Monday, November 6

9:30 am – 10:45 am

M1:  From Implementation to acceptance:  Best practices for better large scale IT implementations

Kip Soteres, Change Communications Expert, Soteres Consulting

This session will provide a proven approach and practical steps for communication planning and content that supports faster and more effective employee acceptance and higher adoption rates when introducing technological change into an organization. Attendees will learn about how people react to change and new approaches to help employees move through resistance to change more quickly and effectively. Those findings will be applied to the specific challenges that arise when implementing large IT systems for HR/Finance Management, CRM, Performance Management, Training, or Timekeeping.

M2:  You can’t sell meat to vegans:  How defining your personal brand to target your market is key to winning customers

John Tantillo, Ph.D., President, Branding and Marketing Group Inc.

Competition in the client acquisition space is more challenging than ever. Defining your personal and business brand is crucial in winning customers.  Identifying your benefits and establish your position in the minds and hearts of prospects to “Brand Yourself.” The secret is that you “can’t sell meat to vegans,” which means that your brand will simply not attract some clients no matter how hard you try. Attendees will participate in exercises that will enable them to create their own “benefits strategy,” and then target potential customers who will best respond to their current position statement.

M3:  Lead your team with passion, purpose, and possibility

Tracy Imm, APR, ABC, Director – Public Affairs, Maryland Insurance Administration

To pivot from a good manager to a great leader requires work on the part of the senior level communicator. Extraordinary leaders engage the hearts and minds of their team through mutual respect, focus and effort. Your personal character will form the foundation for your effectiveness. You must be emotionally resilient, trust others and be self-confident enough to run effective meetings and speak in public. Effective leadership is incredibly complex and diverse.

In this workshop, Tracy will share best practices in leadership for communications departments.  Learn how to move from individual contributor to coach, mentor and director who can lead your team to greatness and deliver outstanding results for your organization.

Student 1: Social takes off at PIT

Alyson Walls, Communication Manager, Pittsburgh International Airport

How an integrated communications strategy helped Pittsburgh International Airport reach new heights. Students will learn about managing social media for Pittsburgh International Airport over the past four years – the staff changes, rebranding and totally new public and media relations campaigns.


9:30 am – 12:15 pm

M4: Crisis communications:  Facing the challenge, an interactive, scenario-based workshop

Oliver S. Schmidt, Managing Partner, C4CS, LLC & Dianne Chase, Senior Partner, C4CS, LLC & Past IABC International Chair

When organizations handle a crisis well, they come across as responsible, caring and competent. Those that handle crisis poorly can be perceived as unprepared, callous or arrogant. The consequences include the potential for significant damage to reputation, brand equity and the bottom line. Are you prepared to communicate effectively in the face of a crisis?

This interactive workshop is centered on a realistic crisis scenario. Participants will revisit key crisis communication concepts, function as members of a fictional organization’s crisis response team, and follow a proven approach concerning effective situational assessment, strategy development and implementation, and communication efficacy evaluation in times of crisis.


11:00 am – 12:15 pm

M5:  Priming the pipeline:  Nurturing and recruiting the next generation of corporate communicators

Tamara L. Gillis, Ed.D., ABC, IABC Fellow, Professor of Communication, Elizabethtown College

Yvette Sterbenk, M.A., Assistant Professor, Strategic Communications, Ithaca College

Who will be leading communications in 20 years? If we want top talent in the future, we need to prime the pipeline today. Recent Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication (AEJMC) research indicates a downturn in the number of college students studying corporate communication – just as many of our top communicators are planning their retirement strategies. As a profession, we need to be active in the development of the next generation of corporate communicators.

In this session, Gillis and Sterberk will share findings from their current research and engage attendees in designing an action plan for nurturing and recruiting the diverse talent necessary to lead in business communication. This information will help communication leaders who are currently recruiting entry-level and mid-level talent by equipping them with current expectations from both sides of the employment transaction. Session participants will be empowered to influence future generations of practitioners and our profession.

M6:  A communicator’s guide to corporate video success

Cyrus Mavalwala, ABC, Founding Partner, Advantis Communications

Video storytelling has become a key part of our jobs, yet most communication professionals haven’t been trained on how to do it strategically or effectively. All the research, regardless of industry vertical, points to the increased use of corporate video. As communication professionals, we must become fluent in the language of video production and marketing so we can:

  • Remain relevant within our organizations in today’s digital world
  • Continue to lead the messaging, positioning and content creation in our organizations
  • Become more efficient and effective at leveraging one of the most powerful channels to connect with both internal and external audiences

In this interactive session, participants will explore each step of the corporate video creation process from selling the idea and securing budget, to storyboarding, production and post-production, to marketing and measuring the final video. Designed to educate and engage, attendees will discover how all the different pieces of corporate movie making fit together. Attendees will learn tips from the trenches, insights from case studies, and actionable advice that they can implement immediately.

M7:  Building & communicating your brand from the #InsideOut

Jennifer Miele, Vice President, Consumerism and Innovation, Excela Health

Brand awareness starts inside an organization, but it takes a megabyte of planning and a gigabyte of creative. Hear from Excela Health, western Pennsylvania’s 3rd largest health system, as they executed a multi-pronged digital communications strategy to create #ExcelaPride.

In this session, we’ll discuss the successes and failures of each communications tactic along with the digital scorecard Excela used to measure progress, including the number of app downloads, social and digital media reach – all before the branding campaign was launched to the public. Excela can provide session participants with practical insights that will be invaluable and allow attendees to leave this session with actionable intel they can incorporate into their communications programs.

