2nd Annual Marketing & Communications for Post-Secondary Conference

Toronto, Ontario

7 - 10

2nd 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 info@summersdirect.com.


Courtyard Marriot Downtown
475 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON


Conference rate of: standard $235 while supplies last. For reservations please call 1.800.847.5075. Please identify yourself as being with the SummersDirect Inc. group when making or amending the reservation.

Contact renee@summersdirect.com if you are unable to get a room at the conference rate.

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

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monday/may 7/2018

8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.
Doug Lacombe, President, Communicatto Inc.

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
BUILDING DATA-DRIVEN CONTENT: How Schools use LinkedIn to reach and engage their key audiences
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, content marketing is one of the best ways to engage the audiences that matter most early in the decision process and convert against your objectives.

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

Attendees of this session will walk away with some tips, tricks and best practices that you can take back to your campus and leverage across all of your content channels (on Linkedin and off).

9:45 – 10:00 a.m.

10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
CANADIAN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS AS SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNICATORS: Reward and risk for the brand as relationship builders
Jane Antoniak, King’s University College at Western University
Dr. Alexandre Sevigny, Director, Master of Communication Management program, McMaster University

McMaster University Graduate Researcher Jane Antoniak has interviewed Canadian university presidents, surveyed Directors of Communication and studied social media content for her master’s research work on leadership communications via digital technology. Does having the president of the university as a social media communicator humanize the brand? What strategies come to play between the leader and the communications department which impact the recruitment and retention of students? This newly completed, original research, supervised by Dr. Alexandre Sevigny, will be unwrapped during this seminar, providing attendees with insights into how and when they may engage their president into the digital conversation and for what outcomes.

11:00 – 12:00 p.m.
OWNING AN ISSUE YOU’RE POWERLESS TO PREVENT: How honesty and two-way communication helped Sheridan College to prevent a building delay from becoming a full-blown crisis
Christine Szustaczek, MCM, APR
AVP, Communications, Public Affairs and Marketing
Sheridan College

In July, 2016, Sheridan learned that its new 220,000 square foot building, under construction in Mississauga, Ontario would not be ready in time for fall classes.  Learn how Sheridan shared the disappointing news with 1,320 affected students and made them aware of our constraints without shifting blame to maintain people’s trust, protect our reputation, and preserve important relationships with our partners and funders.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow
Inner Strength Communication

Imagine working in Communication and Marketing on both sides of the bargaining table. Priya Bates has led Communication roles with Canada’s largest private sector employer and one of Ontario’s largest health-care unions. In this session, she’ll share her ‘aha’ moments on what the union movement is doing right when it comes to engaging your employees. You will learn:

  • The discrepancy in perceived value for the employee
  • How unions create programs to drive performance, participation, promotion and pride
  • The investment made to train leaders and build relationships

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
COME IN, WE’RE OPEN: How UBC Library leveraged campus allies, students and in-house talent to build a multiple award-winning campaign
Michelle Blackwell, Communications and Marketing Strategist
UBC Library

In the Fall of 2016, UBC Library Communications & Marketing launched a campus-wide campaign to foster awareness around the Open Access movement and open resources available through the Library. The campaign resulted in significant increases in online traffic to the Library’s Open Access resources, increased engagement with instructive content, a well-attended event and multiple national and international awards. The campaign was executed by a four-person team on a shoestring budget of $120 CAD.

In this presentation hear how they were able to accomplish so much with so little by leveraging allies from partner faculties, identifying our core audience and determining their needs, and maximizing our in-house time and talent.

In this session, you’ll hear how to:

  • leverage allies from other faculties to help elevate your campaign/brand
  • identify and prioritize a core target audience
  • identify audience needs through focus groups
  • maximize in-house time and talent

3:00 – 3:15 p.m.

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
FAILURE TO LAUNCH: How to overcome the silo mentality and inspire amazing content through integrated communication strategy
Adam Brayford, Assistant Director, Digital Communications
Simon Fraser University

You’ve seen it before… Your institution rolls out a new communication tool– perhaps a website platform, an e-marketing tool, or events calendar– to its staff, without developing a proper content strategy, engaging in consultation or documenting a clear governance model. The result: low adoption and lukewarm enthusiasm. Sound familiar? Sometimes uniting disparate areas around common goals can feel like herding cats!

In the digital age, communicators are absolutely vital to the technology project lifecycle. Your participation can transform university/college culture and position business needs and audience expectations at the heart of technology decisions. Find out how you can position yourself at the crossroads of leadership, I.T., end users and audiences to set the tone for a successful technology rollout, one that is informed by an integrated content strategy, and driven by inclusive consultation, digital analytics and audience input.

