Connect ’14 is like déjà vu

Guest post from Jim Streed, APR
2012 MW District Chair & Secretary, Employee Communications Section

When I left the District board, I was able to spend more time supporting my other PRSA priority: the Employee Communications Section. I’ve been a Section member for a long time and part of the executive committee for about three years.

The Section has sponsored an annual conference – called “Connect” – with the idea to give employee communications professionals an opportunity to focus on their PR niche. Employee communicators often say they’re frustrated with the content of many conferences. It’s too basic, they say, or it’s too focused on big-budget tactics, or doesn’t translate to the not-for-profit world.

Working as a member of the planning team for Connect ’14 ( took me back to 2012 when we planned our first District conference in about a decade. We’re back in Chicago this year (May 20–21) and at Loyola’s Water Tower campus, once again. I feel like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day!

I don’t want to take anything away from the 2014 Midwest District Conference in Springfield (MO). In fact, I’ll be speaking there myself! I’m equally excited – as internal comms guy – that Connect ’14 focuses on employee communication in a special way. First of all, it features some of the best employee communication minds in the business: people like Maril MacDonald, a true pioneer in strategic internal communications as founder of Gagen MacDonald; Linda Dulye of Dulye & Co., whose work on improving managerial communication has been vital; and Tyler Durham, who runs the change practice for Ketchum and helps companies and leaders grow and unleash the potential of their employees and brands. These three are our keynoters this year.

Our theme is “Embracing constant change in the new economy.” The breakout sessions are split into skill-building and case studies. Speakers are drawn from agency and corporate, academic and not-for-profit, all unified under the theme of change, and demonstrating how employee communicators can become empowered to lead change. We’ll cover health care reform, streaming video, reputation management, employee events and much more. It’s a full agenda that will help any internal communications professional build capabilities in this increasingly critical area of corporate communications.

If you’re specializing in employee communications, give Connect ’14 a look. And if you have questions, contact Section Chair Sean Williams or me, Jim Streed, APR. We’d be happy to….wait for it…connect!

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