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

The PR Net Future Focus Conference was held on March 31st at The Wall Street Hotel and brought together top global players in the marketing communications field, to discuss innovative ideas and visionary perspectives that are shaping the future of the industry. 

The full day conference featured six panels interspersed with networking sessions and attracted a diverse audience of senior executives from various sectors. Panels were themed around hot topics such as the future of media,  Web3 and Metaverse (presented by The 5th Column), what's next in influencer marketing, the new rules of events, the role of purpose in marketing strategy and traditional PR’s relevance in today’s landscape (presented by Muck Rack). 

The Future Focus Conference was a resounding success, providing attendees with invaluable insights about the future of the marketing communications industry. The networking breaks peppered throughout the day were embraced by the audience, which included representatives from brands like Virgin Group, American Express, Sephora, Hilton Hotels, Dow Jones, Tend, Mikimoto, Brunello Cucinelli, Small Luxury Hotels Group, Anthropologie, Four Seasons, Proximo Spirits, Air France/KLM and Pernod Ricard and agency leaders from MC Saatchi, Magrino, Finn Partners, Derris, Day One Agency, WE Communications, KWT Global and LaForce.

Future Focus Digital Access

Missed The PR Net Future Focus conference? Register now for the digital version; a professionally produced recording of the conference, showcasing all programming from the day.


Future Focus 2023 Agenda
The day will kick off with a networking breakfast, followed by a welcome address by The PR Net founder Lisa Smith. Conference sessions will follow and continue throughout the day until 4:30 pm, with a break for lunch and wrapping up with a cocktail hour till 5:30pm. Details of each panel and participants follow below.

9:00 – 9:45 am: Networking Breakfast & Welcome Address 
9:50 – 10:40 am: The Future of Media  
10:40 – 11:30 am: Web3 + Metaverse: Powering Brand Marketing and Innovation (Presented by 5th Column)
11:30 – 12:20 pm: What's Next in Influencer Marketing?
12:20 - 1:20 pm: Lunch 
1:30 – 2.20 pm: The New Rules of Events 
2:20 – 3:10 pm: Why Purpose & Impact Will be Inextricable from Tomorrow’s Marketing Strategy 
3:30 – 4:20 pm: Is Traditional PR Dead? (Presented by Muck Rack) 
4:30 – 5:30 pm: Cocktail Hour

8:45 – 9:45am
Networking Breakfast & Welcome Address

9:50 – 10:40am
The Future of Media  


10:40 – 11:30am
Web3 + Metaverse: Powering Brand Marketing and Innovation
Panel presented by 

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

12:20 – 1:20pm

1:30 – 2.20pm
The New Rules of Events 

2:20 – 3:10pm
Why Purpose & Impact Will be Inextricable from Tomorrow’s Marketing Strategy 

3:30 – 4:20pm
Is Traditional PR Dead?
Panel presented in partnership with  

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 the communication industry. 

9:50 – 10:40am: The Future of Media

Jessica Cruel, Editor-in-Chief - Allure
As Editor-in-Chief of Allure, Jessica Cruel drives the production of editorial content across print, digital, and video platforms. Under her leadership, Allure continues to set the bar for beauty journalism and is the home of the highly coveted The Allure Best of Beauty awards. Jessica also launched The Melanin Edit, a platform exploring Black beauty.

Amanda Sims Clifford, Executive Editor - House Beautiful
Amanda Sims Clifford is the Executive Editor of House Beautiful, the oldest continuously-published shelter and design magazine in the US. As Executive Editor, Amanda oversees content creation across all platforms, bringing her experience from launching influential verticals across titles such as Clever for Architectural Digest and her role as the founding editor of Food52's design department.

Erik Maza, Executive Style Director - Town & Country
Erik Maza is the Executive Style Director of Town & Country, an entertaining and intellectual guide to good taste and a life well-lived. He leads the fashion and style content, bringing expertise and an astute editorial eye from his sartorially rich background as Digital Features Director at W Magazine and Eye Editor at Women's Wear Daily.

Skye Parrott, Editor-in-Chief - Departures
Skye Parrott, the Editor-in-Chief of Departures, leads an American digital lifestyle magazine that caters to holders of American Express platinum and centurion cards, with a specific focus on luxury and travel. Her background is extensive, including roles such as Director of Special Projects at T Brand, The New York Times' content studio, as well as serving as a creative and editorial consultant for various independent and global clients on print and digital publications, content initiatives, and experiential activations.

