Shama Hyder, an award-winning brand strategist, global speaker, and bestselling author will provide the keynote address at the WEFTEC 2022 Opening General Session. She will share her insights on how modern communications, marketing, and branding are more important than ever for the water sector.
Hyder serves as CEO of the public relations and marketing firm Zen Media in Dallas, Texas. She has authored the books The Zen of Social Media Marketing and Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age. She has delivered keynote addresses in more than 20 countries for such brands as Movado, Chase, Tupperware, and Inc 5000.
A Strategy for the Future
Water Environment Federation (WEF) President Jamie Eichenberger will welcome the audience to the Opening General Session. He also will discuss the direction of the water sector and WEF’s role in its advancement, plus why this year’s keynote is focusing on communications and marketing.
“It is essential that the water industry provide information and tell its story,” Eichenberger said. “It’s encouraging to see many water utilities and companies working to connect with customers and communities more proactively. Shama will talk about the power of digital communications and how to navigate a fast-paced, ever-changing landscape.”
The Need to Engage
As the water sector seeks to keep ratepayers updated on new developments, maintain a positive reputation in the public eye, and engage with a complex digital information ecosystem, Hyder’s keynote address will provide insights from an outsider’s perspective. From cybersecurity threats to ever-changing regulations, the water sector faces issues that can be difficult to explain to others in their field — let alone to the public.
“The water sector is grappling with issues that are challenging to communicate about, such as rate increases, PFAS, and biosolids,” Eichenberger said. “Shama will discuss the need for water utilities and companies to use branding and marketing to engage with stakeholders.”
Building for the Future
Strong communications also will be essential to maintain and grow the water workforce. For years, leaders have predicted the imminent “silver tsunami” of Baby Boomers retiring. Among countless other drastic social and economic changes, the COVID-19 pandemic led to more than 30 million Baby Boomers exiting the job market for retirement before 2020 concluded, according to the Pew Research Center.
The silver tsunami is expected to keep swelling. An August 2021 survey of more than 1500 American Baby Boomers by the financial services and insurance company, Coventry Direct (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania), found that nearly 80% would rather retire to live modestly at age 65 than retire at 75 and live in luxury.
With the most experienced workers rapidly retiring and the “Great Resignation” of Millennials, many industries are struggling to fill vacancies. As employers scramble to hire and train enough new workers to survive this labor shortage, appealing to younger job seekers has become a necessity. The water sector is no exception.
“There is a critical need to build a workforce that is younger, more diverse, and with new skills,” Eichenberger said. “As a millennial, Shama will provide perspective on how the water sector can use branding and marketing to attract the generation to work in the sector.”
More on Hyder
Hyder has been named one of the Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25 by Business Week in 2009, one of the Top 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc Magazine, and recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of movers and shakers for 2015. Hyder also has received the Hermes Gold Award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media and the Global Empowerment Award for Marketing and Technology by Anokhi Media.