TRACK 1: Employee Communications Best Practices

Thursday, Oct. 4

7:45–8:45 a.m.
Bonus Breakfast Session

Boost your email communications: Insights from 200 million internal email messages

What could you learn from the analysis of 200 million internal emails? If you want to send better, more engaging messages—whether it’s executive communications, benefits information or organizational news—email strategies based on objective data will help. In this bonus session, enjoy a delicious complimentary breakfast as Michael DesRochers, founder of PoliteMail, walks you through the 2017 benchmark data analysis and provides insights you can put to work immediately. Learn the latest trends in mobile email and tips to improve your digital missives—along with your overall internal communications strategy.

You’ll learn:

  • What makes an email more likely to be opened and read—and how to optimize yours
  • Distribution and timing secrets to boost engagement
  • How to use images to increase readership
  • An easy technique to skyrocket your email click-through rate
  • More effective ways to measure email results at your own organization

Space is limited, so reserve your spot in our pre-event survey (coming in September).

Founder & managing director
PoliteMail Software
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9–10 a.m.
Opening Keynote

Build communications that inspire action, build trust and bolster relationships

Outstanding leaders and communicators know how to connect with people through emotional storytelling and powerful messages. However, even the best executives and PR pros can break a sweat at the thought of addressing huge crowds to share their organizations’ visions, their own thought leadership, or the crisis response to rebuild a battered reputation. Words can be both leaders’ and communicators’ most powerful assets when shared thoughtfully and strategically. Using proven communications techniques, you can establish your expertise, quickly connect with those you address, and get your point across—whether on a page or on the stage.

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of Gaming at Microsoft, will join story strategist to the C-suite and novelist Justina Chen to discuss how they tackled the challenges of crafting effective communications and show you a look inside their collaboration and creative processes. In this fireside keynote moderated by Xbox chief-of-staff Catherine Gluckstein, you’ll learn how to get flex your storytelling muscles, get your brainstorming and creative juices flowing, and push through plateaus and public speaking discomfort to achieve your breakthrough moment—no matter the stage.

Executive vice president of gaming
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Co-founder, novelist and story strategist
Chen & Cragen
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Chief of staff
Xbox at Microsoft
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10:15–11 a.m.

Change employee advocacy from passive acceptance to passionate authenticity

Your employees are the biggest source of stories for your organization. They hold the greatest potential for enhancing your corporate reputation and ultimately boosting your bottom line. How can you move your workforce from acceptance to authenticity to build passionate advocates? Kathryn Craig, senior manager of interactive communications for Whirlpool Corporation, will show you how to use storytelling techniques and build a content strategy to reduce clutter and ignite an engaged workforce. She’ll share how Whirlpool is unleashing a growing force of elite ambassadors by bringing both external and internal business communicators together to instill values, vision and brand image. Discover how you, too, can activate employees to go to bat for your organization.

You’ll learn:

  • Strategies to encourage your employees to advocate for your organization—boosting engagement, morale and retention
  • Takeaways for socializing internal key executives and helping employees build their own online influence
  • Tips to identify brand advocates within your organization and foster an environment of sharing
  • How to create “liquid” content and effectively distribute it internally for external sharing
  • Ways to make your internal communications more mobile, meeting employees where they live
Senior manager of interactive communications
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Noon–1 p.m.

Networking lunch

(provided onsite)

1–1:45 p.m.

Go mobile with your internal communications

Senior director of global communications
Dynamic Signal
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2:55–3:15 p.m.

Networking break

3:15–4 p.m.
Microsoft Skills Session

Increase employee engagement with modern solutions

Effectively communicating with your organization’s staff—both desk and remote workers—can help increase trust in leadership, bolster your brand’s mission and foster an outstanding culture. You don’t have to recreate the wheel to accomplish this, either: There are tools within Office 365 to foster a thriving workplace community, increase employee engagement and distribute your organization’s important messages and brand standards. Naomi Moneypenny, senior product manager at Microsoft, will dive into these tools and uncover how communications leaders are using them to greatly improve internal communications—along with takeaways that you can implement immediately.

