4th Annual Marketing & Communications for Post Secondary Conference


26 - 28

For over a decade, SummersDirect Conference & Events and Swansea Communications have been bringing together communication professionals from across Canada for quality conference programming. This partnership is the only in Canada that has provided both national and regional conferences for the communications field .

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.




Presenting Sponsor

Academica Group is Canada’s largest marketing research and consulting agency devoted entirely to the post secondary 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 29K higher ed professionals daily.

Bronze Sponsor

Conference Day 1

Click here to register now

Monday, October 26, 2020

All times in Eastern

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.         Welcome and Tradeshow Open

9:30 – 9:40 a.m.         Opening Remarks from the Chair
Jane Cockton, Director, Marketing and Brand Strategy Communications, Public Affairs and Marketing, Sheridan

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

Nicole Woodall, Sheridan College

Jennifer Ferguson, BA, Liaison Officer, Western University

Join our panel of experts as they share their COVID Comms strategies, tips, tricks and lessons learned. This is a session you don’t want to miss!

10:40 – 11:20 a.m.     National Trends in Post-Secondary Branding

Julie Peters, VP Research, Academica Group

Sean Williams, Postsecondary Brand and Marketing Strategist, Academica Group

Why is institutional branding important? What is happening in the PSE sector when it comes to branding and institutional success? What does a University or College brand have to do with recruiting quality students, facilitating their success, and ensuring graduates are engaged years after they leave?

In this session, the team from Academica Group will speak to the relevancy of branding an institution, the pressures many face finding a unique brand positioning, the challenges around engaging internal departments, as well as strategies to consistently communicating the brand story across multiple touchpoints. Since this process is very different than marketing a consumer product, unique approaches are needed to understand, guide and celebrate an institution’s brand. Drawing on our branding research with Canadian post  secondary institutions big and small, this presentation will highlight the biggest trends in PSE branding happening across the country and will offer key learnings that can be applied at any Canadian institution.

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

11:45 – 12:25 p.m.     The Art of a Creative Brainstorm

Carley McDougall, Special Projects Coordinator, Campus Manitoba

Do you ever feel stuck for a good idea? Is it hard for you to find time to get your colleagues together for an excellent creative brainstorming session? Are your marketing campaigns on repeat year after year and in need of a good shake-up?

Throughout this interactive session, Carley McDougall will discuss the importance of finding time to innovate and engage in out-of-the-box thinking. Attendees will have the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas for their upcoming marketing campaigns and walk away with brainstorming activities that can be used with their teams.


12:55 – 1:35 p.m.         Survey Says…Results and Lessons Learned from A Student Communications Survey

Lisa Brakenridge, Manager, Marketing and Communications, Student Success Office, University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo just finished a report based on a Student Communications Survey completed in Winter 2019. The results provided insight into communications preferences of Waterloo students including:

  • Where students want to receive information from the University (i.e. which channels)
  • What kind of information they want to receive in each channel (e.g. events via social media)
  • Who they consider to be an important source of information on campus
  • What has changed since the last survey in 2015

Attendees will learn they key highlights from the survey results and how the results influence student communications on campus. Delegates will also hear tips for running a Student Communications Survey on your campus and lessons learned in the process.

1:35 – 2:15 p.m.         Integrated Content Strategy: Using strategic storytelling to improve UBC’s reputation
Cindy Connor, Online Producer, Brand and Marketing, The University of British Columbia

It is critical that post-secondary institutions differentiate themselves to create a unique value proposition through their storytelling. To do so requires a strategic approach to content creation and distribution. UBC’s Cindy Connor will walk you through how the Communications team created an integrated content strategy that utilized content and resource deployment to serve the strategic purpose of highlighting the university’s strategic plan and brand proposition.

What attendees will learn:

  • The challenges of breaking down content silos and taking a phased approach
  • How to create a topic model to guide the university’s strategic storytelling
  • How we identified target audiences, channels and KPIs
  • The people, process and tools required for this content strategy work
  • Wins, losses and lessons – evaluation and lessons we learned along the way

2:15 – 2:35 p.m.      NETWORKING BREAK + TRADESHOW

2:35 – 3:05 p.m.       GR Meets PR – How Humber College Integrates Government Relations and Communications

Emily Milic, Manager of PR and Communications, Humber College

Andrew Leopold, Director of Communications, Humber College

In 2019 Humber formally merged Government Relations, Communications (and PR) and Marketing into one department. With a renewed emphasis on building their government relations portfolio, they apply a communications approach to advocacy outreach and initiatives, while ensuring there’s a GR lens on PR activities. From dignitary visits to strategically integrated announcements, events and campaigns they use their “Educate, Advocate, Advance,” approach to showcase Humber and postsecondary education in ways beyond traditional government relations efforts.

Participants will learn about applying brand journalism techniques to amplify government relations and advocacy efforts; how to consider government relations opportunities and implications in communications activities and about the subtle yet significant role of social media in joint advocacy-PR outreach.

Hear specific case studies from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Premier Doug Ford’s visits as well as others government officials.

