Last week, I had the opportunity to spend three days in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina with some of the south’s leading innovators. In case you missed it, here are my top 4 takeaways from #DIG2017.

  1. Startups in the south have to hustle extra hard for investor attention. While there is an increasing number of angel investors and VCs throughout the south, funds here still aren’t as prevalent as other markets. The investor panels noted on multiple occasions that Silicon Valley investors need a lot of ammo before they’ll hop on a plane to come this direction. The good news? The companies at DigSouth – like Atlatl, Ceterus and Curu – are well on their way.
  1. The brands poised to succeed in the future are those that are the most authentic. In all of the examples cited by speakers, the brands touted most were those with personality; those that stood for something and weren’t afraid to say it. Casper, Bonobos, Virgin, Jet.com, Patagonia, REI and Chipotle were just a few of the names that stood out. What these companies all have in common is a steadfast commitment to their core missions, unwavering dedication to their customers and a personality that shines through everything they do.
  1. Everyone is trying to figure out how to hire the best people – and the most common tips are personality – not skills – based. With ARPR’s current growth (check out our job listings!), this topic really hit home with me. While different presenters said it in different ways, the common theme was that you can train skills, but not drive and likability. One speaker described these characteristics as warmth, strength and relentless growth, but Liza Landsman of jet.com summed it up best – “don’t hire douchebags.”
  1. One more quote from the conference really stood out to me: “If you see incumbents with fat profit margins who want to keep the status quo, that’s a good chance to shake things up.” Casper’s CEO, Philip Krim, saw success reinvigorating the stale mattress industry, and his comments made me think about our own PR industry. While profit margins aren’t exactly fat, especially recently, the industry has maintained the status quo and failed to innovate for far too long. Read more about our vision for the future of PR here.

If you were at DigSouth, I’d love to hear your top takeaways. Tweet me @imapepper.

As SVP of digital marketing and analytics and ARPR’s resident data geek, Renee bridges the gap between traditional PR and lead generation.

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