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'A Global Need to Present Information in the Best Way'; AM&P 2020 Aims to Put Innovation and Strategy Top of Mind

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By Ronn Levine

“There are no ‘enemies’ of innovation, but it is a question of complacency and inertia, of innovation perhaps not being top of mind. I hear often ‘we’ve never done it that way’ or ‘we’ve always done it that way.’”


That quote comes from Kerstin Fröhlich, head of innovation management at German media company Spiegel Verlag. Is there anything worse to hear as reasoning than, “We’ve always done it that way”? Arghhh. So while Fröhlich will not be speaking at next week’s AM&P 2020: A Virtual Conference, a slew of talented folks in your community and just outside looking in will be—offering tested strategies and plans for navigating and innovating during the pandemic.


Is there anything better than that? (Register here for AM&P 2020!)


Much of the innovative tone will be set on Thursday morning with the keynote of Mario Garcia, adjunct professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Our writing needs to change, he says. Paragraphs should be shorter because we get interrupted so much more. "We are in the journalism of everywhere and interruptions. This is a phone; it rings, it messages, it Instagrams. We need more subheads to help navigate the story [through those interruptions]… There's a global need to present information in the best way it will be consumed."


Here are 6 more highlights that those attending AM&P 2020 will happily consume.


1. The art of the pivot. On the website for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), articles appear on Engaging Clients in Telepractice, ASL Interpreters at White House COVID-19 Briefings, Ethical Considerations As Schools Reopen During COVID-19, and New CPT Code Helps Covers Clinicians’ COVID-19 Protection Costs. Bridget Murray Law, editor-in-chief, ASHA, will lead us through Content Strategy and Crisis Communications: A COVID-19 Crash Course.


2. What’s the story? "The takeaway is if you have a good story, people will stay with you,” Garcia says. “These are the best times to be a storyteller, but you have to explore all that is there." But Garcia will not be the only storytelling expert on stage. Rachel Barth, magazine & creative director, Military Officers Association of America, and Tony Lombardo, director of audience engagement, Military Officers Association, will present Visual Storytelling for Word People.


3. They say it’s your birthday. Does your organization have an anniversary of some sort coming up, be it when they were founded, when the magazine, conference or awards started, or maybe even of a rebranding? Why not use that to your advantage, content-wise and in marketing and sales? The Federal Bar Association (FBA) turned 100 years old in 2020, it had a big story to tell. FBA Executive Director Stacy King, CAE, will join MCI USA's Chris Durso in presenting 100 Years of Content: Anniversary, Event, and Experience.


4. Are you measuring up? It used to be that we could go by the “feel” or “guess” of a writer or editor as to what their audience wants to read. Those days have sailed by. Usability testing takes all the guesswork out of it, allowing you to ensure your site is a streamlined, personalized path. Through advanced analytics complemented by human insights, you can learn definitively how your site is being used. Aline Lin, CEO, creative director, Astriata, leads us through Get to Know Your Audience Through Data-Driven Insights.


5. All in “do” time. “The great thing about [my] training is that it’s really built to give participants the tools they need to create an actionable plan by the end of the course [or in this case a talk]. It’s not focused on the learning; it’s really focused on the doing. And we want to help people build a plan, talk about the things they can research, [develop] the tools they need and [learn] how they can build support for themselves in the work they want to do.” Nationally known speaker and consultant Leslie Mac will keynote with a talk titled Defining the Work in These Times.


6. Opening up the playbook. The American Staffing Association’s COVID-19 microsite quickly surpassed their homepage for traffic. "My members are staffing companies, businesses placing employees on job sites," said Marlene Hendrickson, senior director, publishing and marketing. So because of that, she said that the sample letters on the ASA COVID-19 site have been "very, very, very" popular. "We want to increase value to the entire industry and create those connections that will hopefully help our relationships in the future, whether it's with members or non-members." Hendrickson will present Insights from the Pandemic Publishing Playbook -- Where Are They Now? with Kathryn Hamilton, VP for marketing and communications, NAIOP.


Ronn Levine is editorial director of SIIA. He can be reached at