Notable Quotes from 2012 Events

Savvy presenters at business events know the audience is there to hear candid comments, fresh insights, and surprising anecdotes–not humblebragging, self-promotion or overused buzzwords. If presenters don’t deliver, attendees will tune out and spend more time networking outside the conference hall. Not every speaker got that memo, however: it’s still a challenge to sift through all the jargon and make each event worthwhile.

We’ve highlighted seven memorable quotes from various New York-based events we covered in 2012. They deal with a range of topics: creativity, media relations, CEO visibility, producing original content, the risks of using celebrity spokespeople, teamwork, publicity and controversy.

1. “Grit is especially important when it comes to creativity. If it was easy, someone else would have done it.

-Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works and former contributor to The New Yorker and Wired magazines, delivered a keynote at ARF’s Re:think conference in March. In the ensuing months, Lehrer saw his own career falter after being accused of plagiarism and quote fabrication–so he didn’t follow his own advice.

2. “Now it’s a better age between journalists and PR. There’s an absence of friction, and PR is part of the data stream.

-David Carr, New York Times media reporter, spoke during Internet Week in May. Carr’s welcome though limited remarks on the dynamics of the relationship came in response to an audience question.

3. “A few companies with secure, confident CEOs take the lead on issues and speak out, but it’s hardly a universal practice.

-Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR, addressed Ethisphere’s Best Practices in Ethics Communication event in June. His comments have since been echoed by others in the industry.

4. “There’s a tremendous niche in telling stories that fly under the radar. The stories that interested me were the ones where you weren’t bumping into everyone else covering the same topic.

-Soledad O’Brien, anchor of CNN’s morning show Starting Point, detailed the turning points in her career as a journalist at a July Paley Center for Media event. Though her struggling show’s future appears uncertain, it’s still solid advice that’s not heeded enough.

5. “Hoping that our celebrity spokespeople [Charles Barkley and Jessica Simpson] don’t gain weight.

-Cheryl Callen, CMO of Weight Watchers, provided that frank response to the question, “What keeps you up at night?” at an Advertising Week panel discussion in October. (We know how that turned out.)

6. “When people ask me years later how did I put up with Keith? He’s the best teammate I ever had.”

-Dan Patrick, NBC sportscaster, appeared at the Paley Center in April alongside his former ESPN Sports Center co-host, Keith Olbermann. (No, he wasn’t paid to say that.)

7. “We like to party in Britain. Our marketing efforts are intended to ensure that the destination stays top of mind.

-Karen Clarkson, Visit Britain ‘s VP North America, presented at The New York Times’ Travel Show in March, and was referring to London’s Diamond Jubilee in June and the Summer Olympics. Thanks to certain Royal Family members partying outside Britain, (including Harry’s Las Vegas trip and Kate Middleton’s Provence visit), as well as 50th anniversary celebrations for James Bond and the Rolling Stones, Britain stayed in the global spotlight all year. Aside from the upcoming Royal baby, what will Britain do for an encore in 2013?