TRACK 2: PR & Marketing Best Practices

Thursday, Oct. 5

7:30–8:30 a.m.
Bonus Breakfast Session

How Microsoft improves employee engagement using the latest Office 365 tools

Join Eric Jaffe, senior marcom manager for employee communications at Microsoft, and Michael DesRochers, founder and managing director of PoliteMail Software, for breakfast and learn how Microsoft uses modern office tools and business intelligence to better engage employees worldwide. In this Microsoft case study analysis, you’ll learn how the tech giant has gained email efficiencies and improved employee engagement using measurement, A/B Testing, PowerBI analytics, executive videos and mobile-first design. If you want your employee communications on target and engagement levels high, attend this session.

During the breakfast session you’ll learn how to:

  • Measure results and perform A/B testing to improve email reach, readership and click-thrus
  • Achieve brand consistency across hundreds of communications teams
  • Develop mobile-first responsive design pages within Outlook
  • Deliver fast, effective executive communications using email and video
  • Develop key insights and communications intelligence using PowerBI analytics
Founder & managing director
PoliteMail Software
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Senior manager, employee communications
Microsoft
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9–10 a.m.
Opening keynote

Lessons learned from first lady Michelle Obama on how to write powerful, memorable and authentic stories

Sarah Hurwitz, former head speechwriter for first lady Michelle Obama, will share lessons learned from her years as a White House speechwriter about how to craft moving, memorable and inspiring speeches. Citing real-life examples from her time in the White House, Hurwitz will offer advice on how to tell vivid stories, make compelling arguments and express deep truths that can move audiences to action.

During this keynote you will learn how to:

  • Employ powerful, authentic language instead of tired slogans and clichéd soundbites
  • Tell vivid, memorable stories that will move your audience
  • Make a persuasive argument that motivates audiences to take action
  • Edit yourself effectively
  • Use your speakers’ words to convey deep emotions
Former head speechwriter
First lady Michelle Obama
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10:10–11 a.m.
Microsoft skills session

Rock your profile: Build your brand with LinkedIn

Your organization’s brand is a collection of stories, many of which are best told through your most convincing brand advocates—your employees. With more than 500M global members, LinkedIn has established itself as the premier professional platform for building a brand, promoting thoughtful content and engaging with current and potential employees.

In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Build a great profile—and why it’s so important
  • Find and share content that helps build your brand
  • Engage fellow employees to amplify your message
  • Use LinkedIn as a strategic communications channel for your organization
Head of internal and executive communications
LinkedIn
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11:10 a.m.–Noon

Prepare for any crisis: Develop a strategic, aligned social and traditional media plan

Crisis management expert Dallas Lawrence will share best practices for building organizational reputations and protecting them during times of crisis. This interactive session will cover how to effectively use social and digital media before, during and after a crisis; how to navigate litigation, financial and regulatory restrictions, NGO challenges and external breaches; and how to ultimately ensure you are equipped and ready for your inevitable moment in the crisis spotlight.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Develop a strategic, aligned social and traditional media plan
  • Identify and engage key stakeholders before you need them
  • Understand the risks and expectations from the public during times of data breaches and other high profile crises
  • Build and manage your crisis team

The session will conclude with a live crisis scenario for the group to manage together in real time.

Senior vice president, head of communications
OpenX
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Noon–1 p.m.

Lunch (provided on site)

1–1:50 p.m.

The urge to merge: Tactical communications planning for mergers and acquisitions

When can two plus two equal five? When you’re explaining the value of an acquisition or merger to the press and your own workforce. The Smart Electric Power Alliance merged with SGIP in early 2017 in a move that few foresaw and many were confused by. Explaining the value of the merger fell to director of communications Mike Kruger. Through strong relationships and key messaging, the merger was widely hailed as a good move for the two organizations and for the industry. However, it wasn’t without some bumps in the road—and a little drama. During this session, Kruger will share his tactical communications plan so you can get ready for the big moment when your organization merges with or acquires another one.

You will learn how to:

  • Stage a press event for your announcement
  • Weigh the pros and cons of an embargoed release or an exclusive interview
  • Put together a “tick-tock” document for all parties
  • Use a larger event to make your news
Director of communications
Smart Electric Power Alliance
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1:50–2:30 p.m.

Networking break

2:30–3:20 p.m.

Facebook Live: Opportunities beyond point-and-shoot

When Facebook Live launched, communications professionals were handed a new tool to capture authentic moments in real time for their audiences. As the platform becomes more widely used, how do we go beyond merely recording live events to creating live content? In this session, Anne Dreyfuss and Keith Kaufelt will share the best practices they developed in their journey from passive users to live content producers.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Develop programming specific to the livestreaming platform
  • Use Facebook Live to engage more fully with your target audience
  • Analyze case studies from other organizations to guide your specific marketing objectives
  • Capitalize on Facebook Live’s functionality to increase brand equity
  • Use low- and high-tech equipment for a variety of broadcasting formats
Public relations specialist
Virginia Commonwealth University
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Social media specialist
VCU Health
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3:30–4:30 p.m.
Special keynote

More than a catchphrase: Putting communications to work to roll out meaningful

Culture is top of mind for many organizations these days. Research has shown that as workforce demographics change, employees want to work for organizations that support their values, empower work/life balance, and encourage personal growth. But changing a culture doesn’t happen overnight, especially in established organizations. In addition to leadership backing and a thoughtful approach to defining and refining culture goals, a successful culture change requires a well-planned and ongoing HR and communications strategy.

