Speaker Brogan Graham (Founder, November Project) leads an interactive presentation at the 2019 Yearly Carnage inside the New Hazlett Theater. Photo Credit: Carney | Photographer: Ben Petchel
Inspired by the DIY, punk movement early-on in life, Carney CMO Nick Comanici embodied the ethos “doing the hard work because you have to” when he jumped to fill a speaker slot at the digital marketing agency’s second annual conference last Friday.
For a team that touts being nimble, it was a moment of practicing what they preach. “We’re trying to take this a step up from last year,” Comanici told the crowded auditorium of marketing professionals at the New Hazlett Theater.
Bringing the scrappy, personable energy of The Daily Carnage to life onstage, the Yearly Carnage makes for a unique conference where, as Comanici explained: “We want to attract people who are committed, looking to do a little more on their own terms.”
Inspired by Carney’s daily digest, the Daily Carnage, the in-person Yearly Carnage provides an opportunity to dig deeper into topics in the newsletter. The newsletter, which has become a must-read for marketing professionals across the country, touches on trends, tools, and news in the marketing world each day. The conference followed much of the same format.
Conferences are notoriously stuffy and bland, but the Yearly Carnage aims for a different experience for attendees, making it both informative and Instragrammable with tongue-in-cheek inspirational posters quoting Rihanna alongside a step and repeat.
The full-day event featured speakers across industries and subject matter, with the core of each presentation revolving around community building and storytelling, whether it be internally to build as a team, as Duolingo CMO Cammie Dunway outlined, or externally in a podcast, as Alexandra DiPalma of podcast production company Domino Sound explained.
Touching on data and tools of marketing, Adrienna Joselow of Mailchimp spoke on data and research in marketing strategies. Shoaib Kabani of sustainable bedding company Buffy explained the importance of validating a business idea before going all in. Brogan Graham of the grassroots exercise movement, November Project, talked about building community, discussing authenticity as a trend in marketing.
Additional speakers included:
Leann Livingston, Square
Viktoria Harrison, Charity Water
Lindsay Patross, Hearst Television
Jordon Rooney, NFBD
Carney is based in Regent Square, but the national popularity of its newsletter helped attract a conference audience beyond the Pittsburgh-area. “It’s hard to find a conference for marketing where the subject matter applies to me,” explained an attendee. “I learned about the Yearly Carnage from the newsletter, and it’s been fun to see that energy in real life.” The newsletter’s national reach brought visitors from outside Pittsburgh traveling for the event.
The event brought provided marketing conference but with a twist, with just the right size audience to allow for valuable Q&As after nearly every speaker. As with any conference, not every presenter applies to everyone in the audience, but each thirty-minute segmented touched on the evolution in the world of marketing, including the power of data and technology, but also the importance of authenticity and meaningful brand stories.
In the mile-a-minute culture where consumers react and interact with brands in real-time, the overarching message across presentations was the idea for getting to know consumers and speaking to them, both through the use of analytics and software, as well as community building, design, and marketing.
With name tags, cash bars, and the obligatory “energizer” at some point during the day, no conference will ever entirely escape the corporate vibes, but with playful touches and an engaging slate of speakers, the Yearly Carnage made attendees at least feel like the cool kid in class.
EMMA DIEHL – Contributing Writer
Emma is a Pittsburgh-based technology and lifestyle writer, covering everything from machine learning in law enforcement to historic building preservation. Her byline has appeared on XOJane, NPR, Huffington Post, NEXTPittsburgh, and Very Local.
Originally published on Friday, October 11th, 2019