Join us on June 6
Boston, MA

Becoming Better. Together.

In today’s market, change may seem like the only constant. How do marketers create lasting connections with audiences that build trust and drive engagement despite all this change? At Forward, marketing leaders from around the world will come together to share, learn, and empower each other to build better strategies, tell better stories, and become better leaders. Join us at Forward 2019, and let’s grow better together.


A Taste of the Action!

Check out the above video to get a taste of the action and sense of community formed at Skyword’s annual conference. You won’t want to miss the speakers and fun we have planned for 2019!

2019 Keynotes

More to Come

Tom Gerace, Founder & CEO, Skyword

Tom Gerace is the founder and CEO of Skyword, the leading content marketing technology and services company that broke the industry mold when it was founded in 2010. Combining best-in-class content marketing with best-in-class analytics, Skyword empowers today’s top brands to create unique content experiences that deliver customer value and drive business success. With Robert McKee, award-winning story authority and best-selling author, Gerace has led Storynomics™ Seminars, which instructed senior executives and marketing professionals on how to apply storytelling structure to their business in order to drive revenue, margins, and brand loyalty. Prior to Skyword, Gerace founded Be Free, a publicly traded affiliate marketing platform and services company, which transformed online advertising from pay-per-view to pay-for-performance advertising. Early in his career, Gerace served as a senior business analyst at the Harvard Business School, where he wrote the first case studies on the emergence of the Internet in 1998.

Allen Gannett, Chief Strategy Officer, Skyword

Allen Gannett was the founder and CEO of TrackMaven, a marketing analytics platform whose clients included Microsoft, Marriott, Saks Fifth Avenue, Home Depot, Aetna, Honda, and GE. In 2018 it merged with Skyword, the leading content marketing platform, where he now serves as Chief Strategy Officer. He has been on the “30 Under 30” lists for both Inc. and Forbes. He is a contributor for and his book, The Creative Curve, came out June 2018 from Currency, a division of Penguin Random House. The book has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, numerous top podcasts, and will be translated into seven other languages in 2019. Most importantly, he was once a very pitiful runner-up on Wheel of Fortune.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author who speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a LinkedIn Influencer; a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.

Beverly Jackson, VP, Social Portfolio Strategy, MGM Resorts International

Beverly is the VP, Social Portfolio Strategy for MGM Resorts International. MGM Resorts International is one of the world’s leading global hospitality companies, operating a portfolio of destination resort brands including Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, and The Mirage. In this role she champions the company as an engaging and leading brand through storytelling across multiple media platforms and networks by setting the strategy and driving production of compelling content. Beverly has a passion for mobile innovation, working for some of the world’s most iconic brands. Prior to her work at MGM, Beverly served as the Head of Social Marketing for Yahoo and created the award winning social media program for the GRAMMY Awards. Beverly holds a Master’s degree from Baruch College in NY and a BS from Howard University in Washington, DC.



Senior Vice President, Products & Solutions, Private Banking, Wealth & Trust
Boston Private


Manager, Content Marketing
Royal Caribbean International


Founder & CEO


Lead, Content Optimization
Royal Caribbean International

Jean Ellen

General Manager of TicToc and Global Head of Digital Strategy & Business Development
Bloomberg Digital


Regional Social Media Manager
Caesars Entertainment


Global Manager, Content Development
Iron Mountain


VP of Content Development


Director of SEO


Associate Director of Digital, Content


Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer
Mantis Research


Director of Content


Digital Marketing Manager
Tom’s of Maine


Senior Manager, Global Editorial Strategy


EVP, Professional Services


Senior Manager, Sage Advice and Content Platforms


VP, Digital Content Strategy U.S. Customer Office


Building Better Strategies

Intelligent marketers know how to use data as a resource and innovate based on the story that data tells. This track combines the art and science of data-driven decision making to help you build stronger, better strategies.

Telling Better

Storytelling is a critical differentiator for brands. The right stories help us create genuine connections that last way past the initial engagement. Join sessions in this track to learn how you can become a better storyteller.

Becoming Better Leaders

Teams need leaders to help them drive meaningful change. Learn from top marketers as they share how they have established themselves as leaders not only in their organization, but also within their industry.

