Employee Communications & Culture Conference | April 16-18, 2024 Fairmont Hotel  Chicago, IL Employee Communications & Culture Conference | April 16-18, 2024 Fairmont Hotel  Chicago, IL

DON'T MISS THE EXCITEMENT
  • Create compelling communications
  • Lead a culture of transformation
  • Improve business fluency
  • Measure your success
  • Control crises
  • Build a great employee culture

Internal communicators are drivers of change. As their discipline has evolved, so too have the strategies and tactics required to create an authentic, powerful employee experience.

Join us April 16–18 in the heart of Chicago for Ragan’s Employee Communications & Culture Conference and come away with practical and innovative ideas to implement back in the office — or in home offices and hybrid workplaces. You’ll walk away with the tools you need to supersize your strategies and elevate your comms, while forging connections and sharing knowledge with industry peers and informed colleagues.

From change communications to interdepartmental collaboration to crafting content and thought leadership that keeps employees engaged, informed and wanting more, this conference will give you the blueprint to build a better work environment. Interactive sessions and engaging instruction from experts in the trade provide the ultimate peer-to-peer experience sprinkled with inspirational keynotes, interactive workshops, sessions, lively debates and plenty of networking so you can connect with industry colleagues and forge new friendships.

REGISTER NOW

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Register today! Don’t miss this opportunity to:

  • Connect to C-suite communicators in your industry.
  • Access exclusive content and resources.
  • Get the tools you need to stay ahead in today’s rapidly changing world.

FEATURED SPEAKERS

KEYNOTER
Vice President of Creative Strategy, Innovation and Business Development
The Second City
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KEYNOTER
Chief Growth Officer
The Honest Company
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Global Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
Kraft Heinz
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Director of DE&I Communications, Employer Branding
Levi Strauss & Co.
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Global Head of Communications
Bayer, Consumer Health Division
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Global Change Management Lead
Accenture
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Head of Internal Communications
Silicon Valley Bank: A Division of First Citizens Bank
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Director of Employee Communications & Experience
Rivian Automotive
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Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Culture
University of California (UCSF) Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care
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VP, Communications
Tampa International Airport
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Director of Communications and Culture
Fidelity Labs, Fidelity Investments
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Adjunct Professor
York Schulich School of Business
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Executive Director of Internal Communications for Technology, Product and Experience
Comcast
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Director of Corporate Comms
Strava
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Kristin Hoose
Senior Director, External Constituent Communications
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
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Head of Communications
Genentech
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Director, Corporate Communications
BMO Financial Group
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AGENDA

Pre-conference Workshops
Day 1: Tuesday, April 16
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Manager Comms Certificate Course

Separate registration required.

Registering for our in-person certificate series will train you to better partner with HR and people managers. You’ll learn how to tailor communications to the needs of your workforce — no matter how large or small your organization. This manager comms course will address the ongoing challenges you face as a communicator by equipping you with the toolkits, templates, and talking points you need to convey comms initiatives. You’ll leave this 4-hour course with a Manager Communications Certificate from Ragan.

8-9 a.m. The Comms Cascade

People managers are crucial conduits for delivering information to employees. But when announcements require a strategic cascade through people managers, it adds a level of difficulty. Discover how to arm your managers with the tools, templates and even talking points they need to convey comms initiatives. Together, we’ll dive deeply into:

  • Anatomy of an effective manager comms cascade: What successful information flows look like in orgs with dispersed workforces — from comms to VP people managers and frontliners alike.
  • Top channels: How to engage with people leaders via text apps, email, intranets and town halls — examples of what’s working and what’s not.
  • Building bridges: How to engage with people leaders beyond the written word via town halls to build trust with them -- and ultimately with their teams.
  • Manager resources hubs: How to give managers the tools, templates and even talking points they need to convey comms initiatives — snapshots of effective resource libraries.
  • Support groups: How to use AI, internal influencers and employee resource groups (ERGs) to facilitate more effective manager comms.
  • Hybrid and deskless strategies: How to adapt your strategies to fit the needs of your organization and the messages you must deliver.

9-9:15 a.m. Peer-to-Peer Workshop

There’s no better way to internalize what you’re learning than to share the experience with fellow workshop attendees. Bring your biggest manager comms challenges to this interactive session and we’ll workshop solutions together.

9:15-9:30 a.m. Short Break

9:30-10:30 a.m. Manager Training and Culture

Managers are crucial culture catalysts, and the leadership style of individual managers makes up to 70% of the difference in employee motivations and productivity. Learn how to foster a strong sense of culture and belonging – and while delivering business results. Some of what we will cover includes:

  • Manager training: How to train managers in the tech, tactics and storytelling strategies they need to close the employee experience gaps across all your employees.
  • Learning and development: How to promote benefits and l&d as part of your employer brand to socialize well-being and encourage participation.
  • Culture first: Ways to help managers empower employees to lead from a place of authenticity and live their values at work.
  • Tech solutions: How tapping tech like Employee Experience Platforms (EXPs) can foster meaningful connections that supports and amplifies culture.
  • Employee recognition: Examples of ways to build recognition into your content strategy with badging, kudos and award ceremonies.
  • Social media sharing: Examples of culture-rich content posted on intranets, email newsletters, apps and video boards.

10:30-10:45 a.m. Mini Interactive Session: Comms Strategies

In this interactive session, you’ll be given a workplace wellness benefit program. Working in small groups, you’ll develop a plan to roll out the benefits and messaging across a set of hypothetical companies, each facing a set of unique challenges.

10:45-11:00 a.m. BioBreak

11:00-11:45 a.m. Measurement and Monitoring

This final session will give you the planning roadmap you need to gather, track and prove organizational impact. We’ll uncover strategies to create focus groups that produce relevant, actionable findings to refine your manager communications strategy and deepen employee engagement, the right questions to ask on your surveys, and the essential KPIs to measure – including trust, credibility, engagement, and more. Learn about:

  • The reverse cascade: The importance of feedback loops and how to ensure feedback travels both ways so your organization acts on the input, insights and intel you’re getting.
  • Going global: How to enhance your manager comms for greater global impact, including exercises for delivering precise, culturally informed and real-time comms internationally.
  • Surveys, feedback loops and more: How to monitor, measure and level up your manager comms efforts using online surveys and other tools (including AI).
  • Strategies for remote, async and deskless workers: Techniques to gather and integrate employee feedback so you can craft targeted strategies for dispersed teams.
  • Continuous improvement: Extracting actionable insights from your data to optimize productivity, wellbeing and performance for your workforce.

11:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. What’s Next: Communicating Change

Now, we’ll put it all together. In a group exercise led by the instructor, the entire room will workshop the rollout of a critical change comms document that will need to be delivered strategically and sensitively to ensure business continuity and shape a positive experience for all employees.

12:30 – 1:45 p.m.
Mastering AI-Powered Writing and Content Creation

You’ve heard plenty about generative AI and may even have experimented with it — now it’s time to delve deeper and get practical with the latest AI techniques to dramatically improve your internal comms copy, content and capacity. This workshop will teach you how to apply strategic prompts to generate powerful prose and pixel-worthy images that make your job easier while engaging your workforce with persuasive content. You’ll discover:

  • The AI toolbox: How to set up AI accounts and get the most out of ChatGPT, Bard, Dall•E, Midjourney and even Microsoft’s Copilot, plus a list of the top AI tools for communicators.
  • Strategy and segmentation: Work with AI to devise a data-driven content strategy by analyzing datasets to identity patterns so you can tailor content to employee segments.
  • Scaling production: How to use ChatGPT 4.0 Turbo to reduce the time and effort required to craft compelling internal comms content.
  • Writing and prompts: How AI can help edit and improve your writing, plus how to select and fine-tune prompts that elevate your prose — without sacrificing creativity and voice.
  • Continuous improvement: How to use AI to run A/B tests so you can adjust and optimize your content — from email headlines and CTAs to better posts and body copy.
  • Real-world AI use cases: Examples of AI applications for internal comms content — from email newsletters and intranet posts to executive speeches and more.
  • Compelling visuals: Simple ways to create compelling custom imagery, layouts and design elements that will reinforce your message — come ready to dig into Dall•E and Midjourney.
  • Measurement and feedback: How to use AI tools to measure, refine and enhance your content so it improves employee engagement, satisfaction and productivity — plus how AI can process and analyze feedback forms and surveys to improve your content.
  • What’s new: How the Biden Administration AI executive orders impact how to label AI-assisted content — plus how to integrate Microsoft 365 Copilot into your workflow.
  • Gaining buy-in to level up: How to encourage leadership in your organization to embrace a hands-on, test-and-learn mentality that helps them understand its capabilities and how it factors into success.
Adjunct Professor
York Schulich School of Business
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2:00 – 3:15 p.m.
Measurement from “Blah” to “Ta-Da”: Improve Your Internal Comms Strategy with Data

Say goodbye to “blah” results and hello to “ta-da!” by learning how to get more out of measurement data to transform your internal comms strategy. In this workshop, you’ll discover a better measurement framework, the latest tools and the essential KPIs you need to set up smart goals for your team, track the right outputs and share successes with execs in the language of ROI and revenue. Join if you want to boost your budget and elevate your comms from lackluster to spectacular. Together we’ll cover:

  • What the C-suite expects: Results from the latest HarrisX/Ragan CEO-Communicators survey outlining what execs want from communicators, including the outcomes they value most.
  • What’s wrong with traditional internal measurement: Why data and analytics based on pulse surveys and other traditional-yet-limited methods don’t tell the whole story.
  • A smarter measurement framework: How to launch a more robust measurement program based on both quantitative and qualitative inputs — so you can tie outputs to strategic goals and wider impacts, including shifting public perception.
  • Essential KPIs: Examples of how to track quantitative KPIs like page visits, email/CT rates and even intranet read receipts — plus how to correlate them to engagement, retention, satisfaction and productivity.
  • A custom KPI index: How to use these insights to craft a new KPI scorecard tailored to your organization’s sector, mission and business goals — plus how to translate your KPIs to ROI.
  • Sample dashboards: Case studies in what’s working and what’s not to present your results to teams and execs alike — including examples of successful measurement dashboards.
  • New tools and tech: A better toolbox to gather internal comms data, including how to run your data through AI to quickly analyze and act on top findings.
Co-Founder and Senior Partner
RCG
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3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
How to Lead Efforts to Operationalize AI in Corporate Comms

AI is moving fast—and other departments are already using it as you read this. Keep up and enhance your career, comms department, strategic value and contributions to organizational goals by learning how to fully operationalize AI across your communications. This hands-on workshop will show you how Merck’s comms team successfully integrated AI tools and challenges into its workflow—so you and your team can make the jump without the pitfalls. You’ll learn:

  • What’s new: The latest AI launches and how to choose which are best for your organization.
  • AI audit: How to assess where your organization and team are in AI adoption—including whether they’re using GenAI, whether there’s a usage policy in place and more
  • Adopting AI: How to develop a roadmap for AI implementation tailored to your department’s needs.
  • Fostering an AI-friendly culture: How to create an internal AI committee—plus how to draft AI policies and guidelines for your team.
  • Measurement: Ideas for monitoring the effectiveness of your AI efforts, including how to measure AI’s impact on comms content and your team.
  • Ideas to borrow: Examples and use cases to build out in your own organization.
Craig Thomasen
Director of Global Employee and Executive Communications
Merck
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General Sessions and Internal Comms
Day 2: Wednesday, April 17
8:00 a.m.
Registration
8:15 – 8:45 a.m.
Breakfast Session
8:45 – 8:50 a.m.
Welcome and Opening Remarks

Learn about the program, and discover trends from Ragan’s Benchmark Report.

8:50 – 9:25 a.m.
KEYNOTE
Improvising Culture: From Yes, And to Thank You, Because

Get ready to learn how improv can help you navigate the complexities of today's workplace dynamics. In the opening keynote, Second City’s Kelly Leonard, the VP of Creative Strategy, Innovation, and Business Development, will speak to the improvisational practices that propelled the careers of folks like Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey—and how improv techniques can help communicators meet real-world challenges.