Learn how Microsoft has approached culture change, including:

  • Aligning culture change to the organization’s mission and brand
  • Learning from employees to honor the past and define the future
  • Making change real through all people processes
  • Amplifying internal storytelling using tools like Sway and portals, and infusing a culture message in all senior leadership communications
  • Measuring the impact of culture change through employee feedback, customer and partner feedback and external perceptions
Human resources general manager for marketing and consumer business
Microsoft
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5–7 p.m.

Networking cocktail party hosted by Microsoft

Join your colleagues and new friends at this networking event at Microsoft’s Visitors Center. You’ll enjoy great conversation, food and drinks while getting a peek at some of Microsoft’s latest technologies.

Friday, Oct. 6

7:30–8:30 a.m.
Bonus Breakfast Session

The top 20 tips and strategies global organizations use to drive employee engagement

Employee engagement is essential to every organization’s success. According to a recent study by Ragan and RMG, 87 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged, costing organizations trillions of dollars each year. The solution requires going beyond traditional communications. Join Bob Michelson, CEO of RMG Networks, as he shares the most compelling engagement techniques his clients have deployed, gained from the experiences, solutions and results of many RMG clients (which include more than 50 of the 100 largest organizations in the United States). Michelson will share specific and actionable internal communications techniques and technologies that have had a meaningful impact on employee engagement, satisfaction, retention and productivity. Featured will be best practices on types of content that perform the best, the design/look of content that employees respond most favorably to, the ideal frequency of content updates and new sources of content authoring that drive content growth.

Enjoy a delicious complimentary breakfast with this special presentation. You’ll learn:

  • Why and how to deliver personalized communications to every member of your organization
  • Why and how to deliver a compelling mobile internal communications solution to all your employees, with special emphasis on reaching your nondesk workers
  • The characteristics of internal communication messages that perform the best
  • Strategies for boosting employee engagement, satisfaction, retention and productivity
President & CEO
RMG Networks
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9–9:50 a.m.

The magic of storytelling: Uncovering stories within your organization to build brand loyalty and grow audiences

Once upon a time, communicators had the luxury of crafting long-form feature stories to artfully spin a narrative about their organization. Those days are long gone. Now, shrinking attention spans demand content that is clear, concise and moving. The team at the Walt Disney World Resort has devised an editorial process that blends strategy with storytelling to grow audiences and enhance its reputation.

You will learn how to:

  • Build your social media strategy based on key reputation drivers
  • Bring content owners together to identify the most powerful opportunities
  • Tell your organization’s story through the passion of the people who work there
  • Amplify content across internal and external platforms
  • Find the story in the situation to give your readers the “happily ever after” they’re looking for
Senior Communications Manager
Walt Disney World Resort
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10–10:50 a.m.

Team of one: From practical to business value

Working with limited resources in communications is common; so is being tasked with one-offs like promoting a single event. There is a strategic way to balance expectations, though. We can use the same tools as large teams to not only demonstrate communications successes on their own merits, but also illustrate how those successes are one piece of the whole effort to achieve business objectives.

In this presentation you’ll learn to:

  • Develop targeted plans that canbe executed by one person
  • Craft achievable goals that demonstrate your value to the business
  • Keep a steady content cadence while focusing on big-ticket goals
  • Effectively repurpose work from other departments to meet your goals
  • Persuade leadership to add communications resources
Public affairs
DentaQuest
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11 a.m.–Noon
Closing keynote

Turning your people story inside-out

A certain 2012 presidential candidate once famously said, “corporations are people, my friend.” Politics aside, he wasn’t far off. People shake the hands of customers. People keep the corporate culture. People form the connective tissue of massive organizations moving in concert toward a common goal. And yet, their individual stories remain some of the hardest for companies to uncover and share – especially at scale. With more than 1.2 million associates in the U.S. alone, Walmart knows better than most the difference one person can make. The nation’s largest retailer has been working to create and operationalize an “always-on” communications program designed to find and tell People stories, big and small, from the airwaves and print of mainstream media to its corporate webzine to the company’s 4,000+ local Facebook pages, and beyond…

In this session, you will learn:

  • How Walmart aligns resources to mine human interest stories across its vast organization
  • Why human interest stories demand a channel-agnostic approach to storytelling
  • Strategies for getting buy-in across the HR, legal and communications functions
  • The impact of hyper-local storytelling on brand affinity and reputation
  • The value of making the individual, not your company, the hero of the story – no matter where you’re telling it
Director of corporate communications
Walmart
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