Panel moderated by Tiana Webb Evans, Founder - ESP Group LLC
Tiana Webb Evans founded ESP Group LLC, a brand strategy and communications consultancy for art, design, and hospitality industries. She also established Yard Concept, a digital journal, gallery, and cultural platform for art, design, and community. Additionally, she founded Jamaica Art Society, which promotes the island's visual art legacy and supports professional development. Tiana's experience includes branding, strategic planning, and cultural programming. Previously, she worked as Communications Director at Phillips Auctioneers and Vice President of Hospitality and Real Estate at Nadine Johnson & Associates. She was also Business Director at Studio Sofield.

10:40 – 11:30am: Web3 + Metaverse – Powering Brand Marketing and Innovation
Panel presented by The 5th Column


Brian Trunzo, Metaverse Lead - Polygon Labs 
As Metaverse Lead at Polygon Labs, Brian Trunzo is responsible for onboarding the most influential IP holders, brands and retailers such as Starbucks and Sandbox into the Web3 world. Previously a financial regulatory attorney, Brian pivoted to become a leading voice in men's fashion, founding Carson Street, the largest American men's omnichannel retailer on Farfetch in addition to the luxury label Deveaux. Now, Brian helps companies leverage their IP in the metaverse at Polygon Labs, guiding them from ideation to execution.

Akbar Hamid, Founder & CEO - The 5th Column
Akbar Hamid, a Forbes Next 1,000 honoree, is a marketing and communications thought leader in a digital-first world. As Founder & CEO of The 5th Column and 5Crypto, and Co-Founder of People of Crypto Innovation Lab, Hamid guides major brands in navigating the Web3 era and emerging metaverse worlds, while shaping the new creator economy.

Neda Whitney, SVP and Head of Marketing for the Americas - Christie's
Neda leads marketing strategy for Christie's, overseeing Creative, Content, and Strategy teams in the Americas. Focused on campaign marketing and introducing the brand to new audiences, Neda drives innovation, data, and creative execution for the art, artifact, luxury, and design portfolios.

Justin Breton, Director of Brand Experiences & Partnerships - Walmart
Justin Breton is the Director of Brand Experiences & Partnerships at Walmart, focusing on digital & virtual experiences that drive meaningful customer engagement. During his time with the brand, he’s launched commerce-enabled, interactive content platforms to facilitate product discovery, an in-store augmented reality activation to support a national non-profit partnership, first-to-market shoppable livestreams on TikTok, YouTube, & Twitter to drive authentic brand & product storytelling, & most recently oversaw Walmart’s foray into the Metaverse with Walmart Land on Roblox.

Panel moderated by Megan DeMatteo, Independent Journalist and CoinDesk Contributor
Megan DeMatteo is a journalist, editor, and Pushcart-nominated poet currently based in New York City. She has written hundreds of articles for leading money and personal finance sites like CoinDesk, TIME's NextAdvisor, CNBC, and more. In 2021, Elizabeth Warren cited Megan’s CNBC article in her letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Megan holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, a master’s degree in creative writing, and certificates in the healing modalities of hatha yoga and narrative medicine

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

Luke Meagher, Content Creator - HauteLeMode
Luke Meagher is the content creator behind HauteLeMode, a highly successful YouTube channel connecting fashion criticism with the digital world. Launching his online career in 2017 while studying at FIT, Luke quickly gained traction in the fashion space with his conversation-initiating approach to fashion reviews. Inducted into the Business of Fashion's BoF 500 list in 2022, Luke has secured partnerships with major fashion houses such as Valentino and Gucci.

Emily Yeston, Co-Founder & CEO - Doré
Emily Yeston is the Co-Founder and CEO of Doré. After working closely with Garance Doré to build her eponymous platform into a thriving digital media property, Emily became Garance’s business partner leveraging Garance’s voice and influence to an ever-increasing international audience. In 2020, Emily partnered with Garance as Co-Founder and CEO of Doré to bring clean, gentle, and effective Made-in-France skincare with a focus on sustainability and inclusivity.

Permele Doyle Co-founder and President - Billion Dollar Boy
Permele Doyle is the co-founder and president of Billion Dollar Boy, a leading global influencer marketing agency. With offices in New York, London, and New Orleans, they deliver creator-led advertising campaigns at scale for brands. As the aesthetic eye behind your favorite Instagram and TikTok campaign, Permele believes in the power of creators and the creator economy, her company working with everyone from L’Oreal to Airbnb.

