What to Expect
Oh, the connections you’ll make!
… with breakthrough storytellers
Brush elbows with industry icons, such as bestselling author Robert McKee and Skyword founder and CEO Tom Gerace—and with keynote speakers who are breaking the rules and setting new storytelling standards.
… with your peers
We pack a whole lot into a day, but between networking breaks and the after party, you have many chances to meet new friends and colleagues and to reconnect with old ones.
… with the Hub of the Universe
From the Westin Copley Place, in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, you have easy access to the city’s historical, gastronomic, and cultural treasures. Click here to book your hotel at the discounted Forward group rate!
… with the good life
We work hard to make Forward a place where you can relax and enjoy good food, good company, good stories, and take-home gifts to remind you of the critical role those stories play.
Session Tracks at Forward
We’re not on Madison Avenue anymore.
The practice of marketing is forever altered as ad-centric models fall away and “content marketing” becomes just “marketing.” Discover how marketing teams are meeting intensified disruptions in technology, content consumption, and demographics.
Tell me a story.
Whether your goal is to whisper in a single customer’s ear or to capture the imagination of an entire demographic, there’s nothing like story to help you make a lasting impact. But what does brand storytelling look like for your team? Be inspired by brands that are pushing the boundaries with new story technologies, formats, distribution methods, and more.
Rubber: meet the road.
What are the components of storytelling success, exactly? How do you know when it’s time to incorporate the latest technology? Explore the software tools and tactics that help make story-centric marketing teams successful. Dive into processes, content optimization, performance measurement, ROI, and more.
Westley “Wes” Watende Omari Moore is an American author, social entrepreneur, television producer, political analyst, and decorated US Army officer. He is the author of The Other Wes Moore and The Work, both of which are New York Times Bestsellers.
Wes Moore, American Author & Entrepreneur
Lynda Barry has worked as a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator, and teacher and found they are very much alike. The New York Times has described Barry as “among this country’s greatest conjoiners of words and images.”
Lynda Barry, Author & Artist
Paul Alexander is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Eastern Bank, based in Boston, Massachusetts. His goal at Eastern is to create and implement marketing and communication strategies that build bottom-line business results, brand equity, and employee engagement.
Paul Alexander, CMO, Eastern Bank
For years, marketers have been sneaking into Robert McKee’s Story seminars to learn the craft of storytelling from the person who taught more than 60 Academy Award winners. Well, it’s time to put away those dark glasses.
One day after Forward, on June 15, Robert and Skyword’s founder Tom Gerace will bring Storynomics, a one-day storytelling seminar designed specifically for marketers, to Boston.
Doing Good: How Eastern Bank Helps People Prosper
- Tom Gerace, Founder & CEO, Skyword
- Paul Alexander, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Eastern Bank
As one of three companies that led the lobbying effort to pass Massachusetts’ Transgender Anti-Discrimination Law, Eastern Bank has lived up to its history of serving the underserved and being an outspoken advocate in the community. Join CMO Paul Alexander as he shares the journey of this 200-year-old financial services company. Through the story of the brand’s relaunch, learn how to win in the marketplace and the workplace by demonstrating that the right thing to do can also be the smart thing to do.
Building a High-Performing Content Engine: B-to-B Best Practices
- Christine Polewarczyk, Service Director, Content Strategy and Operations, SiriusDecisions
B-to-B audiences require more and higher-quality content than ever before. But many organizations still struggle to deliver content efficiently and effectively at scale. In this session, SiriusDecisions will explain the best practices organizations should adopt across strategy, people, process, technology, and measurement to achieve an optimized, high-performing content engine. Grounded in industry benchmarks, best practices, and actionable process frameworks, attendees will walk away with the knowledge they need to transform their B-to-B content engines from constant challenges to competitive differentiators.
How IBM Security Built a World-Class Site Through Internal SME Contributors
- Jennifer Tullman Botzer, Digital Marketing Manager, IBM Security
- Rachel Logan, Senior Content Strategist, Skyword
IBM Security’s thought leadership site, SecurityIntelligence.com, has accomplished something many content marketers try but few succeed at: leveraging their own internal SMEs as their primary writers without sacrificing publishing cadence or editorial quality. A panel of IBM-ers shares what they’ve done to encourage and enable over 500 IBM employees to create world-class content that IT professionals rely on every day.
The Unsung Hero of Content Marketing: Original Research
- Clare McDermott, Chief Research Officer, Mantis Research
- Uncover the essential questions you need to answer when starting an original research project
- Understand the steps involved in any research project–from traditional reports based on large-scale quantitative surveys to original insights from 3rd-party aggregated data
- Walk away with many ideas from others who have successfully executed original research
How Content Shapes Research and Development
- Christine Del Castillo, Senior Content Designer, Fidelity Labs
First you build the product, then you sell the product. That second part is where storytelling comes in—at least, that’s what conventional thinking would have us believe. But at Fidelity Labs, creating a valuable, viable new service for the self-employed involved content strategy from the beginning. The written word played a crucial role in every part of the product design process, from early user testing to finding areas of interest, to the creation of design principles, to guiding product decisions. And on the go-to-market side, sharing content with potential customers enabled the team to gauge interest in the product, assess brand resonance, and uncover the interests, concerns, and motivations of independent professionals.
Content Marketing Strategy: Why an effective content strategy is essential for marketing transformation, and how to do it right
- Darryl Gehly, EVP, Skyword
While people are rejecting advertising at alarming rates, some marketers have discovered how to deploy content to establish an engaged, always-on audience who is actually receptive to marketing messages.
Content, done well, creates the new great customer experience that drives engagement, conversion, and affinity.
The challenge to marketers is creating original content at the pace and quality needed to satisfy the needs of your target market.
It’s actually more simple than you’d expect.