3:05 – 3:35 p.m.      NETWORKING BREAK + TRADESHOW

3:35 p.m.                    Conference Concludes for Day


Conference Day 2

Click here to register now

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

All times are in Eastern

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.       Tradeshow Open

9:30 – 9:40 a.m.      Opening Remarks

Jane Cockton, Director, Marketing and Brand Strategy Communications, Public Affairs and Marketing, Sheridan

9:40 – 10:20 a.m.     What If — Digital-first Consultation that Works

Grant Hamilton, Director, Marketing & Communications, Brandon University 

Developing Brandon University’s new strategic plan required extensive consultation on campus. We knew that traditional town halls, surveys, and focus groups would tie up resources and still might not be enough. So, we developed a simple template and a weekly email strategy to put us in touch with more people, more often, and to prompt meaningful conversations about our university’s future. We will outline our flexible approach, share how well it worked, and show how you can use the same approach to hear from your audiences as well.

10:20 – 11:00 a.m.      Expanding Our Communications Toolkit: A Case Study on Creating A College Podcast

Shawne McKeown, Senior Digital Content Editor, George Brown College

In 2019 George Brown College launched a podcast about the future of work called Work Shift. A communications vehicle – not a promotional marketing project. The goal was to insert themselves into a greater conversation about the fast-changing work force. Shawne will discuss the range of factors changing the work force, including AI, automation and climate change, that this podcast aims to address.

Delegates will gain insights into how they started their podcast on a modest budget, what they’ve learned along the way and what they know they can do better in the future.

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

 11:20 – 12:00 p.m.    Yeet, Yeet! How Well Do You Know Gen Z?

Jacqueline Hampshire, Manager, Marketing and Communications

Elizabeth DiEmanuele, Social Media and Digital Content Coordinator

Student Success Centre, McMaster University

In a highly digital world, Gen Z students desire one-on-one communications and real connections. As student affairs and communications professionals, we have experienced a change in student behaviours and needs within the past five years.

To adapt to changing needs, the Student Success Centre at McMaster University has used insights research, analytics, and direct student feedback to rethink our approach to student support. We have already observed how applying this knowledge of Gen Z preferences can enhance success and reach with students.

This session will provide an overview of Gen Z motivations, communication preferences, and decision-making in areas such as careers and academics. Attendees can use this information to enhance service delivery, gain communication strategies, and develop a community of support.

12:00 – 12:40 p.m.        Developing A Tagline for Your Institution

Joanne Saunders, Executive Director, Marketing and Recruitment, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

There is a lot more to developing a tagline for your institution than coming up with a few catchy words.

Whether you are developing a new tagline or your first tagline, the great work you put into it will help ensure you choose the most relevant and useful tagline that will last for years.

From reviewing the institutions reputation, brand model and brand strategy to determining mood boards and visual language, fitting all the pieces into a few meaningful words is much more detailed than it seems.

Attendees of this session will take away a good plan for all the necessary steps in creating the best tagline for your institution.


1:10 – 2:00 p.m.       Rebranding SFU: A Step-by-step Guide to Managing Brand in Higher Ed

Adriana Linoh, Senior Director, Marketing and Brand Management

Kristin Linklater, Executive Director, Communications & Marketing

Simon Fraser University

How your university’s strategic plan and brand can work together to identify your differentiator, bring diverse stakeholders together, reduce daily workload and reach those business outcomes.

You will learn:

  • Suggested steps in the rebrand process
  • How to structure internal stakeholder input and approvals governance
  • How to bring decentralized communicators along on the rebrand journey
  • Choosing and working with the right vendors
  • The magic of an institutional narrative
  • Turning logo soup into a refined logo architecture – and helping stakeholders let go of their logo obsession
  • How tools and templates can benefit your stakeholders and improve team efficiency

2:00 – 2:40 p.m.         Improving Experiences By Combining User Experience (UX) Research and Strong Content Strategy 
Suzanne Dergacheva, Co-founder and Drupal Practice Lead, Evolving Web

You might think that you don’t have time to do user testing. You’re scared what you’ll see if you watch people use your website, think you already know how your users behave based on analytics, or believe that you don’t have time for UX research. In fact, there are lots of easy ways to use UX techniques to improve your digital experience and the user journey.

In this presentation, Suzanna will guide you through a toolbox of lean UX research techniques: Identifying personas, user testing, mapping user journeys. Real-life case studies will be used from their work with Princeton University and McGill University to show you how they mapped out how students select their top school and pick the program that’s right for them. You’ll also learn how user research can guide how your approach to personalization.

2:40 p.m.                    CHAIR’S CLOSING REMARKS

2:45 – 3:15 p.m.        NETWORKING REFRESHMENT BREAK

3:15 p.m.                    CONFERENCE CONCLUDES


Post Conference Workshops

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

All times are in Eastern

There are three great workshops for you to choose from:

1:00 – 3:15 p.m. B. Rebranding SFU: A step-by-step Guide to Managing Brand in Higher Ed
1:00 – 3:15 p.m. C. Learn Digital Marketing Strategies Shaping Today’s Top Performing Marketers,
9:00 – 11:15 a.m. D. Answering the Tough Social Media Strategy Questions by Mapping Social Media


1:00 – 3:15 p.m.