This session is geared toward senior professionals within central comms and marketing teams; however, regardless of your role, you’ll learn how you can better collaborate with other departments and deliver strategic, on-brand, integrated communication solutions.

4:15 p.m.

Click here to REGISTER NOW

Day 2

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tuesday/may 8/2018

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Lauren Lord
Manager, Marketing & Community
SchoolFinder Group | EDge Interactive

Seth Godin contends that “content marketing is the only marketing left.” He’s probably right, considering Forbes magazine estimates that the average person sees between 3,000 and 20,000 ads and brand messages per day. Marketers, therefore, need to know how to create content that will attract and engage target audience(s) and know how, where and when to distribute that content to maximize its impact.

In this session, Lauren Lord of the SchoolFinder Group will lead a detailed discussion with specific tips and proven best practices about how campus marketers and recruiters can create and distribute content at every stage of the student recruitment process—from high school to grad school. Actionable take-aways for you and your campus colleagues include how to:

  • Come up with great content ideas;
  • Craft titles that will capture attention;
  • Choose the style of content that best suits each topic and each audience (e.g. tips vs webinars);
  • Write engaging content designed for mass sharing;
  • Maximize different distribution channels including paid social

The presentation will include findings from original research conducted with the SchoolFinder Group’s community of students, parents and guidance counsellors. She’ll cover some of the participants’ most commonly asked questions regarding the post-secondary selection process, as well as what distribution channels are effective in reaching these audiences.

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
WHAT TRAFFIC CAN AND CAN’T TELL YOU: Influencing student perceptions with digital strategy and research 
Dr. Philip Glennie, Communications & Partnerships Manager, Academica Group
Kayla Lewis, Manager, Social Media and Media Relations, Seneca College

In this presentation, Kayla and Phil will discuss how a strong digital strategy based on timely research can make all the difference not only to a school’s recruitment strategy, but to every phase of the student life-cycle. The presentation will draw on proprietary Academica research that has been co-designed with Kayla and Seneca to offer insights into student perceptions that have never before been made available to Canadian institutions. Kayla will also touch on the increasing expectations that applicants and students bring to a school’s social media in particular, turning these media into what Kayla calls “the new digital call centre” for support and inquiries.

11:15 – 12:15 p.m.
Delegates will break into small groups and share their own experiences in what works and what doesn’t work in communications. Delegates will walk away with numerous case studies and a best practice list.

12:15 – 1:15 p.m.

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Art + Strategy.
Josh McInerney, Manager, Design and Creative
Ryerson University
In-house graphic design teams have advanced with the times. Once known for being production factories, they are now seen as the visual architects behind major brands today. While visual identity systems are critical in building consistency and trust they present a key challenge—how do you  expand a graphic system so that it follows the rules but isn’t trapped by them? We will review how Ryerson continues to evolve its creative four years after refreshing it’s brand, producing award-winning designs that are fun, functional and impactful.In this session your takeaways will be:

In this session your takeaways will be:

  • Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your current visual design system
  • Discover different ways of pushing new design solutions
  • Examine how strong design can help build inroads and opportunities with internal stakeholders

Topics covered include:

  • why was this important to do?
  • what was the process to develop the brand?
  • establishing engagement and governance strategies for students, faculty, staff
  • role of executive leadership
  • role of client service within the central function
  • examples of success
  • measuring results

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.

Warren Weeks, Weeks Media

If your organization is still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to creating and sharing video content, you’re missing out on one of the single most effective communication platforms available. Consider this:

  • Visual content is more than 40 times likely to get shared on social media than other types of content
  • 51% of marketing professionals say video is the type of content with the best ROI (Digital Marketing Blog – April 2015)

Video is where the eyeballs are. Even so, most associations have failed to make it part of their content strategy. In this session, we’ll debunk some of the more common barriers and provide a practical overview of equipment, dos and don’ts, tips for shooting, framing, lighting and sound, keys to visual storytelling, simple editing techniques and best practices for getting maximum engagement with your videos. Participants will also be treated to case studies, examples using more than a dozen short videos and a Q&A session.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Lee Taal, Founder, ChatterHigh

In 2017 Ruffalo Noel Levitz released a white paper entitled “Why it’s time to throw away your communication plan. Transforming Enrollment Through Student Driven Engagement.”

While this paper leads to the promotion of the use of an RNL product to solve the problem, the underlying issues are worth discussing.  How are you deciding where your marketing dollars are being spent?  GenZ is very adept at blocking out the noise of ads, even native ads, and with highly personalized mobile and online devices, can easily miss the fact that institutions exist, let alone what is offered. How do you prospect and build awareness of your programs in high schools in a meaningful and measurable way?

