Article authored by KristinAnn Janishefski, PR Director at Blast PR.

I had the honor of attending The CMO Club Innovation and Inspiration Summit last week in Santa Monica. As a first time attendee, I was truly inspired by the incredible depth of topics and truly felt the positive energy amongst this group of esteemed CMOs.

Pete Krainik, Founder of The CMO Club, is a seasoned host and kept the energy up and audience engaged as he interviewed an inspiring group of speakers. I was specifically interested in the recently launched CMO Club Cares program (which Blast PR helped to promote), and the sessions on influencers and digital media.

Below are my key takeaways and favorite sessions:

Brands and Influencers in Today’s Digital Ecosystem

This session highlighted key ways in which brands can effectively work with influencers in the digital realm. For brands, they must understand is how the influencer partnership can deliver the highest ROI.

For influencers, they need to stick with a formula that works and not stray from what their current audience responds to. Content should be presented in a way that is fun and engaging, without coming across as a commercial, as this hurts both parties. Speakers also stated that marketers should pay attention to new trends – such as Snapchat and live streaming – because they are invaluable in creating Internet celebrities right now.

CMO Club Cares

I was thrilled to be able to see the expansion of the CMO Club Cares, which brought the best CMOs together with deserving charities to discuss real world solutions for taking their nonprofit initiatives to the next level.

CMOs huddled around tables with K9s For Warriors, The Program for Torture Victims and First Star to collaborate and problem solve. There was a sense of inspiration and camaraderie as they helped advance causes they care about.

Brainstorm solutions included initiating donation-match programs, strategies for tapping into college students as volunteers and partnering with celebrities to promote their cause. K9s For Warriors were advised to create a video from a dog’s perspective, documenting its entire life and the work they with veterans – an idea that I absolutely loved.

Branding, Social Media and Content Influencers: Whats Really New?

This session focused on brand building beyond the product and highlighted ways in which brands must incorporate the traditional endorsement with the experience vehicle. Panelist Omar Epps, Actor, Songwriter and Producer, gave the example of Red Bull, who moved beyond product endorsement to create the entire lifestyle of Red Bull athletes and consumers.

Panelists emphasized that the two most imperative keys to working with an influencer are: engagement and authenticity. How much dos the influencers talk with their audience? And does the influencer match with the culture and vision of the brand they are representing?

Another point I found interesting during this session was that in the future, brands might run into the problem of a celebrity endorser not needing these types of partnerships. They may start to find ways to integrate their own products into their brand and become more entrepreneurial at heart, such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

With so much going on during Summit, these were only a few of the topics that stood out to me during the week. Overall, the CMO Club Summit 2015 was a thrilling event with constant conversations about innovation and marketing execution.

I walked away not only feeling inspired, but with a deep sense that in life, nothing happens without collaboration!