Drawing on his work with behavioral scientists at the University of Chicago, Leonard will guide the audience through evidence-based exercises designed to foster collaborative and inclusive conversations, as well as help build a culture that is rooted in positive human behavior. Join us for an interactive keynote that promises not only to inspire but to equip you with the tools to innovate and connect in new ways.

KEYNOTER
Vice President of Creative Strategy, Innovation and Business Development
The Second City
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9:35 – 10:20 a.m.
PANEL
Let’s Talk Manager Comms Solutions: Real-World Fixes to Top Challenges

Achieving clarity, consensus and collaboration is critical for successful manager comms — but it can be difficult in the era of remote work to get managers aligned as conduits for your employee comms strategy. This session cuts through it all by taking an honest look at the most common obstacles managers face when cascading your messages and initiatives. Our panelists will provide their hard-won solutions for handling top roadblocks—while opening the floor to your biggest pain points and remedies. Come ready to share the bad—and the good! We’ll cover:

  • Misinterpretation vs clarity: How others are providing managers with clear, concise guidance so they can convey complex info.
  • Silos vs collaboration: Innovative ways to collaborate with HR, line managersand other departments to communicate more effectively with a hybrid workforce.
  • Hi-tech vs hi-touch: How others are balancing email, videoconferencing, collaboration suites, IM, enterprise social media and intranets with town halls, in-person meetings and informal talks to combat information overload and break through to busy managers and their staff.
  • Cultural vs generational differences: How to help managers become more adaptable and sensitive to diverse workplaces.
  • Resistance to change vs adaptability: How others are empowering managers to assist with change communications—including providing managers with the reasons and benefits behind any change.
  • Process vs people: How others are working across the manager comms cascade to codify comms needs, initiatives and workflows that everyone can get behind.
Executive Director of Communications, Technology, Product and Experience
Comcast
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Kristin Hoose
Senior Director, External Constituent Communications
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
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10:30 – 10:50 a.m.
Navigating Change: Communication Essentials
10:50 – 11:10 a.m.
Networking Break
11:10 – 11:35 a.m.
Unleashing Creative, Affordable Employer Branding Content to Wow Employees and Prospects

In today's competitive talent landscape, captivating employer branding content is absolutely essential for attracting top talent and fostering employee engagement. Join us as we explore innovative strategies and affordable content ideas to elevate your employer brand to new heights. Don't miss this opportunity to revolutionize your employer branding strategy and stand out as an employer of choice. You'll discover how to ignite your creativity and inspire lasting connections with employees and talent prospects alike.  We’ll cover:

  • Engaging social content: How to create compelling videos, captivating photos and authentic employee spotlights that resonate with your audience across various social platforms.
  • The power of UGC: How to successfully harness user-generated content to help amplify your employer brand message. 
  • The latest best practices: What content strategies are resonating most with both talent prospects and existing employees — plus proven techniques for crafting content that captivates and inspires. 
  • Measuring employer branding impact: How to design a measurement framework for your employer branding efforts that is aligned with your business strategy to demonstrate tangible results. 
  • Lessons learned: Real-world case studies and success stories from winning employer branding campaigns — including actionable takeaways that you can apply to your own organization. 
Director of DE&I Communications, Employer Branding
Levi Strauss & Co.
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11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
INTERACTIVE
Making AI Your Digital Doppelganger: New Ways to Supercharge Your Content Calendar

It’s time to move past “wow” into “now” when it comes to AI — and finally start infusing it into your content calendars and creation. This interactive session details how to harness AI as a diligent conductor ensuring all your trains are on schedule, running at full steam with high-quality content while avoiding legal, copyright and other AI third rails so your message arrives at its destination with impact. In the second half of this session, get prepared to pull out your computers to experiment with proper prompt building. Join us to discover:

  • Streamlined strategy: AI tools to help generate better content plans that align internal comms goals with employee preferences.
  • Enhanced scheduling: AI plug-ins to create or improve existing content calendars that deliver the right content at the right  time
  • Content generation: Best practices and winning prompts to help your team create compelling text and images faster — without the headaches.
  • Crafting guidelines: Strategies for setting internal guidelines that minimize legal, copyright and IT risks.
1:05 – 1:20 p.m.
LUNCH and A LITTLE LEARNING
Raising Your Presentation Skills to Boost Your Comms Impact — and Career

Sit back and prepare to take in a quick lightning session sure to prepare you for the Zoom screen or town hall podium. Though more than 70% of professionals consider presentation skills crucial for their success, communicators often prioritize training and preparing others over honing their own presentation style. This lightning session aims to change that by providing a cheat code to help you present like a pro. We’ll discuss:

  • Easy fixes and pre-speech routines: Hacks others use to eliminate jitters and boost confidence.
  • The five Ps of powerful presentations: How to harness planning, preparation, practice, performance and passion.
  • Tech recs: Tools to draft presentations faster — and make them more memorable (including cool tools for pulling and even generating compelling visuals).
  • Inspiring examples: How others are building deeper connections and trust by delivering compelling presentations.
1:30 – 2:15 p.m.
PANEL
Crisis Comms Case Studies: Future-Proof Your Role and Protect Your Brand

Nothing strips the fear and uncertainty from crises like real-world examples of how others have successfully handled them. This tell-all panel provides an unvarnished look behind the scenes of some of the biggest crisis situations of the past year. Together, we’ll look at tried and true crisis comms responses and share crisis frameworks you can put in place to help your team speak to the most immediate needs of all your key stakeholders, no matter what bad news situations your organization may face in the months or years ahead. We’ll cover:

  • Crisis case studies: Successful strategies that defused recent high-stakes situations and safeguarded employees (not to mention reputation).
  • Crisis frameworks: Decision trees you can tailor to your organization, offering a crisis comms roadmap to leaders and managers alike.
  • Pivot tables: “If this/then that” grids others have used to outline the optimal course of action through unexpected twists and turns—so you can do the same when bad news strikes.
  • Messaging guidelines: Examples of robust hold statements, message maps and style directives to help your team set the right tone for leaders, spokespeople and first responders.
  • Crisis team breakdowns: Who to activate on your org chart in a crisis response—based on what worked and what didn’t for others.
VP, Communications
Tampa International Airport
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Head of Internal Communications
Silicon Valley Bank: A Division of First Citizens Bank
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2:25 – 2:45 p.m.
Measuring Internal Communication Impact
2:45 – 3:05 p.m.
Networking Break
3:05 – 3:30 p.m.
PANEL
Handling Employee Comms in Turbulent Times—from Social Justice to Labor Concerns and Beyond

