Future Focus 2024: The PR Net's Marketing and Communications Conference

April 12th saw the return of The PR Net Future Focus, our one-day conference celebrating innovative ideas and bringing together top global industry players. This summit, held at SECOND in New York City, explored nascent trends across media, marketing, and communications, with a speaker lineup consisting of visionaries from business, publishing, technology, events, and social media.

The day's program consisted of six sessions exploring topics such as the reinvention of modern media, the future of events and experiences, the latest influencer marketing trends, the effect of AI on the industry, strategies to enhance affiliate marketing efforts, and a thought-provoking discussion on whether 2024 will be a pivotal year for brand marketing.

Did you miss The PR Net Future Focus conference? Register now and pre-order the digital version; a professionally produced recording of the conference, showcasing all programming from the day for $49.99.


Future Focus 2024 Agenda

Future Focus began with a networking breakfast, followed by a welcome address by The PR Net founder Lisa Smith. Conference sessions followed and continued throughout the day until 4:20 pm, with a break for lunch and wrapping up with a cocktail hour till 5:30pm. Details of each panel and participant follows below.

8:30 – 9:30 am: Networking Breakfast & Welcome Address
9:30 – 10:20 am: Reinventing Modern Media
10:30 – 11:20 am: The Future of Events & Experiences
11:30 – 12:20 pm: What's Next in Influencer Marketing?
12:20 – 1:20 pm: Lunch 
1:30 – 2.20 pm: AI’s Effect on Marcomms
2:30 – 3:20 pm: Elevating Affiliate Marketing Strategies
3:30 – 4:20 pm: Is 2024 the Year of Brand Marketing?
4:20 – 5:30 pm: Cocktail Hour

8:30 – 9:30am
Networking Breakfast & Welcome Address

9:30 – 10:20am
Reinventing Modern Media


10:30 – 11:20am
The Future of Events & Experiences

11:30 – 12:20pm 
What's Next in Influencer Marketing?

12:20 – 1:20pm

1:30 – 2.20pm
AI’s Effect on Marcomms

2:30 – 3:20pm
Elevating Affiliate Marketing Strategies

3:30 – 4:20pm
Is 2024 the Year of Brand Marketing?

Networking Cocktail Hour

 Conference Concludes


Learn More About Our Panelists

Join us at Future Focus to hear from top global players about innovative ideas, visionary perspectives, and engaging discussions on the topics and people shaping the future of marketing & communications.

9:30 – 10:20am: Reinventing Modern Media

Willa Bennett, Editor-in-Chief, Highsnobiety
Willa Bennett is a writer and editor in New York City; currently the editor-in-chief of Highsnobiety. She is a Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree and previously the first woman to lead the social team and strategy at GQ Magazine. Willa began her career at Seventeen, where she launched the brand's queer vertical, after which she worked across audience development at Bustle Digital Group. Willa has been an Adweek Executive Mentor and The American Society of Magazine Editors has recognized her for overall excellence in social media and video programming. Since becoming Editor of Highsnobiety, the publisher has been named a finalist for Digiday’s Most Innovative Publisher Award and a winner of 3 Muse Awards.

Amanda Smith, President, Fairchild Media
Amanda Smith serves as Fairchild Media's President, leading sales, marketing, live media and business operations across Fairchild’s WWD, Footwear News, Sourcing Journal and Beauty Inc. Amanda has deep experience and relationships in the luxury, retail and fashion sectors. Her reputation for relentless innovation has led to a stellar track record of outperforming expectations, delivering revenue growth, and forging successful teams and first-ever opportunities and partnerships. Prior to joining PMC, Amanda had leadership roles at some of the most iconic brands in publishing, including Fast Company, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Conde Nast Traveler. Overseeing a diverse and expanding business-side portfolio, from sales and brand partnerships to marketing and client solutions to special events, she has pioneered the successful pivot to virtual thought-leadership conferences, webinars and festivals.

