3CMA Annual Conference - San Antonio, TX

“The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.”


Those are more than just song lyrics. They paint a picture of life in the Lone Star State; prairie skies, sage in bloom, coyotes and cowboys - all in the heart of Texas. It’s a state so big there are mountains, prairies, forests, beaches, lakes and canyons all within its borders. It truly is “like a whole other country.” But Texas is not so big that you can’t find its heart. It’s the friendly people who want to make sure you’re a having a good time. It’s in amazing barbecue and spicy Tex-Mex cuisine. It’s in the music that is a genre all its own. It’s in a rich history and diverse culture that still elicits pride among its citizens and is celebrated every day. 

It’s in the heart of Texas that communicators from cities and counties across the country will find their inspiration as the 2016 3CMA Annual Conference returns to San Antonio Sept. 7-9 to get “Deep in the Heart of Communications.” Getting to the heart of what cities and counties communicate and how they communicate has always been the 3CMA conference goal. This year, with the San Antonio Riverwalk as a backdrop, you’ll have sessions on social media, video, citizen engagement, ethics, communications planning and advertising. You’ll not only hear from your peers on their processes and successes, you’ll hear from some of the industry’s top experts. You’ll leave Texas inspired and ready to rethink, reinvent and re-imagine your role as government communicators. 

Unforgettable San Antonio
But it’s not just about getting to the heart of communications. You’ll have an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues in the fun and festive atmosphere of San Antonio. From the dozens of Riverwalk restaurants and shops to the historic Alamo and its sister Spanish missions, the city can give visitors a unique look at one of country’s most treasured historic cities. Art, architecture, music, food, and authentic culture – a visit to San Antonio has it all.

Conference Registration
Register Now for the 2016 Annual Conference

Conference Hotel - Westin Riverwalk, San Antonio
3CMA has negotiated a sleeping room rate of $165 plus applicable taxes per night. Reservations may now be made by calling (210) 224-6500. An on-line hotel reservation option is also available (Hotel Reservations). Please identify yourself as part of 3CMA to qualify for the negotiated rate.

Just Announced - MAG290: Basic Public Information Officer Course
3CMA is pleased to announce that in partnership with the Texas DPS and FEMA, that at the time of our Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX, MAG290: Basic Public Information Officer is being offered. This two-day course will take place on Wednesday, September 7th and Thursday, September 8th. As registration is part of the Annual Conference, attendees will be able to participate in breakfasts, luncheons, breaks, evening events and the Friday Conference sessions. Registrants will also be eligible to receive all session recordings as they are made available.

This is an exclusive opportunity for conference attendees to receive certification as Basic Public Information Officer (290).  Note: Attendees interested in this session must sign-up and indicate their intention by July 15th. - Details

Conference App
Download the Annual Conference App to view conference program, add sessions to your schedule, view sponsors and much more!

Pre-Conference Sessions

The Ins and Outs of Research: Surveys, Audits, Focus Groups and More
Research, completed by you or by an outside firm, can enhance your communication and boost your value in your community and with your leadership. Quite simply, research helps you understand your stakeholders and leverage your best outreach efforts. This session will discuss the benefits of quantitative and qualitative research as a part of your communication planning. The presentation will also recommend and describe 10 of the best methods to build an organization's communication understanding.

Mobile Production 101: Create Quality Videos with Your Phone
Video is king in the social media world.  No video team?  No problem!  Video production doesn’t have to be a production. All you need is your imagination and the technology that’s already in your pocket or purse!  Join us for this interactive session that will help you make quality videos with your mobile device.  Get tips on shot selection, getting good audio, adding titles and the best apps to use to make your mobile video look like a pro.

Note: Please bring your iPhone with iMovie or Adobe Premier Clip installed or your Android with Adobe Premiere Clip already downloaded.

Moving from Communicator to Strategist
You do great work and have built a solid reputation for effective communication.  Still, events sometimes take place without your involvement and you are only called in to help with damage control.  This interactive session will focus on ways to help ensure you have a seat at the executive table, strategizing, in advance, on how to address major issues.  It will include ways to demonstrate the value of strong communication to your organization, including  a comprehensive focus on developing effective communication plans.  

The session will highlight "hands on" examples of messaging,  managing the frame of your issue/event, strong objectives, partnering to share the workload, and the critical component of proven, measurable results that matter to decision makers.  You'll also get to practice what you learn and help identify creative ways to share your story.

Lean Writing and Asset Management for Targeted Communication
This workshop focuses on essential steps for rapid in-house communications production. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the design principles used to drive messaging in print and on the web. Learn how to organize and manage written and graphical assets in ways that will streamline production, target messages, and optimize brand. Topics include: writing design, photography design, key print design concerns, key web design concerns, assets management and more. This session condenses a semester course into 2½ hours. It will be fast-paced and experiential; ideal for anyone who has to get a flyer, postcard, webpage or social media post out the door quickly and effectively. 