Today's workforce is facing waves of disruption—and your #1 asset is increasingly concerned about everything from return to office initiatives to safety at the workplace. But outside pressures can also adversely affect employees. This session outlines how to talk to and engage employees when the external world impacts your internal comms — whether those outside forces are political and social issues ranging from DE&I and women’s reproductive rights clawbacks to social justice, labor issues or beyond. In this panel, you'll hear:

  • What’s new: Top issues facing the workplace in an election year—and how to prepare.
  • The roadmap: How other internal comms teams are successfully managing potentially divisive issues with new initiatives and aligned messaging.
  • Building bridges: How clawbacks, conflict and controversy and present a surprising opportunity for internal comms to foster solidarity while supporting employee voices.
  • ERGs and employee engagement: How ERGs can address employee concerns, keep them informed and maintain a positive environment during workplace issues.
  • Adaptable plans: Best practices for creating more flexible internal comms plans that can adjust to the ever-changing labor landscape—including how to better tap into ERGs, legal and HR without stripping your comms of authenticity and empathy.
Head of Colleague Experience and Internal Communications
Aon
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Head of Internal Communications
GE HealthCare
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Partner
Bully Pulpit Interactive
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3:40 – 4:05 p.m.
Winning Hearts & Minds: Purposeful Thought Leadership in Times of Change

Nearly 90% of execs say thought leadership significantly shapes opinions of an organization — and that’s a huge opportunity for communicators in times of change. Learn how to craft clear, straightforward and transparent thought leadership content and strategies that rings as a voice of reason in the most challenging moments, including periods of restructuring, return-to-office implementation and even acquisitions. You’ll learn:

  • Speaking up: How leaders can connect purpose and values to words and action in everyday business and during crises using consistent approaches and clear language.
  • Training experts: Coaching leaders on when they should comment and what they could say— to align with corporate values and ethical principles.
  • Channels and implementation: Tips for leveraging town halls, blogs and even LinkedIn to showcase your exec’s voice, vision and thought leadership.
  • Winning  hearts and minds: Tying it all together with people-first thought leadership and communications in times of change.
Director, Corporate Communications
BMO Financial Group
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4:15 – 4:55 p.m.
INTERACTIVE
Town Hall Live Scripting Workshop: Elevating Your All-Hands Gatherings

Town halls are a critical tool for communicating organizational change in today’s hybrid, remote or in-office workplaces. But they can become uninspiring “check the box” exercises — especially when the news is disruptive. Join this interactive session to dive into the art of crafting more compelling town halls designed to calm, inform and even inspire worried employees. Together, we’ll critique two lackluster town hall scripts, one announcing a reorg and layoffs, and the other addressing a sensitive topic such as an international conflict. Then, we’ll break into workshop groups to elevate it based on a set of facts and organizational goals. We’ll cover:

  • Reorg essentials: Key elements to include in reorg announcements — from state of the company financials to talking points putting employees first.
  • Prioritizing transparency: How to infuse transparency into your all-hands meetings, fostering trust among employees navigating remote work challenges.
  • Capturing attention: Methods to grab and maintain employees' attention in a virtual environment saturated with distractions, ensuring your messages resonate.
  • Infusing culture: Strategies to ensure your culture and values shine through during virtual town halls — no matter the subject matter.
  • Flipping the script: Ideas for turning challenging times and difficult news into opportunities for organizational growth and employee empowerment.
  • Channels and tech: Helpful guidelines from your peers — including frequency, tech recs and smarter ways to drive attendance and engagement.
Global Head of Communications
Bayer, Consumer Health Division
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4:55 – 5:00 p.m.
Building Bridges: Mastering the Art of Networking

In this 5-minute lightning talk, you’ll walk away with some suggestions and strategies for successful networking. Leave prepared and empowered to create meaningful connections at the evening’s gathering.

5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Networking and Drinks
Day 3: Thursday, April 18
8:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Breakfast Session
8:30 – 8:50 a.m.
Keynote Panel
9:00 – 9:25 a.m.
Effective Change Communications in Uncertain Times

In the whirlwind of corporate reorganizations and restructuring, maintaining an engaged and high-performing workforce requires a steady hand at the wheel. Successful change comms hinge on a collaborative, cross functional approach, weaving a smart change narrative that not only steadies internal compasses but also crafts the external perception of the transition. Learn how to steer your organization through seas of change, fostering an environment of understanding, resilience and unified vision.

  • Framework formation: Learn how to synchronize your efforts with leadership, department heads, managers, HR, ERGs, and even legal, before making waves with PR and marketing.
  • Mastering messaging: How to chart the course for crafting clear, concise change messaging that delivers a storytelling narrative that bridges the gap between informing and inspiring.
  • Cultural currents: Explore the depths of your organization's culture and learn to power your communications with empathy, ensuring your messaging resonates with your organization.
  • Ally armada: Learn tactics to transform your employees, customers, and partners into a fleet of change ambassadors, championing your cause.
  • Digital dynamics: Focus on leveraging digital communications channels, from intranets to email newsletters and town halls, to make sure your message arrives at every workspace.
  • Feedback flotilla: Establish robust channels for feedback, including employee surveys and focus groups, to deliver insights that help navigate the course of change.
Vice President, Corporate Communications and Change Management
Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales & Services
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9:35 – 9:45 a.m.
Empowering Leadership through Communication
9:45 – 10:05 a.m.
Networking Break
10:05 – 10:20 a.m.
Professional Development Lightning Session
Business Fluency: Keys to a More Influential Career

Success at the highest organizational levels demands leadership skills and a strong grasp of business fundamentals — not just communication techniques. Join this session to hear how to navigate egos and ideas in the C-Suite while presenting yourself as a respected strategic business partner. We’ll discuss:

