3rd Annual Marketing & Communications for Post-Secondary Conference

Toronto, Ontario

Apr 29
- May 1

3rd Annual Marketing & communications for post-secondary conference

yyzcy_phototour01For over a decade, SummersDirect Conference & Events and Swansea Communications have been bringing together communications professionals from across Canada for quality conference programming. This partnership is the only in Canada that has provided both national and regional conferences for communications professionals. Our goal is to offer a conference experience that will educate and inspire professional communicators from various industries through an environment of professional networking to benefit both delegates and speakers alike. You will walk away with tools and techniques you can take away and use, case studies you can relate to and most of all VALUE.

Together we want to build a long-lasting relationship with you! We are excited to have you join us and hope you return year after year. Please call 1.780.747.2958 or email us at renee@summersdirect.com.


Courtyard Marriot Downtown
475 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON


We have secured a conference rate of $229 + taxes while supplies last. Don’t wait! All rooms have sold-out two years in a row. For reservations please visit here or call 1.800.847.5075. Please identify yourself as being with the SummersDirect Inc. group when making or amending the reservation.

Presenting Sponsor

Academica Group is Canada’s largest marketing research and consulting agency devoted entirely to the postsecondary sector. Through its expert staff and cross-country network of consultants, Academica works to support and inspire higher ed institutions through research & consulting, digital content, and career advertising. Every year, Academica works with over 100 higher ed institutions. The Academica Top Ten news digest and digital content platform currently reaches over 26K higher ed professionals daily.

Day 1

Click here to REGISTER NOW

monday/april 29/2019

8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
2018 April Fool’s Day – Launching of a Student Uniform
Shamelle Sutton, Social Media Specialist, Sheridan College

Sheridan’s social media accounts proactively showcase campus life, student services, while also highlighting achievements and partnerships within our community. However, our entire proactive editorial calendar was suspended in the fall of 2017 as a result of the Ontario-wide college faculty strike. As Sheridan has historically engaged in April Fools’ Day activities, the marketing team recognized this event as an opportune time to pivot the social messaging strategy.  The goal was to engage students, staff and alumni communities in two-way communication and make them aware of the new uniform launching in Fall 2019. There was a great deal of focus placed on providing teaser content in the lead-up to a formal announcement on April 1st and a call-to-action for students to register for more information about the uniform options.

In this session Sheridan will walk you through:

  • The planning involved in the roll out of this integrated teaser campaign across their digital and social media channels
  • The tools and costs involved in executing the campaign
  • The results and reactions the campaign received and
  • How relationships with other areas of the college were leveraged to help elevate the brand

Attendees of this session will walk away with some tips and best practices on how a brand’s personality can be reinstated after a challenging period that you can put into action right away.

9:45 – 10:00 a.m.

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Opening Fanshawe’s downtown campus: a game changer for London, Ontario
Dave Schwartz, Executive Director, Reputation and Brand Management
Elaine Gamble, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications

In 2018, Fanshawe got set to open and celebrate the creation of a new downtown campus, including a rejuvenated new learning space built on the site of the iconic and historic Kingsmill Department Store. With multiple stakeholders and high expectations for this campus, Fanshawe planned a variety of communications and events to ensure students and prospective students, staff and faculty, downtown neighbours, the City of London, heritage activists and the community at large were informed and engaged as construction continued over three years. What followed was a series of high profile events that successfully launched the campus and excited the community about the possibilities for downtown renewal with the arrival of over 2,000 students and staff.

