March at INBOUND19: Trust, Messaging and Disruption

Elisabeth O'Donnell, Sep 11 2019

categories: PR

Tags: , , , ,

Last week a few Marchers joined fellow marketers and communication pros at the one of the biggest, most anticipated marketing conferences in Boston, Hubspot’s INBOUND. Speakers included founders, authors, legendary journalists, and HGTV hosts, and topics ranged from messaging, to disruption, to trust. Senior Account Executives Angelica Bishop and Kelsey Johnson and Director of Social Strategy Amanda Fountain filled me in.

Greatest takeaway from the week?

Angelica Bishop: Disruption was a hot topic. Is the word overused? What does it truly mean to disrupt your entire industry? The most impactful takeaway for me was HubSpot Founder & CEO Brian Halligan’s perspective on the shift from product disruption to experience disruption. The companies truly shaking things up today are ones that have disrupted the customer experience, beyond tangible offerings. His central message, “how they sell is why they win,” really resonated with the audience.

Kelsey Johnson: On Wednesday we heard from Rachel Botsman, influencer and public speaker, on the topic of trust – how do we properly earn it, how do we show it, and how do we know when it’s been broken. This conversation is especially relevant in public relations, and perhaps even more so in the technology space.

Botsman explained the common mistake that most businesses make when looking to build trust with clients and consumers. First, trust isn’t built, it’s earned. And, you don’t build more trust by being transparent (something we’ve all assumed at one point or another). According to Botsman, if you need things to be more transparent you’ve actually given up on trust. What kills trust isn’t secrets or privacy. It’s deception. When someone is lying to us or holding back about their real intentions, this is when trust really breaks down.

Which speaker particularly impacted you?

Amanda Fountain: Rachel Botsman talked about trust and the markers behind what it means to give and earn trust. While her anecdotes were often personal in nature, they translated well to how brands need to change their thinking on trust. She opened her talk by asking the audience to vote for which of three brands and executives were most/least trustworthy (sorry, Facebook and Zuck, there’s clearly some trust work still to do!). What was made clear in her talk is that the brands who can understand that trust is a type of currency are the ones who will be able to connect with and build better relationships with their customers.

KJ: Rachel was particularly impactful for me as well. Echoing Amanda, I will add that Rachel was extremely relevant for the work we do day-to-day. Her four traits for earning trust – competence, reliability, empathy and integrity – closely echo our values here at March – be excellent & productive, do no spin, be human and be brave. The most surprising part though – and most relatable for me – was that our character traits (empathy and integrity) are really the holy grail of earning trust.

Was there a moment that sparked new inspiration for the work we do?

AB: Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, was particularly inspiring. Khan Academy is a free online education platform aimed at helping close unaddressed gaps in conceptual understanding that can hurt students down the road. Sal shared his founding story, highlighting how he has leveraged technology to revolutionize education worldwide. Seeing the impact his program has had on young students was touching, showing the great positive impact technology can help us achieve. Stories like his make me even more eager to work with innovative companies that have the potential to change the world.

Any new insight on the professional development front?

AF: Brad Smith, Executive Chairman and Former CEO of Intuit, talked a lot about not losing who you are – as an individual or a company. So often, people push to innovate or disrupt and risk changing who they are at heart. Sticking to your roots will help you stay balanced as you move toward who you want to be.

Part of his interview process is to ask people to think of three formative events in their life. This got me thinking about how events have shaped me. I can look back and see how each event nudged me to change my behavior, set new goals and push myself in ways that have led me to where I am today.

KJ: I was in the Intuit session as well – it was fantastic. I’ll add that Brad is an extremely structured man. He starts and ends each day the same way. That consistency is something I’d like to work on. Breaking down my daily activities and dedicating 20-30-40% of my time to each will help me increase my efficiency and time management and be much more equipped to handle potential crises and surprises head on.

AB: Every speakers’ passion for their work really came through during each keynote and spotlight I attended. Many of their passions were developed along the way in their journeys, which goes to show how much early career stages can help lead you to work that you are passionate about. It’s something that I think about actively as I’m approaching different projects – finding ways to be curious so I can learn and discover more, developing even more passions along my own journey.

Did you learn anything completely unexpected?

KJ: Circling back to redefining trust – it is NOT about transparency, which I had believed for a long time! If you’re focusing on transparency you’ve already lost. I think this point is so, so crucial for brands to understand. Trust is earned and the only way to earn trust is through being human.


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