  • Strategic acumen: What leaders expect from you — and how to deliver the “big picture” perspectives they need most.
  • Financials: Essential business ratios and KPIs to understand — and how to show you’re moving the needle.
  • Feedback: Ways to advise execs based on data and feedback that you’re getting.
  • Forecasting: How to be your org’s periscope into the future by analyzing trends.
  • Storytelling: Strategies for tapping into your comms secret power to get your execs’ attention — while building bridges with HR, legal and others already at the table.
10:30 – 11:15 a.m.
PANEL
Bootstrap Your Intranet: Cost-Efficient Commtech for Employee Connection

Intranets have often been overlooked or underutilized, trapped in a costly cycle of humdrum updates that are difficult to integrate into your existing tech stack — but this need not  be the norm. Join us to explore how you can transform your employee comms channels into engaging, dynamic hubs without the hefty price tag. We’ll cover:

  • Redesigning for impact: Budget friendly strategies to enhance user experience through powerful-yet-simple redesign principles.
  • Voice, vision, values: How to center your digital workspace content around your mission so it’s more shareable on platforms like SharePoint and Yammer.
  • People-first: Smart, low-cost ways to elevate your intranet content beyond transactions with short videos, authentic stories and engaging AMAs.
  • Data meets dialogue: How to harness data to create a more responsive digital environment via surveys and other feedback channels.
  • Tech stack use cases: How others are making the most out of Microsoft Office, Meta’s Workplace, Google Workspace and more.
Director of Internal Communications, Marketing & Communications
Baptist Health South Florida
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11:25 – 11:50 a.m.
Beyond the Inbox: Elevating Email and Newsletters in Today’s Hybrid Workplace

Remote and deskless employees are the new norm — and surprisingly, emails and newsletters are becoming more than a traditional standby for reaching today’s hybrid workforce. They’re enjoying a renaissance — and are playing a resurgent role in fostering connectivity and disseminating information alongside tools like Slack, Teams, intranets and more. Join this session to see how these platforms are serving as lifelines and bridging gaps for every employee, regardless of location or work setup. You’ll learn:

  • Email innovations: The latest advancements in email technology, including AI-driven personalization, predictive content suggestions and interactive elements.
  • Newsletters revolutionized: Breakthroughs in email design and content structure for internal comms—from more visually appealing layouts to multimedia features.
  • Mix, match and integrate: How to integrate email and newsletters with digital apps and platforms like Slack and Teams to enhance real-time comms for hybrid teams.
  • Exemplary emails and newsletters: Creative ideas you can borrow — from attention-grabbing subject lines and compelling CTAs to employee spotlights, interactive quizzes, behind-the-scenes glimpses, embedded video and more.
  • Metrics and optimization: KPIs for emails and newsletters — and how to measure engagement, analyze feedback and drive improvements based on the data you pull.
Head of Communications
Genentech
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12:00 – 12:20 p.m.
Keynote Fireside
Leading with Purpose: Cultivating Culture and Communication

Empathy, inclusivity and a strong sense of purpose are instrumental in building cohesive teams that are deeply connected to the brand’s mission. These foundational principles guide Kate Barton, Chief Growth Officer at The Honest Company, as she helps build a team dynamic that reinforces a positive, inclusive culture.

In this fireside, Barton will share her strategies for strengthening internal communications and fostering a culture that champions team building. With a career spanning high-impact roles at Magnolia, Estee Lauder’s Aveda, Johnson & Johnson, and General Mills, Barton has consistently leveraged her expertise to nurture environments where creativity and collaboration flourish.

This conversation will explore Barton's perspective on the role of communications in unlocking the full potential of teams, driving brand growth, and navigating change and uncertainty. Attendees will learn about the communication strategies Barton employs to ensure alignment across diverse teams, her approach to problem-solving within a rapidly growing organization, and how she cultivates a workplace where every team member is empowered to contribute to the company's success.

KEYNOTER
Chief Growth Officer
The Honest Company
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12:20 p.m.
Baker’s Dozen and Giveaways!
12:45 – 2:30 p.m.
Employee Communications Awards Luncheon

Join us to celebrate the honorees of Ragan’s Employee Communications Awards Luncheon. Separate ticket required.

Employee Experience and Culture
Day 2: Wednesday, April 17
9:35 – 10:20 a.m.
PANEL
Be a Trusted Strategic Advisor: Keys to Get (and Keep) Your Seat at the Table

In the wake of the pandemic, communicators have evolved from being just a messenger to a pivotal strategic advisor. However, securing and maintaining this influential position requires more than just being heard; it demands demonstrating undeniable value to the organization. Many high-profile comms initiatives such as DE&I, ESG and even wellness programs have been dialed back. In this panel, we’ll discuss how you can attain — and maintain — a secure seat by providing strategic value at the highest level while helping your organization respond to public issues, employee priorities and business imperatives that matter. You’ll learn:

  • Strategic thinking: Transition from being a mere conveyor of messages to an advisor who shapes them by aligning your communication strategies with the organization's goals – and learn how to craft DE&I messages that resonate with both leadership and the broader employee base.
  • Business fluency: The concepts and tools you need to understand, analyze and act on financial statements – plus how this knowledge can guide your communication strategies, and how to develop and manage your own budget.
  • Metrics and dashboards: How to quantify and showcase the impact of internal comms programs using engagement, retention, reputation and financial KPIs.
  • Safeguarding culture: Learn to embed quantifiable DE&I and ESG results into business reporting, annual reports and internal comms – plus case study examples of how companies like Coca-Cola have integrated the impact of their sustainability initiatives on their bottom line.
  • Issues management: How and when to advocate and communicate purpose-driven initiatives that matter most to employees — even amid political and online blowback.
  • Winning ways: How other comms departments are elevating their stature — and budgets — amid rollbacks and cuts.
Director, Global Enterprise and Employee Communications
McDonald's
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Director of Corporate Comms
Strava
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Global Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
Kraft Heinz
Read bio
10:30 – 10:50 a.m.
Building a Culture of Transparency
10:50 – 11:10 a.m.
Networking Break
11:10 – 11:35 a.m.
CASE STUDY
RX for a Successful Return to Office: Communication-Centric Strategies

