David Hahn, Managing Director, Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer, and Anna Patrick, Assistant Digital Publicist, attended the 2014 Soundview Author Summit in Atlanta last month.
The summit, which began on Sunday, January 12, and ran through Tuesday, January 14, brought business authors and book marketing professionals from across the country together for three days of thought-provoking panels, group networking opportunities, and a few community receptions.
The following narratives reflect our experiences at the summit:
Soundview – what a poetic word. We all hope to have a sound view. However, it’s not easy. We all live in a fairly myopic world where our own perspective tends to dominate our thinking. Getting outside ourselves and meeting people face to face is the best way for stimulating our thinking in new ways. The Soundview Author Summit 2014 provided just that experience.
Thought leaders from all over the USA with a few overseas visitors descended on Atlanta for a 3 day conference co-hosted by Soundview (one of the country’s leading source of business thought leadership) and entrepreneur, David Nour. Together they organized one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended with frank conversation, useful insights and rapidly developing camaraderie – all based on the theme of being a successful author, speaker, collaborator and businessperson. More importantly, a community was formed.
Sharing a marketing panel with two fellow book promoters, Rusty Shelton and Barbara Cave Henricks, was also fun. I know both practitioners and have a great deal of respect for them. It’s always reaffirming to see the kinds of experiences and insights we share but also educational to see the different approaches we each take and where we can add to our own skill set.
One provocative question asked of us was, “Is public relations dead?” Seth Godin, among others, intimated this bold claim.
It’s really a sematic question revolving around the meaning of public relations, so I’ll simply say this: traditional media channels (TV, radio, print) are indeed being undercut by the development of social media. However, they still retain powerful audiences. National public radio listeners are still one of the most sought after demographics. The combined big three Network Morning Shows average around 11 million viewers each morning. Approximately 90 million people commute to work each morning… by themselves in a car! Can you imagine how many of those people are listening to their favorite morning drive radio show? Whenever I travel I still see USA Today and the Wall Street Journal outside many hotel room doors.
So if a major part of public relations is getting coverage for its clients in these media outlets, I’d say this aspect of public relations is not only thriving but perhaps more alive than ever. A significant portion of what social media does is simply amplify what’s happening in traditional media outlets. Yes, social media will continue to grow in importance as boomer numbers decrease and millennials increase, but traditional media and the public relation practitioners who influence this media will certainly have a few more decades of relevance in my opinion.
-David Hahn, Managing Director
Participating in the conference was a wonderful experience. I have been to many seminars and conferences over the years, and this one had great energy. The difference between this conference and others is:
-the level of sharing and networking among the participants
-the way presenters didn’t just read from a podium but instead were interviewed by a host
-there was back and forth participation between the speaker and audience, keeping it lively and relevant
-the host did a great job in keeping things moving and tying discussions together
Conferences and seminars are always great opportunities to meet people, learn something new, and possibly make a sale. This conference offered those things and it also offered an environment where the setting permitted – no – invited, one to let their thoughts flow freely. Internally I was brainstorming at a fast pace, perhaps equal to the torrent of ideas being exchanged around me.
No matter where you are at in your career, attending a conference is always a great way to reinvigorate yourself. You realize from listening to everyone that you don’t know it all, but you reaffirm that you know a ton; you recognize that you may be in a similar boat with other people and that together you may find a solution or lend each other support; and finally, by taking a break from your routine and normal dose of chaos, you get to replenish your mind and body and reset your path and goals a little bit higher.
-Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer
Soundview and the NourGroup put a wonderful summit together, with Becky Clement and David Nour at the helm, who pulled together a community of accomplished authors and book professionals to build strategic relationships and – to quote David quoting Steve Jobs – “to increase your dent in the universe.”
A highlight for me was Tuesday, when David Hahn joined Rusty Shelton and Barbara Henricks for a marketing panel discussing traditional PR and digital PR.
A few takeaways that stuck with me from the panel included:
-Traditional PR is not dead. There will always be a need to connect authors to the media over several mediums
-Authors on social media should focus on content that is timely in terms of news, and also engages your audience
-If possible, authors should try to write past their own blogs, writing guest posts for other sites and media outlets, in order to increase their SEO and broaden their audience
For me, the balance between traditional PR and social media falls in the middle of the spectrum. At this point, neither could exist for long without the other. If you subscribe to the psychological school of thought that we form our social identities between the ages of 11-13, during middle school, then at 23 my social identity is nearly inseparable from my online presence and identity, since I initially signed up on Myspace, the original social media platform, with my classmates when I was 13. In many ways my generation is trilingual – we know proper English, we know spoken or slang English, and we know the language of social media… because we created it.
But it is the ways that we maximize the symbiotic relationship between traditional media and social media that makes a great publicist and an even greater publicity firm. Combining media-savvy minds with social media-savvy minds made for a great debate amongst the panelists, but it can make an even greater team when pulled together in a single firm.
Overall, it is conversations such as that one combined with the learning and networking opportunities at the summit that were unparalleled and left a lasting impression on all attendees. As much as I love and believe in social media and digital marketing, the experience of the summit exemplified the need to connect face to face in order to share ideas that can leave a lasting impact on any field. The thoughts that were shared during all aspects of the conference, from the shark tanks with experienced CEOs to the breakfast hall, make me even more excited for the future of business books.
Most importantly, a community was formed that extends past the few days that we spent at the summit. I look forward to furthering the enlightening discussions, and learning even more about the dynamic world of business books.
-Anna Patrick, Assistant Digital Publicist