18th Annual Municipal Communications Conference
18th Annual Municipal Communications Conference
For almost two decades, SummersDirect Conference & Events have been bringing together municipal communications professionals from across Canada. The agenda consists of two days of sessions where award-winning experts share case studies from municipalities across the country with a third day of two optional intensive workshops.
For the hotel conference rate ($299 CAD per night) reservations at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Toronto visit here or call 1 (800) 847-5075.
Please note that the final date to book a guestroom is Thursday, November 2, 2023 and prices are subject to availability. BOOK NOW!
Thank you to our sponsors!
Monday, Nov. 27, 2023
All times in Eastern.
|8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Breakfast & Registration
8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
|Welcome and Opening Remarks from The Chair
9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in Municipal Government: Innovations, Applications, and Future Possibilities
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly integral in revolutionizing municipal government operations. This enlightening session, designed specifically for Canadian municipal communications professionals, will demystify the strategic role of AI.
Attendees will discover the transformative potential of AI in reshaping government functions, from automating mundane tasks to facilitating data-driven decision-making, fostering citizen engagement, predicting trends, and aiding crisis management. The session will include a live demonstration of various AI tools in action, offering participants hands-on understanding of these technologies. Ethical considerations, implementation challenges, and best practice strategies will also be discussed. This session is a prime opportunity for those curious about AI’s capacity to foster government communication efficiency and effectiveness in an increasingly digital world.
|10:00 – 10:15 a.m.
|10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Peel Talks Housing: A deep dive behind the scenes of Peel Region’s 1st podcast
Let’s talk about housing! Peel Region is facing an affordable housing and homelessness crisis that can only be addressed with innovation, partnerships, and dialogue.
In 2022, Peel Region launched Peel Talks Housing; the Region’s first (and only) podcast. Peel Talks Housing brought residents with lived experience, academics, internationally recognized advocates, developers, policymakers and other stakeholders together for candid, compelling conversations.
Peel Talks Housing succeeded in engaging new and existing stakeholders, platforming residents with lived experience, and advancing the goals of the Peel Housing and Homelessness Plan. However, the podcast also had its share of challenges and critics.
This session will walk participants through all phases of the Peel Talks Housingproduction cycle, key milestones, lessons learned, and future Peel Region podcasts.
|11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
|Transparency to Trust; strategies for building credibility through media communications
Achieving transparency in media communications is essential for maintaining public trust and accountability. How does a municipality successfully achieve this? In this session, we will walk through a case study analysis of the City of Ottawa’s successful media response to the May 2022 derecho and explore the value of transparency in ensuring positive media communications and building public trust.
The case study will cover best practices for communicating openly and honestly with the media, including crisis communications strategies and proactive approaches to sharing information. Participants will leave with practical strategies to establish and maintain positive relationships with the media while prioritizing transparency for their organization.
In this session topics covered will include:
|12:15 – 1:15 p.m.
12:45 – 1:15 p.m.
Luncheon Address – Top trending issues for 2024
Municipal finance reform. The affordable housing crisis. Newspaper closures. The emptying out of remaining newsrooms. The rise of Artificial Intelligence . Greg Crone, Executive Editor of Municipal World magazine, drawing on his experience as a journalist and as a media and policy advisor at the provincial and municipal levels of government, walks us through some of the top trending issues that will confront municipal communicators in the coming year.
|1:15 – 2:15p.m.
Megan Steiestol Langpap
Mastering Crisis Comms: Tried-and-True Lessons from Fort McMurray, Wood Buffalo
Learn how to implement elements of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo’s battle-tested Crisis Communications Plan.
It’s no secret: Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo has faced its fair share of emergencies – from multiple floods to fires — Megan’s expertise is grounded in real-life experiences, ensuring these crisis comms strategies are not just theoretical but tried-and-true.
Is your Communications Team ready for the next (inevitable) emergency?
By the end of this presentation, you’ll have a clear idea of whether you’re prepared for the next natural disaster, cyber-security incident, water-treatment plant malfunctions, and more.
And if you’re not prepared? That’s ok. This session is designed to equip you with the critical parts to a successful crisis comms response:
|2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Name the Plow!
