8th Annual Alberta Communications Forum

Online & In Person in Calgary, AB

Jun 20

Presented by Swansea Communications + SummersDirect!

The Alberta Communications Forum is a one day event that brings together communication professionals from across the province to learn from experts in the communication field, as well as learning from each other and having the opportunity to network with your peers.

We aim to bring you professional development that is high quality, usable, scale-able and relate-able.

Venue - Sponsors

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Online & In Person at the Calgary Westin (320 4 Ave SW, Calgary, AB)


Thank you for your support:

Please contact us for a sponsorship package.


Monday, June 20, 2022


8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

8:30 a.m.

Christina Arthur-Dick
President, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Calgary

8:45 – 9:45 a.m. 

A Facebook Faux Pas – City of Red Deer

Julia Harvie Shemko, Founder/CEO, Red Thread Connections
Former Communications & Strategic Planning Director, City of Red Deer

Sometimes we learn more from our failures than our successes as was the case when one of our team members accidentally posted a passionate personal comment about the LGBTQ+ community on The City’s Facebook page instead of her own. We acted fast, owned the mistake and put ourselves in the press on our own terms resulting in media coverage that was 90 per cent consistent with our stated key messages, triggering online community support and minimal community backlash.

In this session, learn how we quickly managed this issue and processes we changed as a result. Attendees will:

  • Understand how to manage mishaps, mistakes and muck ups in an online world
  • Get comfortable with “I’m Sorry”
  • Learn how to build trust, even when we mess up.

9:45 – 10:00 a.m.


10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Communicating Cultural Change: Launching ATB ID

Calvin Seaman, Managing Director Internal Communications and Culture, People & Culture, ATB
Austin Havens, Senior Manager Internal Communications, People & Culture, ATB

In early 2020, we were challenged to lead the internal launch of a new cultural model, called ATB ID, to all ATB team members. Work of this scale is difficult at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic and with an anxious audience.

Our presentation will detail the award-winning journey of planning, developing and executing on a fully-remote, multi-channel approach to an organization-altering announcement. We’ll share how internal communications can successfully engage, rally, and inspire an entire organization.

Part case-study, part celebration of the impact of internal communication teams, our session will inspire communicators to think big, explore new avenues, and redefine the value they can provide.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 

Media Relations through Relationship Building

Carol Henke, Public Information Officer/spokesperson, Calgary Fire Department

As communications professionals many of us have not only acted as spokespeople but also provided media relations training to our subject matter experts. As a 20-year veteran with the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) Carol has not only been their lone fulltime spokesperson for over nine years but also trained other firefighters to support as well.

In this session, you will learn how to develop a positive relationship with journalists so that you both meet your needs in a collaborative manor. You will learn that mistakes can be your greatest teacher and gaining experience and comfort for media interviews is all about practice, practice and more practice.

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Building confidence from the inside, out

Jackie Flegel, Manager, Internal Communications, WestJet

Learn how WestJet’s communications team led a heavily scrutinized initiative where the outcome was imperative to building back trust with their people and the travelling public.

In this session, attendees will get insight into how:

  • employee research formed the foundation of the communications strategy
  • stakeholder consultation evolved as perceptions and timelines shifted
  • to take control and lead with transparency, even when you don’t have full control

2:00 – 3:00 p.m. 

Are you ready for media requests? Really ready?

Kelly Johnston, Senior Communications Specialist, Media Relations
Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary 

News media have been thirsty for trustworthy knowledge about COVID-19 since March of 2020. We had been cultivating and educating experts for interviews for years, and still we weren’t ready for the volume of requests.  Journalists from across the country began emailing and calling our communications office and our experts around the clock. Questions ranged from the SARS-COV-2 virus to symptoms of COVID-19, to treatment, to forecasts of what to expect to health policy. We also weren’t expecting some of the backlash from trying to educate the public and health professionals.

In this session attendees will:

  • learn about the strategies we put in place to help our experts,
  • learn about the challenges of trying to educate the public and health care professionals
  • learn how we did and didn’t manage the haters.

3:00 – 3:15 p.m.


3:15 – 4:15 p.m. 

Leveraging crisis communications into long-term success

Melanie Nicholson, Principal/Owner, MLC & Co.

An organization can be rooted in the community for 30+ years, but that doesn’t automatically translate to brand recognition and understanding. So, when a fresh brand rolls out on the eve of a global health crisis and the organization has the skills and capacity to help, there is a moment to step up and build awareness.

The new brand for Some Other Solutions Society for Crisis Prevention (SOS) in Fort McMurray was launched on March 2, 2020 and two weeks later, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. In late April, there was a flood that devastated downtown and forced the evacuation of 13,000 people and triggered PTSD for many still recovering from the 2016 wildfire evacuation.

