Talent, inspiration & innovation. What we learned at the ICCO conference 2016

Talent, inspiration & innovation. What we learned at the ICCO conference 2016

I was lucky enough to be asked to host a panel on creativity and innovation in communications at last week’s ICCO Conference in Oxford. The theme of this year’s conference – which sees the great and the good of the PR world come together  to discuss the big issues facing the industry – was Talent, Inspiration & Innovation – Creating the Consultancy of the Future.

I invited IBM’s Guy Stephens, H+K Strategies Social Media expert and Content Strategist Candace Kuss, and innovation consultant Julio Romo, Founder of Two Four Seven, to join me to discuss the topic.

Innovation in communications is a sprawling beast so our speakers sliced and diced it by doing 2 separate talks before we all came together in a panel to discuss the wide ranging topic. This first blog covers Candace’s slant on the subject –  a lightening talk on the subject ‘augmented empathy’ – how technology can be used to actually improve connections between people, using empathy, with some great examples from marketing campaigns this year.

ICCO Conference
Candace Kuss, H+K Strategies

Her whistle-stop technology tour covered Google Cardboard, and how virtual reality apps like that from the award-winning New York Times are changing how we interact with new stories. The publisher distributed 1 million Google Cardboard viewers to home-delivery subscribers and the VR was downloaded by thousands, exposing viewers to “The Displaced,” a VR story about how war has displaced 30 millions children from their homes.

Candace also showcased National Geographic’s face swap campaign ‘Swap prejudice for knowledge’ – below – using the Snapchat feature, to demonstrate how empathy is being plugged into communications campaigns.

ICCO Conference

Candace showed us the amazing concept of an empathy amulet –  a networked wearable device that connects people and deliberately attempts to ‘share’ feelings. A project by MIT who explain further: “The devices encourage their users to make a deliberate and generous choice to invest their time and energy in connection with strangers, and they incorporate reciprocity into their design, such that helping oneself means helping other people. The Empathy Amulet uses asynchronous connection allowing the user experience the shared warmth either consciously or unconsciously.”

ICCO Conference augmented empathy

With empathy emoticons now finally embedded into Facebook this is a trend that shows no sign of waning. Candace’s advice for companies looking to innovate was to “not be afraid of looking outside” for expertise and input when seeking a fresh approach.

Guy and Julio went on to discuss how innovation in practice and process can be applied for business advantage in customer service, which I’ll round up in my next blog.

As part of the presentation, Russell Goldsmith Founder of Audere Communications put out a call to action for people who are interested to join the newly formed ICCO Innovation in Communications Panel which aims to educate, inform and inspire the industry on all things innovation-related. The panel will discuss, research and develop and prototype innovative practices for the PR industry. Contact Russ@auderecommunications.com if you’re interested in finding out more about the new panel.


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