Register for Pre-Conference Workshops

We are offering pre-conference workshops for anyone who is interested in getting started early and taking advantage of all the excellent learning opportunities available at ComNet17.

As always, pre-conference workshops come at an additional cost and are not included in general registration for the conference.

You must register for the conference in order to attend a pre-conference workshop. Please check out the details below for the workshops offered this year.

To register for a pre-conference workshop: 

Please click on the workshop icon or 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.

You can register for a maximum of two pre-conference workshops, one from the Early Session (2pm - 4pm ET) and one from the Late Session (4:15pm - 6:15pm ET).

Please note: "Imitation and Inspiration for Community Foundation Communicators" is a special four hour session for community foundation communications staffers. If you sign up for it, you will not be able to sign up for a second Late Session. 

 

First Session: 2pm - 4pm ET


 
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Imitation and Inspiration for Community Foundation Communicators

Workshop Leaders

  • Mary Grace Roske, Vice President/Marketing & Communications, Seattle Foundation
  • Carol Goglia, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, Communities Foundation of Texas

Workshop Description

Are you inspired by your innovative community foundation colleagues around the country and looking to implement some new and proven strategies in your own communications? Join us for this extended workshop featuring a robust community foundation idea exchange that will generate inspiring ideas you can recycle, reuse, and repurpose for the benefit of your own community. Between now and ComNet17, the CommA Steering Committee will be gathering proven ideas and strategies being deployed in community foundations across the nation that can be replicated. Presenters will come prepared with samples to share, and there will be ample time for questions following our lightning rounds of idea sharing. We’ll also facilitate some deep-dive conversations around topics of interest decided in advance by the session attendees.

**Please note: this workshop will begin at 2pm ET and finish at 6pm ET. This is a special four hour workshop is hosted by CommA. If you sign up for the workshop you will not be able to attend a Late Session.**

Key Takeaways

  1. Actionable ideas and effective strategies that you can implement at your community foundation — from digital to social, giving days, professional advisor strategies, next gen recruitment, engaging citizens in community change and more!
  2. Best practices from the community foundation field straight from the communications staff implementing them.
  3. New connections with leaders performing your same role at community foundations across the nation.

Who should attend

  • Communications Professionals from Community Foundations
 
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Stop Rebutting and Start Reframing

Workshop Leaders

  • Nat Kendall-Taylor, CEO, FrameWorks Institute
  • Shaun Adamec, President & Founder, Adamec Communications

Workshop Description

Advocates for social change face a slew of counter narratives—stories that threaten to halt progress and roll back gains made on issues from criminal justice to education, race and equity to mental health, and immigration to housing. There is a set of practices that have been shown to be effective in standing up to these narrative threats…but the strategies that work aren’t the same as our logical responses or gut reactions. How can communicators break the cycle, stay disciplined, and advance their stories in an increasingly contested narrative context?

Key Takeaways

  1. How to strategically bust myths
  2. How to use data effectively
  3. How to make the affirmative case and advance the story you want to tell

Who should attend

  • Nonprofit communicators
  • Strategic philanthropists
  • Foundation communications staff
  • Social change innovators
 
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History as Sticky Content: Re-engineering Your Analog Past for the Digital Future

Workshop Leaders

  • Marissa Piette, Senior Client Counsel, The History Factory
  • Caelin Niehoff, Staff Writer, The History Factory

Workshop Description

Nothing kills bad content faster than social media. The pressure to churn out more and more content in this digital age is palpable. But if you’re only thinking as far as your current message platform, beware: If your content isn’t rich, broad and deep, your audiences will call you on it. Today’s content debate shouldn’t just be about creating content that is sharable and entertaining. It needs to be focused, strategic content that is authentically yours. As the pioneer in the field of heritage management, The History Factory has assisted a wide range of organizations who have found that history and heritage-themed content attracts more engagement and commentary than other content. In this workshop, participants will learn from experienced curators how heritage can be a secret weapon for their social media strategies. Helpful tips for mining, managing and leveraging historical assets – artifacts, documents, photographs, film, oral histories – for a wide range of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest will be shared. Issues such as the proper digitization of historical assets as well as use copyrighted materials will be covered.

Key Takeaways

  1. We have an underutilized asset in our Foundation's history that we need to leverage.
  2. We already own our history. Let's learn how to use it in social media to differentiate our Foundation and connect with our constituencies.
  3. The History Factory will share evidence of authentic content performing extremely well in social media channels.