Attendees will learn:
– how Fanshawe built excitement and managed expectations around the largest capital project undertaken in its 50 year history
– how Fanshawe positioned itself as a key partner in downtown revitalization

11:00 – 12:00 p.m.
Your school’s brand can’t be all things to all people. So now what?
Philip Glennie, PhD, Communications & Partnerships Manager, Academica Group

One of the first rules of branding is that a brand can’t be all things to all people. In other words, a brand needs to make a clear, focused promise to a specific target group in order to be effective. But how does this work for post-secondary institutions, which have diverse groups of stakeholders (students, alumni, faculty, staff) asking for a variety of promises? More specifically, how can a school earn itself a unique and effective positioning in the minds of prospective students? This session will draw on the enrolment research and branding work that Academica Group has performed with hundreds of Canadian institutions to explore some of the ways that schools have successfully addressed this core challenge in PSE branding.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
5 Mistakes We Made Launching an Instagram Account, and How to Recover
Jennifer Ferguson, BA, Liaison Officer, Western University

Western’s Undergraduate Recruitment team launched an Instagram account last year. Scratch that. Gently, cautiously rolled out a new Instagram account. And it didn’t take off the way they expected, despite thorough planning, preparation and research. Jennifer will share the challenges and wins her team had over the past year. Whether you’re new to Instagram, thinking about Instagram, or already using it, this session is for you. Jennifer will review some tips and tricks to get your account off the ground and discuss strategies to keep it running.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
But Tell Me, What is the Goal? The Need for Strategic Marketing & Communication
Tia O’Grady, Associate Director, Communications and Marketing | Office of the Vice-President, Research, Simon Fraser University 

Marketing and communication professionals often have similar qualities: a competitive nature; we aim for success; we are high achievers; we can take care of a lot of work in a short amount of time; we are strategic planners; we are analytical and like to measure outcomes; and we want to carry out work that will have an impact.

Regardless of the work environment—be it an institution, corporation, not-for-profit, and so on—we may run into the same issue of receiving requests that have a missing piece: the goal. What are we trying to achieve here, and why does it matter? What will happen if we did not do this? What does success look like?

Learn how to solve the problem of “reactive versus strategic” thinking, and more importantly, how to get buy-in from your clients and stakeholders. Because if you can effectively shift the work culture into seeing the value of strategy, the positive result will speak for itself.

3:00 – 3:15 p.m.

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
How the U of A adopted a brand journalism model to tell its story directly, to a much wider audience
Michel Proulx, Executive Director, News, Editor, folio, University of Alberta

The session will examine the strategy and tactics the university used to increase the annual pageviews it received for the stories it produced from 450,000 to 1.2 million over a two-year period.

Michael will discuss the ever-changing media landscape that has made it increasingly difficult over time to deliver the institution’s story to a wide audience including:

  • the opportunity the Internet and social media provide us to reach a much wider audience directly
  • an overview of our brand journalism program, including the journalistic tactics used
  • the strategy and tactics used to successfully implement a change management strategy across the institution
  • how we use our brand journalism strategy to manage issues and influence the narrative by external media
  • the lessons we learned along the way

4:15 p.m.

Click here to REGISTER NOW

Day 2

Click here to REGISTER NOW

tuesday/april 30/2019

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Little Whispers, Dirty Secrets and Guilty Pleasures; Three key things that brand consultants don’t always tell you.
Laurie Morris, Managing Director, Marketing & Brand Management, Simon Fraser University

In a world of over-stimulation and an abundance of choice, brands act as a mental shortcut that enable people to make decisions quickly and intuitively. But the world is changing.  Quickly. Brands across all industries are seeing disruptions that are shaking up categories and hiving off consumers like never before.  It’s an industry on the cusp of change, heading toward a future that’s about embracing chaos. To meet the challenge, we have to think outside with tomorrow in mind.

Learn how a pilot project at Simon Fraser University created a unique opportunity to strategically align its communications, marketing and enrollment management departments while moving the university’s institutional goals forward.  The session will include an informative overview of the “why” and “how” behind decisions about brand architecture and visual identity along with practical advice about the process of building a communications and design toolkit to bring the brand strategy to life.

But we’ll also take an in-depth look at the lessons learned, uncovering three key things that brand consultants don’t always tell you.

