Jun 142017

Almost 200 UC Berkeley communicators gathered Tuesday in Alumni House to hear from experts — and share their own knowledge — on the best ways to tell the campus’s story.

The sixth annual BC2 conference heard incoming Chancellor Carol Christ describe her vision of the value of communication — both to spread the story of Berkeley’s values and accomplishments to the world and to build a shared vision internally. Christ also introduced Berkeley’s incoming top communicator, Diana Harvey, who made a special stop on campus to attend the conference six weeks before she takes over as associate vice chancellor for communications and public affairs. Harvey held top communications positions at the University of Minnesota and Duke.

Author and guest speaker Vikram Chandra, whose latest book is Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty, dissected the movie Die Hard to describe the arc of narrative writing and make the point that its essentials haven’t changed over millennia — only the bells and whistles and tweets and posts that enable the storytelling.

Other speakers included Jeff MacKie-Mason, Berkeley’s university librarian and chief digital scholarship officer, who talked about the importance — and difficulty — of sorting out essential stories from the digital onslaught of good and bad information; alum Tai Tran, a rising star in the high tech marketing world; and Berkeleyside co-founder and editor Frances Dinkelspiel.

The conference was organized by a trio of campus communicators — Caitlin Appert-Nguyen of University Health Services, Adolfo Guerra of Student Affairs, and Louisa Spier of Cal Performances, with leadership from Ram Kapoor, chief marketing officer in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

Winners of the annual contest for best communications were announced and applauded. They are:

PRINT — “Bears Got Your Back,” Ashley Villanueva and the Violence Prevention Collaborative (VPC) at University Health Services;

SOCIAL MEDIA — “Berkeley Bound Snapchat Geofilter, UC Berkeley Admissions,” by Sarah Eslyn in Student Affairs Communications;

VIDEO — “The Power of Giving,” Jen Denton and Marissa Toffoli in Student Affairs Communications;

VIDEO — “Fall Program for Freshmen,”  Sarah Benzuly, Ariana Aeri Lee, Allison Hall Ramos, Monica Bernal and Kimberly A. Cattarusa, UC Berkeley Extension;

BERKELEY QUIRKY VIDEO — “Big Give Carpool Karaoke,” Rachel DeLetto, Susan Gluss and Michael Bazeley, Berkeley Law Communications;

CAMPAIGN — “Be Berkeley,” Admissions & Enrollment Outreach, Dean Allen Poblete, Rita Kasperek, Sarah Eslyn, Matthew Sun, Hui Zhang and Sierra Alvis Robinson, Student Affairs Communications.

Jun 092017

UC Berkeley alum Tai Tran is a storyteller, marketing leader, and entrepreneur and Head of Content & Brand for the company SelfScore. Named the youngest Forbes 30 Under 30 and LinkedIn Top Voice in Marketing and Advertising, Tai is already an experienced storyteller, marketing leader, and entrepreneur. He has spoken at TEDx, Forbes CMO Summit, LinkedIn, and the Haas School of Business – and we are excited to have him back on campus for BC2. Tai is an authority on  social media. In his talk during the first session at this year’s conference he will share the do’s and don’ts behind engaging and effective social storytelling from a 10-second snap to a 140-character tweet. Tai will stay for the half-day and be available to talk with conference goers during the 12:30 hour.

Tai’s tips for good social engagement include staying on top of industry trends. He recommends picking three thought leaders or publications, then making it a habit to read on them at least once a week. Says the social media wunderkind, “Social and digital marketing change constantly. The best marketers are the ones who stay in the loop and adapt appropriately.”

Tai also recommends the book “Contagious,” by Jonah Berger that breaks down the basic elements behind why content goes viral.

A Q&A with Tai about his life as an immigrant, “Second Language, First Graduate”, was published in the Huffington Post this weekend.

Jun 072017

Vikram Chandra is our first keynote speaker. In his session The Art and Craft of Storytelling he will discuss what makes good stories work their magic on audiences and the simple techniques that can create emotionally-engaging, persuasive, and potentially transformative stories.

Photo of Vikram Chandra

Chandra was born in New Delhi, India and currently divides his time between Mumbai and Berkeley. He is a teaching professor in creative writing here at UC Berkeley. Chandra wrote his first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain (1995), while completing his MA and MFA and working as a computer programmer. His latest book, Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty (2014), combines his love of code and his love of literature.

In a profile published by the Berkeley News Center in 2005 Vikram elaborates on the ties between programming and effective storytelling:

Chandra believes that novels, like computer programs, exist to solve a problem…”Often in software you’re faced with the same problem presenting itself in slightly different guises, and the most elegant solutions will tend to fall into the same shapes,” he said…”At some point in the semester I’ll get the question, ‘Why does every story have to have a conflict? Can’t we just write something different?’ And my answer is, ‘Yes you can, but will it work? Will anybody want to read it?'” He elaborated: humans are organisms evolutionarily designed over millions of years to look for certain patterns that are pleasing or that work for us by teaching us how to interpret heartbreak over lost love, or over an absent father.

“The worst aspect of that – and this is what the kids dislike, I think – is whether we’re really just talking about formula,” Chandra said. “And yes, to a certain extent you are. The challenge is to do something within that pattern that’s original, that’s pleasing, and has a sense of the expected – but that blows our mind with the surprise that it holds within itself.”

Read the full article to learn more about Vikram’s journey from a childhood in India to a master storyteller with a million dollar publishing deal.

Watch Chandra on Story Hour at the Library
Read more about his four major works
Image via How AI may help you write your new book

Jun 022017

We are proud to introduce Frances Dinkelspiel as one of this year’s BC2 conference speakers.

Frances is an award-winning journalist and author. She has written two books, both of which were bestsellers: Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, and Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Beast, People magazine and elsewhere.

Frances Dinkelspiel is a co-founder of the news site Berkeleyside. This publication is a local newspaper without the paper and it reports the news and covers the extraordinary diversity of people, issues, events, food and environment of Berkeley.  She will speak to us about making news in a turbulent era. At this talk, she will discuss the economic forces challenging the news business and share some insights of her work at Berkeleyside. Here’s an article from the Cal Alumni Association where they mention how Berkeleyside is winning awards and attracting readers by offering hyperlocal coverage of Berkeley and in this article read more on how Berkleyside aims to turn their reads into investors.

Frances will stay for the lunchtime networking hour from 12:30-1:30. Don’t miss this opportunity to have a conversation with her! You can start following her on twitter and Berkeleyside too.