Last winter, the City of Hamilton set out to engage the community and add a fun name to 10 snow plows this past winter; following thousands of name suggestions, over 30,000 votes and one local celebrity endorsement, we quickly discovered our most engaging project of all – Name the Plow! The presentation will uncover the process, the risks, the rewards and the 10 names selected (“…and then some and then some”)
|3:15 – 3:30 p.m.||NETWORKING BREAK|
|3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
|Peel’s Dissolution: Preparing for Historical Change
In June 2023, the Ontario provincial government passed legislation which would dissolve the Peel Region on January 1, 2025, with Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon each set to become single-tier municipalities. With a large workforce of ~7,000 staff, and essential services for 1.7 million residents needing to continue, the news set into motion a massive communications effort.
Communications teams from municipalities across Canada will be interested in hearing from Bethany Lee, Communications Director for Peel, on the early steps involved in the historic communications exercise for the transition. Attendees will walk away with strategies to consider should they face similar, significant governance changes.
||Conference Concludes for Day|
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023
All times in Eastern.
|8:00 – 9:00 a.m.
Registration & Breakfast
|9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
In the realm of emergency management, the City of Clarence-Rockland faced the daunting task of managing emergency communications during a severe derecho in May 2022. With their tools and procedures flying away with the wind, they embraced creativity and overcame obstacles with nothing more than a printer and some rubber boots.
Through an interactive session, they invite participants to learn from their experiences, emphasizing the power of unconventional communication methods and collective imagination in times of crisis. This session showcases the limitless possibilities that arise when we think outside the box and highlights the importance of resilience and resourcefulness in emergency situations.
|10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Networking Break|
|10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
|PR Avengers Assemble: Mastering Municipal Magic and Making Plans for PR Success
As fearless PR Avengers, we may sometimes find ourselves riding the tail of a dog, getting wagged around by everyone else. And you know what? That’s great; it’s what we do. And also, we can take charge and proactively plan for and streamline our work through some big picture master plans.
As you well know, we wear many hats. We are thinkers, problem solvers, firefighters, planners, writers, advisors… Did we miss any? Oh, right, professional jugglers! But, the key to our success lies in focusing on the outcomes we can achieve as a department and how they align with the needs and goals of the organizations and communities we serve. Through this presentation, we will unravel the mysteries of building a departmental plan your organization cares about. We will discuss our Multi-year Departmental PR Business Plan and how we weave it into the work of our organization, for our organization. We will highlight the significance of measurement in forging relationships and cultivating trust. And, as the pièce de résistance, we will guide you in constructing and implementing your very own Multi-year Departmental PR Business Plan with some things you can take back to your teams. Because after all, none of us want to re-invent the wheel.
|11:15 – 12:15 p.m.
Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: Creating Direct Communication Channels with Residents
Communicating with residents in an era where community-based newspapers and media outlets are disappearing, social media algorithms are ever-changing, and bad actors are taking over online platforms. Kent will highlight the journey of a municipality that successfully established a direct communication channel with its residents, dispel common myths and barriers, and provide step-by-step guidance on building an effective e-newsletter program. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to overcome communication challenges and establish a strong connection with your community!
|12:15 – 1:15 p.m.
NETWORKING LUNCH BREAK
|1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Julie Rogers, APR
|Social media: the good, the bad, and the data
There is so much hostility on social media some organizations have given up and they are either leaving or turning off the comments. Social media management can be hard – and soul sucking.
We have this fabulous tool that can reach thousands of our citizens and it’s free. In this session we will chat about why it is so negative and how we can change the tone so we can fully utilize this great engagement tool. See examples from the City of Prince George of posts that went really well and learn why it is working to increase reach and engagement by more than 100%.
2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
|How Communications is Helping Build A Solution for Homelessness and A Health Crisis at The City of London
London is facing a dire health and homelessness crisis.
To address this crisis, a collective of community experts across sectors have designed a system response that is a first of its kind in London, and unique in Ontario. That group included more than 200 individuals representing nearly 70 local organizations in community health and social services, institutional healthcare, education, emergency services, business and economic development, land and housing development and multiple levels of government. The Whole of Community System Response will support the entire community – those who are most marginalized, those working in the system, and those trying to provide support, including businesses and community members who also experience the impacts of this crisis.
Learn how the City of London implemented this Made in London approach through strategic, active, and consistent communications. Participants will learn how the City built community partnerships, engaged with the community and partners to develop and implement the Whole of Community response, built awareness in the community about the homelessness and health crisis, and supported individuals in their desire to be part of the solution.
|3:15 – 3:30 p.m.
CHAIR’S CLOSING REMARKS AND CONFERENCE CONCLUDES
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023
Note: Workshops are only available in person.
All times in Eastern.
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
WORKSHOP A: Rev up Your Community Surveys: Navigating Potholes and Fueling Success!
