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.

May 042017

You snooze…you get another chance!

That’s right, the Berkeley Communications Awards deadline has been extended to next Monday, May 8. Submissions must be received by midnight.

If you need a little inspiration, check out the winners from 2015. Who’s gonna rock the comms this year?

Award winner for Print - Institutional

Category: Print Institutional | OE progress report | Melanie Hurley, Michelle Bea (designer)

Apr 172017

The 6th annual Berkeley Communications Conference (BC2) will be held on Tuesday, June 13 from 8am-1:30pm at Alumni House. This year’s conference brings together various forms of storytelling, from literary to social, and news platforms (both real and fake) that broadcast these stories.  

The morning will kick off with hot beverages and a welcome address from chancellor-designate Carol Christ. Christ will be followed by four exciting speakers: novelist and teaching professor in the English department Vikram Chandra; recent alum and social media wunderkind Tai Tran; charismatic university librarian Jeff MacKie-Mason; and author, journalist, and co-founder of Berkeleyside Frances Dinkelspiel. As is BC2 tradition, the conference will shine the spotlight on UC Berkeley communications staffers’ creative work with the Brand Awards, and there will be ample time for networking with your peers. Check out the full agenda.

The Brand Awards entry deadline is midnight on Monday, May 8, 2017. Entry form and details.

The Rules:

  • See your email for the link to register. Register by June 1 to secure your spot at the conference.
  • Space is limited and the conference will be first-come, first-served only. Your invitation is for one participant and is non-transferrable.
  • If you didn’t receive an invite and hope to attend, e-mail one of the co-chairs (linked below) and we will add you to our wait list.

Stay tuned for more fun features from your co-chairs and speakers. In the meantime: is fake news making you anxious? Maybe you need a costume change.

See you in June!

Your 2017 BC2 Co-Chairs Caitlin Appert-Nguyen (University Health Services), Adolfo Guerra (Student Affairs Communications), Louisa Spier (Cal Performances)  

Feb 142017

Mark your calendars now for the next Berkeley Communications Conference (BC2) on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, location is Alumni House.

Those of you who have attended past BC2 conferences will notice a change in this years schedule – we are not immune to Berkeley’s budget cuts, and thus BC2 will be a half day affair this year.

With a shorter day we feel it is more important than ever to make every session the best it can be – the pressure is on! We promise inspiring speakers, networking opportunities, and delicious refreshments.

Stay connected to BC2:

  1. Join or post to the Berkeley Communications Community Facebook group.
  2. Check this website for conference updates.
  3. Use the hashtag #sharebc2 in your social media posts.
  4. Send any/all of us an email (linked below).

In the meantime, make note of June 13, 2017, and stay tuned for updates on the agenda, registration, and brand awards deadline.

Keep in touch!

Your 2017 BC2 Co-Chairs: Caitlin Appert-Nguyen (University Health Services), Adolfo Guerra (Student Affairs Communications), Louisa Spier (Cal Performances)

Caitlin, Adolfo and Louisa, BC2 2017 co-chairs

Caitlin, Adolfo and Louisa


BC2 planning with the co-chairs, Public Affairs team, and BC2 alums!


About the 2017 BC2 Co-Chairs:

Caitlin Appert-Nguyen has been working for University Health Services at UC Berkeley for nearly 5 years. She’s a proud alumna (Go Bears!) and has attended every BC2 to date. Her professional interests are rooted in communications, public health and higher education. At UHS she leads the operational and internal communications efforts and gets to practice a variety of skill sets including print and graphic design, web, writing and videography. She lives in Berkeley surrounded by boys including her husband and two sons, a preschooler and an infant. She loves to read, bake, watch baking shows, spend time at the beach and knows every word to every song in the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton.

Adolfo Guerra joined UC Berkeley Student Affairs Communications last year as a Client Relationship Manager. In this role, Adolfo develops marketing strategies and spearheads communications efforts for Cal Dining, Cal Catering, Conference Services, and the Cal 1 Card office. Before coming to Berkeley, Adolfo lived in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, where he spent six years working as the Marketing Manager for Monterrey Tech’s Food Service Department. For the past two years, he also served as the Information Officer for the Pacific Region of the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS). He holds a master’s degree in marketing from EGADE Business School and is passionate about design, marketing strategies, and food. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, traveling, and going to the theater.

Louisa Spier joined the staff at Cal Performances, UC Berkeley’s performing arts producer and presenter, as PR Manager in early 2016. She came to this position as a seasoned music publicist having worked at Bay Area performance venues as diverse as the San Francisco Symphony, SF Jazz, Yoshi’s, and the Great American Music Hall as well as head of PR for world music record label Six Degrees. She holds a degree in Anthropology and Ethnic studies from Mills College and lives in the Oakland hills with her mountain-biking husband and one bossy little black kitty. In her free time she is an avid yoga practitioner, a runner, swimmer, and hospice volunteer.

May 162016

Cast a spell on fellow communicators at BC2 2016 with creative work that truly shines. BC2 2016, focused on the alchemy that is communication, is the perfect forum to turn your bewitching communication pieces into glittering awards.

Berkeley 2016 brand awards submission deadline is May 16th.

Upload 1-3 samples of work created by your team (up to 5 people) in any of the following categories: print, digital, social media, video, environmental or campaign.

Enter through this link.

All entries must be submitted by midnight, Monday May 16, 2016 and will be judged by a panel led by Ram Kapoor, Chief Marketing Officer.

If you have any questions about the contest, please email ram.kapoor@berkeley.edu

Mar 302016

TheAlchemistsMark your calendars! A brand new Berkeley Communications Conference (BC2) is coming your way Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Make plans to join us in the centrally located and recently revamped Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union for a day of speakers, interactive workshops, and networking.

On a campus where communications cover a gamut of platforms, audiences, tools, and expectations in a rapidly changing environment, there’s a certain amount of alchemy involved in getting our storytelling just right with results that are impactful.

That’s why we’re taking a new twist this year… The theme of this year’s BC2 conference is Alchemy. We want to break down the ingredients of world-class communications, demystifying the mix along the way.

  • Meet your BC2 co-chairs and check out their short video describing the magical process and inviting you to attend this year’s conference.
  • Fill out the survey. We’re taking the pulse of campus communications and reporting results at the conference.