Simone Oliver, Strategic Advisor & Editor at Large
Simone brings 20 years of pioneering digital expertise and a track record of innovation and impact, having reshaped leading media brands and advised top executives on growth and innovation strategies. As Senior VP of Digital Content at BET (Paramount), she drove notable initiatives, while enhancing brand resonance and audience engagement. She also revitalized BET branded content strategy and offerings. Prior, as the first Global Editor-in-Chief at Refinery29, Simone led global editorial and affiliate expansion. She joined R29 from Meta (formerly Facebook and Instagram), where she shepherded their work with lifestyle and magazine publishers as part of the global media partnerships team. Simone also drove growth as the Digital Director at Condé Nast’s Allure and at The New York Times in various style-focused leadership roles, including starting the first NYT Instagram account (@NYTFashion).

Samantha Barry, Americas Editorial Director, Glamour
Samantha Barry is Glamour’s global editorial director for the Americas. She oversees content, development, and consumer experiences across the title’s digital, social, and video verticals for Glamour. During her tenure, Barry has transformed the annual Women of the Year Awards into an inspirational celebration, championing Glamour’s diverse community of women and led Glamour to reach record-breaking monthly audiences, and grown video content across platforms. Prior to joining Glamour, Barry served as global head of social media at CNN. Barry also previously worked as a reporter and producer for BBC World News in London, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in Papua New Guinea, and RTE and Newstalk in Ireland.

Panel moderated by Brian Strong, Global Head of Communications, Bloomberg Media
Brian Strong serves as the Global Head of Communications for Bloomberg Media, directing a team responsible for the brand's internal and external messaging. His focus includes the Bloomberg Originals rebrand, new programming launches, and flagship events like Bloomberg Green, Screentime, Equality verticals, and the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. Previously, Brian held roles at FOX Sports and NIKE. As Senior VP of Brand Communications at FOX, he led projects such as World Cups, Super Bowl LIV, and Magnify documentary series. At NIKE, he managed media relations strategies for major sports categories, working on Olympic Games, Super Bowls, and prominent athlete product launches. Brian began his career at CBS Sports, later founding The Strong Group and working with renowned agencies.

10:30 – 11:20am: The Future of Events & Experiences

Bronson van Wyck, Co-founder, Van Wyck & Van Wyck
Event planning extraordinaire Bronson van Wyck is the co-founder of Van Wyck & Van Wyck, the internationally renowned event design and production firm. Bronson is recognized as one of the leading authorities in hospitality and in leveraging hospitality to achieve business objectives for brands. Author of coffee table title ‘Born to Party, Forced to Work’, his clients include a who’s who of brands, nonprofits and celebrities. His firm has executed events for the likes of The Whitney Museum, Omega, Hermes, Longchamp, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, St. Regis Hotels, Land Rover and Cartier, among countless others.

Rachel Racusen, Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Snap Inc.
Rachel currently serves as the Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Snap Inc, where she helps oversee the company’s global communications team and leads corporate reputation strategies for key business divisions. She first joined Snap in 2016, after which the company went public and grew from 1,000 to over 7,000 employees globally. In her role, Rachel has successfully advocated for product and policy changes that helped drive key business and reputational outcomes, and overseen major partnership announcements with leading media, studios and production companies, sports leagues, fashion brands, and more.

Allison Barrie Rand, Head of Experiential Marketing & Talent Partnerships, Walmart
As Head of Experiential Marketing and Talent Partnerships at Walmart, Allison Barrie Rand is responsible for the strategy, development, and execution of special experiences and partnerships that bring dimension to the brand’s “Live Better” promise and penetrate the cultural zeitgeist. Since joining in 2022, Allison has expanded the brand’s experiences platform – identifying new ways to deepen the relationship with valued customers. Allison began her career after earning a degree in Marketing and Communications from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and prior to her current role, Allison served as Director of Entertainment Experiences at American Express where she spent 8.5 years leading artist partnerships, a scaled ticket access program, and award-winning live + digital experiences. Highly regarded by her peers, partners, and organization, Allison has been featured in publications such as Muse by Clio, Event Marketer, and Forbes magazine. She has also leveraged her vast background in culture and experiences to serve on multiple industry panels, including the 2020 Clio Music jury.

