ComNet18

The Communications Network Annual Conference

ComNet — The Communications Network annual conference. 

Dialogues

We are offering Dialogues as part of our effort to encourage community. Our aim is for attendees to develop stronger ties and deeper connections with one another. The Dialogues are a series of around-the-table conversations among small groups with a determined focus on discussion and collaboration.

Each Dialogue will explore a discrete topic and offer participants an opportunity to dig in to practical questions with colleagues whose interests and work areas align with their own. The Dialogues will not a passive experience -- they will rely on the participation and collaboration of the group. There won’t be any fancy presentations -- the magic will come from the group as often happen when peers share their ideas and learn from each other’s experiences.

Dialogues will run alongside Breakout Sessions and the Second Stage. Similarly, there is no sign-up process to attend, but space is limited.

BELOW IS THE COMPLETE LIST OF Dialogue TITLES. SCROLL DOWN FOR DETAILS.

THURSDAY 11:00AM

THURSDAY 3:00PM

FRIDAY 10:15AM


Advancing Equity: Lets You and Me Talk about Race

Dialogue Moderator:

  Gail Fuller , Vice President, Marketing and Communications,  The San Francisco Foundation

Gail Fuller, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, The San Francisco Foundation

  Fred Blackwell , CEO,  The San Francisco Foundation

Fred Blackwell, CEO, The San Francisco Foundation

 

Dialogue Description:

Race is a conversation that we as Americans actively avoid. It is uncomfortable. It is emotional. And for all those reasons, it’s incredibly difficult to lead with race. But we must – especially as foundations focused on equity.

This dialogue session is intended to have a real conversation about race as more and more foundations reimagine the potential to deliver on its mission and advance equity. Join in as the San Francisco Foundation jump starts the conversation with an inconvenient truth it realized in its commitment to advance racial equity and economic inclusion. The Bay Area has a race problem. San Francisco is a dark blue region of a blue state, so it’s hard for us to hear that “we have a race problem.”

So, let’s address the elephant in the room and have some real talk about race. What role do communication professionals play in this dialogue? What does it mean to be intentional in leading with race? How do we thread a difficult needle in shifting the narrative on racial equity and reframing the message? What happens when you engage in conversation with residents, community leaders, public officials, donors, grantees, and other experts about race and equity?

This session is part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Track.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What role do communication professionals play in this dialogue?

  2. What does it mean to be intentional in leading with race?

  3. How do we thread a difficult needle in shifting the narrative on racial equity and reframing the message?

  4. What happens when you engage in conversation with residents, community leaders, public officials, donors, grantees, and other experts about race and equity?


Measuring Communications Impact: Is This Working?

Dialogue Moderator:

  Jason Tomassini , Director of Editorial,  Atlantic 57

Jason Tomassini, Director of Editorial, Atlantic 57

  Anita Sharma , Managing Director of Research ,   Atlantic 57

Anita Sharma, Managing Director of Research, Atlantic 57

 

Dialogue Description:

Nonprofit communications leaders know their work is critical to their organization’s success.  But what are the metrics that prove it? We’re all measuring something, but should we establish a better and more refined approach?  In this Dialogue, we’ll share best practices and explore how nonprofit communicators can set goals tied to their organization’s mission, measure progress against those goals, and position communications as a vital force for achieving them.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How do you measure if your communications efforts are helping your organization achieve its goals?

  2. What gaps or challenges exist within that approach?

  3. How might we develop better approaches for measuring the impact of our communications efforts?


In Our Shoes: Empowering Difference through Multicultural Communications

Dialogue Moderator:

  Sian Wu , Managing Program Director,  Resource Media

Sian Wu, Managing Program Director, Resource Media

 
 

Dialogue Description:

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, chances are you were brought up with a “color blind” education—everyone is the same, no matter what! It can feel natural to continue this mentality but in today’s multicultural media landscape this is not only counterproductive, but damaging. That's because an assumption of sameness fails to recognize the value that diverse perspectives bring to our communications teams, and doesn't plan for barriers that specific communities may have with engaging on issues.

This session will discuss the principles of multicultural communications, and run through an exercise with the goal of increasing empathy among communications professionals, and how to deploy equity-oriented communications strategies. Come away with some multicultural communications best practices, and exploration of your own identity, which may influence how you see the world and your work.

