TRACK 1: Media Relations

Wednesday, April 4

8:45–9 a.m.

Welcome remarks with Mark Ragan, CEO, Ragan Communications

Ragan Communications
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9–10 a.m.

A fireside chat with Meredith Corporation: How to win readers and engage people

The media landscape is changing. How can communicators adjust to ensure that their messages get heard? As vice president of corporate communications for the Meredith Corporation (formerly Time Inc.), Jill Davison is responsible for leading communications, positioning strategies and more for a media organization that reaches 175 million American consumers every month, including 80 percent of U.S. millennial women. With media brands that include People, Better Homes & Gardens, InStyle, Real Simple, Shape and Travel + Leisure, Meredith is a leader in creating content across media platforms, such as digital, video and print. What’s the secret to the media giant’s success—and how can you tailor those secrets to your own PR efforts? In this keynote fireside chat, Davison will share the lessons she’s learned, along with takeaways on growing PR and media relations trends—including managing crisis communications, finding and crafting engaging content, uncovering organizations’ stories, and more.

Vice president of corporate communications
Meredith Corporation (formerly Time Inc.)
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10:15–11:05 a.m.

Inside the newsroom: Pitching tips and tricks to stake your media coverage claim

In a world where news cycles change by the minute, cutting through the chatter to get your story told requires thinking outside the box. For PR pros, that means packaging a message that tells a compelling story to catch journalists’ attention. As AAA’s national spokesperson as well as a former journalist, Tamra Johnson knows her way around a newsroom. To succeed in the hectic world of media relations, she’ll show you how to live by a simple philosophy: Act like a PR pro, but think like a journalist. The secret to success lies in the art of the pitch.

You’ll learn:

  • The components of outstanding pitches that can create storytelling gold
  • How to give reporters what they want, when they want it
  • Ways to tailor your pitches to ensure relevance and timeliness
  • Tips to enhance relationships and boost pitching success
  • The best methods to connect with reporters
National spokesperson and PR manager
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11:20 a.m.–12:10 p.m.

Can your pitching prowess stand up in the “Pitch Tank”?

Are you savvy enough to pitch your story to a panel of journalists and come out on top? Flex your media relations muscles and put your knowledge—along with conference presenters’ insights—to the test in this interactive, fast-paced “Shark Tank”-inspired panel. Using the hashtag #RaganPR, attendees will have the opportunity to tweet their pitches and receive real-time feedback from a panel of esteemed reporters and editors. This session only lasts for 50 minutes, so we recommend that you don’t wait to take advantage this chance to get your story idea in front of members of the media in 280 characters. Don’t have a prepared pitch? Craft one on the fly and tweet a link or image to accompany your copy and gain additional attention. Pitches will be read by moderator Jake Jacobson of Children’s Mercy—and you’ll be able to ask your most pressing pitching questions. Get ready to dive in, communicators—the water’s great.

You’ll participate by:

  • Tweeting your pitch (up to 280 characters) under the #RaganPR hashtag
  • Including a relevant or catchy image or link
  • Listening as your pitch receives real-time feedback
  • Asking—or answering—any additional questions as your pitch is considered
Technology reporter
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The AP Stylebook
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Digital director
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Vice president of community
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Director of public relations
Children's Mercy Kansas City
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12:10–1:20 p.m.

Networking lunch

(provided onsite)

During lunch, KPMG will offer two 20-minute tours of its state-of-the-art TV studio, limited to 15 people each. You can register for the tour via a pre-event survey link or at our registration desk during the event.

1:20–2:10 p.m.

How PR pros can write (and think) like journalists

PR pros have always battled to catch reporters’ attention and secure media coverage. As newsrooms keep on shrinking, the fight gets even tougher. PR pros must pitch stories that reporters care about. In their press releases and email pitches, PR people must appeal to publications’ readers if they want their stories to grab headlines. What’s the secret sauce? Colleen Newvine, product manager of The AP Stylebook, reveals what it’s like to have your press release reviewed by all the editors of The Stylebook—and how you can write well enough to survive that kind of scrutiny.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid common AP style errors
  • To cut out jargon, extraneous capitalization and exclamation points and get to the heart of your news
  • Write tight, compelling copy reporters can grab and go—with little rewriting or editing
  • Think like a journalist to find out if your story is newsworthy
  • Tell a story that’s either unique enough to stand out or part of a larger trend
Product manager
The AP Stylebook
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2:25–3:15 p.m.

