Economist Conferences let execs try out ideas on influencers

The Economist was founded in 1843 with a mission to lead the debate in pursuit of progress. It’s still at it through a magazine, a website and live events—events like the 3rd Annual Media Convergence Forum: The Moment of Truth: Consumers, Technology and Commerce, held in New York last week.

Two hundred-plus industry experts, marketing psychologists, technology gurus, futurists, and media convened at The Altman Building in New York City to consider the technologies that tomorrow’s most successful organizations will adopt.

Matthew Bishop, The Economist’s New York Bureau Chief and U.S. Business Editor, moderated a panel on Social Media and Branding Success with senior marketing executives from Starbucks, Best Buy, and Samsung Electronics who shared their experiences in using new social media to engage with (rather than talk at) consumers, even during the complaint cycle. During the session, Bishop polled the audience on their use of Twitter: 70 percent responded that they “tweet” as part of their marketing efforts.

In response to a question on advertising, 75% predicted that the use of digital advertising will exceed print advertising by 2015.

Other speakers included executives from Craigslist, IBM, Electronic Arts, Google, MySpace, Twitter, and Sony Music Entertainment. Panel topics ranged from The Future of Media, to Understanding Consumer Behavior and Trendsetting: How the Kids are Doing It. Michael Lyntton, CEO of Sony Pictures was the luncheon keynote, interviewed by Tom Standage.

There were live demonstrations of 10 new technologies—winners of an Economist competition to find the most exciting new media innovations that will change the way marketers think about reaching consumers. An Oxford-style debate on the issue of privacy, which included Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, closed the thought-provoking conference.

The Economist sees its live events as a unique opportunity for editors and reporters to test ideas and engage in direct discussion with experts who are driving progress. This same value proposition extends to speakers and participants who use the platform as an opportunity to tell their stories “unfiltered” to an audience of influencers.

Economist Conferences debuted among the Top 10 Most Valued Podiums for CEOs and C-Suite executives in Burson-Marsteller’s inaugural survey in 2005 and remains among the Top 10 on the current list. Survey respondents laud the group for “providing a more global perspective.”

Later this year, The Economist will launch its first-ever summit timed with the magazine’s publication of The World in 2010, its annual collection of “bold and unapologetic” predictions about the year ahead. Scheduled December 6–9 in Washington, D.C., The World in 2010 Festival will kick off with a studio session of NBC’s Meet the Press with Anchor David Gregory.

Carol Ballock is  a managing director at Burson-Marsteller in New York. She is architect of the industry’s first and only proprietary survey to rank the Most Valued Podiums (“MVPs”) by CEO and C-suite executives.

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