Elevate is set to return to the iconic Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley, Utah on July 28th. This year’s gathering will be hosted by 18-year global brand and marketing executive Shannon Pruitt. Brand Storytelling interviewed Pruitt to better illuminate her position and involvement with the gathering as well as get her take on the many benefits of attending ELEVATE:
You are a member of the Brand Storytelling Advisory Board that first envisioned Elevate in 2017. How did that happen and what was the original vision for this event?
The vision and discussion around the need for an event like Elevate if we are going to truly further advance and accelerate the education, influence and impact of the role of branded content and brand storytelling in marketing originated in a board meeting at the Brand Storytelling Sundance event in 2017. Everyone on the board and in the audience was so excited and inspired by the content we were showcasing, but as an advisory board we all understood that what makes the sizzle reel isn’t always what makes the case study.
The very real and practical experiences we all share when it comes to planning, creating, producing, distributing and measuring branded content and brand storytelling is a shared across brand, agency, publisher and measurement companies. As a group we envisioned an environment where we could highlight, collaborate, learn and discuss how we might advance the practice and discipline in a way that creates short and long term understanding and value for the participants onsite and within their broader organizations.
Having seen the organic connections and partnerships that have formed at Sundance, we knew that by bringing people together in the summer time at the Stein Erickson in Park City, the ability to have these discussions both as groups around a table, as well as outside in beauty of the mountains would infuse everyone with inspiration and a further opportunities to connect and drive their own business objectives and with that mind, Elevate was born!
This is now the 3rd annual Elevate – what have you learned from previous events that has shaped this year?
We have learned so much in the past 2 years. It’s been so exciting, and the Brand Storytelling and Elevate community has really helped to shape where we go next. Because of our vision of advancement and acceleration, we want to be so inclusive and representative of the partnerships and relationships required to make branded content a success, and in a way that is POV agnostic. This year, we have decided to move away from panel discussions and instead have hired industry journalists, researchers and writers to take deep dives into each “trail topic,” and then present their findings at the conference. These presentations will be followed by smaller breakout sessions called “expeditions” which will culminate in a white paper. This new direction will give participants tangible materials to take back to their organizations.
Additionally, we also learned that people really respond to the Brand Challenge, so we will be doing that again with 2 stand up presentations this year! The Stein Erickson also has a 55-person screening theater so we will be able to share new work, as well as providing added time to share and discuss current and upcoming projects. And, for all that have been, Elevate wouldn’t be Elevate without the Storytelling competition which is always both a surprise and delight for both the participants and audience!
What sort of tangible takeaways can brand marketers expect to leave Elevate with?
Elevate is always special because of the people that attend all with the same agenda of learning, shared-thinking, collaboration and building relationships. It’s a chance to reconnect with existing colleagues and friends and form new relationships. As a marketer who has been on all sides of the brand storytelling business, I am really excited about the addition of White Papers. I think they create an important layer of shared and institutional knowledge and best practices for marketers, agencies and publishers so we can all share an even more common language, understanding and activation around design, application and outcomes of these brand storytelling experiences that we all want to use to connect with consumers and audiences.
Why is it always in Deer Valley?
If you have never been to Stein Eriksen Lodge or Park City in Summer, it’s spectacular! Salt Lake City is such a convenient flight from both coasts and in between and you are in a world class mountain resort in just 30 minutes from the airport. And, the lodge being situated at mid-mountain allows participants to hike right out the door and enjoy the Wasatch mountains. Much of this experience is about just getting out for a walk and a talk with partners and brands, so it is really the perfect place both a personally and professionally profound experience!
About Shannon Pruitt
As a strategic brand and communications executive of 18 years, Shannon believes the key to brand transformation lies in a true shift to a data and insight-driven, audience-led approach and organization. Through understanding the opportunity and impact of brand storytelling at the intersection of behavioral/contextual data, entertainment, distribution, tech and commerce, she leverages her unique background in working with brands, tech platforms, content creators, IP/rights holders, and media owners to give her an expert ability to quickly understand, adapt and architect marketing strategies, solutions, and experiences that create measurable business results. She built and grew integrated marketing and business development teams handling all aspects of marketing and commercial brand extensions at production and studio powerhouses 19 Entertainment, Mark Burnett Productions, FremantleMedia and Warner Bros Digital.