15th Annual Municipal Communications Conference


23 - 25

15th Annual Municipal Communications Conference

For over a decade, 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. There is also an virtual trade show with virtual networking!

Early bird pricing ends October 2!

Thank you to our gold sponsor:

Day 1

Register now – Early bird pricing ends Oct. 2!

Monday, Nov. 23, 2020

All times in Eastern

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.         Welcome and Trade Show Opens

9:30 – 9:40 a.m.         Opening Remarks from the Chair

Brian Lambie, Redbrick Communications &
Media Contact, Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO)

9:40 – 10:40 a.m       COVID Communications Panel

Isabelle LeBlanc, Director, Corporate Communications, City of Moncton, NB

Felicia Wiltshire, Director, Customer Service & Communications, City of Winnipeg, MB

Ivana Di Millo, Director, Strategic Communications, City of Mississauga, ON

Here from communications directors across Canada about their COVID Comms strategies as cities relaunch and try and balance COVID response with regular business operations. Hear tips, tricks, and lessons learned. This is a session you don’t want to miss!

10:40 – 11:20 a.m.   Reaching and Engaging Diverse Audiences

Natalie Stogdill, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communication
Lavina Dixit, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications 
City of Brampton

Inclusive ways of telling stories, engaging communities and educating residents in a fast-changing demographic landscape.

  •   Multilingual communications strategy from the City of Brampton, where 234 cultures speak 115 languages   
  •   Engaging a diverse community – age, gender, ethnicity and professional backgrounds
  •   Strengthening connections during a global pandemic

11:20 – 11:45 a.m.      NETWORKING BREAK + TRADESHOW

11:45 – 12:25 p.m.     Our City, Our Stories

Felicia Wiltshire, Director, Customer Service & Communications, City of Winnipeg, MB

“We need a press release.”

“Why don’t you ever tell people about the good things we do?”

These are phrases communicators hear every single day. After spending endless time trying to explain that getting out “good news” wasn’t just about issuing another press release or putting out more facebook posts, we put together a plan for “Our City, Our Stories” (OCOS). OCOS was a place where we could shape and frame our own stories using a combination of video, photos, and written content, at a very minimal cost to the City. The launch of OCOS exceeded our expectations and has now become one of our go-to items in our communications tool box that even media use to help tell their stories.


12:25 – 12:35 p.m.      Yoga Break

Join our yoga instructor Carmen for 10 minutes of chair/desk yoga!


1:05 – 1:45 p.m.        The Business of Construction Communication

Craig Hemingway
Communications Manager
City of Moose Jaw

In 2017 a major infrastructure project in a Moose Jaw business corridor “went sideways”. Affected business owners blamed lack of communication from the City as a contributing factor. Three years later, find out how a suite of communications tactics are helping the City of Moose Jaw avoid history repeating itself.

1:45 – 2:25 p.m.      The Importance of Effective Communication – How to Communicate More Effectively and Increase Productivity in the Workplace.

Amelia Reigstad, Ph.D. , Effective Communication Consultant & Coach, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

Have you ever found workplace communication challenging or wondered why colleagues communicate differently? Using real-life scenarios and examples, professionals will explore insights they can apply to communication challenges within the workplace. By being aware of personality traits, gender and differences in communication styles, professionals will be more productive, accountable, cohesive, connected and have the ability to communicate more effectively. Improving communication in the workplace positively impacts business operations and team performance.

Key Take-Away’s

When professionals don’t communicate effectively or understand each other’s styles and personality traits, challenges arise and overall productivity decreases. By understanding the significant differences and communication styles, professionals will learn how effective communication leads to a better workplace environment – ultimately improving employee engagement and efficiency.