In this session, hear how the audience has changed, and the recommendations they’ve made. Attendees will be invited to share their thoughts and strategies. How are we able to identify students’ with interests in our programs, and get them the relevant information, while they are still in the classroom?  Of interest, in particular, to Lee is the ‘Wishlist’ that institutions may have in a resource. Would it help to know females with high interest in STEM programs, willing to move out of province, for example? ChatterHigh now works with 50 institutions across Canada and is developing a method to map out student interests that will be available to institutions and will demonstrate initial data already gleaned.

4:30 p.m.

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Day 3

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wednesday/may 9/2018


8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
SOLD OUT! WORKSHOP A: Real world online marketing for Post Secondary – a step-by-step workshop
Doug Lacombe, President, Communicatto Inc.

Is your institution’s online marketing a hodgepodge of random tactics that resembles something like spaghetti thrown at the wall? The Real World Online Marketing workshop will guide you out of the quagmire, and bring order to your institution’s digital chaos.

In this step-by-step workshop, Doug Lacombe will walk you through the building blocks of an online marketing plan, addressing the unique challenges of post secondary communications. Hands-on exercises will cover audience targeting and persona building, media mix and tactics such as content marketing, SEO and digital advertising. You’ll leave this session with a concrete plan to transform your digital ideas into action as soon as you’re back at your desk – if not sooner! Like Build a Bear ™ but with more social and less fuzz. 

Doug Lacombe is President and Founder of Communicatto Inc. Drawing on over 27 years of experience in media, web publishing and technology; Doug and his team work with businesses and associations to integrate traditional and digital communications, with a focus on content marketing and social media.

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
John Larsen, Executive VP Crisis & General Manager, Calgary
Edelman Canada

A post-secondary environment is a microcosm for almost any kind of crisis or issue: security threats, harassment charges, student liberty issues, inclusion and freedom of expression debates.  Further complicating how a post-secondary intuition will respond are the realities of its relationship to government and the various interest  groups and academic bodies that shape and propel context around a crisis or issue.  In this session John Larsen – who has supported various post-secondary institutions in navigating contentious communications – will provide a framework for assessing emerging reputational risks, and will provide tools and considerations for effectively managing them in the unique environment of a post-secondary institution.

John Larsen is Executive Vice-President & National Practice Lead (Crisis & Reputation Risk) for Edelman Canada, and General Manager of the Calgary Office. John holds a master’s degree in communications, is a graduate of the Canadian Forces Command & Staff College, and has completed executive education in leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. He is the recipient of the 2012 International Association of Business Communications (IABC) ‘Master Communicator’ Award, the highest professional honour in the public relations industry. In 2014 he was designated as a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D).

John has served on numerous professional, post-secondary education, community, not-for-profit, and corporate boards. He currently sits on the Board of Governors at the Glenbow Museum, the Board of Directors for the Military Museums Foundation and the Advisory Board for Welund Corporation, an international corporate intelligence firm.


1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Lee Taal, Founder of EdTech ChatterHigh 

The direct engagement methods available for you to reach and engage with students in high schools are pre-internet, expensive and hard to measure.

Your best asset is your website. How do you get students to visit specific pages with the intent of finding specific information?  How can you target this information to specific school districts?  How do you measure if students are successfully engaging with your information?  How do you know if they are interested?

In this workshop, we’ll demonstrate a current communication channel into career education classes across Canada. We will explain how the national competitions “Canada¹s Most Informed School” and “Most Informed Student” give you an opportunity to build deep awareness with future students. We will show you how this activity can not only build awareness, but lead to reducing first year attrition.

Attendees of the talk will walk away with:

  1. An account for including information into high school career courses (e.g. GLC2O in Ontario) in Canada and in the U.S.
  2. Knowledge of granular engagement reports not available through other means
  3. Understanding of how to participate in national post-secondary exploration competitions
  4. Testimonials from post-secondary institutions already using the gamified channel.

Lee Taal has held a wide variety of leadership and management roles with the RCN, GE, and 13+ years, in advertising, marketing and communications. He is the Founder and CEO of EdTech ChatterHigh. He is a Ted Talk alumni and his passion is getting students to explore post-secondary and career paths. Lee worked in the Arctic, has a medal from the UN and NATO. His mission now is getting every student to actively research and talk about their future. Lee sits on the BC Technology Workforce Development Subcommittees for Diversity & Outreach and Job Readiness.

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Pricing Information
Conference + 1 Workshop (May 7, 8 & afternoon on the 9th, 2018)   $1,399.00
Conference – Both Days (May 7 & 8, 2018)    $1099.00
Conference – One Day Only (Monday or Tuesday)   $599.00
One Workshop only (May 9, 2018)   $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.

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