As offices shift from working from home to hybrid and fully in office, communicators are relied on to deliver meaningful, strategic communications that excite employees while informing them. An effective return-to-office (RTO) strategy is not just about logistics; it's about meaningful, strategic communications that align with your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). In this case study, you’ll learn how one company successfully messaged a RTO plan, including the critical role of communication methods, messaging from the C-suite, and the company’s EVP. You’ll learn:

  • EVP alignment in RTO: How to ensure your RTO strategy effectively conveys the logistics of the RTO, reinforces the benefits and highlights the advantages of the office — all while keeping employees informed and engaged.
  • C-Suite messaging: Techniques for crafting impactful RTO messages from the C-suite, ensuring leadership communication is clear, inspiring, and aligned with company values.
  • Optimizing communications channels: How to tailor communications for all your platforms, including town halls for interactive discussions, intranets for centralized information and updates, and video calls for team-level comms.
  • Feedback loops and dialogue channels: Creating platforms for two-way communication, allowing employees to voice concerns and provide feedback — and how to use feedback to continuously refine communication strategies and the RTO plan.
  • Success metrics: Implementing methods to measure the impact of communication strategies on RTO success, employee engagement, and satisfaction.
  • Sustaining engagement post-RTO: Strategies to maintain high levels of engagement and morale once the return to office is complete, ensuring the long-term wellness of your organization.
Vice President, Head of Internal Communications
Zurich North America
Read bio
11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
INTERACTIVE
Building and Refining ERGs to Foster Belonging in Times of Deep Division

In times when the world feels bitterly divided, employee resource groups offer a place for employees from under-represented backgrounds to come together — and foster a sense of belonging that can activate allies, drive business results and nurture a culture where employees choose to stay. In this session, we’ll look at how an interfaith ERG brought different cultures together to sow solidarity during a global conflict. In the second half, you’ll explore an interactive primer on how to get ERGs off the ground at your own organization. You’ll learn:

  • Doing the work: An interactive approach to forming inclusive ERGS — from defining membership and recruiting members to empowering them so they’re self-sustaining.
  • Safe spaces: Techniques for creating ERG environments that serve as safe spaces for the cohort while also making room for allies, especially during global conflicts and other contentious times.
  • Sharing the story: Tips for sharing ERG initiatives and socializing the work through personal storytelling within your organization and broader community.
  • Finding sponsors: Best practices for bridging the cultural gap between ERGs and execs — including methods for gaining leadership support for ERG initiatives.
  • Measuring impact: How to track ERG engagement, diversity and inclusion progress and other ERG goals—and how to leverage KPIs to improve your ERGs.

 

Global Change Management Lead
Accenture
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1:30 – 2:15 p.m.
PANEL
Mapping the Employee Journey: Measuring, Refining and Revolutionizing Engagement

Embark on a comprehensive exploration of the employee experience journey, a path paved with crucial touchpoints and opportunities for insightful feedback. This panel discussion sheds light on the importance of tracking and mapping employee sentiment and satisfaction and how it can shape effective engagement strategies. Navigate along the employee journey, learning how to emphasize personalized communications, including a case study on how one company pivoted to a nontraditional digital user experience model. You'll hear about:

  • Anatomy of an employee journey: Dissect the key components of an employee journey, including critical phases and touchpoints such as onboarding, major announcements and company meetings. Learn how to identify and track the right employee sentiment metrics that will serve as key performance indicators (KPIs) for comms success.
  • Crafting employee personas: Understand how unique employee personas can help tailor your communication strategies to meet diverse needs and perspectives.
  • Storytelling through metrics: Tips on weaving various KPIs into compelling narratives that reflect employee productivity, satisfaction, and retention, plus strategies for adjusting and fine-tuning your approach based on continuous feedback and measurement.
  • AI augmentation: Explore how AI tools can enhance targeting and personalization in employee communications as well as help you interpret reports and data.
Director, People & Culture Communications
RS Americas
Read bio
2:25 – 2:45 p.m.
Innovative Tools for Employee Engagement
2:45 – 3:05 p.m.
Networking Break
3:05 – 3:30 p.m.
Purpose and Safety in Harmony: Cultivating Meaningful and Secure Workplaces

In today's complex and divided world, striking the right balance between providing purposeful, meaningful work and ensuring a safe space for employees requires careful consideration. When external messaging or corporate decisions will affect employee safety, including positions of support or opposition to social justice movements, international conflicts, LGBTQ+ rights, public health stances or COVID-19 policies and more, communicators must leap into action. In this session, we’ll explore how Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be thoughtfully integrated into organizational culture, fostering an environment where employees feel both fulfilled by their work and secure in their workplace.

  • Purpose-positive culture: Understand the critical role of purpose in fostering engagement and productivity, and how aligning individual goals with organizational objectives can create a more motivated and fulfilled workforce, leading to higher job satisfaction and better performance.
  • Purpose-driven leadership: How leaders can act as role models and mentors, inspiring employees through their commitment to the company’s mission – and how comms professionals can amplify their vision, ensure consistent messaging across the organization, foster employee engagement and aligning with team objectives.
  • Employee safety: How to prioritize workplace safety, using insights garnered from Target's 2023 PRIDE crisis, to learn effective crisis management while ensuring a secure and supportive environment for all employees, including retail and deskless workers.
  • Crisis management and communications: How to craft effective communication strategies for handling incidents that may challenge your organization, and how to make sure you are prepared for potential retaliation from online or in-person mobs.
  • Brand resilience: Strategies for building an employer brand that withstands societal pressures while staying true to their core values and purpose.
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Culture
University of California (UCSF) Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care
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3:40 – 4:05 p.m.
Transforming Employees into Ambassadors and Advocates

Employee ambassadorship has emerged as a vital aspect of organizational success. In this session, we'll explore how to foster a culture where every employee feels valued and empowered to become an ambassador for your organization. You’ll learn how to identify, nurture and support potential employee ambassadors who embody your company's values and vision — plus, how you can support them to amplify your brand's narrative both internally and externally. Key takeaways will include:

