By THOMAS HARTWELL

KENNESAW, Ga. – Speakers focused on how technology is changing the field of communication during the 3rd annual Communication Colloquium at Kennesaw State University Thursday, which ushered in the school of communication and media’s 25th anniversary.

Mike Neumeier of Arketi Group, a business to business public relations company out of Atlanta, took the stage to begin moderation for the keynote panelists. Panelists included David Vigilante, senior vice president of legal at CNN, Greg Agvent, director of news operations at CNN, Tom Daly, global and mobile marketing strategist for Coca-Cola and Jason Munson, leader of a digital delivery team for Cox Media Group.

Panelists began with introductions and expansion on their accomplishments and responsibilities in their various career roles. The speakers discussed modern communication issues ranging from topics in public relations to marketing to newsgathering, but overwhelming the other themes of discussion was the change in technology and how that change affects journalism and communication marketing.

Keynote panelists discuss changing technology and marketing demands in the digital age. Photo by Thomas Hartwell
Keynote panelists discuss changing technology and marketing demands in the digital age. Photo by Thomas Hartwell

“Technology has changed and influenced how we [market] — particularly mobile,” said Daly of changes in online and mobile marketing tactics.

Munson, who specializes in mobile marketing and demographic targeting for many Cox newspapers and online sources, gave much of his own insight on the topic.

“The way we approach it is, on an annual basis, we create personas that basically describe what our audience segments are,” said Munson. “These personas are then brought to life … and what it really helps us do is, kind of, tell the story with these people in mind.”

He described a persona named Gale, 42, a single mother from Smyrna, Georgia with an 8-year-old child.

“This is someone that we specifically target products to, because it’s a segment — it represents a segment — of our audience,” said Munson. “So we might build an app that is geared toward the “Gales” of the world, or we may write content that is specifically tailored to Gale’s interests and specifically things that she can do with her 8-year-old child around Atlanta.”

Other frequented topics included the use of drones for newsgathering purposes and the ethical concerns that they bring — a topic that both Vigilante and Agvent were particularly passionate about —, the use of mobile apps for presenting news, speed of newsgathering in the technology age and rise of citizen journalism.

While the panelists proved that they had a wealth of knowledge on various topics, they were also not afraid to have a sense of humor on stage.

During the audience’s chance to ask their own questions, Vigilante’s phone rang. He apologized, offering his explanation, “I’m Italian, my mother calls a lot.”

Before releasing audience members to the breakout sessions to follow the keynote panel, Neumeier asked the panelists to share their closing words of wisdom.

“Be passionate about what you’re doing,” said Daly. “If you can’t wake up every day and deal with the reality of whatever’s coming next without being super, super interested and passionate and want to know everything about all the stuff you’re doing, go find the thing that provides that inspiration.”

“As you’re looking at potential employers coming out of this program, keeping up with the technologies that are coming out, and having that passion and wanting to experiment with that passion … that’s a fun place to work,” echoed Munson.

“I want you to consider that a lawyer is telling you this,” began Vigilante. “People who play it safe rarely end up in charge.”

Greg Agvent listens to other panelists give their words of wisdom to the audience. Photo by Thomas Hartwell
Greg Agvent listens to other panelists give their words of wisdom to the audience. Photo by Thomas Hartwell

Agvent concluded the panel with a simple, but poignant communication goal: “Write. Spell, also. And don’t become a zombie with [smart phones]. It’s a tool. It’ll help you—you should be using it, but don’t become a slave to it.”

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