Day 1 of Pros & Content Connect featured some 50+ panelists speaking across a wide range of topics, including marketing, content creation, branding, leadership, social justice, inclusion, Pride, Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, and more. If you didn’t have time to attend all of the sessions, here are some of the key ideas and takeaways from Day 1.

Empathy = Relevance

Most marketing leaders who spoke on Day 1 discussed how their company shifted their messaging after COVID-19 in order to engage with their customer base. By and large, brands sought to be more helpful and reassuring in their comms, rather than transactional.

"We found that articles written with an empathetic tone really resonated with our audience,” Jamie Roo, Head of Digital Marketing Content Strategy at J.P. Morgan, mentioned on the “Why Measuring Content Effectiveness is More Important Than Ever” panel.

Stand For Something

The days of corporations existing solely to make money are coming to an end. Multiple speakers alluded to the idea of brand purpose, and why it’s a requirement for long-term survival.

“The corporate brand has to have this center of gravity for why it exists in the world and what its contribution to society is,” said Frank Cooper, CMO of BlackRock, on our “Marketing in Turbulent Times” panel.

“Your brand has to be true to itself,” added Raja Rajamannar, CMO of Mastercard, on our “Brand Authenticity and Responsibility” panel. “People aren’t idiots. They’ll see through brands right away.”

Authenticity Matters

In order to stand for something, your brand must appear as authentic. This means being genuine in all of your communications in order to give your audience a feel for who you truly are.

“The best brands right now are communicating with transparency and heart,” said Alan Marks, CMO of ServiceNow, on our “How to Find Your Words in the Midst of a Crisis” panel. “Marketers need to keep it real, and keep it human.”

Rajamannar got straight to the point: "If you have something genuine to say, say it. Otherwise, shut up."

Take Action

Standing for something, and doing so authentically, matters. But even more important is taking action when something runs counter to your brand’s values.

“We have to get used to the fact that where we invest our marketing dollars is also a statement on what we believe in,” said Lina Shields, CMO of Eli & Lilly, on our “Leading With Purpose & Empathy,” panel.

Other speakers also said they saw brand activism as a growing trend as the world grapples with a pandemic and a civil rights movement.

“A lot of brands tried their best to respond to these crises in the right way—not just with words, but action,” said Karen Kahn, Chief Brand & Communications Officer at HP, on our “How to Find Your Words in the Midst of a Crisis” panel.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is Table Stakes

Nearly every marketing leader agreed that all businesses should be prioritizing DEI both internally and externally. This means being a leader in fighting against the discrimination of LGBTQ+ people and minorities in the community. It also means having a workforce representative of the population you serve, and installing more minorities in positions of leadership.

"There needs to be a black person or a person of color in the room for every marketing meeting or company meeting. And they should feel empowered to speak up,” said Ruth Umoh from Forbes, on our DEI panel.

“DEI is not the right thing to do, it is the only thing to do,” added Glenn Jackson, Chief Diversity Officer at M&T Bank, on that same panel.

For brands that are looking to create a more diverse organization, our speakers also offered a few words of advice:

"If you don't have a lot of African-Americans in your organization, own it. Say it. Be transparent,” said Kathy Cuevas, VP of Employer Branding at L’Oreal, during our “Inclusive and Impactful Employer Branding” panel. “That's how we move forward." 

For those that want to start right away, Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, offered a piece of advice during our “Inclusive Storytelling” panel: "The best thing you could do right now is use Pride to elevate and raise Black queer voices.”

Change Requires Good Leaders

There was a lot of talk about DEI, Pride, Black Lives Matter, and social justice during Day 1. Our speakers offered a vision for how leaders can take up the mantle and help accelerate change.

"To create change, leaders need to be vulnerable, have authentic conversations, ask questions, and commit and take action,” Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP & COO of Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever, said during her fireside chat with MikMak Founder & CEO Rachel Tipograph. “I know that when we serve the underserved, it’s better for us all.”


Pros & Content Connect Day 1 provided us with a lot of great lessons around how marketers can help their brand navigate through the multiple crises the world is facing, and bring about a brighter future.

Stephanie Buscemi, CMO of Salesforce, said it best in her opening remarks: “Businesses can be in the center of positive change.”

Be sure to register for Day 2 of Pros & Content Connect.