2:15 – 2:45 p.m.      NETWORKING BREAK + TRADESHOW

2:45 – 3:15 p.m.    
Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in Municipal Communications

Cynthia Lockrey, Lockrey Communications, BC

Storytelling is the best way to make a personal connection and have people tune in to what you’re saying. While this communications tool can elevate a communications strategy, it is often forgotten or overlooked. In this session, learn how to create impactful stories about local government services and programs (yes, it’s possible) to use in your social media, presentations, web pages, newsletters and more.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.      NETWORKING BREAK + TRADESHOW

3:30 – 4:10 p.m.           A Consultants Guide: 5 Key Principals in Building a Cohesive First Nation Communication Strategy

Ruby Gill, (Digital Marketing & Communications Strategist) Nikita, Marketing Communications
Linda Bilben, Chief Strategist & Educator, Ink & Air Communication Corp

With Canada prioritizing Truth and Reconciliation efforts across Canada, Indigenous communities are playing a bigger part in today’s society whether it’s economic development, tourism, or bridging the gap. This session will provide insight into how to help Indigenous communication teams work through the top principals on creating a successful strategy.  Hear insights into the unique challenges of communications for Indigenous communities from this duo has worked with various First Nation Communities in BC with experience working with regional planning for Alberta and BC municipalities.

4:10 p.m.                    Conference Concludes for Day

Day 2

Register Now – Early bird pricing ends Oct. 2!

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020

All times are in Eastern

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.      Tradeshow Open

9:30 – 9:40 a.m.      Opening Remarks

9:40 – 10:20 a.m.    Culturally Competent Communications

Michèle Newton, Director
Konvo Media


A one-style-fits-all approach to communications and engagement is neither effective nor meaningful to your diverse community members. Communicating with a multi-cultural community takes deliberate effort and skill, wrapped in both compassion and empathy.

Stepping out of the typical mono-culture approach, you will learn how to engage and communicate in ways that resonate with different cultures; avoid appearing to just pay lip service; and make truly inclusive connections.

10:20 – 11:00 a.m.   Transforming a Community… and the hurdles to jump along the way

Linda Filippi, Manager, Project Communications
Laura Black, Project Manager, Communications
York Region Rapid Transit Corporation (York Region)
 (Projects have taken place throughout York Region, including Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Newmarket)

Everyone likes the idea of beautiful streets and upgraded infrastructure, but nobody likes demolitions, tree removals or ongoing construction! Hear a story of breaking new ground in communicating over 30 kilometres of full street construction projects, and learn the benefits we gained along the way that helped with challenges.

 11:00 – 11:20 a.m.      NETWORKING BREAK + TRADESHOW

 11:20 – 12:00 p.m.  Engaging Online Facilitation

Rebecca Sutherns, PhD CPF, Principal and CEO
Sage Solutions, Guelph, ON

The need for masterful virtual facilitation skills is higher than ever before. This course will enhance both parts of that equation: facilitating skillfully and doing so using virtual platforms. Participants will leave with greater confidence and specific skills to help groups collaborate digitally in ways that are participatory and productive.

12:00 – 12:40 p.m.     A community celebration: Getting the media to tell your story

Michelle Rickard, Communications Officer
City of Guelph, ON

A strategic approach to media relations is crucial to building mutually beneficial and trusting relationships with news media. Such relationships help foster accurate, balanced and fair reporting; help allow an organization to convey information through media to stakeholders; increase positive coverage; and protect and enhance the organization’s reputation.

In this session, hear how this approach was successfully demonstrated through the City of Guelph’s award-winning Victoria Road Recreation Centre grand reopening media relations strategy, which focused on proactively seeking out media opportunities and earning media coverage to attract community members to the grand reopening event.

Walking through the creation of a media coverage plan, learn what strategies and tools exist to earn free media in your community and why the media is the best way to target your primary audience.


1:10 – 2:00 p.m.   Yes, your municipality is a brand

Alyssa BerryOwner/Principal, Alyssa Berry Communications
Calgary, AB

Brand is normally thought of for large corporations like Nike and Starbucks but municipalities all have a unique story and how that story is shared is the corporate brand. 