SA-CAN – San Antonio Community Access Network Studios Tour
On this tour, you will visit the City of San Antonio’s newly constructed 32,000 sq. ft. SA-CAN television production facility located in San Antonio’s historic Plaza de Armas building.  The production facility includes two 2,500 sq. ft. television studios that can be transformed into one 5,000 sq. ft. studio by retracting a Skyfold acoustic partitioning wall into the ceiling of the studios.  The facility includes two Green Rooms, two AV-Control Rooms, several Edits Bays, Engineer Room, Master Control, Equipment Room, Prop Room and SA-CAN staff offices. The entire three-story facility is equipped with state-of-the art television production equipment and was entirely funded with the use of City PEG funds.  We will show a short video of the studio construction process. 

The City’s television network includes our three PEG channels (PATV-INTV-TVSA) and our new City-owned television channel KGSA-TV.  We just launched our own broadcast television channel, FCC-licensed, this month. 

Breakout Sessions

60 Minutes - Innovative Ideas on Traditional Communications
This fast paced session is an attendee favorite. Sit back and get ready to take notes as a panel of experts provides 60 minutes of innovative ideas on communications that you can bring back with you and start implementing in your organization and community!

60 Minutes - Social Media Must Haves
Been there, done that?  Not in this session.  This panel presentation will give the "I've got to have its" for social media.  Learn what others are using in their communities to make social media work for them.  Sit back, learn and borrow from the best!

Be Your Own News Source - Strategies To More Effectively Communicate Directly with Your Residents WITHOUT a Middle Man
How many times has a news story not accurately conveyed your message to your residents? The public demands, and technology allows newsmakers to talk DIRECTLY to the public. If a celebrity can tweet to fans without relying on media middle men, WHY CAN'T YOU? As a government YOU are the newsmaker.  Why not take a more active role in delivering that news DIRECTLY to your residents? This session will examine proven successful strategies for improving communication to the public by becoming your own news source.  Learn to break your own good news, and employ crisis management tactics to get ahead of negative news. No more crossing your fingers and hoping a reporter doesn't put the wrong spin on your story! YOU CONTROL THE MESSAGE!

Blending Live and Digital Strategies for Public Engagement
Increasingly, in cities across the U.S., citizens are skipping face-to-face public meetings in favor of expressing their political views elsewhere, particularly online but also by phone and text messaging.  Recognizing this trend, the City of Austin has developed interactive virtual town hall meetings--in which attendees can watch the meeting from home on TV or anywhere via web stream and participate by calling in, texting in, or tweeting in their opinions.  Additionally, leveraging the Reddit platform, City staff are able to field multiple questions and comments over a two hour period to help clarify misconceptions and provide information the public can use in formulating their opinions on policy.  Meetings that previously might have only attracted a handful of participants can, instead, attract literally thousands of participants from across the City, who participate without some of the inconveniences associated with travel to an in-person meeting.  In turn, the City receives a much broader set of data from the public to craft policy that better reflects the public's wishes.

Branding and a Ball of String: What Community Brands, Communications Pros and Kittens Have in Common
Has your city’s or county’s brand become stale? Or are your community leaders pushing for a rebranding initiative? This session will provide a helpful overview of: (1) How to have a meaningful framing discussion about branding when there’s confusion about what the term even means; (2) The most salient elements of successful community brands vs. ineffective brands; (3) Tips for structuring and executing a reasonable rebranding process that mobilizes support from internal and external stakeholders; and (4) Keys for a successful brand roll-out, including when and how to play “brand cop” in your organization.

Case Study for Developing a Citywide Social Media Campaign
An insider's look at developing a citywide social media campaign, from concept development to messaging to video and website development to partnerships with local organizations to preparing for a campaign launch event to keeping the momentum going.

Channel Planning: How to Write a Strong Digital and Traditional Media Plan for Your Community
Do you ever wonder about the effectiveness and efficiency of your media planning efforts? This session will address planning for both traditional and digital media placements and how to take a strategic approach within your organization.  We will discuss how to evaluate your current media mix and then optimize it with strategic planning efforts. Session attendees will receive a list of actionable items to get their planning process started after the conference.

Command Your Digital Communications Like You Mean Business
This session will show you how solid marketing and communications principles can be applied by governments in a digital world. Thanks to social media, everyone has the opportunity to speak with as many people as are willing to listen. How are you going to make people listen to you? You will learn valuable methods for building Facebook audiences and email lists. You'll also see a real-world example where both new media and traditional media tools were used successfully to command a situation, increase citizen engagement, and manage the city's reputation. 

Community Branding: Bringing to life bragging rights
Logos, taglines and ad campaigns are all part of a brand.  They are hardworking tools. But they are not your brand. There are communities with bad logos and strong brands and communities with great logos and little to no brand.  

Community branding is all about bragging rights.  If you were to brag about your community, what would you say?  And if you’re not willing to brag about your community, why not? And why would you expect anyone else to? 