Subscribe for updates and be the first to know when the agenda is announced.


7:30AM – 8:30AM
Registration and Networking
8:30AM – 9:45AM
Forward 2019 Opening Remarks
  • Tom Gerace | Founder & CEO, Skyword
  • Allen Gannett | CSO, Skyword
Opening Keynote
  • Beverly Jackson | VP Social Portfolio Strategy, MGM Resorts International
9:45AM – 10:15AM
Morning networking break
10:15AM – 10:55AM
The Ins and Outs of Influencer Marketing
  • Greg Littley | Associate Director of Digital Content, Revlon
  • Tristan Diehl | Regional Social Media Manager, Caesars Entertainment
  • Moderator: Bryan Sartory | Director of Brand Partnerships, Skyword

Mediakix estimated that by 2020 brands would be spending $5-$10 billion dollars on influencer marketing strategies. As the practice continues to gain adoption and dollars, how can brand marketers protect their investment? Join this panel where three veteran marketers share their experiences testing influencer marketing strategies at their organizations.

Fireside Chat with Automattic’s Jessie Harris: Balancing Analytics and Creativity in Marketing
  • Jessie Harris | Director of SEO, Automattic
  • Blaire Kotsikopoulos | Senior Director of Data & Insights, Skyword

As marketers, we’re often expected to be creative and have the “big ideas” that propel our companies forward. But what if you’re more innately analytical? As the Director of SEO at Automattic, Jessie Harris approaches her work with an SEO POV. Instead of allowing the need to be creative clash with the desire to be data-oriented, Jessie embraces the two. She’s found that looking at strategies from both sides of the table has led to better decision-making. So, how can other marketers learn from this and balance being both analytical and creative at the same time? Join this fireside chat as Jessie discusses all things SEO, strategy, and analytical decision-making.
You Don’t Know Best, but Your Customer Does: How Wiley Turned Consumer Research into Personalized Content Experiences

Wes Miller | Director of Content, Wiley

You read the blogs and follow trends to stay current, but industry insights are a byproduct of consumer behavior. You can either react to what’s now or strive to predict what’s next.

In this session, you will learn how Wiley, a global publisher and leader in the higher education space, went straight to the source—their customer—to determine attitudinal traits, barriers, and buying behaviors and used that information to lay the foundation for a consumer-informed, digital, and personalized content experience.

We’ll share tips on how to conduct consumer research and translate those insights into engaging content powered by a consumer-first strategy.

11:10AM – 11:50AM
Conversations with Marketing Leaders: A Panel of Pain Points, Challenges, and Triumphs
  • Allison Baird | SVP, Products & Solutions, Boston Private
  • Sunder Sarangan | CMO, Persistent Systems
  • Tricia Travaline | CMO, Skyword

As industries continue to see rapid transformation and disruption, the role of CMO is becoming increasingly critical. They’re tasked with driving organizational growth while also maneuvering authentic connections with audiences across multiple platforms. In other words, they’re under immense pressure. During this session, marketing leaders will share what keeps them up at night, what changes they’re experiencing in their industries, and the new and next tools that are making their jobs easier.

How do you manage for brand consistency? How do you account for cultural nuances? Who is actually doing the work? In this session, we will discuss real world approaches for deploying content across markets in smart, scalable and cost-effective ways.

What Drives Contagious Media?

Andrea Breanna | Founder & CEO, RebelMouse

Take a trip through the lessons learned from creating some of the industry’s powerhouses, including Dog Island, HuffPost, The Dodo, Axios, and more. Andrea’s life work is focused on creating media that spreads massively and quickly becomes household names and concepts. Understand the creative framework and process to follow when you think about “content.”

Going beyond Translation: How Great Content Scales Globally
  • Matt Groteinstein | VP of Content Development, Acclaro
  • Andrew Wheeler | EVP, Professional Services, Skyword

Creating compelling content at scale that is helpful, engaging, and relevant is hard enough. Now imagine the complexity of scaling that content across four markets, eight countries, and twelve languages. Holy s*&t!