This session is part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Track.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are places where color blindness shows up at work or in communications, and what does that deprive among communities of color?

  2. How can we make communications more accessible to communities who are facing language, education, affinity, logistical, infrastructure (etc.) barriers?

  3. What is added to your team when you have diverse perspectives?


A Conversation About Narrative Change

Dialogue Moderator:

  Doug Hattaway , President,  Hattaway Communications

Doug Hattaway, President, Hattaway Communications

  Alfred Ironside , Vice President, Global Communications,  Ford Foundation

Alfred Ironside, Vice President, Global Communications, Ford Foundation

 

Dialogue Description:

Changemakers often contend with negative narratives about people and society that dominate public debate. The Ford Foundation and Hattaway Communications are working to equip foundations and nonprofits with research and resources to drive narrative change in America. This dialogue will explore the interests and needs of the ComNet community when it comes to "changing the narrative".

This session is part of our Storytelling and Narratives Track.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Does your organization have a common understanding of "narrative"?

  2. What is an example of a negative narrative you face in your work?

  3. What types of information and resources would help you drive narrative change?


We Can Do Better Than Likes and Shares: What Communicators Need to Know to Spark and Sustain Action

Dialogue Moderator:

  Edith Asibey , Chief of Communication and Partnerships,  UNICEF

Edith Asibey, Chief of Communication and Partnerships, UNICEF

  Silvia Mansur de Oliveira , Director of Digital,  The Rockefeller Foundation

Silvia Mansur de Oliveira, Director of Digital, The Rockefeller Foundation

 

Dialogue Description:

Many organizations want to inspire people to act in support of a cause. Yet despite reportedly caring about an issue, people often engage as a one-off, or at best, sporadically. What, exactly, needs to change in how we communicate for the activation to take place and be sustained over time? Drawing from examples of their work with humanitarian and global campaigns and the participants' own experiences, the facilitators will engage in a conversation about a strategic approach and tools that can bring action results, leveraging behavioral science, digital listening, visual storytelling, CRM, mobile apps and more. Attendees will leave the dialogue equipped with ideas, tools and tips to more effectively design their own engagement strategies.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What has been the biggest obstacle you've faced in getting people to take action in support of your cause?

  2. When working to activate people, what has been a win or an a-ha moment you've had?

  3. Who do you think is doing a great job at keeping people engaged in their cause (it could be a nonprofit, a coalition, a movement, a company, a person)? Why?


Shifting the Demeaning Poverty Narrative

Dialogue Moderator:

  Bill Nichols,  Vice President,  Freedman Consulting

Bill Nichols, Vice President, Freedman Consulting

 
 

Dialogue Description:

Communicators in the poverty space compare lessons learned and best practices on shaping a more accurate poverty narrative that does not portray low-income Americans as helpless, hopeless, or deserving of blame.

This session is part of our Storytelling and Narratives Track.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Share some best practices you see in the field at large.

  2. Share a specific example of something you've done.

  3. Bring a recent example of poverty journalism or advocacy work that has been particularly strong in its presentation of narrative.


The Global Communicators Dilemma

Dialogue Moderator:

  Alex Cole,  Director of Strategic Communications,  IREX

Alex Cole, Director of Strategic Communications, IREX

 

Dialogue Description:

Do you work for an organization that works in -- or wants to work in -- multiple countries around the world? How do you navigate the challenges of global communications? Delivering a consistent brand message versus adapting it to local audiences. Managing communications in multiple languages on platforms designed to be monolingual. Maintaining control, or responsibility letting go, when you can't be in 100 countries at once. 

Join us for an informal conversation about these and other challenges -- and compare notes on solutions with other skilled global communicators.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How do we ensure consistency while adapting locally?

  2. How do we navigate multilingual communications?

  3. How do we control quality in remote regions?


Disability is the “D” in Diversity

Dialogue Moderator:

  Lauren Appelbaum,  Communications Director,  RespectAbility

Lauren Appelbaum, Communications Director, RespectAbility

 
 

Dialogue Description:

Fully 1-in-5 Americans have a learning, mental health, physical, sensory or other disability that is a barrier to everyday living. It is time for people with disabilities to be seen for their tremendous human potential — and what they CAN do. RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities is working to make a difference in several ways, including working with entertainment professionals to ensure more positive, accurate portrayals of people with disabilities and with funders to achieve the impact they desire. We help philanthropists combat implicit bias and failed systems, enabling millions of people with disabilities to have a better future.

