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Cardinals’ Watermon Emphasizes Power of Video Storytelling

Ron Watermon, St. Louis Cardinals VP of Communications, spoke at Midwest District Conference and emphasized, “It’s not about the technology; it’s about the people.”

“When I was a child, Amazon was a river. Today, we live in a vastly different world.”

That was Ron Watermon, the St. Louis Cardinals Vice President of Communications, speaking to a lunchtime audience at last week’s PRSA Midwest District Conference in St. Louis. He shared his perspective on the evolution of communications, and how it allows us to do some really interesting things.

Where Technology Meets Storytelling

Though most public relations communicators don’t have the resources of a brand like the Cardinals, or as devoted of a consumer base, Watermon emphasized that they do have access to the same affordable technologies as everyone else for video and distribution. And they have a passion for telling stories.

The equalizing factors for players of all sizes, according to Watermon, are mobile technology and social media. Gone is the system where connected insiders placed stories that were then distributed to a passive consumer audience. In its place is a system of active user-contributors, where any content can go viral, which places emphasis on learning how to produce and edit video.

Also key is a knack for storytelling. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of good writing, adding, “It’s not about the technology; it’s about the people.”

Stand for Stan and Smart Phone Video

He mentioned the Stand for Stan campaign run by the Cardinals a few years ago, which culminated in President Obama awarding Stan Musial the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an honor the organization had been seeking for Musial on two prior occasions, with no success. In Watermon’s assessment, fan contributions to the club’s website helped the Cardinals reach their goal.

Fortunately for today’s PR pros, it’s never been easier to produce video. Watermon reinforced that point by showing a series of short videos he shot and edited with his smart phone, and he concluded his talk by shooting a brief video recapping his time at PRSA MDC.

The talk was well received by the audience, and Watermon’s central point about the power of video storytelling stood out. My bet is that many in the audience spent the weekend playing with video editing on their smart phones.

I enjoyed the talk immensely, and I look forward to seeing the newest Cardinals social media and mobile campaigns this summer. I especially look forward to another event Watermon expects to happen this fall — wi-fi in Busch Stadium!

Just think of the real-time storytelling possibilities. Tradition comes alive through your fans and the content they create.

Stephen Fairbanks is a content supervisor at Osborn Barr Communications. He also teaches writing and composition at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and is a longtime St. Louis Cardinals fan. You can find him on Twitter @Agwordbanks.

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