  • Ambassador Identification: Techniques for discovering potential employee ambassador candidates who exemplify your organization’s spirit, culture and values — and how to make sure your engagement strategies appeal to a wide array of backgrounds, diverse voices and experiences.
  • Skill sharpening: The necessary training and development opportunities to offer to ensure your ambassadors are well-equipped and prepared to represent your organization — and how to work with them to craft a unified message that resonates with all employees.
  • Role of the ambassador: Where you can have the ambassador speak to promote your EVP, including professional networks, LinkedIn, employee resource groups and others.
  • Measuring impact: Tools and methodologies to assess the effectiveness of your ambassadorship program in terms of employee engagement and brand perception.
  • Real-life examples: Analyzing success stories from organizations that have effectively utilized employee ambassadorship to enhance their brand and culture.
Day 3: Thursday, April 18
9:00 – 9:25 a.m.
Ask Us Anything
How Comms, HR and Legal Can Meet in the Middle

Though comms and legal are both working to safeguard an organization’s reputation and shield it from risk, it can feel as though legal processes, practices and approvals create unnecessary obstacles to your initiatives, programs and content cascade. Join this panel of seasoned legal experts, HR representatives and comms professionals in an open-floor, ask-us-anything format. We’ll touch on:

  • Health and wellness: The latest considerations to keep employees physically and mentally healthy in the post-pandemic era—including how they impact your RTO comms.
  • Social media compliance: How to draft social media policies and processes with HR and legal’s input to protect employee ambassadors and your brand from legal risks.
  • AI governance: Where AI legislation stands now — and how to partner with your legal and HR teams to draft AI usage policies and protections.
  • DE&I guidelines: How best to address legal risk around diversity issues with your lawyers, instead of tiptoeing around gathering employee data, quota issues and more, and how to talk about concerns when employees seek help.
  • Path to partnership: How others are building alliances focused on problem-solving, partnership and prompt action (you’ll still hit your deadlines!).

 

Executive Director of Internal Communications for Technology, Product and Experience
Comcast
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Affiliate Consultant
RCG
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9:35 – 9:45 a.m.
Fostering Inclusive Workplace Dialogues
9:45 – 10:05 a.m.
Networking Break
10:05 – 10:20 a.m.
Professional Development Lightning Session
How to Humblebrag: Internal Reviews, LinkedIn and Beyond

When your annual review arrives, it’s not enough to be armed with a list of your accomplishments. It’s also about presenting them strategically to plan for your career growth. Join this lightning session and  learn the essential bragging skills to empower your professional journey. Practical insights include:

  • Internal reviews that shine: Learn how to structure your self-evaluation effectively, quantify your achievements for maximum impact and aligning your performance with organizational goals and values.
  • LinkedIn personal branding mastery: Build a compelling LinkedIn profile that captures your professional essence and learn the secrets of crafting an attention-grabbing headline and summary, powerful endorsements, and more.
  • The art of humblebragging: There’s a fine line between self-promotion and humility; learn how to tastefully and effectively highlight your accomplishments in conversations and written communications.
10:30 – 11:15 a.m.
PANEL
How to Communicate with Deskless and Dispersed Workforces

Cultivating a culture of collaboration and real-time communication requires understanding where the needs of employees and the business intersect — easier said than done when attempting to engage deskless, remote and global workers. In this panel, a trio of employee communications leaders will share how they engage dispersed workforces across great distances by customizing their strategies and tech to recognize and enhance each group’s employee experience. We’ll discuss:

  • Connectivity challenges: How to audit, assess and act on barriers to reaching employees with limited internet access, restricted email usage or who aren’t connected via mobile.
  • Traditional + tech toolbox: Innovative ways to integrate flyers, posters, bulletin boards and digital signage with mobile apps, IM platforms and intranets to close comms gaps.
  • Scheduling touchpoints: Engaging employees with town halls, weekly meetings and regularly scheduled check-ins to make sure information is being delivered.
  • Training for managers: How to give managers and site leads the tools and skills they need to ID and re-engage employees who are culturally disconnected or unplugged.
  • Communicating purpose: Strategies for educating dispersed employees on the importance of company-wide purpose commitments, including DE&I and ESG.
Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
Shutterfly
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Director of Employee Communications & Experience
Rivian Automotive
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11:25-11:50 a.m.
Navigating Social Media: Leveraging Internal Communication Platforms

Culture exists wherever employees are, and in the age of digital connectivity, it lives in the emojis, reactions, and casual conversations on social media channels like Slack and Microsoft Teams. This session delves into the strategic use of these platforms, both as tools for internal communication and as windows into external perceptions of your organization. We'll explore the dynamics of creating and sustaining an employee culture that thrives both internally and externally — plus, how to effectively respond to employer feedback given on platforms like Glassdoor and Blind where direct communication might not be feasible. You'll learn:

  • Maximizing Slack and Teams for engagement: Techniques for using chat-based collaboration tools to enhance internal communications, build a community and foster a collaborative culture.
  • Channel dynamics: Understanding the role of channels in Slack and how to use them strategically to cater to diverse employee groups and interests.
  • LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Blind: Navigating the unique challenges and opportunities presented by anonymous feedback platforms like Blind and Glassdoor and public-facing sites like LinkedIn. Plus: strategies for leveraging these platforms to reflect and enhance your organization’s internal culture.
  • Responding to feedback: Best practices for responding to employer feedback, especially in scenarios where direct engagement is limited, and how to incorporate insights into your broader internal communication and HR strategies.
  • Legal and ethical considerations: Understanding the legal and ethical boundaries in monitoring and responding to employee communications.
Director of Communications and Culture
Fidelity Labs, Fidelity Investments
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SPEAKERS