  • The little whispers of behind-the-scenes work, which starts from the inside with the messages you communicate to your organization. Simplicity and clarity are of the essence.
  • The dirty secrets of stakeholder engagement and how it defines the framework to think about brand architecture and strategy. The brand value proposition must be believable. It must have the buy-in of people responsible for communicating the brand and people receiving that brand communication.
  • The guilty pleasure of leveraging data to prove your point. The foundation for meaningful analytics is built by choosing specific metrics that matter to your brand. The results can give you reasons, backed by data, to fuel your brand’s positioning strategy and drive business decisions.

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Boosting the Brand through Student Engagement
Mekala Wickramasinghe, International Student Recruitment Coordinator, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT), Former Student Life and Engagement Coordinator at the University of Winnipeg, Professional, Applied and Continuing Education

 A robust student engagement program helps recruit and maintain students at the University of Winnipeg’s Professional Applied and Continued Education (PACE) program. The Program’s signature Cultural Night showcases the students’ talents and embraces their cultural diversity. It provides students an experiential learning opportunity throughout the events planning to implementation. As well, gives PACE student recruiters a solid example of the university’s commitment to student engagement and multiculturalism to share with future students. Join Mekala in a discussion on how to work with students and partners to build a safe, inclusive and trusted organizational brand.

11:15 – 12:15 p.m.
Streamlining Your Social Media Channels
Jenna Easter, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at the University of Guelph
Emily Jones, Manager of Communications at U of G’s McLaughlin Library

Social media has evolved and deserves a strategic approach to ensure all programs and services receive the best possible communications and marketing. Learn how we went from multiple channels to 1 and what that process looked like. Attendees can expect to hear what the process involved, challenges and success stories, and why having official main accounts helps to build a strong brand voice and audience.

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Writing for Santa: Tips for higher ed communicators with limited resources and budgets
Terry Lavender BA MSc, Manager, Communications, Office of the President, The University of British Columbia

Whether you’re managing communications for a busy, outgoing, social media savvy university president or writing news releases off the side of your desk for a small academic department, you’re faced with the same question: how do you manage with limited time, money and resources? As manager, communications for UBC President Santa Ono, Terry Lavender is responsible for producing hundreds of speeches, videos, podcasts, op-eds, blog posts and other communications each year. He shares some of the ways he’s learned to cope with the madness and thrive as a one-person higher education communications shop.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.

Global Perspectives: Engaging international students online through targeted marketing and communications
Julia Jones-Bourque, Marketing and Communications Manager, University of Alberta International, University of Alberta

In a sea of marketing and communications messages, how can you make sure that your international students are receiving the right ones – or receiving them at all? Targeting your marketing and communications for international students is becoming more and more critical as global competition increases to attract top talent.

Adding to this complex challenge, how can you reach international students in a way that coordinates with your institutions’ domestic marketing and communications efforts? Do international and domestic marketing and communications compete, or can they co-exist in a coordinated, yet specialized fashion?

UAlberta explored these questions and more during the development of their latest recruitment and admissions website – resulting in a dual-versioned website with content for international or domestic, depending on user selection.

With a focus on the international side, this session will explore how the UAlberta admissions website serves the special needs of various geographic audiences. Attendees will also get some tips on writing for international audiences and furthering online engagement with prospective and current international students.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Flooding the funnel: A case study on how to create interest-based micro-engagements within high schools
Erica Holgate, Recruitment Coordinator, Queen’s University Faculty of Health Sciences
Lee Taal, Founder & CEO, ChatterHigh Communications Inc.

2016 was the inaugural year for the new online degree offered through the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University.  A comprehensive market assessment was conducted to identify potential matriculant personas and help design the outreach campaign to build awareness for this new program offering.