WORKSHOP B: Rebranding SFU: A Step-by-step Guide to Managing Brand in Higher Ed

Adriana Linoh, Senior Director, Marketing and Brand Management & Kristin Linklater, Executive Director, Communications & Marketing

How your university’s strategic plan and brand can work together to identify your differentiator, bring diverse stakeholders together, reduce daily workload and reach those business outcomes.

You will learn:

  • Suggested steps in the rebrand process
  • How to structure internal stakeholder input and approvals governance
  • How to bring decentralized communicators along on the rebrand journey
  • Choosing and working with the right vendors
  • The magic of an institutional narrative
  • Turning logo soup into a refined logo architecture – and helping stakeholders let go of their logo obsession
  • How tools and templates can benefit your stakeholders and improve team efficiency
  • What the metrics show after a year with one consistent visual identity for all of SFU’s faculties, programs, centres and initiatives
  • Survival tips and shortcuts learned along the way

Adriana Linoh has 16 years of marketing and communications experience in higher education. In her role as Senior Director, Marketing and Brand Management with Simon Fraser University, she is responsible for stewarding the university’s recently refreshed brand and solidifying SFU’s reputation as Canada’s engaged university.

Kristin Linklater, SCMP, is the Executive Director of Communications & Marketing at SFU, overseeing the central communication team, which includes media relations, communication strategy, and marketing and brand management. Her role in brand management includes influencing leadership perception of brand and navigating consultation and approvals.

1:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

WORKSHOP C: Learn Digital Marketing Strategies Shaping Today’s Top Performing Marketers

Josiah Shelley, Vice President, Digital Strategy

Gizele Lodi, Digital Strategist

Jan Kelley

In this workshop we’re going to have four 45 minute sessions together to level up our digital marketing strategies. In each session we will look at one major trend and how you can take your first steps while competition remains low and the opportunities will yield the best results to engage and attract students.

The workshop will be broken down into four, 30-45 minute interactive segments:
Session 1: TikTok & Emerging Platforms
Session 2: Video Content
Session 3: Personalization
Session 4: Digital Experiences

This is not an introductory digital marketing workshop. This will assume you know the basics of what PPC is and how it works. If you’ve been testing different platforms like Facebook and Google and have built a digital marketing plan and strategy but need some knowledge to level it up, then this is for you. We will answer one question in this workshop and likely the most important question you can answer as a marketer. How do you put your next resource (financial or effort) to the most effective channel to make your budget go further? The successful marketer in higher education will know how to leverage emerging trends in a practical and simple way to drive results. Join us.

Josiah Shelley started a mobile marketing SaaS company at age 19 and after adding his first national client, quickly sold the company. And that, quite literally, was just the beginning. Since then, he’s completed his Masters of Business Administration (Honours) at the University of South Wales. He co-founded the performance-based digital agency Reach Digital in 2014, building digital strategies for clients including Rogers Communications, Williams Fresh Cafe, McMaster University, YMCA, and Trip Central and quickly became a top 3% accelerated partner agency for Google. Josiah also co-founded Rainforest Digital which was an Amazon Specialist Agency focused on their programmatic and search advertising offering and this company was acquired by Jan Kelley. Josiah is now an owner of Jan Kelley which is a team of 55 creative and digital marketers who are delivering results for a wide range of complex clients. Josiah is an entrepreneurial company builder who’s all about digital strategy, generating fresh ideas and leading high-performing teams.

Gizele  Lodi has worked with Fortune 100 Companies helping brands such as Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Bosch and Natura Cosmetics (The Body Shop) grow worldwide. With a deep growth mindset, Gizele has helped companies bolster their ROI, solidify their corporate investment plans and create sound strategic decisions. Gizele has developed strategies for industries including Consumer Goods, Real Estate, Services and Higher Education among others. Having a keen sense of customer behaviour, messaging development and digital trends and channel touchpoints she has a thorough understanding of customer journey and delivers outstanding business goals.

Now leading Digital Strategy Solutions at Jan Kelley, Gizele is working on enabling clients and their team to solve complex problems through technology and human insights, with a primary focus on performance optimization and client success.

9:00 – 11:15 a.m.

WORKSHOP D: Answering the Tough Social Media Strategy Questions by Mapping Social Media

Kara Wood Bio, 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.

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.




Registration Type Early Bird (until August 28, 2020) Regular Rate
Best Value – Conference & 2 Workshops $1015.00 $1200.00
Conference & 1 Workshop $975.00 $1050.00
Conference (Both Days) $750.00 $825.00
Conference (One Day) $375.00 $450.00
Conference (One Day) & 1 Workshop $625.00 $725.00
Two Workshops Only $485.00 $565.00
One Workshop Only $265.00 $300.00

Groups of 3+ Contact Us for group pricing