You’ll learn:

  • How to power your intranet with communities for campaigns and open spaces
  • Takeaways from real-world intranet examples to help you boost engagement, collaboration and productivity
  • How to drive information that breaks silos and increases interaction between leaders and employees
  • Tips for creating a user-centered intranet design and sharing relevant content—without coding
  • The latest Office 365 tips and tools to hone your employee communications
Senior product manager
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4:15–5:15 p.m.
Special Keynote

Transform your workplace communications to foster engagement, connections and more

As the modern communications continue to undergo transformations with digital trends and best practices, it’s increasingly clear that people are organizations’ most important assets. No matter your industry or organization, your employees can greatly affect your communications and branding efforts, and be a powerful driver of your culture, mission and values. Though today’s workforce thrives in an environment of collaboration and engagement, current research shows that an astonishingly high percentage of full-time employees are disengaged at work.

In this special keynote session, you’ll learn how to improve employee engagement and empower people in your workplaces with technology, including artificial intelligence to make your communications more human. Using Microsoft’s internal transformation as an example, communications leaders will explain why employee engagement is crucial to your organization’s success—and why now is the time for a new culture of empowerment, where conversations and connections are nurtured and sustained—and your talent experience is purpose-built to enable employees to deliver on your brand’s promise.

5:30–7:30 p.m.

Networking cocktail party, courtesy of 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. 5

7:45–8:45 a.m.
Bonus Breakfast Session

The state of internal communications: Best practices to embrace

Enjoy a complimentary breakfast as executives at RMG Networks dissect the results of Ragan Communications’ & RMG’s second survey on the state of internal communications. You’ll learn about communicators’ latest goals and challenges, as well as industry success stories. Discover insights and takeaways on how to use the survey’s data to improve your organization’s culture and engagement strategies.

Space is limited, so reserve your spot in our pre-event survey (coming in September).

Chief marketing and creative officer
RMG Networks
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President and CEO
RMG Networks
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9–9:45 a.m.

Set your employees up for success through diversity communications

Head of communications
Google Maps
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10–10:45 a.m.

Reinvent your employee communications without breaking the bank

It’s not enough to just push out messages to your employees. Instead, you must speak to their self-interests and remind them of your organizations culture and benefits. How can you fix lackluster employee communications efforts? Lalani Perry, senior director of internal communications for Yale, successfully turned what used to be a complicated HR website that confused faculty and employees into a successful communications effort that created a robust employee digital resource and increased both engagement and branding in the process. She’ll share takeaways that can help you cut through the clutter and hit the “reset” button on your internal communications—without requiring a giant budget or large team to accomplish it.

You’ll learn:

  • How to effectively highlight value propositions and communicate benefits to employees
  • Ways to encourage your internal stakeholders to consume your content
  • Tips for making internal resources and content more straightforward, targeted and useful
  • How to measure your efforts and proactively plan for future campaigns
Senior director of internal communications
Yale University
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11 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Closing Keynote

Media relations in the face of tragedy: How Orlando Health responded to the Pulse nightclub mass shooting

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, 2016, Orlando, Florida became the site of one of the worst mass shootings by a single gunman in United States history. Forty-four victims were brought to Orlando Health’s Orlando Regional Medical Center, home of the area’s only Level One Trauma Center. The crush of press soon followed.

PR pros must be ready to respond to crises like this at any time, especially in today’s 24/7 news cycle where traditional news coverage meets staggering internet engagement statistics. Kena Lewis, director of public affairs and media relations for Orlando Health, will walk you through the timeline of events on that fateful day and discuss how the hospital’s media relations team responded to the massive news media presence. She’ll share elements of the hospital’s comprehensive crisis communications plan along with how you can train both your employees and work with stakeholders to quickly communicate your organization’s messages, stories and values—while following proper protocol and privacy procedures.

Director of public affairs and media relations
Orlando Health
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For event information, contact customer service at 800.878.5331 or