Conferences & Training
Program - Annual Conference for Media Relations Professionals


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Day 1, Wednesday, Jan. 11

NOON-12:45 PM

Setting the Stage and Learning Expectations
Join your conference chairs to meet the faculty and learn how to get the most out of your time in New York.

Understanding, and Surviving, Today's Media Landscape
Who are the media? How do they work? Why do they matter? Recent events--globally, nationally and on college and university campuses--have revealed tremendous holes in our answers to these questions. Explore business, political and generational challenges to the conventional wisdom around media relations, and begin to chart a course to navigating media relations in today's fractured media climate.

Assessing What Resources You Have and Need
In an ideal world we'd have all the resources we need to accomplish the great work we want and need to do. But this isn't that world--and maybe it wouldn't be so ideal anyway. Limited resources can help (or force) you to make key decisions, prioritize work, and focus on what matters most. In this session we'll talk about how to effectively assess your resources and how to use them to set your priorities.

Training the Trainer: A How-to-Guide for Media Training Your Faculty
Our titles say communications, but we all know we are psychologists. This session will provide guidance for communications professionals on approaching faculty to ask for their participation, breaking through any hesitancies they may have, and training them for success in an interview. Methods for developing media darlings will be shared as will language for how you can present yourself as their partner in their rise to fame.

Creative Digital Storytelling and Media Relations
In higher education, social media is finally being recognized as an important strategic communications tool. At the same time, there's a growing demand for creative digital storytelling for internal audiences. How do these developments affect media relations? Explore how press officers can leverage innovative content for multiple purposes--including more effective pitches to journalists.

Networking Reception
Join conference speakers and your colleagues to network and unwind after the first day of the conference. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be provided. Don't forget your business cards!

Conference Adjourns for the Day
Dinner on your own

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Day 2, Thursday, Jan. 12

8:00-9:00 AM
Continental Breakfast

Measuring ROI and Reach of Your Efforts
Media professionals are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to measure reach. Learn techniques for demonstrating the value of your efforts and measuring the return on investment for your institution.

Panel of Media
When it comes to coverage of higher education, what are the potential stories that catch the eye of reporters and editors who specialize in our world? How do we work together and when do we disagree? You'll see what our institutions look like from the lens of these well-respected journalists, and learn about trends they see for the future.

11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Executive Communications and Smooth Transitions
Presidents and chancellors have to be in multiple places at once, engaging with multiple constituencies. An executive communications strategy can help your leader extend their presence beyond the realm of what's humanly possible, while gently steering them away from unseen hazards. Discuss the ways--from speechwriting to op-eds to campus messaging--that skilled communications consiglieri can help leaders build their profile, advance their vision and bring their institution to life.

Lunch on your own

Student Activism and the Role of Media Relations
Race, gender, class, ideology, climate change, endowments, divestment, Title IX, religion, immigration, free speech, labor relations, presidential elections... there are days when it's easier to count the issues that aren't controversial on campus. Colleges and universities are being pressed by students (and sometimes alumni, faculty and staff) to take positions on issues outside the mission. Leadership often turns to media relations professionals for help understanding and responding to these young activists, and making the institution's perspective heard above the fray. Explore the dynamics of the new activism, and share ideas on how to operate professionally, ethically and compassionately in trying times, while also getting our message out. The session will include time for sharing your own challenges and ideas on how to navigate them.

Representing Multiple Voices
Colleges and universities are home to increasing diverse populations. How can institutions best address issues of diversity on campus? What is their role and responsibility to amplify a broad range of voices? Explore the role of media in representing and reflecting the diversity of their communities.

How and If to Talk with the Media about Sensitive Topics
Title IX. Sexual assault. Campus climate. Institutions have struggled to communicate effectively about these issues and many choose not to respond to media inquiries, often with disastrous results. An email from a national reporter shouldn't be viewed as a reason to hunker down and silence campus communicators. Join in a casual conversation with Tyler Kingkade, national reporter for BuzzFeed News, about how campuses can best talk about difficult issues and how to move from reactive to proactive stance on topics that draw national audiences.

End of Day Takeaways and Group Discussion

Conference Adjourns for the Day
Dinner on your own

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Day 3, Friday, Jan. 20

8:00-8:45 AM
Continental Breakfast

Best Practice in Crisis Communications
Planning is important--and planning for a crisis is absolutely critical. When a campus crisis occurs, communications staff need to act immediately--so it's important not only to have a plan, but to have a plan that's been shared, tested, improved and approved. Does your institution have a solid crisis communications plan? What have you learned through writing and testing your plan? We'll break into small groups to share mistakes and successes, and learn from one another's experience. Please bring a copy of your crisis communications plan--or a plan that you admire--to share and discuss.

Storytelling in the New Media Landscape: How to Pitch Stories to Media Outlets
If press releases are today's dinosaurs, then it's time we all evolve and become master pitchers. Learn how to draft a pitch and, using insights on audiences and outlet preferences, make a match with a reporter or producer. The session will allow you to think creatively, have some fun and reinforce that words matter and building relationships is key.

11:00 AM-NOON
Professional Networking and Growing Your Career
Our panel of media relations leaders talk about what they did right (and wrong) as they advanced in their careers, and offer advice on learning, skill-building, networking, managing up, career progression and demonstrating the impact of their work.

NOON-12:15 PM
Concluding Takeaways and Final Questions

Conference Adjourns

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Day 1 Day 2 Day 3