Speakers and Topics

Plan your day with this at-a-glance Convergence Summit Agenda, Convergence Summit 2018 Agenda and see session descriptions below.

Morning Keynote Presentation:

Thriving in an Age of Disruption:
The Convergence of Communications, business and technology enabled marketing
Dan Mallin discusses the value of Artificial Intelligence to marketing success

Dan Mallin, Founder and CEO, Equals 3 LLC

In today’s world, disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR), continue to emerge at breakneck speed. How do you stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of these game-changing platforms? Discover how the power of today’s emerging technologies can be directly applied to the world of marketing and communications.

In this session, Dan Mallin, a recognized force in digital marketing and technology-based entrepreneurship, will share his insight on how to thrive in an age of disruption. From the early days of the Internet and the first websites, to business portals of the dot com era to the latest generation of 1:1 marketing — integrating sales, service, and marketing — Mallin has a broad history of building businesses that help clients take advantage of cutting-edge digital transformation. In the past 20 years, he has grown and sold four businesses and built forward-thinking ad tech platforms that are still in use day-to-day by some of the world’s largest brands, agencies, and media firms. His real-world experience and client-tested, proven advice will leave you inspired by new and exciting ways to connect with your customers. As a demonstration of the power of these emerging technologies, you will also have a chance to meet Lucy, the marketing professional’s cognitive companion powered by IBM Watson.

Lunch Keynote Presentation:

2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

Jay Porter discusses the Trust Barometer

Jay Porter, President, Edelman

Fake news. Tweet wars. Journalism under fire. Today’s volatile information landscape is now a headline of its own and is raising challenging questions for business and for society. What makes the media and other information sources trustworthy—or not? What steps can CEOs and other communicators take to earn trust?

Jay Porter will discuss the findings of the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer and delve into the shifting expectations for the media, business leaders and institutions, as well as identify new opportunities for building trust. This annual study is Edelman’s annual trust and credibility survey, currently in its 17th year. What began in 2001 as a survey of 1,300 people in five countries has grown into a truly global measurement of trust across the world. The Trust Barometer is produced by Edelman’s integrated research, analytics and measurement division, Edelman Intelligence.

3 to 5 Key Points to be Learned

  1. Media, for the first time, is now the least trusted institution globally. This is led by the first-ever significant drop in trust of platforms, including search engines and social media, a lack of engagement among consumers and the global fake news epidemic.
  2. Trust in the U.S. has suffered its largest-ever-record drop in the survey’s history. This demise of trust in the U.S. is driven by a huge lack of faith in government.
  3. The bright spot for media: journalists. A majority of countries surveyed experienced a double-digit increase in the credibility of journalists. By contrast, the credibility of “a person like yourself,” dropped six points to 54 percent, reversing a seven-year upward trend.

Closing Keynote Presentation:

The Art of Building Trust

Rhoda Olsen, Vice-Chair Board of Directors, Great Clips

Strong relationships are at the heart of successful organizations and individuals, and great relationships require trust. From listening and follow through to accepting feedback without defensiveness, everything you communicate through words or actions either builds or breaks trust. Trust is not something easily given and it can be quickly lost. Trust must be earned and maintained through a purposeful focus on the core values that drive you, your company, and its employees. Learn how Rhoda Olsen led Great Clips, Inc. to build trust with 1,200+ salon owners and their 40,000 stylists across North America to turn this Minneapolis-based hair salon brand into a billion dollar franchise business.



Breakout Sessions:

Media Relations Panel: Navigating a Distrustful World Hungry for Credible News

Mike Walsh, ABC, APR, Vice President of Corporate Communications, U.S. Bank

We are living in a distrustful world. One that needs credible media more than ever. But according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, the media is now the least trusted institution globally. The bright spot? Journalists themselves have experienced a double-digit increase in credibility. How do we make sense of this dichotomy, and what is the path forward? Our panel of notable local journalists will explore the concepts of trust and the media – specifically how professional communicators and the media can work together to win back the public’s trust, and how we can partner in developing substantive news and content for “owned” and “earned” channels alike.