Cynthia Andrew, Content Creator - Simply Cyn
Cynthia Andrew, a lawyer turned full-time content creator, inspires audiences on how to balance creative passions with professional work life. Known for her colorful style, she shares her life as a new mom, traveler, and home renovator with her twin boys in tow. Cynthia is also a thought leader and public speaker, and has been an ambassador for household-known brands such as Best Buy, Garnier, Kate Spade and Pampers.

Nana Agyemang, Multimedia Journalist,  CEO/founder - EveryStylishGirl 
Nana Agyemang, is a multimedia journalist, and the CEO/founder of EveryStylishGirl Media. With a focus on empowering Black and brown women, Nana's ESG provides valuable networking and consulting platforms that help women build their brands. Her portfolio includes New York Magazine, BBC News, The New York Times, and CBS, where she served as a journalist and social editor. Beyond her entrepreneurial pursuits, Nana remains passionate about reporting on social activism and women entrepreneurs, ensuring that the stories we read reflect the diverse world we live in.

Panel Moderated by Reesa Lake VP, Head of Creator Expansion & Agency Partnerships - LTK 
As VP, Head of Creator Agency & Partnerships at LTK, Reesa Lake creates strategic partnerships with creators and their representatives to support their clients across all platforms. Before joining LTK, Lake was Partner and Executive VP Brand Partnerships at Digital Brand Architects (DBA), where she grew social media influencers into million-dollar businesses and expanded the industry's perception of traditional influencers to include online and offline talent.

1:30 – 2.20pm: The New Rules of Events

Rachna Shah, Partner and Managing Director - KCD Worldwide
Rachna Shah is Partner and Managing Director at KCD Worldwide, one of the preeminent fashion agencies globally. With offices in New York, Paris, London, and Los Angeles, KCD has set standards in strategic and creative programs for over 30 years. In her role as Partner and Managing Director, Shah oversees production and creative ideation of premier industry events for the biggest brands, names, and figures operating in fashion today.

Sue Chan, Founder - Care of Chan
A 20-year food industry veteran, Sue S. Chan is the founder of Care of Chan, a premiere event media agency. Sue has collaborated with some of the world’s best culinary, film, fashion, art, and design brands. Prior to founding the agency in 2016, she was the Brand Director of Momofuku, where she opened restaurants in NYC, Sydney, and Toronto.  Sue is also a judge for the James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards, known as the Oscars of food. She was the Director of Programming for The New York Times Food Festival in 2022, which sold out in one week - a record for The Times' Events.

Brian Feit, Founding Partner - BMF Media
Brian Feit, a Founding Partner of BMF Media, has over 20 years of experience in the music and event industry. Since its founding in 2003, BMF has grown to a 75+ person global creative integrated marketing agency, executing more than 300 creative campaigns annually for clients in over 20 countries. The agency is sought out by taste-making consumer brands for its range of marketing services, including strategy and creative, experiential, digital, and PR. Brian is recognized as a leader in the space with a sharp eye for creative marketing and a talent for translating business needs into campaigns that connect with target audiences, making him a pioneer in experiential marketing.

Panel moderated by Jack Bedwani Founder and CEO - New Moon
Jack is the founder and CEO of New Moon. With over 2 decades of experience in the global luxury events industry, Jack is a sort after show caller, experiential designer and respected events industry leader.  Recognised by BizBash as one of the world's top 50 event designers, Jack has established a reputation for setting the standard for best in class luxury events. Today New Moon is now a globally recognised leader in marketing to emerging luxury customers headquartered in New York, with offices in Los Angeles, London and Sydney. As CEO of New Moon, Jack’s role is to inspire, set the tone and push the boundaries for the business and its clients.

2:20 – 3:10pm: Why Purpose & Impact Will be Inextricable from Tomorrow’s Marketing Strategy
Janna Pea, Executive Vice President - BerlinRosen
As an Executive Vice President at BerlinRosen, Janna Pea leads the agency’s work across culture, social impact, and racial and gender justice. Combining years of PR work in women’s rights, entertainment, labor and politics, Janna has deep experience advising high-profile clients and is known for her calm navigation of crisis communications situations. Throughout her career, Janna has led on notable PR and cultural moments while also working with impactful brands and celebrities, and supported top racial justice leaders in the height of the global racial reckoning in 2020. Prior to joining BerlinRosen, Janna worked at Sunshine Sachs, and also spent some time working for labor unions across the retail and grocery sectors. She started her career in Communications working on Capitol Hill for a few Members of Congress.