Who should attend

  • Communications Directors
  • Social media specialists
  • Content developers
  • Persons responsible for foundation archives
 
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Put Punch and Clarity in Your Messaging (and Lose the Fog and Clutter)

Workshop Leaders

  • Charles Babington, Founder, ShiftKey Seminars; former Washington Post reporter & AP Whitehouse correspondant

Workshop Description

Vague, stilted and wordy writing undermines your organization's goal of crisp, clear messaging, and it wastes valuable time in-house. I'll give you road-tested tips to help your team get the fog out of your internal and external communications, and replace it with punch and impact. Clear, disciplined writing requires clear, disciplined thinking. When you insist on one, you'll get more of the other.

Key Takeaways

  1. Why your organization should never use words like "utilize," "paradigm" and "impactful."
  2. How to convert weak, weaselly passive voice into muscular, punchy active voice.
  3. How to confront that blank computer screen (and massive pile of data) and start writing coherently and effectively.

Who should attend

  • If you've ever said, "I love my staff, but I wish they could write better," you should attend this seminar. The writing tips will apply to almost every type of non-fiction writing, including branding and messaging, internal communications, social media, "success stories" and advocacy. After a mere one-hour session, you'll be a better writer. And it will make you proud.
 
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Feeding the Media Beast

Workshop Leaders

  • Anne Dickerson, Principal, 15 Minutes Productions

Workshop Description

Want to be sharper and more facile in your media interactions? Want to craft a sound-bite that you know will get quoted? Want to have a template for preparation for yourself or your team? Want to know what you should wear for an appearance? In this session we will break down all the tips and tricks for getting the most out of your media interactions. Whether doing Q&A after a panel, talking to NPR, or giving background to an industry publication, you’ll know what you should prepare to feed the media beast for best results.

Key Takeaways

  1. Media interview techniques from bridging to pivoting to taking control of the interview.
  2. Crafting content that journalists want.
  3. Best practices for body language and appearance.

Who should attend

  • Anyone who wants to be better at talking to the media
 
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Scientific Method: Exploring the Science of Communications and Magnifying the Communications of Science

Workshop Leaders

  • Ann Searight Christiano, Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications, The University of Florida
  • Annie Neimand, Frank Research Director, University of Florida
  • Jessica Clark, Research & Strategy Director, Media Impact Funders

Workshop Description

How can scientists best communicate their findings in a public sphere that has become increasingly “post-fact”?

With a polarized electorate, widespread mistrust in media, and a growing cohort of paid advocates charged with casting doubt on scientists’ conclusions, there is pressing importance to help funders and media makers understand the issues related to this question, and formulate strategies to report on, tell compelling stories about, and connect audiences with topics related to scientific discovery. 

Funders have a key role to play not only in supporting content production, but in clarifying and elevating research that can support quality journalism, impactful storytelling, and scientists’ own ability to convey the import of their work. This session will explore the role evidence-based communications can play in activating the public, questions about how to surface and debate facts in a way that better informs the public, and how the utility of the scientific method can be better revealed in order to bolster people’s own critical-thinking capacities.

We will also focus on connecting funders to this growing body of research about evidence-based communications and helping them digest it in ways that are actionable and clear.

Key Takeaways

  1. The role that evidence-based communications can play in informing and activating the public on critical issues such as climate change.
  2. The importance of improving relations between the scientific community and the public.
  3. How to help funders understand current research and use it for actionable goal.

Who should attend

  • Media funders
  • Public interest communicators
 

Second Session: 4:15pm - 6:15pm ET


 
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Measuring and Communicating the Impact of Your Digital Strategy

Workshop Leaders

  • Autumn Rose, Director of Analytics, Forum One

Workshop Description

Communications professionals are always on the hook to validate decisions and priorities, demonstrate success, and continually improve the performance of their digital properties and campaigns. Building off our successful ComNet webinar held last fall, this session will dive into the specifics of building a successful strategy for measuring the impact of your communications strategies. Through a series of hands-on activities and breakout discussion groups, we will cover: * How to plan your digital initiatives with measurement in mind * How to ensure that your communications activities are making the greatest impact on your mission * How to develop a reporting strategy tailored to each level of leadership within your organization. * The importance of building a sustainable data collection and reporting process that will support your team in the long term. The goal of this session is to provide you with the key resources, structure and tactics you will need to confidently build, run, and measure your communications activities effectively.

Key Takeaways

  1. We need to have a clear strategy in place on how we will measure success before taking on a new tactic of initiative.
  2. The story our data is telling will not always be positive, but these are learning opportunities and will help us be stronger and more innovative in the future.
  3. We can’t give the same stack of data to everyone within the organization. We need to think about the decisions each person needs to make and tailor the level of detail, the direction of the narrative, and timing (on-demand, monthly, quarterly, yearly) to fit their needs.

