Those who’ve attended StoryConnect: The Conference say one of the best things about the event is the perspective they gain from professionals outside the electric and telecommunications industries. This year will be no exception, as Clay Coleman shares his interesting story. Clay is vice president of the Huntsville Havoc — a hockey team in the Heart of Dixie. Creating hockey fans in a region where it’s not a traditional local sport is no easy task, but it’s a challenge the Huntsville Havoc staff have embraced. A former radio personality who has worked with the Dave Ramsey Show, Clay will share the Havoc story of engaging and educating an audience that did not understand the product he and the staff were marketing.
In the days when the three networks were all we had to watch on our 19-inch TV, there was a fourth space on the knob that opened up new worlds for me (and no doubt for millions of other kids). Public television did more than reinforce what I was learning in school; it used engaging methods to teach language, math, history and civics. This approach not only exposed, it taught.
Raise your hand if you’re like me and cannot recite the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution without singing this song.
I recently ran across the video below that promotes the value of PBS. I found it interesting that they reference the lack of broadband access in rural America, and position PBS as standing in the gap, to a degree, by providing educational programming. While television is no substitute for the nearly unlimited resources accessible over the internet, I have no doubt PBS continues to play an important role in educating America’s children — just like it did for me a few decades ago.
WordSouth is pleased to welcome two new participants to its Regional Telco Magazine. BEK Communications in North Dakota and Acira in Minnesota committed to join the magazine project earlier this year, and WordSouth was proud to deliver their first issue in July.
This also marked the collaborative magazine’s entry into the North Central Region, as identified by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.
Both Acira, which includes Farmers Mutual and Federated Telephone cooperatives, and BEK are known as innovative leaders in the rural telecommunications industry.
“BEK and Acira are ideal partners for us to begin the northern version of the Regional Telco Magazine,” says WordSouth CEO Stephen V. Smith. “We’re excited to work with telcos who recognize the importance of communications, and we look forward to helping them tell their story.”
Please help us welcome BEK and Acira to the WordSouth family:
Local editor: Darwin Fettig, firstname.lastname@example.org
CEO: Derrick Bulawa, email@example.com
Local editor: Shelley Evink, Shelley.Evink@aciracoop.net
CEO: Kevin Beyer, Kevin.Beyer@aciracoop.net
Former Disney hospitality expert sharing his secrets at StoryConnect
Get ready to experience a little bit of Disney’s customer service magic as John Formica headlines StoryConnect, the conference for utility communicators.
John Formica still has the book about Walt Disney he read in middle school. When he wrote a report on the book, he had no idea his childhood idol would have such a great influence on his adult life.
For the young Formica, Sunday nights meant television and “The Wonderful World of Disney.” He found Disney’s introductions at the beginning of each show fascinating. “He saw things ahead of everybody else,” Formica says.
Disney created Disneyland in 1955 but had a dream for something more. Plans for Disney World and Epcot in Orlando were underway when Disney died in 1966. “People say it’s a shame Walt didn’t see it, but he saw it before we did,” Formica says.
Years after being introduced to Disney through television, Formica saw the result of Disney’s vision firsthand. Formica managed the company’s top luxury resort properties for 10 years. And he implemented Disney’s philosophy to create a superior customer experience.
Formica worked in the service industry for 25 years and now shares the magic he learned through the Disney model with others as a nationally known speaker and business consultant. As a leading authority on tourism, hospitality and service industries, he shows others how to create a Disney-like culture.
His principles can be applied to any industry, as he explains how to transform existing services into a magical customer experience. “I ask people, ‘if Disney ran your business what would it look like,’” he says.
Formica will speak and lead a workshop at the 2017 StoryConnect conference, hosted by WordSouth — A Content Marketing Company. The event is slated for Sept. 13-15 in Huntsville, Alabama.
It’s important to create loyalty from existing customers. “If a customer is just satisfied, they might say, ‘Let me try somebody else for my service.’ They will switch because all they care about is price. But you have to focus on how to create a great place to want to do business. You can create a brand and you have loyalty for life.”
Living the dream
Formica grew up in Long Island, New York. He had a dream to play soccer in college and to be a park ranger. He received a soccer scholarship to West Virginia University.
But in 1979, he found out there were no vacancies with the park service and none expected. He went to work as a front desk clerk at a hotel. That’s where a career in the hospitality and service industry was born. Formica was later hired to create magic at Walt Disney World Resorts.
In the early days, there were four hotels and a campground. Soon there were 16 new hotels and the resort was more than a place to stay. “We were creating a magical experience,” he says.
Formica was recruited to leave Disney to manage the largest convention hotel in North Carolina. He worked in management positions with service industry leaders such as Hyatt Hotels, Hilton, Adams Mark and Sunrise Senior Living.
After much success, he chose to help others learn how to create magic in their own businesses.
He will focus on the the telecommunications and electric industries in his presentation at StoryConnect. “I’m looking forward to creating some magic,” he says.
A few years ago, our team had a pretty great idea. Several of our telco clients who participate in the Regional Telco Magazine were at a meeting where we were making a presentation. We pulled them all together for lunch one day and had a great time sharing ideas, talking about the collaborative project and simply enjoying the fellowship.
We all agreed that we should do it again, except for more than quick a lunch. The WordSouth team decided we should host a standalone meeting, a conference, just for these folks. The more we brainstormed, the richer the content for that first conference became. We would add a strong speaker and say “we need to reach out to our electric clients as well!” We’d identify a good topic and realize “this is such good programming, we need to open this up to anyone in the industry, not just our clients.”
And thus StoryConnect: The Conference was born. 2014… 2015… 2016… each year it got better, and the feedback continued to push us forward to create an outstanding conference focused on the needs of the communicators at electric utilities and telecommunications companies.
This year finds us at a new location with expanded content that also touches on customer service — which, I think we all agree, is yet another component of communications. (After all, it’s the customer service experience that tells so much of your story.)
Looking back over the past three years, and forward to StoryConnect 2017, I thought of a few key reasons why you should be making your way to Huntsville this year for the fourth conference we’ve designed just for you:
- Learning: We’ve chosen speakers and panels based on feedback from past conferences, comments from individuals about their needs and our experience seeing firsthand the challenges communicator face in these industries.
- Inspiration: It’s about more than absorbing knowledge. Hearing what your peers are doing and being exposed to new ideas will inspire you to go back to the office and try news things.
- Networking: This is one of the most powerful parts of StoryConnect. We have seen dynamic synergies develop between people from different industries who might otherwise never have a reason or the opportunity to meet.
- A New Experience: Okay, StoryConnect is not all work and no play. This year’s event will be held in the middle of an amazing retail development that offers more upscale shopping and dining than you’ve ever seen in one location.
- Amazing Value: You simply will not find so many opportunities to learn, network and be inspired for such a nominal cost.
Best of all, StoryConnect is your conference. Not only is it focused on communicators, but it’s also laser focused on communicators within the electric utility and telecommunications industries. StoryConnect is for you,
To register, go here. To reserve your hotel room (hurry, the room block at the conference center is filling up fast), go here. You’ll be proud you did, and we will greatly enjoy hosting you for this special event. See you in Rocket City!