Reflections on the 2018 Strategic Internal Communications Conference

Reflections on the 2018 Strategic Internal Communications Conference

2018 Strategic Internal Communications Conference

 2018 Strategic Internal Communications Conference

Written by Sheri Saginor


Advanced Learning Institute (ALI) hosted its annual Strategic Internal Communications conference July 17-19, 2018, at the Omni Parker House in Boston. ALI is one of the nation’s leading organizers of communications conferences. Their programming always includes excellent speakers, content-rich workshops, and ample networking opportunities. This SIC conference was no exception. Because IABC was a sponsor, ALI gave our chapter two free passes to the conference. I won one of them by entering a drawing at In this post, I’ll share my favorite highlights and takeaways.

Of the pre-conference workshops, held on July 17th, I especially enjoyed a session led by Brilliant Ink  and Poppulo called Practical Tools and Tips for Becoming an Internal Communications Measurement Rockstar.  Through a series of hands-on exercises, the presenters gave us actionable tips and tools for tapping into the power of data and sharing the results in visually compelling ways. For details, check out their respective websites at ( and Both companies provide free resources online.

The general session opened on Wednesday, July 18th, with a welcome from Chad Littlefield, CEO of We!, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the whole conference. Chad was terrific–energetic, dynamic, and engaging. After a few ice-breaker exercises with the audience, he introduced a series of presenters, each of whom spoke for forty-five minutes. My favorite preso was Driving Behavior Change and Company Culture Through Impactful Internal Communications, led by Karen Kelly of Crayola Company. I was shocked to hear that Crayola, a global company with gigantic reach, has a communications team of only two people. Miss Kelly showed us how a small communications shop can reach a broad audience–both external and internal–with laser-focused, carefully-crafted print and video pieces. Plus, she gave every attendee a box of colored pencils! (I gave mine to my ten-year-old.)

Other conference highlights included Keeping Your Employees Informed, Engaged, and Inspired During a Mega Merger, led by Brian Fonseca of Dell, and Rules of Engagement for Long-Term Communications Sustainment During Major Changes, by Ashlee Davidson of Harris Corporation. Both speakers stressed the importance of everyone in an organization–from the CEO down–hearing clear, consistent internal messaging, especially during periods of major upheaval.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent conference from beginning to end. I suspect IABC Boston will continue to partner with ALI on future events, and I encourage all members to attend.

 2018 Strategic Internal Communications Conference

Pictured, Left to right: Sarah Livingston, IABC Boston Director of Professional Development Events & Sponsorship Partners; Lisa McClear, CEO of Advanced Learning Institute; and Sheri Saginor, IABC Boston Speakers Bureau Director

Sheri Saginor is President of the Boston-based speechwriting firm Smart Speeches, and the current director of the IABC Boston Speakers Bureau. If you’re interested in speaking at an upcoming IABC event, contact her at


Did you miss us this year in Boston? Join us for the

6th Annual Strategic Internal Communications – West Coast conference January 29 – 31 in San Francisco

And save the date – we’ll be back in Boston July 23 – 25, 2019.




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