CommsCon conference schedule revealed

The draft programme for next Communications PR conferencemonth’s PR and communications conference CommsCom has today been published.

The Sydney event – organised by Mumbrella’s parent company Focal Attractions – takes place on March 14.

The deadline for a discounted early bird booking expires tomorrow.

As Mumbrella has previously reported, key sessions include a debate run by The Communications Council’s new body The PR Council on the future of public relations. The session will feature Communications Council CEO Margaret Zabel, Edelman Australia CEO Michelle Hutton, One Green Bean executive creative director Kat Thomas and Claire Salvetti, MD of PR agency Mango.

Meanwhile, Jesse Desjardins, the mastermind of Tourism Australia’s social media strategy, will explain how the organisation is attempting to turn ordinary Australians into the world’s biggest social media team.

There will also be an extended focus on crisis PR, with one session featuring Gabriel McDowell of Res Publica, Susan Redden Makatoa from SenateSHJ and Jenna Price, one of the team behind social media campaign Destroy the Joint, talking about how controversies now unfold. Examples will include the campaign against Alan Jones and 2GB’s response to it, the UK’s horse meat scandal and Gerry Harvey’s complaints about online retail.

The crisis PR session will be complemented by a further session in which a live crisis simulation will unfold in front of the audience.

The day will kick off with a discussion in which the question is asked: “If we had the chance to start again with a blank sheet of paper, and a blank chequebook…what would we build?” The session will be moderated by creative strategist Matt Jones of consultancy Better Happy. It will also feature Charlotte McLauchlan, head of communications at Tv production behemoth Shine Australia and Garland Harwood, senior VP of Weber Shandwick New York, who leads the global Amazon account .

Topics revealed for the first time today include:

  • Storytelling and social ideas: how to tell a compelling story and  turn it into a campaign everyone talks about.
  • Got talent? Effective ways to recruit staff, retain talent and improve your team’s skills.
  • Measurement: Three years on from the Barcelona Principles,who hasn’t the industry moved away faster from Advertising Value Equivalency? And what should it do?
  • How to engage with bloggers authentically.
  • The future of journalism and how the changes affects public relations
  • The business of B2G – how to effectively lobby government workers and politicians
  • Question Time: The day will conclude with an industry question time featuring a panel of senior figures tackling topics raised throughout the day.

The speakers for the above sessions will be announced over the next few days.

After the CommsCon conference, the winners of the CommsCon Awards will be announced in a separate evening ceremony. The shortlist for the CommsCon Awards Will be announced early next week.


  1. PR Pro
    28 Feb 13
    3:48 pm

  2. Call me a cynic, but with at least 4 speakers in the line up who are board members of the newly formed “Comms Council” this talkfest smells like a self serving branding exercise. The PR arm of Comms Council was founded last year by a dozen or consumer PR agencies who apparently felt the PRIA “ wasn’t stepping up to the mark” (what ever that means). So the new group was formed, and good luck to them. Not being a member of PRIA I have no opinion either way.
    But I know of at least 5 “PR conferences” that are held each year in Sydney, and most of them are crap, featuring the usual roll call of spruikers on social, crisis management etc. This one doesn’t sound much different I’m afraid. At least it will be a nice marketing exercise for the Comms Council Board members who will present.

  3. Cathie
    28 Feb 13
    4:34 pm

  4. @PR Pro

    Sorry you feel that way. I’d suggest that with over 30 speakers, having 4 from the PRC is too small a percentage to be anything approaching a “self serving branding exercise”.
    We did invite content submissions and contributions from our readers and the industry, and the program has been built around those suggestions.
    We think that makes it unique – why not come along and see for yourself?

    Cathie – Mumbrella

  5. Name picker
    28 Feb 13
    6:00 pm

  6. I am still not buying “Comms Con”

    Other than that I think it is great that you have asked the market what they woudl want to see at a conference.

    “The Conversation” would have been a great name im’humble’o 😉

  7. Name picker
    28 Feb 13
    6:00 pm

  8. would*