In a short period of time, learn an overview of what you need to succeed in connecting with this important demographic, including a lexicon. As communications professionals, you can ensure that your web presence and events are fully accessible. Learn about ways to make your building more accessible and how to recruit and retain staff and board members with disabilities. Leave this session better equipped to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities with greater effectiveness and professionalism.

This session is part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Track.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Think about it - are people with disabilities truly included in your work?

  2. What would it take to ensure that people with disabilities are included in your work? What are your barriers for inclusion?

  3. Do you know how to include people with disabilities through your events, website and social media, ensuring that you do not unintentionally exclude the 1-in-5 Americans with a disability?


Journalism, Trust, and Philanthropy

Dialogue Moderator:

  Fuzz Hogan,  Managing Editor,  New America

Fuzz Hogan, Managing Editor, New America

 
 

Dialogue Description:

Story-telling is one of the most effective tools to generate social change, and you know journalism is central to building trust in your community. But what’s the best way for foundations and non-profits to support great local journalism? In this Dialogue, we'll talk about the excellent small- and large-scale efforts to support journalism that is right for your community and fits your mission. You'll hear about the practitioners and have a chance to ask questions and discuss the right way to play a role as a local foundation or non-profit. The good news is that while journalism is important - now more than ever - there’s now more ways than ever to bring great journalism into your community.

This session is part of our Journalism and Media Today Track.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How do you see journalism playing a role in creating social infrastructure in your community?

  2. What are the ways journalism, and philanthropic support of journalism, build trust in your community?

  3. What are the right ways to support journalism and involve citizens in the process?


A Fresh Voice for an Established Foundation

Dialogue Moderator:

  Daphne Moore,  Communications Director,  Walton Family Foundation

Daphne Moore, Communications Director, Walton Family Foundation

 
 

Dialogue Description:

No matter the size of your organization, we all have many stakeholders with different ideas and voices. How do you solicit, digest and incorporate all this input when building a cohesive organizational narrative? The Walton Family Foundation will share how it incorporated insights from family members, 85 staff, 700 nonprofits, 24 sector leaders and 450 influencers to create one foundation mission, vision, brand and narrative. Please join the conversation if you are interested in learning from our successes and challenges, or want to share your own!

This session is part of our Storytelling and Narratives Track.

Questions to Consider:

  1. For those who have completed a refresh or rebranding process, what were the greatest pitfalls you experienced and how did your organization overcome them?

  2. For those who are exploring the idea or making plans to begin a refresh or rebranding process, what details can other organizations share to best inform your experience?

  3. What tools and resources have you found to be most helpful during a refresh or rebranding process?


Into the Spotlight: Branding and Family Foundations

Dialogue Moderator:

  Vanessa Silberman,  Senior Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives,  Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation

Vanessa Silberman, Senior Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives, Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation

 
 

Dialogue Description:

Many family foundations prefer to keep their name, and hence, brand, in the background, quietly awarding grants to nonprofits aligned with their funding priorities and goals. But what if your foundation is cause-driven and dedicated to advancing one or several big ideas? Learn about the rewards and challenges associated with being a brand-forward foundation - where even your funded projects are branded with the name of your foundation – along with navigating grantee and partner relations, lessons learned along the way, and cementing the legacy of a family foundation through strong brand identity.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are the benefits of pursuing a brand-centric approach for your foundation?

  2. How can this approach empower grantees to maximize impact?

  3. What are some of the pitfalls to avoid?


Why the hell do foundations need to think about branding?

Dialogue Moderator:

  Kristi Arellano,  Director of Communications,  Boettcher Foundation

Kristi Arellano, Director of Communications, Boettcher Foundation

  Zach Hochstadt,  Founding Partner,  Mission Minded

Zach Hochstadt, Founding Partner, Mission Minded

 

Dialogue Description:

Why would Colorado’s oldest and perhaps best-known foundation invest in a branding effort? While nonprofits have clear reasons to invest in branding (increased fundraising ability and heightened program visibility), it can be a tougher sell for foundations. Learn why one foundation made the investment and how it is reaping the dividends. Come prepared with your own brand challenge.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are your current brand challenges?