Anu Rao, Senior Vice President of Communications and Sustainability - Pernod Ricard North America
As Senior Vice President of Communications and Sustainability for Pernod Ricard North America, Anu Rao is at the forefront of driving the success of iconic brands such as Jameson Irish Whiskey, Malibu Rum, Absolut Vodka, and many more. She oversees the Internal, External, and Strategic Brand Communications teams, including sponsorships and experiential initiatives, as well as the company's Sustainability & Responsibility efforts. With over 22 years of experience as a strategic communications leader, she possesses a deep understanding of the industry and knows how to deliver impactful results that ultimately drive cultural change, share of voice, relevance, and business growth.

Aidaly Sosa, Head of Marketing USA - Tony’s Chocolonely
Aidaly Sosa is Head of Marketing at Tony’s Chocolonely US. With a background in fashion, she honed her product messaging and brand communication skills before discovering her passion for sustainability and social impact. Aidaly combines her expertise with her passion to tell a brand story that resonates with audiences. Throughout her three years with Tony’s, Aidaly has launched the brand in big box retailers, partnered with beloved brands like Ben & Jerry's, and championed the civic engagement campaign ‘Make Your Voice Heard’.

Panel moderated by Sophia Li, award-winning journalist and climate advocate
Sophia Li is a Chinese-American award-winning journalist and climate advocate. Harvard named her one of the top climate communicators of 2022 and she was awarded Refinery29’s Sustainable Innovator Award. Her life’s work is to make talking about issues such as climate justice, human rights and web3 more accessible, more digestible, and more human.

3:30 – 4:30pm: Is Traditional PR Dead?
Panel presented in partnership with Muck Rack  

Lisa Frank, Founding Partner and President - Derris
Lisa Frank is a Founding Partner and President of Derris, a brand consultancy based in New York and London. . With extensive experience in leading communication strategies for both prominent consumer brands and start-up companies, Lisa is an expert in creative storytelling that builds brand awareness through multi-faceted PR and marketing campaigns. At Derris, Lisa is responsible for building the company's core brand strategy capabilities, as well as scaling creative, content, experiential and influencer marketing verticals. Her expertise and vision have allowed her to develop and execute strategies that help brands reach their maximum potential.

Gabrielle Gambrell, Senior Communications Lead, Amazon, Founder of Gift of Gabrielle and Professor at NYU 
Gabrielle Gambrell is a consultant and communications expert with experience in industry-leading sports, media, entertainment, consumer, technology, and lifestyle brands. Currently, she serves as the Senior Communications Lead at Amazon. Gambrell's strengths include executing sophisticated marketing communications tactics, leading successful media relations, and strategic crisis communications. She is a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and currently a professor of marketing & public relations at Columbia and NYU.

Karina Sokolovsky, Chief Communications Officer - Sotheby’s 
Karina Sokolovsky is the Chief Communications Officer for Sotheby's, overseeing all aspects of communications and social media for the iconic auction house. She supports a network of specialists spanning 40 countries and 70 categories, promoting access to exceptional art and luxury objects through auctions and private sales. Karina also partners with HR on social impact initiatives, making industries more inclusive, sustainable, and collaborative. Previously, Karina was Vice President of Global Communications and Brand Experience at Equinox, leading corporate reputation, executive visibility, and new business launches. She spent eight years at eBay, driving cross-channel strategies and showcasing the company as a global technology leader with a deep social purpose.

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 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.

Panel moderated by Elizabeth Harrison, CEO/Co-Founder - H&S
Elizabeth Harrison founded H&S 23 years ago with an old MacBook and a few thousand dollars, growing it into a "Top Entrepreneurial Leader" in Inc. Magazine's "500 Fastest Growing Private Companies." She sold the company to Omnicom and later bought it back in 2020 to curate her dream agency experience. Her full-service agency team specializes in integrated global communications with dedicated media, experiential, influencer/celebrity, and social/digital services. Elizabeth shares her expertise at high-profile conferences and has partnered with Reframe in 2021 to close workplace gaps and develop customized strategies for businesses.

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