Mike Walsh will lead a lively panel with representatives from the media, including:

Using Data to Guide Business Strategy

Mike Goracke, Digital Strategist & Strategy Discipline Manager, RBA Consulting

Read Mike’s blog, “Move your communication strategy from metrics to KPIs.”

Regardless of your current relationship with data, it is becoming an essential job function to be able to articulate the performance of your efforts to the rest of the organization. This session will explore how to begin measuring organizational success (including operations, marketing, and financing), as well as provide an actionable framework to use to help focus efforts. You will see real-life examples of how many organizations are measuring success today and how some of our more sophisticated clients are focusing their efforts to drive better results.

3 to 5 Key Points to be Learned

  • The difference between being data curious, data informed, and data driven
  • Common mistakes and challenges organizations encounter when measuring success
  • How to build a decision making, measurement framework

This presentation will highlight examples and case studies of how organizations are driving results through the convergence of data, technology, and strategy.

Thanks to RBA for their exclusive sponsorship of Convergence Summit 2018!

Beyond the Label: The Limitless Communicator

Rebekah Fawcett, Senior VP, Head of Enterprise Communications, U.S. Bank

Many communicators came of an age in an era when there were clear lines between internal and external communications – when talking to and with employees was an extension of human resources and engaging with outside-the-organization audiences was geared more toward marketing. Those lines have virtually disappeared with the advent of multimedia, citizen journalism and corporate social responsibility. Coupled with changing demographics, technological savvy and consumer expectations, a refined view of how to communicate in the 21stcentury has emerged. Managing the new paradigm requires us to think differently about how we structure our communications teams, design our vehicles, counsel our senior leaders, and ensure we have the right talent in the right roles to engage in this changing world.

3 to 5 Key Points to be Learned 

  • Content reigns supreme. The successful communicator is one who knows what makes a good story and tells it most effectively, focused on the audience and agnostic of channel.
  • The death of the intranet has been widely exaggerated. There is a reason we still have multiple channels to tell a story, and it’s not inertia. To make our channels successful in a new communications age, we need a clear point of view about when, where and how to use them – and we need to understand how they are (and are not) consumed.
  • One size does not fit all. The principles that make your messengers great transcend internal and external boundaries; play to their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses strategically both inside and your organization.

Shield Bearer or Seasoned General: How the C-Suite Engages and Leverages Crisis Communications Consultants

Paul G. Omodt, ABC, SCMP, APR, MBC, Omodt & Associates Critical Communications; adjunct professor, University of St. Thomas

Mike Porter, PhD, Professor, University of St. Thomas

Behind the lines of every well managed crisis for a major organization is the invisible advisor who arrives with a strong forearm of experience to establish a first line of defense and protection through the battle. Much has been written about the strategic and tactical practices of dealing with crisis, but this research sponsored by the University of St. Thomas focuses on the relationships among key executives in pulling together a team and maintaining it through the fray.

This qualitative work in progress launched a snowball sampling process through an interview with an elder statesman of crisis communication, Jim Lukaszewski, and continued through a list of people he considers peers and their peers. It also tapped the next generation, consultants with merely 15-25 years of direct crisis management. For corroboration, interviews included a number of CEOs, Corporate Counselors and Senior Communicators, each of whom weathered multiple perennial and major crises in the C-suite at multiple organizations, including: major league sports teams; air and ground transportation; nuclear power plants; international retailers and more.  For example, the CEO/founder of a 30-year old strip mall service franchisor, that handles over 100 million patrons annually, regularly faces “drive through incidents” into store lobbies, now faces national social media crises periodically.

The pool of consultants alone have been directly involved in addressing at least 20,800 crises during their combined careers.

Preliminary data analysis offers insights into differences between: firms that plan for crisis and those that don’t; how consultants are engaged and by whom in the organization, and why; and roles and relationships among lawyers, communicators and other senior leader before, during and after crisis.

This session will present original primary research on how crisis communicators are selected, what executives look for in a counselor and how effective counselors make their mark.