  2. Is there an organization among your peers that does a great job of branding and why?

  3. If you could wave a magic wand and ensure that your organization is known for one thing three years from now, what would it be?


Let’s Talk about Impact: Strategies to Leverage Learning and Evaluation

Dialogue Moderator:

  Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga,  Internal Communications Officer,  The Kresge Foundation

Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga, Internal Communications Officer, The Kresge Foundation

  Anna Cruz,  Strategic Learning and Evaluation Officer,  The Kresge Foundation

Anna Cruz, Strategic Learning and Evaluation Officer, The Kresge Foundation

 
 

Dialogue Description:

Foundations are increasingly functioning with the belief that the more openly they share information about their work with the public (e.g., policymakers, grantees, other funders) the better they can advance their mission. We have seen foundations develop robust communications shops, hire communications consultants and actively engage in social media. At the same time, we have seen growing internal learning and evaluation infrastructure and more attention to how foundations are measuring their impact.

In this age of “transparency,” how are foundations leveraging communications and evaluation functions to further their mission? In what ways are communications about evaluation enhancing organization’s internal learning culture and outward transparency in the sector? What strategies, infrastructure and processes are foundations employing to discuss evaluations and how is that driving internal mission-related learning and external transparency? Come to this interactive dialogue to exchange ideas with a communicator and evaluator from The Kresge Foundation about enhancing internal and external communications around learning and evaluation. The dialogue will capture emerging practices, tension points and lessons learned.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What strategies, infrastructure and processes does your organization employ to build organizational knowledge and alignment around learning and evaluation, and how we measure impact?

  2. Specifically, how are you leveraging evaluation and communication to further internal learning?

  3. Which communications strategies and tools do you find to be the most effective and useful for sharing about learning and evaluation with external audiences and partners?

  4. How can evaluation and communications as two separate functions further missions of equity, learning and evaluation?


From Retweet to Shifting Practice

Dialogue Moderator:

  Jen Bokoff,  Director of Stakeholder Engagement,  Foundation Center

Jen Bokoff, Director of Stakeholder Engagement, Foundation Center

 
 

Dialogue Description:

How do we change behavior by getting organizations to act, instead of simply retweeting our social media messaging? Even more challenging, how do we get them to do more, when they feel like they are doing enough? At Foundation Center, it’s not easy to get foundations excited about our campaigns around knowledge sharing and transparency---let’s be honest: these aren’t exactly sexy topics.

So in 2017, we decided to try something different with our #OpenForGood campaign. Through targeted communications, participation incentives, and a bit of hand holding, we’ve grown a movement around knowledge sharing with early advocates and have learned a lot along the way. Join us for an informal conversation as we explore strategies to get organizations to become true champions of your less sexy, but still important, causes.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are some examples of communications campaigns that have been successful at your organization? What do you think led to their success?

  2. For how long does your organization generally run campaigns? What is the average length of time you spend talking about a specific campaign/project?

  3. What are some of the indicators you use to measure the success of your efforts?


Arm Yourself: Communications to Rise Above the Opposition

Dialogue Moderator:

  Noreen Fagan,  Press Officer,  Ipas

Noreen Fagan, Press Officer, Ipas

 
 

Dialogue Description:

Let’s face it, abortion is one of the most controversial issues today—all around the world. That means there is a well-oiled, large anti-choice opposition movement. They use many tactics: In the U.S., they picket reproductive health clinics, stigmatize and shame patients. In other places, like countries in Africa, individuals are replaced by religious conferences bankrolled by major opposition players (often from the U.S.). For organizations working in global reproductive health, dealing with the opposition movement means combining communications and opposition monitoring: it is all about issues management. But what does that mean and what does it entail? Let’s talk about it.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How do you counter the opposition around a tough topic when arguments are rooted in moral politics, religious beliefs and cultural practices?

  2. How do you use knowledge of the opposition to mitigate negative press or publicity?

  3. How can you use the media to magnify your point of view or silence the negative opposition?