Pre-Conference Workshops

We are offering pre-conference workshops for anyone interested in getting started early and taking advantage of all the excellent learning opportunities available at ComNet16.

As always, pre-conference workshops come at an additional cost and are not included in general registration for the conference. Please check out the details below on the seven workshops offered this year.

To register for a pre-conference workshop, please use the Add to Cart button listed next to each workshop description or visit the Registration page and add your selected workshops to your cart. Please note that you can register for a maximum of two pre-conference workshops per person, one from the Early Session (12pm - 2pm ET) and one from the Late Session (3pm - 5pm ET). 

Session One: 12pm - 2pm ET


The Message and the Media: How to Craft a Breakthrough Story – and Deliver It

Session Leaders

Ben Feller, Managing Director, Mercury

Erin Pelton, Managing Director, Mercury

Workshop Description

Successfully telling the story of your organization requires two essential elements – getting the message right and then knowing how to reach your audiences. This workshop will deliver practical advice on both from the distinctive perspectives of a former reporter and a former communications director who led a storytelling life at the height of American politics and policymaking. Come learn how to improve your communications foundation by defining success, nailing the elements of clear writing and crafting a narrative that will command attention. And then improve your ability to get real results by winning over the media, your internal audiences and the principals of your organization all at once. This is your insider’s guide to messaging and the media.

Key Takeaways

  1. How to consistently produce more compelling writing by understanding the essential elements
  2. How to successfully pitch reporters by thinking like they think and knowing what they need
  3. How to leverage all the tools at your disposal to get the biggest bang out of your news

Who Should Attend

  • Chief executives and presidents of organizations
  • Communications directors, press secretaries, social media managers and writers
  • Content strategists
  • Any ComNet16 participants interested in how to be better communicators
 

Start with the Future and Work Back: A Time-Tested Approach for Capitalizing on your Organization's History

Pre-Conference Workshop: Start with the Future and Work Back: Capitalizing on your organization's history
from 125.00
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Session Leader

Bruce Weindruch, CEO, The History Factory

Workshop Description

This workshop is a guide to extracting maximum value from your organization’s history via a strategic discipline called Heritage Management. Participants will learn how the world’s most competitive organizations extract, preserve and deploy their unique heritage assets to strengthen employee engagement, sustain brand loyalty and inspire innovation. We’ll talk about how to connect future vision with founding principles with The History Factory’s proprietary approach called “Start with the Future and Work Back™.” We’ll explore best practices and case examples of preserving your history, building better archives, conducting oral history programs, recording history in real time and how well-known, global organizations have then used their heritage to fuel strategic objectives. Winston Churchill said it best over a half century ago: “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it myself.” He certainly did. And so should every forward-thinking organization.

Key Takeaways

  1. How to use your heritage to engage and inspire the people who matter most to your organization’s success
  2. How to tell an authentic and relevant story of your history with interesting characters, drama and meaning 
  3. About the surprisingly forward-looking nature of archives and the many formats and channels through which your organization’s preserved history can be creatively and effectively communicated 

And, you’ll receive a copy of “Start With the Future and Work Back” (published April 2016) in which author Bruce Weindruch explores The History Factory’s role in creating and shaping the global heritage management industry.

Who Should Attend

  • Anyone interested in extracting the maximum impact from their company's history
 

Making the Case for Thought Leadership Research: Using Data to Help Organizations Tell Great Stories

Session Leader

Deana Percassi, Vice President, Nielsen

Aimee Vella Ripley, Research Manager, Nielsen

Workshop Description

Many organizations achieve successful communications results by leveraging thought leadership to enhance their public relations, marketing, public affairs and overall communications platform. With thought leadership to anchor campaigns, organizations are able to raise awareness of their issues, measure and influence public opinion and behavior, and reinforce their own leadership positions. This session is part ‘how to’ and part ‘case study.’ Nielsen’s Harris Poll team will offer ‘best practices’ in conducting effective thought leadership research and will share relevant case studies to demonstrate highly effective thought leadership research in action.

Key Takeaways

  1. What research for public release is and how it differs from market research
  2. Why should your organization conduct research for public release
  3. How to best design and analyze data intended for public release

Who Should Attend

  • Communications strategists and those involved in executing public relations, communications, public affairs and market research
 

Design Basics and Contemporary Trends

Pre-Conference Workshop: Design Basics and Contemporary Trends
from 125.00
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Session Leader

Elke Dochtermann, Chief Creative Officer, Fenton

Workshop Description

What makes a good infographic? What are the fundamentals behind good design? What are the current trends in design? This workshop will share examples and practical tips to help you get the most out of your creative resources and produce compelling communications.

Key Takeaways

  1. How to create compelling content for your communications
  2. The fundamentals of design and how to connect with audiences
  3. Current trends in design

Who Should Attend

  • This workshop is for folks interested in visually compelling communications that may not have a specialized background or the time necessary to stay on top of what's going on in the marketplace.
 

