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BC2 2018
June 6, 2018

New theme, new co-chairs, good old BC2

Mark your calendars for the annual Berkeley Communications Conference (BC2) on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 (full day) at International House.

This year’s conference theme is Evolve.

Evolve: To develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
Does that sound like what has happened in your work as a communicator? Marketing and communications continue to evolve at a pace that is hard to keep up with — new tools, new platforms, new audiences, new strategies, and ever-higher volume and expectations. How do we, as higher-ed communicators, ensure our work remains relevant, creative, and effective? Join us for a day of learning, thought-provoking discussion, and practical applications that you can use on your job the very next day.

Here are the new co-chairs who are busy planning this year’s conference.

Ann Wiens moved to the Bay Area to join the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive as Director of Marketing and Communications in 2016. At BAMPFA she directs a small but mighty team that handles everything from producing exhibition materials and managing the website, social media channels, and colossal outdoor screen to developing and implementing marketing strategies and public relations. Most of her career has been spent in Chicago, where she edited an art magazine, was a practicing artist and critic, and served as Director of Communications for Columbia College Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Just prior to coming to UC Berkeley, she served as Creative Director for the University of Oregon, where she also edited Oregon Quarterly, the university magazine. Ann earned her BFA from SAIC and MFA from Stony Brook University, both in studio art.

Bill Pearce is the Assistant Dean and CMO of BerkeleyHaas. Bill was previously Chief Marketing Officer for Del Monte Foods and Taco Bell, VP of Marketing for Campbell Soup and Marketing Director at P&G. Bill is also on the Marketing Faculty at BerkeleyHaas where he teaches MBA students on the topics of Marketing and Innovation. Bill is Chairman of RichRelevance, the leading firm in Enterprise Personalization and on the Board of Directors of Ooma and SpendGo. Additionally, Bill is on the Advisory Boards for several other firms in the Digital Marketing vertical. Bill has an MBA from Cornell University and a BA in Economics from Syracuse University.

Sarah Eslyn is the Social Media Marketing Strategist for Student Affairs Communications where she focuses on content creation and storytelling that align with the division’s strategic goals. Prior to Berkeley, she was the Social Media and Communications Specialist for Marquette University’s business school and, before that, the Marketing Manager for Wisconsin’s largest soccer company, both in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sarah has her MA from Marquette University and her BA from the University of Minnesota.

Ideas? Feedback? Thoughts? Feel free to connect with the co-chairs.

Campus storytellers sharpen skills at 6th annual BC2 conference


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.

Alumni Spotlight: Tai Tran

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.

Registration and Wait List Now Closed

Unfortunately we have reached capacity allowed by our venue and have a significant wait list. If you are interested in the conference materials, please stay tuned to this website where we will be sharing the speakers presentations following the event.

Meet Vikram Chandra, novelist, professor, programmer

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