Best Conferences for Strategic Communicators in 2018


Debra Davenport, Faculty

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.  The following list of 2018 conferences might provide exactly what you’re looking for.

March 9 – 18: SXSW (aka South by Southwest) in Austin.  This major conference / festival has earned the 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.  2017 speakers included Vice President, Joe Biden, Garth Brooks, Justin Baldoni, Rainn Wilson, Noor Tagouri, and Nile Rodgers.  Slated to speak at the 2018 conference are Christiane Amanpour, Luvvie Ajayi, Stefan Blom, Mark Cuban, Jeff Fager, Dan Harris, and Guy Kawasaki.

April 22 – 24: World Public Relations Forum in Oslo, Norway. This high-level conference will explore, in-depth, the convergence of public relations, technology, and world events – and the dramatic changes taking place in the practice of PR.  The forum boasts an impressive line-up of international speakers.

April 24 – 27: Social Media Week in New York City.  Featured speakers include CEOs and executives from such companies as Verizon, Diageo, Crowdtap, Vox, and Vimeo.

April 25 – 27: Generate in New York City.  Generate is a technical and design-focused conference specifically for web designers.

June 3 – 6: IABC World Conference in Montréal. The theme of the 2018 conference is  “The Communication Crossroads.” Over 1000 attendees are expected to participate 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.” (

June 6 – 8: 2018 Masters of B2B Marketing in Chicago, sponsored by ANA Business Marketing.  Speakers from LinkedIn, Siemens, Vonage, Conduent, and other corporations are scheduled.

July 9 – 11: MozCon in Seattle. MozCon 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.” (

July 21 – 24: SEAT Conference in Dallas. Sponsored by the Sports and Entertainment Alliance in Technology, this conference serves sports / entertainment communicators and marketers; digital and social media professionals; gamers; CRM database marketers; and C-level executives.

Sept 4 – 7: Content Marketing World Conference & Expo in Cleveland.  This conference will provide 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.”  Event organizers are expecting 225 speakers during this 4-day conference.

Oct 1 – 2: Fashion PR Confidential in Los Angeles.  This hands-on, 2-day workshop partners attendees with industry professionals to maximize the learning experience.  Faculty include fashion publicists, bloggers, and editors.  Projects include developing a fashion PR campaign, and delivering a PR pitch to industry professionals.

Oct 3 – 5: American Marketing Association – Marketing Week Live in Las Vegas.  The 2018 conference promises to educate practitioners on “what’s coming next” in the world of marketing, marcom, advertising, branding, metrics, digital, global marketing, research, and strategy.

Oct 7 – 9: PRSA International Conference in Austin.  Details should be available on the PRSA website soon.

Nov 13 – 16: B2B Marketing Forum in San Francisco. This conference is geared toward content marketers, and those who want to learn more about big data, influence marketing, innovation, and optimization.

Dates to Be Determined:
Annual Conference for Media Relations Professionals, sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.  This conference 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 – BlogHer is the largest conference and global organization for female content creators.  Details of the 2017 conference can be found on the organization’s website.

Institute for Public Relations – Strategic Corporate Communication and Research Conference
“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.” (

Learn More
Debra Davenport Ph.D. 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.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.