Panel moderated by Jed Weinstein, Founder & CEO, Rise & Set
Jed Weinstein is a graduate of the prestigious Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, GA. After graduating, Jed founded his first entrepreneurial venture and three years later, Latin America Sports Camps, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was sold for a profit to a local marketing agency. Upon his return to the US, Jed was recruited to work with live concert and production company SFX Entertainment (subsequently acquired by Clear Channel Entertainment), where he spent several years producing award-winning events for the likes of Coca-Cola, Schering Plough, and XM Satellite Radio. Jed went on to start Rise & Set, one of the nation’s top luxury lifestyle marketing agencies, creating experiences for the world’s most high-profile luxury brands and clientele.

11:30 – 12:20pm : What’s Next in Influencer Marketing?

Emily Fauver, Content Creator, @emily.fauver
Emily Fauver is a dedicated full-time content creator, wife, and proud mother of two. With a passion for authenticity, Emily shares her family's everyday life with transparency and relatability. Alongside her husband, Dylan, and their adorable littles, Ella & Nash, Emily's content resonates deeply with viewers. Their TikTok series, "Piggies and Bunnies," has propelled their following, gaining over 4.7 million followers on TikTok alone. Emily continues to inspire and entertain her audience with her genuine approach and heartwarming family moments.

Anna Kai, Content Creator, @itsmaybeboth
Anna Kai spent her twenties dating all the wrong men in New York City so you don’t have to. Known for her “GRWM” videos on TikTok (@itsmaybeboth) and Instagram (@maybeboth) where she dishes out no-BS dating and life advice while doing her makeup, Anna uses her platforms to champion women and marginalized voices, and to remind her community of 1.8 million combined “Biddies” that love is truly, not lost at all if we know how to find ourselves first. Born to Chinese immigrants, Anna’s social media handles are an homage to being both Chinese and American, to the multitudes that lie within us all.

Ted Raad, Founder & CEO, Trend Companies
Ted Raad is the founder of Trend, one of the fastest-growing influencer management and influencer marketing companies in the United States. Raad launched Trend Management in 2019 with a roster of three influencers and under his vision and leadership, Trend now represents over 80 creators, many boasting 1million+ follower counts. Prior to Trend, Ted Raad worked within the IT mergers and acquisitions department at Hewlett-Packard Inc. (HP), a top 20 Fortune 500 company, negotiating multi-million dollar deals. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, receiving his Master in Business Administration, with a concentration in Negotiations & Communication.

Nena Evans, Content Creator, @nenaevans
Nena Evans, a former analytics manager turned devoted full-time content creator, inspires her followers with her ultra-chic sense of style and glimpses into her daily life. Originally gaining momentum while navigating her 9-5 job, Nena captivated audiences across the globe with her versatile workwear ensembles, showing women could maintain professionalism without sacrificing style. Recognized as a Southern Living Tastemaker and LTK's Rising Star of the Year, Nena has a dedicated following of over a million across various platforms. She collaborates with renowned fashion and lifestyle brands, leveraging her influence to inspire others to look and feel their best.

Panel Moderated by Faye Halligan, Director of Talent Relations, Trend Companies
Faye Halligan, the Director of Talent Relations at Trend Companies, is not just a master of connections; she's also the creative force behind enhancing the company’s client experience. With a keen eye for detail and an understanding of industry trends, her strategic approach ensures that the talent roster remains diverse, vibrant, and nurtured. Her multifaceted role embodies a commitment to both meaningful relationships and unparalleled client service.