How do you manage for brand consistency? How do you account for cultural nuances? Who is actually doing the work? In this session, we will discuss a real-world approach for deploying content across markets in smart, scalable, and cost-effective ways.

11:50AM – 1:00PM
Rooftop Lunch and Networking
1:00PM – 1:40PM
Building Brand Authority with Scalable Content Creation
  • Forest Lee | Senior Director, Creative Operations, Skyword
  • Blaire Kotsikopoulos | Senior Director, Data & Insights, Skyword
  • Ben Chamas | Associate Director, Editorial, Skyword
  • Mandi Tompkins | Senior Director, Content Strategy, Skyword

To maximize the impact of your brand storytelling and own your space with content, your messaging needs to be intentionally designed, strategically executed, and creatively adaptable.

During this session, the leaders of the Skyword Centers of Excellence will provide you with the details you need to launch, maintain, and grow a successful and scalable brand storytelling program. After this session, you should walk away with a solid understanding of the following elements of intelligent brand storycraft:

  • How to create and maintain a content strategy built on data-driven insights
  • What a scalable content creation framework looks like
  • Why a diverse approach to content asset creation fuels steady growth
  • Where all these individual components meet to create a sustainable, malleable brand storytelling ecosystem that allows creativity to flourish
Building the World's Biggest Business Advice Content Hub: Secrets From the Inside
  • Beatrice Whelan | Senior Manager of Sage Advice and Content Platforms, Sage
  • Josie Salkey | Senior Manager of Global Editorial Strategy, Sage

If you build it, they will come. Or will they? Learn the secrets of building a world-class B2B content home. In less than two years, Sage Advice has become one of the world’s largest business advice sites that converts millions of readers across six countries and four languages into an audience of customers for Sage.

While it might look like an overnight sensation, the secrets to its success lie in structure, build, design, content planning and strategic decision-making, all executed under the watchful eye of architects Beatrice Whelan and Josie Salkey. Join the duo as they share the story of building success one brick at a time. You’ll learn:

  • How to build an editorial strategy focused on conversion
  • How to achieve a global scale and local relevance
  • How to create a content optimization program
Show the Love: Content to Engage Your Existing Customers

Brad Young | VP, Digital Content Strategy, Customer Office, Prudential

When we think content marketing, most of us imagine storytelling to win the hearts of prospects and build new business. But what about those who’ve already taken the plunge with your brand? Brad Young, who leads the content practice for Prudential’s Customer Office, shares how the financial services leader uses stories and data to create connected experiences to deepen relationships with a massive customer base.

2:00PM – 2:40PM
How Tom’s of Maine Drives Content Strategy with Audience Insights

Kym Recco | Digital Marketing Manager, Tom’s of Maine

cHow do you build your content strategy? Is it by looking at team and company goals and building a plan to help achieve those? Or are you taking into account what your audience is actually digesting and engaging with? Tom’s of Maine uses audience insights to inform ideation and evolve their strategy. Join digital marketing manager Kym Recco as she discusses how her team keeps their strategy fluid, enabling growth and success.

Flashes of Genius: Learning the Art and Science of Creativity

Allen Gannett | CSO, Skyword

The standard view of creativity is one of constant brainstormings punctuated by sudden flashes of genius – it is not something you can be intentional or methodical about. But what if you could? In this session Allen Gannett, Skyword’s CSO, will explain how flashes of genius actually happen and provide ways any creator can increase their odds of having one.

Key Takeaways:

  • Identify the neurological and psychological mechanisms behind flashes of genius
  • Learn how you can have more of these so-called aha moments through the mass consumption of content
  • Understand how famous creators engage in a strategy called “the 20 percent principle” that is accessible for anyone
  • Realize how imitation provides you with the ability to create ideas that have the right mix of familiarity and novelty
A News Source for the New Guard: How to Win with the Next Generation of Leaders

Jean Ellen Cowgill | General Manager of TicToc and Global Head of Digital Strategy & Business Development, Bloomberg Digital

Having grown up with more access to information and exposure to other ways of living, more than any generation before them, the New Guard defines success as fulfillment and growth across all aspects of their lives. The content they consume, the careers they choose, and the way they spend their time or their money all speak to the New Guard’s ambitious aspirations of daily personal fulfillment – and these aspirations require a new approach for companies looking to connect with this audience. In this session, Jean Ellen Cowgill, General Manager of TicToc and Global Head of Strategy and Business Development for Bloomberg Digital, will share research and insights into the next generation of leaders and decision makers, to help brands better understand how to reach this increasingly important audience in a meaningful way.

