Top Takeaways from Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference

The biggest things you missed at the Future of Communications Conference.

Comms Week 2023

Five hundred communicators gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas this week to share and absorb wisdom about the future of the industry.

From the onslaught of AI to the constant drumbeat of crisis and the need to express empathy to all audiences, the challenges in communications are great — but so are the opportunities.

Speakers from both internal and external communications took the stage to share insights and forecasts.

Whether you joined us or looked on with envy, here are some of the big ideas to guide your communications strategy in 2024 and beyond. Because, as keynoter Sam Jordan, a futurist with The Future Today Institute said: “Know what is plausible so you can know what is desirable. You have to have a vision to have a roadmap.” 


  • “If you’re going to invest in the tool, you have to invest in the training. Not just the theoretical training, but the actual use case training,” Megan DiSciullo with PwC said.  
  • “Data without insights is chaos,” Trovon C. Williams with the NAACP said. 
  • Haley Correll of the American Red Cross on social media: We are users first, communicators second. Challenge your team to use and learn a new program before investing more time.
  • Embrace the creator mindset, Jeff Meltz with Square said. You have to treat it like an athlete. Upskill slowly but surely
  • Gina Anselmo of Red Path throws the gauntlet: You should be able to read an employee newsletter in 60 seconds 

DE&I and purpose 

  • Organizations without a DEI emphasis risk losing their influence and power going forward, as without it you won’t have a lot of the next generation wanting to work for or with you, said Emily Graham, Omnicom 
  • “All generations hold their employers to a higher standard than ever before,” Kathryn Chappell, Fleishman Hillard, said.  
  • Don’t let something at the front of news and social feeds distract you from the business of the business, Eliot Hoff with APCO said.  
  • ERGs are great discussion spaces for staff and places to gain insight on more challenging topics – but less mature ERGs may not be ready to provide that perspective, Makini Nyanteh of AIR said.  

Crisis and empathy 

  • Every business needs a plan for crisis mode. In today’s crazy world, it’s inevitable you’ll use it,” said Randi Stipes, The Weather Company.
  • But remember, there’s a difference between a crisis and an issue, said Veleisa Patton-Burrell with Denny’s.
  • Still, empathy can help lead the way through any crisis: “Every day can’t be business as usual when there are horrible things happening in the world,” said Halley Knigge with REI.
  • “Laughter and humor can help humanize leadership and create a situation with more focus on empathy,” said Steve Cody, Peppercomm.
  • “Brands are so much more than what you sell, it’s who you are and who your employees are,” Lou Dubois said. 

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