A major strategy that was identified was to build awareness of not only the unique program, but of health science related occupations as well, featuring the myriad pathways possible once in the program.  Recognizing the challenge of reaching the high school demographic in an ongoing and meaningful way, a strategy included in the marketing/recruiting mix was use of a gamified online learning resource used in post-secondary and career exploration classes across Canada, ChatterHigh

Leveraging our info-rich, newly designed web site, questions were crafted for the ChatterHigh quiz used in schools that featured content on target URLs throughout the site.  This strategy allows for a constant stream of information to students being supported by K-12 to explore post-secondary and career options.  This campaign is near the end of its 2nd year.  This presentation will highlight the success of the campaign to date, including students’ brand and program awareness and interest-based feedback data that ChatterHigh now provides.


4:30 p.m.

Click here to REGISTER NOW

Day 3

Click here to REGISTER NOW

wednesday/may 1/2019


8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
An Updated Email Communication Strategy For Post-Secondary Institutions
Antoine Bonicalzi, Director of Marketing, Cyberimpact

Email has been around for a long time, but it’s still one of the most efficient ways to communicate with your audience. Your students and their parents are on social media, of course, but it’s through their email inbox that you can reach them directly in a more personalized way.

Your email marketing strategy might be a little dusty. In this workshop, we’ll give it the 2019 update! Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover:

  • What are the goals that post-secondary institutions can reach with email (from increasing student enrolment to promoting fundraising events)
  • How to update your email communication strategy with the latest trends
    • Segmentation
    • Video in emails
    • Interactive emails
    • Automation
  • Examples of real-life campaigns
  • Common mistakes to avoid
  • How to stay CASL compliant at all times

You’ll leave this workshop with your mind, and your notepad, full of actionable ideas to put forward in your organization and a draft of an updated email communication strategy.

Antoine Bonicalzi has been involved in digital marketing since 2009. Occupying key roles in several agencies, he has helped hundreds of small businesses succeed with digital marketing. Today, as the Marketing Director for Cyberimpact, a Canadian email marketing platform, Antoine has the responsibility of growing its user base across the country. His role involves communicating the secrets of email marketing to Canadian businesses and organizations.

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
WORKSHOP B: LinkedIn Marketing Lab: Maximizing LinkedIn for Post Secondary Marketers
Graeme Owens, Account Executive, Higher Education, Linkedin Marketing Solutions

The rise of digital and social media platforms has enabled prospective students, business leaders and alumni to research and make decisions on their own. In this new environment, schools must engage the audiences that matter most where the content they consume is trusted, relevant and unlocks opportunity.

However, schools face siloed departments, tight resources and long-standing processes that can make getting started seem daunting. As Higher Education Lead for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Canada, Graeme Owens partners with schools across the country to navigate these challenges and create data-driven content solutions that resonate with a range of audiences and stakeholders on LinkedIn.

In this hands-on workshop, Graeme will lead attendees through LinkedIn’s content marketing framework, best practices from other PSE partners and exercises to create winning student recruitment, brand building and alumni outreach campaigns. You’ll leave this session with an action plan that you can take back to your campus and leverage across your content channels (both on LinkedIn and off).

As the Higher Education Lead for Linkedin Marketing Solutions Canada, Graeme partners with colleges and universities across the country to leverage LinkedIn as a premier content marketing and student recruitment platform. He leans on his entrepreneurial background, digital focus and love for learning to transform the way schools build their brands, engage their alumni communities and activate prospective students. Graeme is passionate about building the business he works with, giving back to the next generation of leaders and continuing to better himself and those around him every day.


Click here to REGISTER NOW

Pricing Information
Registration Type Early Bird (until March 22, 2019) Regular Rate
Best Value – Conference & 2 Workshops $1349.00 $1599.00
Conference & 1 Workshop $1299.00 $1399.00
Conference (Both Days) $999.00 $1099.00
Conference (One Day) $499.00 $599.00
Both Workshops Only $649.00 $749.00
One Workshop Only $349.00 $399.00



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 $26 for HST. 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. SummersDirect Inc. reserves the right to change program date, meeting place or content without further notice and assumes no liability for these changes.