2:40PM – 3:10PM
Afternoon networking break
3:10PM – 3:50PM
Data as Content: How to Use Original Research as an Engaging (Not Boring!) New Form of Storytelling

Clare McDermott | Co-Founder & Chief Research Officer, Mantis Research

Think research is just for consulting firms publishing about wonky topics like supply chain optimization and global insurance trends? Think again! We’re going to reimagine what’s possible for marketers interested in publishing original research.

We’ll cover some research basics, such as the four primary types of research projects for marketers and which ones are best for specific marketing goals and budgets. (And we’ll show you examples of marketers pulling off each type with aplomb.) Then we’ll dive into visual storytelling and review all the exciting new formats out there for visualizing data-driven stories, including interactive datagraphics and data animation.

Shifting Focus: How Royal Caribbean Builds Awareness with New Audiences
  • Andrea Baumgartner | Manager of Content Marketing, Royal Caribbean International
  • Ariadna Castro | Lead of Content Optimization, Royal Caribbean International

Long buffet lines, sunburnt Midwesterners, tacky cabaret shows… that’s probably what first comes to mind when you think of taking a cruise. Royal Caribbean was faced with a unique problem to solve: how to continue to grow its audience, tell unique product stories, and convert a non-cruiser to a brand loyalist. Royal Caribbean has been redefining the cruise experience by introducing ship innovation, bolder activities, private destinations, and unique culinary experiences. Marketing storytelling have also evolved to adapt to digital trends, a more competitive landscape, and a younger generation looking to create more insta-worthy travel memories. Content Marketing Manager Andrea Baumgartner and Content Optimization Lead Ari Castro discuss the genesis of Royal Caribbean’s new digital presence, the importance of strong content strategy and the use of user-intent insights to drive key business decisions. The business, website, and consumer insights have been aligned to improve the guest’s experience when looking for vacation inspiration online, and ultimately in booking a cruise.

Better Together: How to Master Marketing and Sales Alignment
  • Karen Guglielmo | Global Manager, Content and Marketing, Iron Mountain
  • Kara Burney | VP, Marketing, Skyword

It’s the age-old struggle. Marketing creates content to build awareness and pull the audience in. Armed with a library of case studies and product resources, the sales team closes the deal. Right? Often, the transition from generating leads to closing business is a lot more disconnected than that. But with content fueling every stage of the buyer’s journey, it’s more critical than ever to align your marketing and sales teams. Join Karen Guglielmo, Global Manager of Content Marketing at Iron Mountain, to hear how her content team fuels the sales process and unites marketing and sales. After all, they are #BetterTogether.

4:10PM – 5:30PM
Closing Keynote

Ann Handley | Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

Forward 2019 Closing Remarks
  • Tom Gerace | Founder & CEO, Skyword
  • Allen Gannett | CSO, Skyword
5:30PM – 7:00PM
Rooftop After Party


The Revere Hotel

This year Forward is being held at Boston’s newly renovated The Revere Hotel. This luxury hotel offers the Downtown Boston experience, located between the city’s theater district and historic Back Bay. Complete with city skyline views from guest room balconies, an onsite fitness center, and heated pool, this venue will serve as a refreshing retreat from your daily routine.


Who Attends

Marketers from all over the country attend Forward to connect and elevate their marketing strategies. Our speakers hail from the world’s leading brands with focuses on content marketing, strategy, brand, social media, operations, and more. At Forward we are empowering all marketers to be better together. We hope you’ll join us!



Connect With Top Brands

These are just some of the notable brands that joined us at Forward 2018

Forward combines quality speakers, actionable content, and an inspiring energy. This is definitely a conference not to be missed.

– Sharifah Niles-Lane, VP Digital Marketing and Social Media, Eastern Bank


Tickets sales end on June 5!