Who should attend

  • Heads of Digital Communications and Marketing
  • Heads of Analytics
  • Social Media Managers
 
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Communicating for Change: A Playbook for Connecting Big Ideas to Societal Action

Workshop Leaders

  • Jean Ellen Cowgill, President, Atlantic Media Strategies
  • Jason Tomassini, Associate Director of Editorial, Atlantic Media Strategies

Workshop Description

How do the right words, images, and ideas come together to change the course of history?

Since 1857, stories in The Atlantic have done exactly that, shaping the trajectory of some of the most important issues of our time. The stories behind these stories are instructive. They offer lessons in how to challenge convention and cut through stalemate even in periods of public anxiety and political upheaval.

Our workshop will examine these lessons, sharing strategies from the leading foundations and nonprofits of today and from The Atlantic’s history as cultural catalyst. We will explore how communications leaders can navigate the present moment and motivate audiences to meaningful action.

Key Takeaways

  1. Strategies to humanize and spark real dialogue on complex issues.
  2. Processes for connecting campaign themes to calls-to-action.
  3. Practical framework for designing for long-term engagement rather than one-off interaction

Who should attend

  • ComNet attendees who take a leading role in:
    • Shaping their organization’s vision and communications strategy
    • Designing campaigns on complex issues
 
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4Context: Mastering the Art of Opinion Writing

Workshop Leaders

  • Allison Silver, Founder & President, 4Context: Mastering the Art of Opinion Writing; former executive editor, opinions at Politico

Workshop Description

This is an interactive session that lays out the basics of how to write an effective opinion piece. It looks at the opinion-writing process from macro to micro -- from choosing and structuring your argument to most effective grammar. It offers specifics on what you should and shouldn't do. Each person should leave the workshop with a better understanding of how to write a persuasive commentary article -- vital for any nonprofit organization.

Key Takeaways

  1. How to write a more effective opinion article.
  2. Essentials in crafting a persuasive argument.
  3. Do's and Don'ts in op-ed writing.

Who should attend

  • Chief executives and presidents of organizations
  • Communications directors
  • ComNet participants, particularly thought leaders, interested in participating in and influencing the public debate
 
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Motivate and Resonate: How to Practice Mindful Messaging

Workshop Leaders

  • Kristen Grimm, President, Spitfire Strategies

Workshop Description

Come learn to use psychographics and social science to create and unleash compelling messages. Using Spitfire Strategies Mindful Messaging guide, this interactive session led by Kristen Grimm will walk participants through a process to better understand audiences they want to engage, figure out what is at play with audiences that they need to consider as they create messages to motivate them, and use brain and behavioral science insights to create memorable and actionable messages. Participants should come with a messaging challenge they want to think through.

Key Takeaways

  1. How to mine the psychographics of their priority audiences.
  2. How to consider social science implications for how audiences respond to messages.
  3. Ideas for messaging that will resonate and motivate not alienate the people you want to engage.

Who should attend

  • Anyone who wants to successfully engage audiences
 
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Your Audience is Diverse. How Diverse are Your Communications?

Workshop Leaders

  • Kara Palmer, Philanthropy Director, Pyramid Communications
  • Gustavo Asman, Senior Vice President and Creative Director, Pyramid Communications
  • Chelsea Hawkins, Project Manager, Pyramid Communications
  • Anand Balasubrahmanyan, Project Manager, Pyramid Communications

Workshop Description

How many times have you had a tough conversation with your parents? Maybe it felt as if you weren’t truly being heard, or maybe it was difficult to connect given the different nuances and experiences. It isn’t about your parents, of course, it could be a neighbor, a colleague, or a friend you’ve known your whole life. And still, things are… complicated.

Now, multiply that situation by a thousand or a million. Then, add complex layers, such as culture, language, perspective, and worldview. If communications can be difficult on a personal level with someone we know intimately, communications across cultural lines brings new challenges.

But relax, you’ll be fine.

In this workshop, we’ll explore effective communications and share examples from more than 25 years of working across cultures and audiences, including Indian Country, immigrant, African American, Asian Pacific Islander, and Latino communities. You’ll walk away with strategies and practical tips to bring your cause to life, engaging with multi-cultural audiences and generating impact.

Key Takeaways

  1. Understanding of the nuances around multi-cultural communications.
  2. Lessons from case studies of communication campaigns.
  3. Strategies and practical tips for effective multi-cultural communications.

Who should attend

  • Anyone who cares about connecting with diverse audiences