Let’s face it, a lot can ride on the outcome of a community survey! Done right; it can smooth the path to Council approval and project success! Hit a few unforeseen potholes along the way and the community survey can stall the project or worse; create resident pushback and a loss of trust. Not to mention create some political fires that communications will be responsible for dousing.
In this workshop, you will learn the most common mistakes in community surveys and how to avoid them (including the language you need to convince planners). At the end of this workshop, you will feel more confident in developing all aspects of a community survey, from research objective setting to questionnaire design, effective communication to attract respondents, and how to secure sufficient quality and quantity of data to support the initiative.
- Easily identify ‘potholes’ in questionnaires and how to avoid having them derail your community survey.
- Help create measurable research objectives by starting with what your planners want your Council to think, do, believe or understand.
- Learn how best to prepare your survey and all its communications to attract as many respondents and responses as possible.
Presenter: Kent Waugh, Managing Partner, The W Group & Host of Survey Potholes
Kent Waugh is a Managing Partner of The W Group. Kent has 38+ years of experience conducting public consultation on behalf of dozens of communities. He was a pioneer of online research panels, establishing one of the first global panels in 1999. Kent focuses his time helping local governments build all aspects of community engagement capacity.
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
WORKSHOP B: Meeting the Highest Needs of your Organization: Functional Audits in Action
- Understand when to do your own functional audit
- Learn the benefits of a functional audit
- Recognize the differences between a functional audit and a tools/channel review
- Understand the critical steps to completing a functional audit
Presenter Details: Bruce Peever, CMC, Partner, KPMG LLP
Bruce is a Partner in the Public Sector practice. He works with cities, colleges/universities and other public sector entities across eastern Canada helping them drive performance improvement and innovation by cutting through the complexity of their work.
He is a former local government executive with over 30 years of experience supporting Canadian municipalities in a staff or consulting role. In his staff role, Bruce had direct service delivery and managerial responsibility for a wide range of municipal portfolios.
Bruce is the leading authority on municipal organizational reviews and service reviews in Canada. He has the widest portfolio of work in this area having worked with municipalities from the smallest rural townships to the City of Toronto.
Bruce’s interests are largely in the areas of governance design and relationships, financial analysis, organizational assessment, design and effectiveness, strategic analysis, and service delivery review. He has a particular interest and experience in technology, innovation and the transformation of public sector service delivery. Coupled with his operational experience, Bruce offers a unique expertise in the delivery of public sector services.
Presenter Details: Andrea Montgomery, APR, Prosci, Vice President, Redbrick Communications
Andrea gets the municipal sector. Most of her career has been “on the ground” working in public-sector communications, including at the City of Cambridge and Halton Region.
She is an accredited, senior communications and change management professional. She has two decades’ experience as a trusted advisor to elected officials and senior executives in the public, non-profit and private sectors.
Andrea is Redbrick’s go-to consultant for communications reviews to help municipalities enhance their communications function to deliver more value. In the past few years, she has led in-depth conversations with more than 40 municipal communications leads from across Canada and into the United States to gain insights and stay on top of municipal trends.
She specializes in strategic communications planning and implementation, organizational change, internal communications, issues and crisis management and public / stakeholder consultation. She also co-led the development of Redbrick’s Municipal Communications Maturity Index.
|Early bird (Until Oct. 6, 2023)*||Regular
(Oct. 7, 2023 & later)*
(Until Oct. 6, 2023)
(Oct. 7, 2023 & later)*
|Best Value! Conference +2 Workshops (Nov.27, 28 & 29, 2023)||$1499||$1749||N/A**||N/A**|
|Conference + 1 Workshop (Nov. 27, 28 & half day on the 29th, 2023)||$1399||$1549||N/A**||N/A**|
|Conference – Both Days (Nov. 27 & 28, 2023)||$1099||$1249||$825||$900|
|Conference – One Day Only (Nov. 27 or Nov. 28, 2023)||$599||$699||$449||$525|
|One Workshop only (Nov. 29, 2023)||$449||$549||N/A**||N/A**|
|* Prices do not include taxes.
**Workshops are only available in person.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
Substitution of delegates is permissible without prior notification. Refunds will be given for cancellations received in writing no later than 15 days prior to the conference date subject to an administration fee of $250 plus $32.50 for HST (in person) or $12.50 for GST (online). After this time, you are liable for the full registration fee even if you do not attend the conference. If you register during this 15 day period, you are also liable for the full fee. SummersDirect Inc. reserves the right to change program date, meeting place or content without further notice and assumes no liability for these changes.