Session Two: 3pm - 5pm ET


Putting Your Work on the Map: Fun with Community Data

Pre-Conference Workshop: Putting Your Work on the Map: Fun with Community Data
from 125.00
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Session Leaders

Taj Carson, CEO, Carson Research

Erica Raleigh, Executive Director, Data Driven Detroit

Workshop Description

Ever wonder what the best neighborhood is for your investments? Or how to tell if you are having an impact on the communities you are committed to? In this workshop, Taj Carson of Carson Research Consulting (home of the Baltimore DataMind) and Erica Raleigh, Executive Director of Data Driven Detroit will take you on a data journey. We will teach you where to go to get community data, and teach you how to analyze and visualize it. Then we will have a conversation about how you can use community data to tell powerful stories about social indicators in your community. Finally, you will identify data sources for your own work, and develop ideas about how to use the data to meet your needs.

Key Takeaways

  1. The importance of community data for advocacy and communications  
  2. Best ways to analyze and learn from community data
  3. Options for visualizing and using community data

Who Should Attend

  • Anyone who has a geographic area that they are focused on, neighborhoods, cities, states, or even nationwide, and who wants to know more about social conditions in those areas, and how to use public (and sometimes crowdsourced) data to advocate for a cause or to tell a powerful story about change.
 

What Your Audience Wants: A Digital Experience that Goes Beyond a Website

Session Leaders

Jean Ellen Cowgill, President, Atlantic Media Strategies

Joan McGrath, Managing Director, Design and Development, Atlantic Media Strategies

Workshop Description

In today’s digital environment, having a website is optional. Many organizations are finding fresh, new ways to connect with audiences on distributed platforms, such as Facebook, Medium, and beyond. By putting content out into the world (wherever it may live), these organizations can reach users wherever they are. Ultimately, a website becomes just another tool to choose from when crafting a smart engagement strategy.

So when can a website come in handy, and where does it fit within a holistic digital strategy? How can you clearly convey what your organization stands for—no matter where your audience experiences it? And how can you get started?

Using our work with The Communications Network as a frame, and applying lessons from Atlantic Media’s award-winning properties (The Atlantic, Quartz, CityLab, National Journal, and Government Executive), we will walk participants through practical tactics to communicate their mission, share their knowledge, and start conversations in the modern digital environment.

Participants will walk away with a clear understanding of how modern reader mindsets, effective content strategies, and other building blocks for growing audience engagement all come together to establish a comprehensive digital strategy—with or without a website at the center.

Key Takeaways

  1. How well positioned your organization is to reach and connect with target audiences
  2. Practical tactics to extend your brand mission across platforms, from your website to distributed channels
  3. Brand-building through journalistic best practices, as learned through our insider media savvy (as part of The Atlantic and as analysts of the larger media landscape)

Who Should Attend

  • ComNet attendees who take a leading role in shaping their organization’s digital strategy
 

Road Map to Impact: A Framework for Communications Measurement and Evaluation

Session Leaders

RJ Bee, Senior Vice President, Hattaway Communications

Kate Pazoles, Senior Research Associate, Hattaway Communications

Workshop Description

Communications can be held accountable for achieving three outcomes, all of which are measurable: raising awareness, changing attitudes and motivating people to take action. But how do you know if your content and activities (or those of your grantees) are moving these needles? This interactive workshop will introduce participants to the Road Map to Impact, a framework for setting strategic communications objectives that advance your organization’s goals. You’ll learn about tools you can use to assess outcomes aligned with those objectives, as well as meaningful metrics for measuring reach and engagement via digital media. You’ll even get a “cheat sheet” with benchmarks that help you see how your digital presence measures up to similar organizations.

You’ll explore tools and techniques for answering questions such as:

  • Am I changing the conversation around my cause?
  • Are my digital tactics driving engagement?
  • Am I effectively tailoring and repurposing content for different audiences and platforms?
  • Are my communications having a measurable influence on my audience?

Key Takeaways

  1. How to tailor communications measurement and evaluation to their organization’s goals
  2. What questions communications measurement and evaluation need to answer
  3. What tools and techniques they can use to answer those questions

Who Should Attend

  • Anyone involved in communications planning for organizations of any size, and particularly communications directors.
 

Breaking Free of Stockholm Syndrome: Writing for Impact in the Outside World

Session Leader

Josh Nanberg, President, Ampersand Strategies

Workshop Description

The environments we work in have their own languages: institutional slang, subject matter jargon and the buzzwords we use with our peers. But if we want to truly help our organizations communicate their work, we need to remember that we’re talking to people.

In this workshop, we’ll focus on making complex ideas available to the audiences our organizations hope to engage: donors, grantees, the beneficiaries of our programmatic work and the public at large. We’ll look at how our writing might be keeping us –and our organizations—from reaching our objectives. Through discussion and exercises, participants will learn to take an outside perspective and refocus on the clear writing that will make an impact on the outside world.

Key Takeaways

  1. How to express the passions that drive your organization in a way that attracts a larger following
  2. How to more clearly communicate your organization's goals to the audiences you want to engage
  3. How to break free from the jargon and buzzwords we all use, but that only confuse people who aren't already deeply engaged with the organization

Who Should Attend

  • Geared toward communications directors, CEOs and anyone who is responsible for bringing an organization's message to the outside world