pre-conference workshops


We are offering Pre-Conference Workshops for anyone who is interested in getting an early start and taking advantage of all the excellent learning opportunities available at ComNet19.   

Pre-Conference Workshops are a deep-dive into strategic communications topics to help you gain practical skills. They’ll be interactive and engaging with ample time to  workshop ideas and for you to engage with each other.

Workshops will run at two times (the Early Workshops will run from 1:00pm - 3:00pm, and the Late Workshops will run from 3:30pm - 5:30pm), and will be concurrent to Field Trips. 

See our opportunities below.

Before signing up, please note: 

  • You must be registered for the conference before signing up to participate.

  • All Pre-Conference Workshops will be on Wednesday, October 2.

  • Participation is $150 for all registered conference attendees.

  • All workshops will be held in the host hotel (J.W. Marriott). 

  • Field Trips and Pre-Conference Workshops run concurrently. 

  • Once all sessions are filled, a follow-up email will be sent outlining any additional details. 

Note: No cancellations or changes will be made after August 9th. If you would like to make a change, please email Stacy The deadline to register is Wednesday, September 25th.

Instructions to Purchase: In order to complete your registration select the Pre-Conference Workshop you’re interested in click “Add to Cart”, then click the little shopping cart in the top, right-hand corner of your screen, continue to “Checkout,” and complete your billing information.

*All Pre-Conference Workshops will be on Wednesday, October 2.*

EARLY WORKSHOPS (1:00pm - 3:00pm)

Budgeting For Poets, or How to Own Your Comms Budget and Not Be Owned By It

Late Workshop: 1:00-3:00pm

Presenter: Stephen Pratt, Impact Catalysts and Amanda Zieselman, Impact Catalysts

Description: You got into communications to (just a wild-ass guess here) communicate. Chances are, you didn't choose this path to get a chance to build spreadsheets. So when budget season rolls around, do you roll up your sleeves or roll up into a fetal position? If you’d rather be the master of your domain when it comes to budgets, this session is for you. We’ll show you how to connect communications strategy to financial choices, build budget scenarios, and zero in on the two or three things that matter in a budget. The session will be a jargon-free, plain-English approach designed to make you feel like the boss of your budget, rather than the other way around.

You Will Learn:

  1. How to link strategy to budgets

  2. How to build and use a financial model

  3. How to build and use budget scenarios

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Lessons from the Newsroom: How to Shift to an Audience-First Operation

Early Workshop: 1:00-3:00pm

Presenter: Jason Tomassini, Atlantic 57

Description:  Your organization has a story to tell. Your organization has storytellers. Yet, it can be challenging for your nonprofit to tell that story consistently and at scale. Audiences have more choices than ever before. Publishing content to all your digital channels can feel like an overwhelming chore. To succeed, nonprofits can learn from news organizations and focus on the stories that matter and that fit into their audiences’ lives. 

Our workshop will unpack insights on how to create enduring value for audiences and build an effective storytelling operation. We will present strategies for identifying the unique value you can bring to audiences, how that shared vision informs your editorial strategy, and how you build effective communications teams. We will draw upon insights from The Atlantic’s newsroom and Atlantic 57’s work with leading nonprofits and foundations. 

You Will Learn: 

1. How to understand your audience’s needs and motivations.

2. How to make content decisions that are informed by your strategic goals. 

3. How to hire the right people, build the right communications, and collaborate with your colleagues.

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We are More Than What We See. Understanding and Re-envisioning Visual Narrative

Early Workshop: 1:00-3:00pm

Presenter: Carolina Kroon, Carolina Kroon Photography

Description: In this workshop, we will explore existing visual narratives and stereotypes and explore ways to re-envision visual communication. If a picture is worth a thousand words than which words are they communicating to your distinct audiences? What is in our “mind’s eye” and what kinds of visual narratives are we supporting? Is your written communication in synch with your visual communication? How do your visuals support your overall mission, goals, and values?

Through analysis and group exercises we will look at visual styles, composition and content to identify trends and possible gaps in narratives and how those can be addressed. 

We will also explore best practices for working with photographers and improving content production and language to match your visual communication goals. 

You Will Learn: 

1. How to better analyze the imagery being utilized. What is it saying and what it is not.

2. How to align visual communication with all communication efforts.

3. How to improve working with photographers and directing content to align with your visual goals.

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Pitching the Media 101

Early Workshop: 1:00-3:00pm

Presenter: Tracey Madigan and Anne Dickerson, 15 Minutes Group

Description: Sitting back and waiting for the calls to come in after you’ve sent out a press release ain’t gonna cut it. If you want media exposure you need to know how to get journalists’ attention. Tracey Madigan has booked hundreds of guests for TV and radio. She will tell you how to pique a booker’s interest, how to get a reporter to call you back, and the magic number of bullet points when selling a story. There is an effective formula for writing that email – we share specifics on when to pitch, and how often to follow up. 

You Will Learn:
1. The realities of a reporter's day -- and how to pitch accordingly
2. How the element of time is easy to manipulate: yeah, you've got a great story, but if it's not breaking news, why should a reporter cover it NOW? There's a formula for that.
3. How to think like a reporter. What other elements will the reporter have to gather before being able to cover your story, and how you can help him/her out.

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Imitation and Inspiration for Community Foundation Communicators

**Please note: This is a special four-hour workshop for community foundation communications staffers. The workshop will be divided into 2 parts with a short break in the middle. If you sign up for the workshop you will not be able to attend another.**

Early Workshop: 1:00-5:00pm

Presenters: Nicole Paquette, Chair, CommA and Senior Marketing Manager, Communities Foundation of Texas, Elyse Hammett, APR, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Carol Pierce Goglia, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, Communities Foundation of Texas, Peter Panepento, Philanthropic Practice Leader, Turn-Two Communications

Part 1 - Ideas that Worked - Lightning Round Idea Sharing

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 CommA 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 ComNet19, 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.

