Spring 2019 Social Commerce Days in Review

Written by Cayla Dorsey, Riva Goldberg & Talia Simmons
Published on April 25, 2019

Social Commerce Days returned to Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in mid-April, featuring a range of programs to help connect what students have been learning in their classes with industry trends and realities. This spring’s lineup featured a keynote presentation from Merck’s Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Global Communications, Teri Loxam, focused on transforming corporate communications in today’s ever-changing business environment, an analytics-to-insights workshop and class visits from current W2O subject-matter-experts. Here are a few highlights from this spring’s programming.

A Visit with FICE

Social Commerce Days events kicked off with an open discussion between Loxam and the students of FICE, Newhouse’s newly developed Financial & Investor Communications Emphasis. Loxam addressed questions openly and shared how she has integrated Merck’s communications and investor relations departments, developing a newly structured approach. By blending these segments of the company, Merck has been better able to get ahead of market curves with enhanced collaboration, refined key stakeholder engagement and quick application of learnings from real-time analysis.

Transforming Corporate Communications with Keynote Speaker: Teri Loxam

Merck is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, with a valuation of around 40 billion dollars and a legacy of over 100 years. Loxam has been tasked with refreshing Merck’s corporate narrative and optimizing its communications function. She spoke to the challenges and opportunities of both in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium.

Loxam also took the communications students through the PESO model (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned media), illustrating how to effectively communicate with a range of stakeholders. Throughout the engaging presentation, she stressed that strategy is key, and to focus on internal communications—given that “what is internal, is external.” The keynote was a comprehensive look at successful corporate communications in action, as well as a personal look at her unique career path.

Loxam concluded with some key advice to students and attendees:
1. Learn about data analytics and how it affects the future of communications and marketing.
2. Extend interests to areas one may have not considered before such as investor relations, or emerging technologies.
3. Always, always, treat new experiences as learning opportunities!

During her speech, using the hashtag #SocCommDays, attendees live-tweeted their favorite takeaways about the future of communications. You can check out some of those tweets here. Great conversations spurred as Loxam left us with thought-provoking words of wisdom from her unique professional experiences.

Analytics to Insights: Interactive Workshop with W2O Group

In addition to class visits conducted on-campus and throughout the semester via Skype, current W2O experts and Syracuse alumni Meriel McCaffery, Lauryn Botterman and Brett Kleinberg, led a group workshop to close Social Commerce Days on campus. The workshop demonstrated how a global marketing and communications firm leverages analytics and big data to help provide strategic insights to leading brands, and allowed students to work through a real data set to solve a problem.

The team walked students through “relevance” and how today’s biggest brands are now being assessed by a complex set of inputs, not solely reputation. McCaffery, Botterman and Kleinberg shared W2O’s most recent Relevance Index, sparking conversation about which Fortune 100 companies students felt were the most relevant and which are perhaps declining.

W2O presenters posed a real client’s challenge to students, including key context regarding the current state of its business, goals of the research conducted and specific desired outcomes. Students were then asked to brainstorm and discuss a series of prompts which helped them explore what the best strategies would be for the client to effectively reach its goals. Approaches that students put forward and what W2O Group actually recommended were compared, and it was without a doubt a workshop of bright, promising communications professionals of tomorrow. The W2O team closed the session with an open discussion about the realities of agency life for those potentially seeking to join one following graduation.

Spring 2019 Social Commerce Days was another successful opportunity for students from all aspects of communications to network and learn from experts at W2O, as well as our visiting executive. From the world of investor relations and global communications, to applying digital analytics and research, it was a full few days on campus. Thank you to all of our Syracuse partners and the professors who invited us into their classrooms. We look forward to seeing you all for Social Commerce Days events in the fall!