The secret to PR success lies in data-driven communications

Today’s savvy PR pros legitimizing their work by taking advantage of tools and technologies that help them understand data and trends. From ensuing your pitch is going to the right journalists to receiving alerts about anomalies, data is giving the PR practitioner the power to strengthen their pitches, storytelling efforts and integrated communications strategies. If this doesn’t sound like you yet, don’t fear: Russ Somers, vice president of marketing for TrendKite, will help you blast through ineffective measurement strategies and show you how to gather and understand analytics that can ultimately improve your campaigns, boost your messages and help you prove your ROI to your clients and executives.

You’ll learn:

  • How to uncover stories based on actionable data
  • Necessary data to optimize PR strategies and prove results
  • How to effectively share and amplify the strongest content
  • Tips for research that can power content creation, social media campaigns and more
Vice president of marketing
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3:15–3:45 p.m.

Networking Break

3:45–4:45 p.m.
Special Keynote

The future state of communications: Adapting to a data-driven world

The PR and communications landscape looks quite different than it did 20 (or even five) years ago.

Now, savvy PR pros have earned seats at both marketing and social media tables, and adjusting skill sets and best practices have enabled communicators of all stripes to boost organizations’ bottom line—while also proving their worth. As brand journalism, content marketing and social media take over brands’ strategies, communicators need to take a data driven approach to take advantage of online trends, avoid crises that can hit at a moment’s notice, stand out in a sea of content and adapt to the changing nature of communications.

In this discussion-based keynote, KPMG—one of the world’s Big Four firms—will help provide an assessment of where we stand as an industry and how your efforts are stacking up against current best practices. See where communicators excel—and struggle—and how you can ultimately come out on top.

Chief communications officer
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Chief executive officer
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5–7 p.m.

Networking Cocktail Reception hosted by KPMG

Thursday, April 5

9–9:50 a.m.
Opening 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, Orlando Health’s director of public affairs and media relations, 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 lessons learned—and how you can take a page or two from her organization’s crisis plan.

Director of public affairs and media relations
Orlando Health
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10:05–10:50 a.m.

How social media can help you pitch and build relationships with journalists

If you can understand journalists’ habits and preferences, you can transform how you contact them and how they look at you—and dramatically increase your media placements. This is especially true on social media. Journalists look for news, scoops and sources on social media 24/7. However, most PR pros still don’t have a system for connecting with journalists through online channels. The result? They lose coverage to others. Avoid this by gleaning insights on how to connect with and pitch journalists on social media and beyond. You’ll learn advanced media relations techniques straight from Muck Rack’s annual survey of journalists, and connect traditional and digital media relations strategies for ultimate success.

You’ll learn:

  • How to respond first to media queries by using social media
  • Guidelines for contacting reporters on social media without offending them
  • The do’s and don’ts of pitching on social media and by email
  • Rapid response PR: Tools to monitor news, quickly adjust your media strategy and report on your PR impact
Muck Rack, The Shorty Awards
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11:05–11:50 a.m.

Craft your next media relations blockbuster: Secrets from the silver screen

PR pros constantly struggle to get their news heard, but powerful media relations efforts are within your reach. With 660 theaters nationwide in nearly every media market, AMC Theatres’ director of corporate communications, Ryan Noonan, seeks to land media coverage hits as big as the films AMC shows on its screens. He’ll show you how to replace tired and ineffective media relations strategies with targeted approaches and creative ways to uncover stories that journalists crave–helping your organization grab its chance in the spotlight.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Build effective media lists and know which publication to pitch
  • Discover the unique story or angle that your organization brings to journalists
  • Target media members based on their interests and uncover creative ways to get your news out
  • Craft media responses that put out social media fires
  • Avoid statements that can bring a crisis to your doorstep
Director of corporate communications
AMC Theaters
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12:05–12:55 p.m.
Closing keynote

What’s the big idea? Brilliant campaigns have them—and you can, too

Big ideas can cut through the clutter of messages competing for your audience’s attention with something that strikes a chord—even a dissonant one.

Brigham Young University communications professor Joseph Ogden will share the secrets behind some of the best PR campaigns today and discuss the direction outstanding PR is headed. PR pros can take insights from their marketing and advertising counterparts, but only they have the unique skills to implement and amplify big ideas through traditional and social media channels. You’ll learn from the co-author of the top-selling textbook “Strategic Communications Planning” about how to tap into your personal or team’s creativity to affect your organization’s bottom line and become a catalyst for ideas that fly—even in turbulent weather. 

Professor of communications
Brigham Young University
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For event information, contact Customer Service 800.878.5331, or