Part 2 - Community Foundation Communications in an Uncertain Age – Panel and Discussion

Description: Community foundations are facing an array of unique challenges. Turn Two Communications' Peter Panepento, Elyse Hammett of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and Carol Pierce Goglia of Communities Foundation of Texas will explore these challenges and opportunities and share insights from recent workshops and discussions at the convenings for large community foundations.

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LATE WORKSHOPS (3:30pm - 5:30pm)

Inspiring Action Online: Digital and Social Media as a Driver of Communication, Mobilization and Engagement

Late Workshop: 3:30-5:30pm

Presenter: Craig Dwyer, ForaChange

Description: The objective of this workshop is to educate and empower communications professionals and campaigners with the skills and knowledge to communicate with target audiences, cultivate relationships and convert observers to supporters. This will include how to:

• Embrace and adapt to the evolving digital landscape

• Build, organize and mobilize your support base

• Enable and encourage meaningful engagement

• Empower people to take action

You Will Learn: 

1. Storytelling through digital platforms.

2. Tips and tools for creating digital content.

3. Measuring impact using data.

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Story Strategy for Social Good: How to Use Insights from Neuroscience, Entertainment and the Arts to Change Minds and Accelerate Impact

Late Workshop: 3:30-5:30pm

Presenter: Jessica Blank, Story for Social Good and Doug Hattaway, Hattaway Communications

Description: Neuroscience is finally confirming what artists have understood for centuries: that our brains respond reliably and powerfully to certain story structures, and that this response has the power to change our minds and motivate prosocial action.

For those of us working for social good, this understanding contains incredible potential. It means that using narrative strategically to communicate about the work we do, and telling compelling stories to bring that work to life can inspire audiences in ways that no other form of communication can. It means that it’s possible to construct and choose stories that impart our message emotionally—that give the audience the immediate emotional experience of our mission—without once having to explain it to them.

Story is a technology for triggering empathic identification, and when we understand the mechanics of this process, we can begin to work with story to motivate and mobilize audiences-- including those who we might not ever expect to come on board. A facility with the craft of story is not the exclusive territory of filmmakers, playwrights and novelists. When we understand how story structure triggers empathy in the brain, we can use that process strategically: we can learn to tell stories that give the audience the immediate emotional experience of our mission—without once having to explain it to them.

You Will Learn:

1. How to craft a narrative framework to organize the key ideas about an organization or issue in a way that reflects the way people think. This language is used to frame conversations, content, and storytelling about the organization or issue, and is designed for maximum motivation.

2. Literacy in the neuroscience of story; how the structure of story triggers a response in our brains that is radically different from any other form of communication.

3. An understanding of the deep structure that underlies all impactful stories, from Hollywood blockbusters to world mythologies; Broadway theater to viral media; Emmy-winning TV to successful story-based campaigns.

4. An introduction to Strategic Story methodology: that shows you how to use understandings from neuroscience, entertainment and the arts to choose protagonists strategically and forge an empathic connection, taking your audiences on a journey that transforms, activates and enrolls.

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Evaluating Conferences Without a Dreaded Post-Survey

Late Workshop: 3:30-5:30pm

Presenter: Elena Harman, Vantage Evaluation

Description: As a communications pro you mobilize communications vehicles, like events and conferences, to achieve your nonprofit’s mission and promote your organization’s progress towards its mission. In doing so, you’ve likely employed a post-event survey to get feedback from attendees, and you may have gotten some lackluster responses that don’t inform your work. In this session, Elena and Morgan will show you why you should ditch the omnipresent post-event survey. Then they’ll share the practical tools you need to implement a fun, interactive approach to getting meaningful real-time feedback and learn from it to improve your own conference or event. In addition to providing insider tips for designing, executing, and engaging your organization in this alternative approach to getting feedback on events, you will work as a group through a real example using this approach. By the end of the workshop, you’ll have practiced using all you need to implement the approach at their next event.

You Will Learn:
1. How to get meaningful feedback and measure the success of your events.

2. Tools you need to implement a fun, interactive approach to getting feedback and learning from it for your own conference or event.

3. Tips for designing, executing, and engaging your organization in this alternative approach to getting feedback on events.

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Creating a Brand that Speaks Your Message

Late Workshop: 3:30-5:30pm

Presenters: James Moore, Owner & Creative Director, Tenderling Design, Penny Moore, Owner & Creative Director, Tenderling Design, Sonia Astorga, Designer & Project Coordinator, Tenderling Design

Description: So you’re a one-person comm shop or a team of five—don’t let that stop you from building a recognizable brand that speaks your message to the world. Learn about how your visual toolkit influences how people engage with your organization. We’ll review how to create a brand and how to augment your existing brand to better engage your audience along with design tips and tricks that small teams can utilize.

During this workshop, we will explore:

  1. What is a brand? Hint, it’s more than your logo.

  2. How to establish messaging hierarchies within your brand to provoke attention?

  3. How to better work with design agencies and get the most out of your budget? Through discussion and group exercises, you'll learn about the power of building a strong brand and creative ideas that you can apply to your own organization.

You Will Learn:

  1. Aquire visual tools that you can utilize within your organization today to build a stronger brand.

  2. Learn how to work with design agencies for expert help.

  3. Establish a style guide to keep your brand consistent.

  4. Resources and recommendations to help a small organization with limited design awareness.

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