Join Skyword’s EVP Darryl Gehly to discuss how brands are creating memorable, authentic stories that drive business. Find out how you too can create storytelling destinations designed to both engage audiences and meet the business bottom line.
Laying the Foundation For Enterprise Content Operations: How Sage and Wiley Leveraged Technology and Process to Easily Scale Content Across Channels and Across the Globe
- Melissa Romo, Global Head, Social Media & Content at Sage
- Catie Starr, VP of Marketing for Wiley
- Dirk Shaw, SVP, Director of Content Experience at Olson
- Matias Wigozki, Senior Director of Customer Success at Skyword
In this panel session you’ll be steeped in the challenges associated with scaling original content across 40+ content destinations and in 5 different countries. Come learn why the teams at Wiley and Sage partnered with Skyword. Learn about content needs at large enterprise including: streamlining content operations, recruiting creatives around the globe, and managing the full lifecycle of content ideation — all while creating business value for the enterprise.
Plenary Session—What “It” Is
- Lynda Barry, Author & Artist
Why do people wish they could write, sing, dance, and draw, long after they’ve given up on these things? Does creative activity have a biological function? There is something common to everything we call the arts. What is it? It’s something I call an “image,” something that feels alive and is contained and transported by something that is not alive—a book, or a song or a painting—anything we call an “art form.” This ancient “it” has been around at least as long as we have had hands, and the state of mind it brings about is not plain old thinking. This talk is about of our innate creative ability to work with images and what the biological function of this thing we call “the arts” may be.
Leveling Up: How ADP Measures and Demonstrates the Business Value of Content
- Stacy Landis, VP, Content Marketing, ADP
- Jill Taksey, Sr. Director Content Development, ADP
Every one of us is trying to secure executive and enterprise-wide support for our content strategy. Join Stacy Landis and Jill Taksey of ADP to explore how they’ve identified KPIs, established goals and created a reporting cadence with their Skyword team to provide internal visibility to blog results. Stacy and Jill will also offer best practices around how a centralized content function can partner across business units and functions to create audience-first content aligned to business objectives.
How We Built an Audience for the Endless Thread Podcast Through Great Audio Storytelling
- Ben Brock Johnson, Host and Producer of Endless Thread Podcast, WBUR
- Amory Sivertson, Producer for New Programming, Producer of Endless Thread and Modern Love Podcasts, WBUR
Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson are podcast producers for WBUR. Join this session to learn how they dive into the recesses of the internet to discover ephemeral stories worth telling and recreate them into great audio stories with staying power.
The pair collaborate on Endless Thread, one of “The 50 Best Podcasts to Listen to Right Now.” In collaboration with Reddit, Endless Thread delves into Reddit’s boundless communities to explore some of the most compelling stories the internet has to offer, including revelations about our shared experience and powerful, personal stories.
Amory is also a producer on Modern Love: The Podcast, produced by WBUR and based on the New York Times’ popular series of weekly reader-submitted essays.
Content Marketing ROI: How to Create a Fully Accountable Content Strategy
- Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group
You understand the power of content marketing. But how do you prove that what you are doing is delivering real results?
We all feel the pressure from the business to achieve our goals. Our internal teams keep asking us to produce more content, while our customers’ buying behaviors continue to change. What if you could learn the secret to creating a content strategy that bridges the gap between your customers, your brand, and your business?
During this session, you will discover how to think differently about the stories you should tell and the content you should produce. You will walk away with:
- A foundation for building your business case across the company
- The roadmap to publishing and measuring content at each stage of the buyer journey
- Process for setting and tracking goals for your content
- Specific content marketing ROI examples from brands just like yours
Beers with Engineers: Open Forum on What’s Next for the Skyword Platform
- Matias Wigozki, Sr. Director of Customer Success, Skyword
- Keith Kost, VP of Product, Skyword
- John Mihalik, Chief Technology Officer, Skyword
How Vistaprint is Transforming Its Brand Through Storytelling
- Sarah Nunes, Director Brand Communications, Vistaprint
- Leona Frank, Senior Manager Brand, Content and Social, Vistaprint
Storytelling has grown to become one of the most exciting and important tools to drive brand affinity and connect with customers on a deeper, more meaningful level. Using Vistaprint as a case study, we will share why brand need a story-focused approach, why a good story is never enough, how to overcome silos for more impactful, results and how to measure success.
- Why brands adopt story centric marketing
- How Vistaprint makes story-centric marketing work
- How to get others on board
- How to measure success
Ensuring Your Martech Stack Delivers: Best Practices From Student Loan Hero
- Tracy Odell, VP, Content, Student Loan Hero
The tech stack seems to be on every marketer’s mind these days, but what happens when the tech stack doesn’t deliver? Enter the marketer’s dilemma: Technology has promised to break down marketing silos, but unless there’s widespread buy-in first, technology always falls short. Join this session to learn how to create a culture of communication that allows your tech stack to deliver on its promise. Tracy Odell, VP at Student Loan Hero, shares her past and current experiences on leveraging her organization’s tech stack to streamline communication, increase collaboration, and reach team KPIs.
Forward 2018 Closing Keynote - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
- Rob Murray, President, Skyword
- Wes Moore, American Author & Entrepreneur
“The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.” –Wes Moore
Two Baltimore boys named Wes Moore were born in the same neighborhood less than a year apart. One grows up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, and White House Fellow. The other becomes a convicted murderer serving a life sentence. The Other Wes Moore is a story so compelling, it became an instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book and is now an upcoming major motion picture from Executive Producer Oprah Winfrey.
Forward 2018 After Party
It’s time to celebrate! Join us at our annual after party. We’ll have drinks, food, and games and announce raffle winners.
“It’s rare that a conference delivers on its promise—this conference delivered.“
– Tricia Griffin, VP, Dignity Health