PRSA Counselors to Higher Education West Coast Forum

This conference is not currently available. Email the Sections Department to inquire about future availability of this program.

Category: Conferences

Back by Popular Demand!

Join your colleagues in higher education communications for a new Counselors to Higher Education (CHE) event, taking place on the West Coast this September!

You’ll experience all the great things you expect from CHE events – networking opportunities, current case studies from a variety of campuses, and a full schedule of speakers who are experts in their fields –but in a condensed format at a convenient West Coast location.

Hotel & Travel Information

Conference Registration Fees

Registration fees include access to all six sessions, an afternoon snack and networking reception on the first day, and a continental breakfast and lunch on the second day. Register early and save!

 Saver Rate
(until Aug. 31)
Regular Rate
(starting Sept. 1)
PRSA/CHE Member:$179$199

Online Registration Closed

For information about on-site registration, please contact Don Bill at

Program & Schedule

The West Coast Forum is designed to provide outstanding programming in a condensed format, while still offering opportunities for networking and sharing.

Thursday, September 14

  • Noon–1:30 p.m. — Registration
  • 1:30–2:30 p.m. — Session 1: “How Do Communicators and Senior Leaders Work Together?”
    Hear from a current president and a senior communications professional on strategies and tips to work together effectively.

    Leslie E. Wong, president, San Francisco State University
    J. Elizabeth Smith, associate vice president for marketing and strategic communications, San Francisco State University
  • 2:45–3:45 p.m. — Session 2: “Speechwriting with a Mission”
    Communicators wear many hats, from spokesperson to marketer to strategist to manager. Often, we also serve as speechwriters for our leadership. Speechwriting – and, more broadly, executive writing – connects institutional goals and advocacy strategy to a leader’s persona. So, how do we maximize the executive’s voice to motivate our audiences to act?

    Erik Fallis, speech writer and director of executive writing, Chancellor’s Office, California State University
  • 4–5 p.m. — Session 3: “Developing a Strategic Communications Plan for Your College or University”
    As a follow up to last year’s session on strategic planning, Lori Doyle will present her framework for developing a communication plan for your institution, as well as walk through some sample plans. As more and more University presidents are expecting their top communications person to lead the effort to develop a comprehensive strategic communications plan, this fast-paced session will give you step-by-step advice on how to develop a plan from start to finish.

    Lori Doyle, senior vice president, communications, Drexel University
  • 5:45–7 p.m. — Hosted Networking Cocktail Reception
    Jillian’s 175 4th St
    San Francisco, CA 94103 (just two blocks from the SFSU Downtown Center and Marriott Marquis)

Friday, September 15

  • 7:30 a.m.–Noon — Registration
  • 7:30–8:30 a.m. — Continental Breakfast at SFSU Downtown Center
  • 8:30–9:45 a.m. — Session 4: Panel Discussion: “The Message Behind the Money”
    With nearly every college and university planning, in the middle of, or concluding a signature fundraising campaign, the stakes are high to differentiate messages and calls to action. Brand positioning, case development and the meaning behind the movement depend on strong planning, strategic connections and integrated execution. This panel will address the planning and messaging throughout the traditional comprehensive campaign stages: the “quiet, but not silent” phase, the launch and public phase, and the conclusion celebration.

    Lori Bachand, APR, associate vice president, advancement communications and stewardship, Sacramento State University
    Sheena McFarland, associate director of marketing and communications, University of Utah David Eccles School of Business
    (additional panelists TBA)
  • 10–11:30 a.m. — Session 5: “Bridging the Great Divide with Market Research”
    Opinions are great. But what do stakeholders really think about your University? And what really matters when you're measuring the impact of your marketing communications efforts? This session will focus on key marketing research methodologies and strategies used successfully in aligning campus stakeholders, providing insight, and developing metrics that allow you to measure long-term success and equity.

    John Kiralla, vice president of marketing communications, Loyola Marymount University - Los Angeles
    Jason Simon, vice president/partner, SimpsonScarborough
  • Noon–1:30 p.m. — Session 6: Lunch Panel Discussion, “Free Speech in the Age of Polarization”
    Colleges and universities are the focal point of debate on free speech and discourse. In today’s political and social climate, college communicators play an ever-growing role in helping to manage and navigate conversations around free speech not only from inside, but from external forces. The rise of polarizing speakers, divide politics and activism on a variety of issues are drawing colleges into crises at a seemingly endless pace. This panel will look at ways that college communicators influence, inform and drive their campus conversations on free speech and manage situations that arise on the topic.

    Sean Rossall, CEO and managing partner, Dick Jones Communications
    Renell Wynn, vice chancellor of communications and marketing, University of Denver
    Virgil Renzulli, vice president for public affairs, Arizona State University
    Shirley Melikian Armbruster, associate vice president – university communications (retired), California State University, Fresno
  • 1:30 p.m. — Event concludes

Note: Schedule order and/or speakers and topics subject to change.

The PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Section thanks its sponsor for this event:

Dick Jones Communications