1:30 – 2.20pm: AI’s Effect on Marcomms

Alexia Adana, VP, Director of Creative Technology, Edelman
Alexia Adana is Vice President, Director of Creative Technology at Edelman New York. Alexia is a creative director and technical artist whose work explores the intersection of art and technology to innovate, impact, and democratize creative solutions and experiences. With proficiency in photography, video, 3D, AI, and Extended Reality, Alexia crafts engaging and pioneering solutions.

Aaron Kwittken, Founder and CEO, PRophet and CEO, Stagwell Marketing Cloud, Comms Tech Unit
Aaron is founder and CEO of PRophet (prprophet.ai), the first-ever generative and predictive AI SaaS platform designed by and for the PR community. The platform uses AI to help modern PR professionals become more performative, productive and predictive by generating, analyzing and testing content that predicts earned media interest and sentiment. Aaron is also CEO of the Comms Tech Unit for the Stagwell Marketing Cloud, a suite of AI SaaS solutions for PR, social media, and content creators.

Paul Miser, EVP, Group Director, HOW (a 5W Agency)
Paul Miser is the EVP + Group Director of The HOW Agency, focused on building brand influence at the intersection of content and performance marketing. Working on clients like Lincoln Motor Company, Novartis Healthcare, Colgate-Palmolive, LG & Xerox, Miser's work has been recognized globally by Cannes Lions, the Clios, the Webby's, the One Club and the Effie Awards. Miser is also the author of Digital Transformation: The Infinite Loop - Building Experience Brands for the Journey Economy.

Panel moderated by Samyutha Reddy, Head of Corporate Marketing, Jasper AI
Samyutha Reddy is a multi-disciplinary marketing leader with rich expertise in enterprise technology and category creation. She currently leads Corporate Marketing at Jasper, an AI copilot designed for marketing teams, and previously at WalkMe, a publicly traded technology company. As the founding marketer for Jasper's enterprise line of business, Samyutha recognizes the importance of collaboration in generative AI that goes beyond company interests. She believes in the responsibility that individuals in AI hold, particularly in these early stages, to ensure ethical and safe development for the future. She has taken these messages to the stage at leading conferences around the world, including SXSW, SaaSTR and AdWorld, has been featured in publications including Forbes, Girlboss, and has been named to the 2024 Forbes Under 30 list for Marketing and Advertising.

2:30 – 3:20pm: Elevating Affiliate Marketing Strategies

Leilani Han, Executive Director, Commerce, The New York Times Wirecutter
Over the last dozen+ years, Leilani has cultivated a reputation for building best-in-class teams and partnerships in the affiliate space. As the Executive Director of Commerce at Wirecutter, the product-recommendation site owned by the New York Times, she is responsible for driving a partnership strategy that serves our readers off-platform and in turn drive year over year revenue growth for the company. Leilani's background in the advertiser, network (advertiser and publisher development), and now the publisher side of affiliate brings a unique perspective to her approach in growing the company's core affiliate business and strategic partnerships, while staying true to Wirecutter's mission of serving their readers first.

Jacqueline Goldstein, Vice President, Commerce, NY Post.
Jackie Goldstein has been helping to facilitate new revenue generation for publishers over the past decade and beyond. Recently, her focus has been on building and scaling affiliate marketing operations, but she has also launched highly successful podcasting and content licensing businesses as well. She is a founding organizer of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, and also loves travel, cooking, and contemporary art.

Taylor Kendrick, Senior Manager, Channel Partnerships, impact.com
Taylor Kendrick has over 7 years of experience at impact.com, primarily focusing on partnerships with agencies (including PR) to launch affiliate marketing services. He is highly experienced in influencer marketing and performance partnerships. Originally from New Orleans, Taylor enjoys helping agencies solve problems for their clients and their partnership programs.

