presentation from Vice President of Corporate of Communications at Verizon Wireless, Torod Neptune. His presentation topic was “Transforming Communications for a Digital and Social Age.” Here are five key takeaways:

1. We are living in a digital society.

The whole landscape of news and content consumption has shifted. In 2009, the use of online and mobile resources to receive news surpassed both newspaper and radio. Although television still retains the top spot, mobile is quickly catching up. We must recognize and understand this trend. If we fail to create experiences and content that match the capabilities of digital, we risk isolating the customer and missing out on important communications opportunities.

2. The business environment has changed.

The proliferation of digital and social has dismantled the old, hierarchical system. It has been replaced by a network in which every individual has multiple contacts and can reach out to them at any moment. This has had several effects. One, businesses are now demanded to exercise greater transparency. Two, each individual feels empowered and demands personalized content. Finally, the lines between stakeholders have become blurred. Every stakeholder must be accounted for and their particular interests leveraged.

3. We’re practicing communications for the wrong era.

We are practicing our grandparent’s PR. That is to say, our current strategies and tactics are outdated. The traditional tactics (press releases, media pitching etc.) are no longer effective and do not each the right audiences. Verizon Wireless has gone as far as to prohibit press releases all together. No longer can organizations simply disseminate information and hope coverage occurs. As the industry is moving from an era of coverage to an era of influence, it’s critical we understand our audiences more than ever.

4. Find the intersection of brand and audience.

The sweet spot for any organization is finding the perfect piece of content that matches its brand and resonates with its audiences. We need to marry our products with the desires of the customer and our purposes with their needs. The best way to create these points of contact is through thoughtful storytelling. Discovering and crafting meaningful stories through shared values and shared experiences allows the customer to truly see how a service or product could fit into his or her daily life.

5. The Importance of Measurement.

The final step in any successful communications strategy is evaluation. In an era where we have access to a vast array of metrics and analytics, there is no excuse not to measure and evaluate. The shift towards digital consumption has allowed us to have access to a trove of measurable and meaningful consumer insights.