Keynote Address [National Conference Recap]

Photo courtesy of Shannon Jack, Ohio Northern University

Session: Keynote Address

Presenter: Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Chief Brand Officer, IBM


Jon Iwata opened up his keynote address with a principle inspired by Edward Bernays: The few have the tendency to influence the many. Iwata dove deep into this principle by discussing social-first communication. He established that there are four parts that make up social-first communication: content, people, spending money and analytics.

Iwata discussed that instead of a few people controlled by a few (broadcasters, print magazines, radio, etc.), now the few influence the many and the many influence many more. People are now  going straight to the source for information they want to find and shared content is popular because they trust first-hand experience. He also spoke about how social media is no longer new. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the new trend to follow. Because of the phenomenon of shared content, there is now more data than ever. AI is an inevitable resource for us to take advantage of because of the help it can bring to us, like going through data for advertisements or finding sports highlights of events for announcers to talk about. To conclude, Iwata said that the best way to deal with something bad happening in your company isn’t to control, it’s to do your best to make sure that event doesn’t happen in the first place.


  • The few influence the many, and the many reach many more.
  • Shared content matters! Consumers want to hear from someone who has had first-hand experience, so content shared by another person is highly credible.
  • Paid social media is an important tool for PR practitioners to utilize because it doesn’t require much investment and results in high efficacy.
  • AI isn’t just important – it’s inevitable. AI is about augmenting humans, not replacing them.
  • Social listening is just the beginning of a whole system that needs to get built.

Erin Hildreth is a senior at Kansas State University studying journalism and mass communications with an emphasis in public relations, and gerontology with a concentration in long-term care administration. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

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