On the road: Higher Ed Conferences in 2012

The readMedia team has a busy travel schedule lined up for 2012. In addition to sending our Community Manager, Danielle Valenti, on multi-campus tours to visit our clients all over the country, we’ll also be speaking at or attending many higher ed conferences this year. Here’s a rundown of where we’ll be and our take on some of our favorite conferences and events:

CASE Media Relations Conference

February 6-7 | Washington, DC

An ideal conference for mid-career media relations professionals, this conference features several panel discussions on best practices in pitching media and developing media relations plans. It’s a smaller, more intimate event, usually with less than 150 attendees. Popular higher ed reporters from national trade publications like InsideHigherEd and The Chronicle are usually on hand to offer critiques and advice to media relations professionals hoping to get coverage for their institution.

NCMPR National Conference

March 11-14 | San Francisco, Calif.

The National Council for Marketing & Public Relations is a group dedicated to community and technical colleges. Their annual national conference brings together professionals for sessions on social media, web design, brand management, crisis communications, internal communications and enrollment marketing. This year, readMedia will be exhibiting at the conference but also sponsoring a special evening event hosted by District 6.


March 14-17 | Hershey, Penn.

CUPRAP is a professional organization of communicators within higher ed, typically from Pennsylvania institutions. The annual conference features presentations and case studies from other colleges, as well as the annual CUPPIE awards recognizing excellence in PR and marketing campaigns and tactics. With dozens of client schools in Pennsylvania, readMedia has attended CUPRAP for many years, and the event is a great opportunity for us to share new product enhancements and best practices with our customers.

PRSA CHE Senior Summit

April 25-27 | Washington, DC

The PRSA Counselors to Higher Ed section puts together an outstanding senior summit each year. The attendees are primarily chief communications officers at their institutions with decades upon decades of expertise and ingenuity among them. Sessions are typically high-level and strategic, and range from managing a president’s expectations to developing solid institution-wide communications plans. The conference includes optional media tours to several DC-area outlets like the Associated Press, USA Today, Chronicle of Higher Ed, NPR, and others. The most powerful part of the event by far is the opportunity to network and learn from other attendees. I will be presenting at this year’s senior summit on balancing earned, owned, and paid media strategies within a communications plan.


June 11-12 | State College, Penn.

This will be my first year attending PSU Web, a conference hosted by Penn State but open to attendees from any institution. I’ll be presenting “Brand-building in Facebook WITHOUT the Fan Page”, and discussing strategies our clients have found successful for reaching broader audiences on Facebook.


June 13-15 | Syracuse, NY

With a large majority of the SUNY institutions as readMedia clients, this is a must-attend event for us! The conference not only attracts marketing and communications professionals, but also those in advancement, development, fundraising, and alumni relations. The SUNY Chancellor usually gives a keynote address, and the presentations and sessions are organized into themes and tracks that offer something for everyone, regardless of role. There are also scholarships available for first-time attendees who are new to their roles within SUNY.

College Media Conference

June 27-29 | Washington, DC

Formerly known as the Keith Moore Conference, this event is co-produced by CIC and AASCU. It’s a large conference that features several media panels comprised of reporters and editors from web media, national news programs, niche science and technology outlets, national newspapers and magazines, and local media properties. Attendees have the opportunity to directly ask members of the media for advice on how to pitch and what types of stories they are likely to cover. Additionally, several presentations involve case studies from communicators discussing specific media relations and social media strategies that were effective at their institution.


July 30 – Aug 1 | Boston, Mass.

It’s tough to say no to a conference in Boston. With so many colleges in the area, it’s a higher ed epicenter. I spoke at the eduWeb conference in 2010, but skipped it last year. It’s a conference for those in higher ed who deal with online strategy, digital marketing and web content. We’re tentatively planning to attend this year and combine it with some trips to visit our Boston-area clients.


October 7-10 | Milwaukee, Wisc.

We’ve still never attended a HighEdWeb, but it’s impossible to talk with a past attendees and not hear them gush about how amazing the conference is. Content ranges from social media to web and app development to content strategy to design. The conference has grown dramatically over the past few years and the organizers are incredibly open about incorporating ideas from attendees into the format and structure. We’re very much hoping that readMedia can make it to HighEdWeb this year!

AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Highe Education

November 11-14 | New Orleans, La.

AMA HigherEd is one of the largest conferences we attend — and last year’s event in Chicago almost felt too large at 900 attendees (okay not almost — it was). There’s a vast matrix of sessions to attend (but get there early, most all end up being standing room only) and typically the keynotes from university presidents are very solid. This conference is much more focused on pure marketing and branding. Social media plays a big role, and there are typically a lot of case study sessions that break down marketing campaigns and tactics from various institutions. The speakers and institutions featured can seem a bit repetitive if you go every year and are definitely weighted more toward larger institutions, but if you can navigate the conference itself there’s some good content to learn from. Here’s my recap of the 2011 AMA Higher Ed event for HigherEdLive.

In addition to the above list, we’re also considering the CASE Social Media and Community Conference in Chicago in April, as well as the CASE Institute Marketing and Branding in San Francisco in April, and the CASE Institute for Senior Marketing & Communications Professionals (typically in October). We’re always looking for opportunities to meet with current and potential clients at higher ed conferences and events, and learn more about what’s happening in the world of higher ed marketing, PR, media relations, and social media. If there are events missing from our list that we should know about, add them in the comments!

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