Conferences, conventions, forums, and symposia should be integral components of every strategic communicator’s professional development plan. Workplace, client, and classroom experiences often reveal new topics of specific interest, and they can also pinpoint areas where additional learning and skills development can be highly beneficial.
As you conduct your year-end career self-evaluation, identify the skills and knowledge you want to obtain over the next 12 months. Then, map out a professional development plan to achieve these goals — it’s likely one or more of the conferences on the following list of will provide exactly what you’re looking for.
Annual Conference for Media Relations Professionals, sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, provides best practices in the areas of media relations (traditional and digital), storytelling, pitching, message development, issues management, crisis communication, and social media.
BlogHer Conference is the largest conference and global organization for female content creators. Past speakers have included Alyssa Milano, Lauren Bush, Bethany Frankel, Gabrielle Union, Camilla Alves McConaughey, and more.
B2B Marketing Forum, held by MarketingProfs, is geared toward content marketers, and those who want to learn more about big data, influence marketing, innovation, and optimization.
Content Marketing World Conference & Expo provides attendees the opportunity to participate in “120 sessions and workshops presented by the leading brand marketers from around the world covering strategy, integration, and measurement.”
Fashion PR Confidential in Los Angeles is a hands-on, 2-day workshop partners attendees with industry professionals to maximize the learning experience. Faculty include fashion publicists, bloggers, and editors while projects include developing a fashion PR campaign, and delivering a PR pitch to industry professionals.
Generate is a technical and design-focused conference specifically for web designers.
IABC World Conference is held throughout various cities in Canada, and past attendees have participated in a range of programs covering such topics as:
- How communication drives business performance and innovation
- The rise of transformative communication and collaboration
- Your role at the center of culture and ethics
- Your knowledge and confidence as a strategic adviser
The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) is “a nonprofit foundation dedicated to research in, on and for public relations. We investigate the science beneath the art of public relations™. We focus on research that matters to the practice, providing timely insights and applied intelligence that professionals can put to immediate use.” Every year they host a Strategic Corporate Communication and Research Conference.
Masters of B2B Marketing is sponsored by ANA Business Marketing. Speakers from past events include LinkedIn, Siemens, Vonage, Conduent, and other corporations.
MozCon in Seattle promises “forward-thinking, actionable sessions in SEO, brand development, CRO, the mobile landscape, analytics, customer experience, social and content marketing, [and] next-level tactics on everything from ranking higher in today’s evolving search results to making data-driven decisions in your marketing.”
PRSA International Conference has over 100 sessions, 10 keynote speakers and 300+ speakers. Its seven programming tracks are dedicated to Marketing Communication, Digital Communication, Leadership and Management, Big Data and Measurement, Reputation and Crisis Management, Tools & Techniques, Special Interests.
SEAT Conference, sponsored by the Sports and Entertainment Alliance in Technology, serves sports/entertainment communicators and marketers, digital and social media professionals, gamers, CRM database marketers, and C-level executives.
Social Media Week is “one of the world’s premier conferences and industry news platforms for professionals in media, marketing and technology.” Conferences are held throughout the year at various domestic and international locations. Past featured speakers include CEOs and executives from such companies as Verizon, Diageo, Crowdtap, Vox, and Vimeo.
SXSW (aka South by Southwest) in Austin is a major conference/festival that has earned a reputation as one of the top creative conferences in the world. Covering everything from innovation, creativity, digital and interactive media, music, media, technology, and film, SXSW is a mecca for communicators, publicists, promoters, artists, and media professionals. Past speakers have included Vice President, Joe Biden, Garth Brooks, Justin Baldoni, Rainn Wilson, Noor Tagouri, Christiane Amanpour, Luvvie Ajayi, Stefan Blom, Mark Cuban, and Guy Kawasaki.
World Public Relations Forum in Oslo, Norway, is a high-level conference that provides an in-depth exploration of the convergence of public relations, technology, and world events — and the dramatic changes taking place in the practice of PR. It happens once every two years and boasts an impressive line-up of international speakers.
Debra Davenport, PhD is a member of the online faculty of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.