Amplifying Communications for Good: Highlights from ComNet17

I just got back from my first time at The Communications Network’s annual conference, ComNet in Miami Beach, Florida. While I didn’t even get a glimpse of the ocean (my own fault, as I was fitting too much into each day), I did learn a lot, and met a host of great communicators who all share our challenges in communicating for good.

As The Communications Network CEO, Sean Gibbons pointed out in his opening remarks, this particular conference provides the unique opportunity to be surrounded by hundreds of people who all want to make the world a better place. It offered two days for us to learn from each other on how to do our jobs better.

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Americanized: Marketing to Latinos/Hispanics

As a Colombian who’s lived in the DC area for over 15 years, I still feel very Colombian. However, I also feel American. My family in Colombia tells me that I’ve become a “gringa” and at times don’t act like a Colombian. It’s as if I’m stuck in between two countries. I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of other immigrants who feel the same way.

I’m lucky to live in D.C. It’s such a vibrant and changing city that it feels like no one is from here originally. There is no pressure to fit into a “D.C.” way of being. But I also don’t fit into the stereotype that everyone has about Hispanics/Latinos. I don’t eat chimichangas or dance bachata or watch Univision. There is nothing wrong with any of that, but it’s just not a part of my culture.

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Where Academic Literature Meets Industry

Ask any academic about the value of peer-reviewed literature, and they’ll give you a list 10 miles long of how they use it, why they use it, and why it’s important in their careers… but what about for industry professionals? What value does academic literature bring to those of us serving clients with social change ideas? Here’s what some of my fellow Hager Sharpers had to say:

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After Charlottesville: What’s New for Advocates and Activists?

For the past five years, I’ve taught a graduate class on Advocacy for Public Health each fall at The George Washington University’s School of Public Health. It is my favorite among the subjects I teach (market research and health communication, among others), and I update my syllabus each year to incorporate current events.

This year, as I watched protests, counter-protests, and violence unfold in Charlottesville, one reaction I had – in addition to horror, disbelief, and fury – was, “Wow! This changes everything! What am I going to say to my advocacy students?” I thought I was going to have to scrap my syllabus and start all over again, as it seemed that the rules of advocacy had turned upside down. Instead of Act Up protesters armed with placards and potentially putting themselves in harm’s way by disrupting traffic, we had white supremacists armed with assault weapons, threatening harm to anyone who doesn’t look like them, and killing a woman with a motor vehicle. A dangerous new era for advocacy and activism.

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Beyond the Pitch

I’ve been going to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention for years – as a journalist. This year, I appeared on a workshop panel with new colleagues from the world of public relations.  Appropriately titled, “Transferring Journalism Skills to PR Careers,” the 90-minute panel featured a discussion about PR as an alternative for journalists and journalism students seeking to transition from traditional media.

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