KEYNOTER
Vice President of Creative Strategy, Innovation and Business Development
The Second City
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KEYNOTER
Chief Growth Officer
The Honest Company
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Global Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
Kraft Heinz
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Director of DE&I Communications, Employer Branding
Levi Strauss & Co.
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Global Head of Communications
Bayer, Consumer Health Division
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Global Change Management Lead
Accenture
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Head of Internal Communications
Silicon Valley Bank: A Division of First Citizens Bank
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Director of Employee Communications & Experience
Rivian Automotive
Read bio
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Culture
University of California (UCSF) Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care
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VP, Communications
Tampa International Airport
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Director of Communications and Culture
Fidelity Labs, Fidelity Investments
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Adjunct Professor
York Schulich School of Business
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Executive Director of Internal Communications for Technology, Product and Experience
Comcast
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Director of Corporate Comms
Strava
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Kristin Hoose
Senior Director, External Constituent Communications
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
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Head of Communications
Genentech
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Director, Corporate Communications
BMO Financial Group
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Partner
Bully Pulpit Interactive
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Affiliate Consultant
RCG
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Head of Internal Communications
GE HealthCare
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Head of Colleague Experience and Internal Communications
Aon
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Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
Shutterfly
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Director, Global Enterprise and Employee Communications
McDonald's
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Director of Internal Communications, Marketing & Communications
Baptist Health South Florida
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Executive Director of Communications, Technology, Product and Experience
Comcast
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Vice President, Head of Internal Communications
Zurich North America
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Vice President, Corporate Communications and Change Management
Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Sales & Services
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Craig Thomasen
Director of Global Employee and Executive Communications
Merck
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Director, People & Culture Communications
RS Americas
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Co-Founder and Senior Partner
RCG
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INTERESTED IN SPEAKING?

Please reach out to Director of Conferences
Alyssa Smith.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

  • Measure Trust and Impact: Learn the art of creating a communications measurement and evaluation strategy with advice from the brightest minds in Ragan’s network.
  • Manager Comms that Work: Master strategies that pair with tech, tools and shortcuts to boost efficiency and reduce burnout.
  • Conquering Change and Crisis Comms: Find out how to nurture an employee culture that adapts to change — and how to prepare for the unexpected.
  • A Better Employee Experience: Craft wellness strategies that address mental health and engage a dispersed and diverse workforce.
  • Create Strategic and Authentic Storytelling: Discover writing tactics for clear, concise, compelling and fun (!) content in your newsletters, on your intranet and on social.
  • Mixternal Communications: Unlock the possibilities of internal and PR partnerships.
  • Content Creation Strategy: Deliver more with less — without burning out or missing a deadline — by focusing on quality, marquis content.
  • Build Your Purpose: Develop a DEI&B framework that illuminates your organization’s mission, culture and values

PRICING

Join us for the Employee Communications & Culture Conference:

ADVANCED EARLY BIRD VIP REGULAR RATE
Conference All-Access Passincludes the Pre-Conference Workshops
Standard $2,699 $2,799 $2,899 $2,999
Nonprofit/Gov $2,599 $2,699 $2,799 $2,899
Ragan Insider $2,549 $2,649 $2,749 $2,849
Conference Registration - Individual
Standard $2,299 $2,399 $2,499 $2,599
Nonprofit/Gov/Edu $2,199 $2,299 $2,399 $2,499
Ragan Insider $2,149 $2,249 $2,349 $2,449
Conference Recording On Demand
$999 $999 $999 $999

Add to your Employee Communication & Culture Conference registration!

MANAGER COMMS
Certificate Course

Tuesday, April 16, from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

We’ve taken our popular virtual certificate course series and made it an in- person event where you’ll get real-time instructor feedback and the ability to share ideas with your peers. This four-hour interactive course will help you partner with HR and people managers to tailor communications to the needs of your workforce. You’ll leave this 4-hour course with a Manager Comms Certificate from Ragan. Add the Manager Comms Certificate Course to your registration for just $899.

Manager Comms Certificate Course
On Demand
For those who can’t attend the conference live, an on-demand option is available during the registration process.
Need help convincing management you should attend?
Download this letter to convince your boss you should attend the Employee Communications & Culture Conference.
Get your tickets early and save. Discounts are also available for the following:

Group Discounts

Would you and your team like to attend? Group pricing is available when registering! Contact Shallon Blackburn for more information.

RAGAN COUNCIL MEMBER DISCOUNTS

Membership includes free registration passes. Contact Shallon Blackburn for more information on becoming a member.
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RAGAN INSIDER DISCOUNTS

Insiders save on all Ragan events. Not a Ragan Insider? You can become one during registration for this event!
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Fairmont Hotel Chicago
LOCATION
Conference Venue Information:
Fairmont Hotel
200 N Columbus Dr,
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 565-8000Visitor Info

We have secured a room block at the Fairmont Hotel for conference attendees. The hotel reservation link will be sent to you after you register for the conference.

EXTEND YOUR STAY IN CHICAGO AND EXPLORE ALL THAT THE WINDY CITY HAS TO OFFER:

  • 70+ museums including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum
  • 500+ monuments and memorials including the Millennium Monument and the Abraham Lincoln Monument
  • 600+ parks including the famous Lincoln Park
  • Grab a slice of the famous deep dish pizza or a Chicago-style hot dog at one of the 7,000+ restaurants
Chicago, IL Things to do
BONUS MATERIALS
  • How to Include AI and ChatGPT in Your Comms Strategy
  • Guide to Building a Better Business Case For Internal Communications Software
  • Tools to Boost the Employee Experience
  • Guide to Change Communications During Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Presentation Skills for a Hybrid World

SPONSORS & PARTNERS

Want to become a sponsor? Get in touch with our team to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

Let's Partner!

RAGAN GIVES BACK
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is a non-profit organization located in Illinois dedicated to advocating for public policies that curb and can ultimately end homelessness. The organization leads strategic campaigns, community outreach, and public policy initiatives that target the lack of affordable housing in metropolitan Chicago and across Illinois.
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

You should attend if you spend at least a quarter of your time in any of these areas:

  • Human Resources
  • Employee Engagement
  • Corporate Communication
  • Employee Communications
  • Internal Communications
  • Executive Communications
  • Culture
  • Total Rewards
  • Public Relations
  • Change Management
  • Employee Experience
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

GET RECOGNIZED!

Employee Communications & Culture Conference Certificate

Each registration comes with a personalized "Employee Communications & Culture Conference" Certificate of Completion for attending.

REGISTER NOW

WONDERING IF YOU SHOULD ATTEND?

Here’s what past attendees are saying about Ragan and PR Daily Events!

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HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

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CONTACT

REGISTRATION

For questions related to event registrations, please contact:
Shallon Blackburn
Customer Service & Sales Manager

 

SPONSORSHIP

If you’re interested in sponsoring this event, please contact:
Hannah Lavelle

 

PROGRAM

For information on programming and speakers, please contact:
Alyssa Smith