Student 2: Digital strategy – today vs tomorrow

Chris Sammorone, CEO, Upcode Studios

This presentation focuses on some of the marketing strategies used to promote local Pittsburgh businesses in 2017, as well as some of the newer marketing tactics included in the 360 Video/Virtual Reality industry. Students will learn about using rapidly growing marketing tools to create local awareness and stability as well of the most effective marketing strategies used in 2017, particularly virtual reality.


2:15 pm – 3: 30 pm

M8:  Managing change communications to drive results and value

Jim Shaffer, Leader, Jim Shaffer Group

Many communication professionals focus on communicating about change rather than communicating to change. They use traditional reactive formal channel management that’s focused on activity when the focus should be on creating improved results.

This highly interactive presentation will provide attendees with information they need to advise leaders and manage small- and large-scale change—from conducting pilot projects that improve measurable business results to managing a large-scale culture transformation. The presentation blends change management principles, communication processes, and lean six sigma and organization effectiveness tools that measurably improve performance.

Learn why change efforts fail, why people resist change and what to do to overcome each. We will also address the importance of managing the technical and cultural aspects of change while aligning systems and processes so communication throughout the improvement effort is consistent.

M9:  The future of corporate communications

Brad Gorman, Communications Manager, Whirlpool

Are you ready for the future? Millennials, iGeneration, and social media are changing the landscape of how we communicate, listen, amplify, and go to market. Is your communication team ready for the future?

This presentation will feature insight, trends, and information that is relevant for today’s communications professionals. Whirlpool Corporation’s corporate communications team is on a journey to operate like the newsroom of tomorrow and will share with attendees what we are learning in that process. Find out what trends and insights are shaping the way that we need to communicate for the next generation in the work force.

M10:  Sharing your story in times of crisis:  How to load your most power PR weapon before you need it

Paul Furiga, President & CEO, WordWrite Communications

When a crisis happens, the buck stops with the senior communicator. Unfortunately, only then does that senior person realize how unprepared he or she might be to share the REAL story of the organization when it’s under attack on a 24/7 news cycle. In a fast-paced and interactive presentation, Paul Furiga, a storytelling and crisis communications expert, will explain:

  • What it means to make deposits in “the bank of goodwill”
  • The four types of crises and how you can prepare for them through effective storytelling
  • Why most crises are predictable and how your authentic story can ease them or prevent them from getting worse

This session, through exercises and tools, will send participants will home with a better understanding of how to develop their organization’s great story and do “sunny day” planning that helps ease or reduce the impact of a crisis.

Student 3: Corporate, agency and nonprofit visits


2:15 pm – 5:00 pm

M11:  Identifying standards for internal communication management

Sean Williams, Vice President, True Digital Communications & Michele Ewing, Associate Professor, Kent State University

Internal communication measurement continues to be an urgently important strategic skill, one that IABC members say they need and want. An international task force of practitioners, academics, consultants and researchers, including Williams and Ewing, reviewed existing research and conducted a Delphi Study to establish standards for internal communication measurement. With the completion of that project, their attention turned to how to educate the practice of internal communication on how to enable, implement and conduct measurement that meets these standards.  In this workshop attendees will learn:

  • The process of matching the measurement method to the standard
  • How to conduct the measurement itself
  • How to establish the detailed components that comprise each standard and interpret the data you gather from measuring them
  • How to use measurement data to enhance your communication strategy, ensure that you’re conducting the right tactics to match with your objectives, and share the data effectively with your leaders


Afternoon Break 3:30 pm – 3:45 pm

3:45 pm – 5:00 pm

M12: What is your employee value proposition?

Christie Gay, Founder, Bridge Consulting

Organizations are recognizing the need to define the value they provide as an employer. A powerful, credible employee value proposition (EVP) can help enhance recruitment, increase retention and engage employees to achieve personal and organizational success.

In this session, you will learn:

  • A development process from start to launch
  • Creative techniques for discovering, not creating, your EVP
  • The role of stakeholders, such as leaders and HR
  • Methods to integrate the EVP into the DNA of your organization
  • Ways to sustain momentum and measure ROI

This highly interactive session builds a foundation for finding, articulating and bringing your EVP to life, with practical tips you can put into action.

M13:  Gender differences in communication types and their influence on the practice of public relations

Amelia Reigstad, Associate Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Have you ever experienced challenges in workplace communication or wondered why there may be more women employed in PR than men? Learn how the misconception of public relations, gender communication, different communication styles and personality traits of men and women contribute to the industry being predominantly female and how these differences may or may not influence the practice of public relations.

This workshop promises to be engaging and hands-on. Understand communication differences between men and women, how this relates to the workplace, and how it can help communication professionals do their jobs more effectively.

Click here to take the Communications Styles Survey.

M14: Respectful Authenticity: Bringing Your Best to Work and Bringing Out the Best in Others

David Grossman, Founder & CEO, The Grossman Group

By telling the story of his own self-discovery, leadership and communication expert David Grossman stresses the value of leaders and communicators living authentically so they can be their best selves, motivate their teams, and get results. Designed for communicators and the leaders they support who wish to bring more of who they truly are to the workplace, Grossman discusses the process of getting there, regardless of where they might be on their personal journey.

In this interactive and heart-warming session, Grossman provides the steps in the journey to respectful authenticity, including:

    • What respectful authenticity means
    • Why it matters and why it’s so important today
    • Three components of respectful authenticity and how to achieve them
    • Tools to use with leaders to help them be more authentic
    • How to start on the path to Respectful Authenticity