The Art of Disney Storytelling: Q&A with Conference Keynote Speaker Craig Dezern

Cinderella. Beauty and the Beast. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. These are some of the classic Disney stories we grew up with and made us believe in magic. The heart of Disney public relations captures that magic with storytelling.

In this Q&A, Craig Dezern, vice president, Global Public Relations for Disney Destinations and keynote speaker for the PRSSA 2011 National Conference, explains how social media has provided an opportunity for Disney to engage with its publics in two-way communication by giving them an outlet to tell their stories.

Vice President for Global Public Relations for Disney Destinations, Craig Dezern, will present the opening keynote at the 2011 PRSSA National Conference in Orlando.
Q: What was one of Disney’s first efforts in social media?

A: Mom is often the family member who researches family vacation plans and has a big part in leading the decision. We wanted to be sure that our communications were mom-targeted and mom-friendly.

We know that moms value the opinions of other moms, so we created the Disney World Moms Panel of moms (and dads). Parents can have their questions answered directly by someone who may have similar family situations, which gives additional value to the information.

Q: How did you begin a two-way conversation about Disney’s stories?

A: The storytelling format of a blog meets the needs of two important audiences — moms and Disney Parks’ loyal fan base. The Disney Parks Blog was launched after the Moms’ Panel. We knew there were many active fan sites and blogs already. Starting our own blog allowed us to join the conversation and provided guests the opportunity to engage with us directly through their comments on blog posts.

There are so many great stories to tell at Disney. We can break news, share behind-the-scenes information and even shine a spotlight on our cast members and the work they do in our communities.

Q: What were your goals in using social media as a storytelling platform in your public relations effort?

A: Social media is an ongoing dialogue with fans, guests and those who aren’t either one yet. It gives us an opportunity to engage with our strong fan base between park visits and communicate with them, not just to them.

Q: How have your social media efforts impacted the Disney Parks overall public relations efforts?

A: They’ve opened up new channels for engaging our guests with the stories of our parks, ships and other vacation options.

Understanding the people you want to reach and how you can add value to them through social media is the foundation. We are able to join the online conversation in a sustained way, and we are able to deliver news directly to some of our most influential fans.

Dezern will present the opening session keynote at the PRSSA 2011 National Conference in Orlando. Check out the program of events for the National Conference. Remember to register for the PRSSA 2011 National Conference online, by fax or by mail by September 12.

Throughout your life, how has Disney effectively communicated with you? How do you believe social media has changed the art of storytelling?

This is a guest post from 2011 National Conference Committee Director of Records Julia McClure.

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