This session will walk participants through a brand development strategy to determine what sets their community apart and what it believes in, which dictates the communication style for its residents and visitors. 

2:00 – 2:40 p.m.       Bonus Session! To be announced soon.

2:40 – 3:00 p.m.         NETWORKING SESSION/TRADESHOW        

3:00 p.m.                      CONFERENCE CONCLUDES


Register Now

Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 

9:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
WORKSHOP A: Answering the Tough Social Media Strategy Questions by Mapping Social Media

Kara Wood
Founder and CDO
Succinct Social Media & Digital Strategy Consultant – Academica Group

Who is our audience? What do they care about? Will they care about what we’re saying? How do we get them to start talking to each other about our institution? Developing a strong social media strategy requires detailed information that can map a course to social media amplification. Teams need to ask hard questions and get reliable answers by using visualization and analysis tools that can reveal the shape of the social landscape. In many cases, this means producing timely and relevant network visualization maps and reports to get the answers you need to make the most of your creative messaging, ad buy, and daily social media efforts. This session will feature tips and tools that any social media manager can use to optimize their social media strategy, including conducting a social media audit, understanding target audiences, performing comparative analysis, mapping your network, experimenting, and getting the most out of your social metrics. These tools will enable the identification of the key people, groups, and topics being discussed on any topic so that you can guide engagement to the most relevant and influential voices in the topics that matter to you.

About the Presenter

Kara’s career has been centered on the philosophy that in order to create content that drives results, there needs to be a clear understanding of audience and their objectives. In working with clients, she forges partnerships between interactive and traditional media divisions and opportunities to bridge the digital divide between clients and their target market.

She founded a digital solutions agency named Succinct Social Media in 2007, and as its CDO (Chief Digital Officer) leads solution development and implementation for companies and institutions to expand their reach, offer unique value, and achieve operational effectiveness. In her role as digital strategy consultant with Academica Group, Kara’s work and research has helped to create programs for institution-wide digital evolution in support of brand awareness, programs and strategic initiatives including digital marketing campaigns, social media, content & digital experience strategy.


1:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

WORKSHOP B: Nimble Leadership in Uncertain Times (half-day workshop)
Dr. Rebecca Sutherns, CPF
Sage Solutions
Guelph, Ontario

It’s been a challenging season. This workshop explores new resources and models that can help leaders cope well with chronic stress and uncertainty. Create positive mindsets, habits and choices to align your personal and corporate responses to constant change, in order to be both intentional and responsive.

About the Presenter

Dr. Rebecca Sutherns is an insightful and high energy collaborative strategist and world class Certified Professional Facilitator with 20+ years of experience supporting community leaders to make wiser decisions faster. She is the author of “Nimble: Off Script but Still On Track – a coaching guide for responsive facilitation.”


Register Now

Early bird (Until Oct.2, 2020)* Regular
(Oct. 3, 2020 & later)*
Best Value! Conference +2 Workshops (Nov.23, 24 & 25, 2020)   $1015 $1200
Conference + 1 Workshop (Nov. 25, 26  & half day on the 27th, 2020)   $975 $1050
Conference – Both Days (Nov. 23 & 24, 2020)    $750 $825
Conference – One Day Only (Nov. 23 or Nov. 24, 2020)   $375 $450
One Workshop (Nov. 25, 2020) – Morning  and/or afternoon workshop/s each   $265 $300
*Prices do not include 5% GST

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

SummersDirect is a conference planning company that sets itself apart from the rest with a focus on customer service and value. We are fresh and we’re creative. We have the expertise and knowhow but most importantly,we offer you a quality product for a cost that fits within your budget.

We listen to you. You want quality speakers. You want tools and techniques that you can take away and use. You want case studies that you can relate to and learn from. You want engaging speakers and topics to motivate you! You want value. And that’s what we give you!

You are important to us. We don’t want you as a one-time delegate. We want to build a relationship. We want you to come back again next year. Let us know what you think. We want to hear from you. Contact us today!