Taylor Kendrick, Senior Manager, Channel Partnerships, impact.com
Teresa is an experienced digital marketing professional with over 25 years in the field. She entered the affiliate marketing space in 2006 and has been enmeshed in it ever since, leading affiliate marketing programs for clients such as Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Peter Millar, Dillard’s, Bisell and more. Teresa sits on the Publisher Recruitment Council for the Performance Marketing Association where she is a regular contributor to white papers and a webinar panelist, and has judged the US Partnership Awards for the last three years.

Panel moderated by Jeremiah Corley, Affiliate Director, Dreamday
Jeremiah is an Affiliate Director at Dreamday, leading strategy and execution for a rolodex of category-defining brands. Jeremiah and Team have driven $8M+ in affiliate revenue across the agency's portfolio in the last 6 months through a diversified, white-glove approach to affiliate management. Previously, Jeremiah was the first employee of sexual wellness brand maude, working closely with the founder/CEO on maude’s pre-launch marketing strategy and led execution and growth across maude's affiliate program, leading it to become one of the most efficient channels in the marketing mix. With nearly a decade in NYC, he currently resides in Brooklyn with his pup Oliver.

3:30 – 4:20pm: Is 2024 the Year of Brand Marketing?

Crystal Vinisse Thomas, Vice President - Global Brand Leader, Lifestyle & Luxury Brands, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Crystal’s story is one of tenacity and adaptability, and full of pivots. A veteran hotelier and alumni of Cornell University’s Hotel School, Crystal started out in the hospitality industry on-property in a variety of roles—from valet and bell person to front desk and sales, before moving onto the branding side of the business. She then went on to oversee the W brand and moved to Brussels before completely pivoting to Beats by Dre, overseeing the company’s NBA partnership and all things sports. In Crystal’s current role as VP & Global Brand Leader for Hyatt’s luxury and lifestyle brands, including Andaz, Alila, Caption by Hyatt, Dream Hotels, Park Hyatt, and Thompson Hotels, she is responsible for driving each brand’s identity and introducing exciting global marketing campaigns to craft memorable guest experiences.

Samina Virk, North America CEO, Vestiaire Collective
Samina Virk is the North America CEO for Vestiaire Collective, the leading global resale platform for pre-owned luxury fashion. Samina is a veteran of the e-commerce and retail industry, with a strong background in building brands at the intersection of fashion and technology. In previous roles, she held leadership positions at eBay and Target, and most recently was U.S. President and CMO for Threads Styling. Samina also has an MBA from London Business School.

Colin Kavanagh, Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard
As Chief Marketing Officer, Pernod Ricard North America, Colin Kavanagh oversees U.S. marketing and innovation for the leading spirits, wine, and champagne brands in the company’s premium portfolio, including Absolut, Jameson, Malibu, Kahlua, The Glenlivet, Perrier-Jouët, GH Mumm and many others. Colin is responsible for providing leadership, vision and strategic direction to the business’s overall marketing initiatives.

Ana Andjelic, Chief Brand Officer, ESPRIT
Ana Andjelic is a brand executive, author of “The Business of Aspiration” and one of Forbes’s The World’s Most Influential CMOs. Ana specializes in building brand-driven modern businesses. Most recently, she led the rebrand of Banana Republic and is now the Chief Brand Officer at ESPRIT. Ana earned her doctorate in sociology and is a widely read columnist, speaker and advisor.

Panel moderated by Celia Jones, Chief Marketing Officer, FINN Partners
Celia Jones is a seasoned Marketing leader with a proven track record of driving next-level growth for agencies and brands. For the past 20+ years, Jones has led Brand Marketing at several of the industry’s most lauded firms, including The Escape Pod, Havas, and Critical Mass. She has also spent time as a brand strategist and copywriter at a boutique design studio, led marketing for two software start-ups, worked with Architectural Digest and The New York Times to produce interior design shows, formed her own consultancy, and earned her law degree after graduating with honors from the University of Notre Dame.

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