Our city’s fan-powered Super Bowl victory reminded me how much Seattle needs to fight to steal away attention from the media capitals on the east coast and in California. I even have this crazy theory that as disinterested corporate titans in the New York area gave up their tickets to the game thereby depressing secondary market prices, it gave the opportunity for “normal” Seattle fans to attend the game and produce the noise that so rattled the Broncos. See this viral video featured by our Flip The Media blog as testimony to how a son was able to afford to send his mom, a life-long fan, to the game:
I write this on a chilly, clear day as I watch the victory parade on TV as media makers consider Seattle’s moment in the sun (and as photographer Josh Trujillo, a guest speaker in my class last quarter, covered the parade for SeattlePI.com — see his iconic photo above; he was also on the sidelines of the Super Bowl game). My colleague Scott Macklin also felt compelled to bear witness to this moment, and captured some great footage using his Canon DSLR:
The Stranger declared that Seattle Has Stolen the Microphone with its abundance of national newsmaking this year:
We are still in the strange glow of this over-victory, and we are still holding the microphone, with our thuggy athletes, our apologetic rapper, our unapologetic socialist, our fugitive. But what does it all mean? Is there something to it, something deeper? Or is this just a concentrated series of accidents that has no meaning?
I lost my love for professional sports decades ago, so I will not now claim any ownership of this victory. But I do respect how this city’s fans played such an instrumental role in the rise of the Seahawks. As Monica Guzman observed on GeekWire’s What Do We Make of This Superbowl Moment?:
Combine that shining symbol of open collaboration with the progressive optimism of coach Pete Carroll, the surprising talent of the young, big-hearted Russell Wilson and the quiet, “all ’bout that action” work ethic of Marshawn Lynch and it starts to look like whatever the Seahawks proved about themselves at that Super Bowl, they also proved about their city.
This doesn’t mean Seattle is poised to be the next New York or San Francisco. But it may be at the dawn of a new era of national influence, not seen since the early 90’s of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Frasier, Sleepless in Seattle and the rise of Windows. It’s a unique mix of community-oriented collaboration and a fresh way of looking at things through our unique brand of engagement, as I observed in my Puget Sound Business Journal article:
Clearly, our region punches above its weight. Super Bowl victory notwithstanding, the Seattle Times observed a few weeks ago that we’re a “Beta” city that has spawned a disproportionate number of global brands that have changed the world: from [Jeff] Bezos’ online retail giant [Amazon] to Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Costco and so much more. No wonder that as Bloomberg Global Tech recently surveyed innovation across the United States, it put Washington State at the top of the list. It’s fundamentally a “Go West Young Man” freedom to make new rules, and break old ones, even as we foster a strong sense of community in our remote corner of the United States.
I’ve tried play my part of radiating some Pacific Northwest-influence thought leadership in my own work (such as through our Four Peaks TV series above), going as far as to call this connected, collaborative, content-rich region as the nation’s “Storytelling Capital.” Surely, I’ve traveled the world to spread this approach to communication, but this month, I’ll be focused on three opportunities to do so right here:
(1) We’re co-hosting the local launch of global PR agency Edelman’s influential 2014 Trust Barometer report (which I wrote about in my Storyteller Uprising book) on Tuesday, Feb 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the UW Club.
This event is co-sponsored by the PRSA and IABC. I’m giving introductory remarks, then introducing David Brain, Edelman’s CEO of Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa (flying in from London for this) who will keynote.
(2) I’m emceeing the IN-NW Social Media & Digital Marketing Conference Presented by Google that we host every year with the Seattle Chamber (co-organized with 206inc, sponsored by our friends at Weber Shandwick) Registration: http://in-nw.com, Wednesday, Feb 12 9 a.m., Showbox SODO. This one is definitely worth your while (or your organization’s investment).
(3) I’ll be keynoting a closed-door Chief Marketing Officer roundtable at the end of this month. They’ve asked me to provoke a conversation about the shifting agency business model as marketing, PR, digital, advertising all blend together…the role of the professional communicator is truly expanding, especially with the Second Machine Age upon us. Weber Shandwick’s extraordinary addition to Ad Age’s “A-List” this week because of its content marketing success is testimony to this shift, as communications merges with marketing.
I’ll also be at at our graduate program’s First Friday reception with our friends at 206inc on Friday at 5:30 p.m. They’ve been our collaborators for 3 years on the IN-NW conference (see #2).
It’s no wonder that we’ve recognized that Seattle plays a fundamental part in our graduate program’s branding. Hence the tagline on our website: “A Seattle-based graduate program for professionals.” It’s a flag we’re only too proud to fly. Ultimately, I appreciate how one of my former students expressed her perspective about this on Facebook:
People will perhaps walk a bit taller for the duration of 2014 knowing their city is as great, accomplished and progressive as it is, but I think we’ll also enjoy fading back from the spotlight. This is a town for insiders that love their local beers and coffee and don’t need or want to become (or at least be seen as) the mecca of trend that San Francisco thrives off of. If we were a movie character, we’d be the outwardly nerdy girl that was secretly pretty the whole time. [Caity Rock]