Through all of the challenges and obstacles, the message was clear: SOS was there to help the community.

Through this case study, attendees will:

  • Learn how education and awareness campaigns can motivate action
  • Understand the importance of foundational, long-term communication tactics for success in the non-profit space (i.e., low budget)
  • Explore how storytelling with an ask has more impact than an ask alone

4:15 p.m. 



Tuesday, June 21, 2022


Workshops are in person attendance only.

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Workshop A: Crafting crispy goals and objectives that bring real results

Julia Harvie-Shemko, APR, CEC, Founder and CEO, Red Thread Connections

Developing ‘crispy’ or strong goals and objectives ensures you are delivering a communications strategy that helps the organization or project manager meet their objectives. It helps focus your work, ensures that your energy during implementation is directed to the right tactics and allows you the flexibility to shift as needed. In this workshop, you will develop goals and objectives for real life communications projects and issues (make sure to come prepared with your own communications issues). At the end of this workshop, you will feel more confident in developing goals and objectives, the toughest part of a communications plan for many.


  • Create goals that connect to business goals, address issues from research and are future focused.
  • Create measureable objectives by starting with what you want your audiences to think, do, believe or understand.
  • Learn how goals and objectives drive the rest of your communications plan development.

Julia is on a mission to help communicators do better and be better. With her company Red Thread Connections, she focuses on moving the communications function towards strategic partnership with clients. With her more than 20 years in communication and 30 in leadership, she knows how to bring clarity, focus and strategy to the communications function.

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Cybersecurity: Sparking interest in the ones and zeros

Brennen Schmidt, BEd. CPR, UXC, CUA
Author  |  Speaker  |  Strategist

Every day, there seems to be a news story about a ransomware attack or data breach. These costly events stop businesses in their tracks, and spell a PR nightmare. But have you ever wondered how some of these events came to be?

Media reports of late have shown an increase in both large and small businesses falling victim to a host of cybersecurity incidents. Each highlights how the action of clicking on a link can trigger an organization-wide ransomware attack — locking troves of data until a ransom is paid.

The aphorism, “the first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one,” rings true. Discover how you can work across and between teams to help develop a durable and lasting competitive advantage enabled by and with the support of cybersecurity.

In this interactive workshop session, we’ll start by taking the mystery out of cybersecurity by unpacking the basics. We’ll then walk through a few simple steps communicators and marketers can perform to keep their data safe.

As it’s been said, experiencing a cyber-related incident “isn’t a matter of if, but when.” Don’t miss out on your opportunity to discover a few ways you can help your organization communicate the importance of cyber security for team members in the office and at home. We’ll all be safer for it!

In this session, participants will:

    • Review the basic principles of cybersecurity: confidentiality, integrity, and availability, otherwise known as the “CIA” triad.
    • Explore the technical and physical components of today’s most common attack practices.
    • Perform various hands-on walkthrough exercises to apply quick and easy security methods for communications and marketing platforms.

Brennen Schmidt is an author, internationally renowned thought leader, speaker, and strategist who is passionate about unlocking the conversation on cybersecurity. He is a seasoned national and local media spokesperson on the topics of the risks and benefits of technology, emergency planning, and crisis response.


Registration Types 



Early Bird

Until May 24

In Person

Early Bird

Until May 24


Regular Rate

In Person

Regular Rate

BEST VALUE! Forum + Two Workshops (June 20-21)  n/a   $949  n/a   $1,099
Forum + 1 Workshop (June 20 & half day on 21)  n/a   $799  n/a   $999
Forum Only (June 20)  $375   $559  $470   $699
One Workshop only (June 21)  n/a   $379  n/a   $499
Two Workshops only (June 21) n/a   $549  n/a   $649


IABC Member Registration Types



Early Bird

Until May 24

In Person

Early Bird

Until May 24


Regular Rate

In Person

Regular Rate

BEST VALUE! Forum + Two Workshops (June 20-21)  n/a $899 n/a $999
Forum + 1 Workshop (June 20 & half day on 21) n/a $749 n/a $899
Forum Only (June 20)  $335 $499  $405 $599
One Workshop only (June 21) n/a $329 n/a $399
Two Workshops only (June 21) n/a $509 n/a $599


Cancellation & Refund Policy

Substitution of delegates is permissible without prior notification. Refunds will be given for cancellations received in writing no later than 10 days prior to the conference date subject to an administration fee of $200 plus $10 for GST. After this time, you are liable for the full registration fee even if you do not attend the conference. If you register during this 10 day period, you are also liable for the full fee. Swansea Communications reserves the right to change program date, meeting place or content without further notice and assumes no liability for these changes.