Corporate Social Responsibility: The Messages That Matter

Dr. Amy O’Connor, Assistant Professor
University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Dr. O’Connor’s latest research, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, delves into the attitudinal reactions of partnerships within corporate social responsibility initiatives. Building on a multi-year study, this research studies real companies and nonprofits, focusing on which corporations and nonprofits are likely to partner together and how different stakeholder groups (consumers & activists) respond to information about partnerships and CSR communication more broadly. The research informs the selection of CSR nonprofit partners, explains how some of the different types of partnerships are evaluated, and the way different organizations partner.

3 to 5 Key Points to be Learned

  • Communication plays a central role in creating value and expectations in CSR
  • The selection of nonprofit partners has significant impact on the success of CSR initiatives
  • Stakeholder groups are more similar than different in their attitudes
  • How proximity to headquarters influences evaluations

Predictive slides will engage the audience with “What would you think…” scenarios before key research results are presented.

The Physics of Brand

Aaron Keller, Co-Founder, Capsule

Aaron Keller highlights how the relationship between marketing and design impacts brand

Marketing and design are old friends. They’ve known each other for decades now and while they make some snide comments about the other, there’s respect and admiration for each. Yet, as friends, they’ve never been been together in “that” way.

This morning they woke up in the same bed.

What’s next?

The rest of this story of romance and babies will get told by Aaron Keller. He and his co-authors married marketing and design to produce a book known as The Physics of Brand. The labor was 9 years long and included plenty of pain and suffering on all sides. You get to enjoy the ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhhing’ without losing any sleep.

You’ll learn why design and marketing need to get closer together, a few “tinder” tips for how the two (marketing and design) can meet up and get cozy, and key indicators of whether or not the relationship is going well.

3 to 5 Key Points to be Learned 

  • Why design and marketing need to get closer together
  • Tips for how the two can intersect more
  • Key indicators of whether or not they are working well together

Utilizing infographics and real-life examples, Aaron will walk the audience through three models for understanding the financial value of marketing and design.

Reality Check: Tackling Tomorrow’s Trends Today 

Nina Hale, Founder, Nina Hale Agency

Joel Erb, Senior Director of Digital Growth, Padilla

The world of digital communications seems to move at the speed of light. Just when the processes are in place to tackle our most pressing challenges, new trends emerge to disrupt the business of communicating. AI, VR, audio assistants-how can we keep up with it all? It’s time for a reality check. Behind these flashy new trends are the same core principles of communication and marketing strategy we’ve spent our careers mastering. In this session, you’ll learn how to identify and apply your practiced experience to the latest in digital.



Building a Brand from the Inside-Out

Nicki Gibbs, EVP, Strategy
Beehive Strategic Communication

To effectively build their external brand, organizations must first build a workplace culture where employees internalize and live the brand’s mission, vision and values every day. When employees feel an emotional connection to the organization, understand their role, and feel inspired and empowered, they become powerful, authentic marketplace brand ambassadors. Whether communicating complex news, or galvanizing a new brand initiative across the organization, a consistent and authentic voice earns internal trust and moves business forward.

3 to 5 Key Points to be Learned:

• Effectively deploying employees as your brand’s frontline.
• Organizations who sustainably engage their people outperform those who don’t.
• Business expectations are rising and organizational leadership must partner with communications to view employees as consumers.
• Employee engagement is the key to business success, and two-way communication is the vehicle to help get us there.
• Emotional connections, positive energy and inspiration are the currency, and authentic, trusted brand ambassadors are the outcome.

Think Like an Executive: How to Advance Your Career in Communications

Steve Wehrenberg, Teaching Professor and Program Director of the Professional M.A. in Strategic Communication
University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Career management in the field of professional services and especially communications is all about managing yourself as an asset. That’s how to think like an executive. A former McKinsey consultant and author of the book Managing the Professional Services Firm, the text in my Management for Strategic Communication course, states that, “…in professional life, if you are feeling comfortable, you are heading for trouble.” Learn how to think strategically about You As An Asset and to develop a plan for continuous career growth.

3 to 5 Key Points to be Learned:

  1. How to think strategically about career development.
  2. How to engage proactively and frequently in performance conversations with supervisors.
  3. How to think like an executive in terms of what you can do for your boss and what your boss can and should do for you.

This will be a workshop style presentation. Participants will complete an exercise called: The Personal Asset Assessment, and we will discuss individual findings as a group.