In this entertaining session, participants will walk through the process of uncovering those bragging rights through comprehensive research – what makes your community absolutely one-of-a-kind and then defining those bragging rights creatively in a compelling way. Ideas for recruiting passionate brand evangelists to spread that message will also be shared.  Representatives from communities that have undergone their own branding journey will be on hand to share stories and answer questions.

Connect 4 - Winning the Game of Citizen Engagement
When you think of the game Connect 4, it takes strategic thinking, planning and execution to win. As it relates to local government, four key pieces of communication strategy need to align in order to win the game of citizen engagement: 1. Communicate your “Why” 2. Establish Your Core Message 3. Tell Your Story 4. Use Community Resources and Leverage Partnerships No matter the size of your community, organization or budget, this session will show you how to “Connect 4”. Are you ready to play?

Content in King
And you thought creating a municipal brand would be the hard part and that it would all be downhill from there. Think again. Implementing the brand can be just as much work, if not more, with content often driving the message. In other words, content can be KING in building your brand awareness and keeping momentum going. From ways to generate stories, video sharing techniques, team building inside and outside the organization, and keeping it all organized… this session will help you grow your brand and keep it going.

Creating Graphics Without a Designer
You want that sleek, professional look of well-designed newsletters, websites, and advertisements, but hiring a graphic designer isn’t in your budget. This session will teach you how to recognize good design and help you make those theories work for your organization without expensive programs, costly ad agencies, or experience as a designer. Learn how to use many of the free tools available and even how to manipulate your existing content so that you can tell your story—the way you want to tell it.

Friends Don't Let Friends Sent Bad E-Mails
Whether it's an e-newsletter, e-invite, or a simple e-announcement - friends don't let friends send bad e-mails. Through the ever changing world of online marketing, one constant remains: e-mail marketing. E-mail is hard to beat when reaching your citizens, and how they look can make all the difference. Attend this workshop to learn how to design an effective e-mail branded to your agency, tricks to increase your open rate, and some do's and don'ts to e-mail marketing.

Gamification: Making Citizen Engagement Fun for All Ages
Citizen engagement has become increasingly more difficult to achieve in our technology-driven world, but when you combine the technology of a smartphone app with a little creativity, magic happens. Learn how the City of Lenexa Communications staff worked with IT and Parks & Recreation to use technology to further citizen engagement in their community through the I Like Lenexa app. We’ll talk about how we integrated traditional communication methods with  gamification (using gaming principles to tell our city’s story) to engage residents ranging from kids, families, teenagers and adults. 

Getting off the Ground: A Legal Roadmap for Creating a Successful City Drone Program
This session will provide a legal discussion centered on creating a FAA compliant municipal drone program.  The topics discussed will include navigating the FAA 333 Exemption application process,  how to prepare a flight policy that will survive legal challenges and an overview of municipal regulation of privately owned drones.

How a Quick and Dirty Facebook Campaign Went Heartwarmingly Viral
What to do when a child leaves their teddy bear behind at a local concert? Why, enlist your community on social media to find the owner - and promote your downtown in the process! Learn how the City of Round Rock turned what could have been a heartbreak for a little girl into a feel good moment for the entire City by reaching out via Facebook with fun photo shoot that had "Little Teddy" making the rounds of downtown businesses. Did we find the owner? Did the reunion of child and beloved stuffed bear come to fruition? Come to this session and find out!

How to Effectively Communicate Voter-Approved Capital Improvement Projects
Five large-scale projects. Five years. What does this add up to? A Quality Community for a Lifetime. Commerce City’s $137M capital improvement program is made possible from a 2013 voter-approved 1-percent sales and use tax increase for new parks, recreation and road projects. Through participation from residents, businesses and city council, the City’s vision of a Quality Community for a Lifetime can be realized with improved mobility, greater access and increased recreational opportunities. The city is committed to completing the first five projects (three parks, one outdoor pool center, one recreation center, existing recreation center improvements, Tower Road widening project) by January 1, 2019. In order to communicate the program and its individual projects to the third-fastest growing city in the state, we understand what this all adds up to really isn’t about numbers – it’s about building on existing relationships, fostering new ones and making sure that Commerce City residents get every penny of value out of their investments. It's also about making Commerce City an attractive place to live, work and play. Five projects in five years is ambitious and requires heavy coordination, seamless communication and strategic engagement. On June 30, 2016, we celebrate the halfway mark through the five-year program. We have had our share of challenges, lessons learned and successes, which will be shared in this session.

Inside the Minds of the Media/Welcome to the Other Side - Now What?
This engaging, interactive session will share best practices for working with and cultivating strong working relationships with the media.  Participants will get an insider's view of the factors that influence story selection decisions in newsrooms and how they shape the type of coverage municipal organizations receive.  Participants will also learn strategies for more effective interviews and processes for handling media inquiries to improve their organization's overall experience.

Jerusalem to Boston - Crisis Communications Lessons from a War Zone
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis testified before Congress that they were able to catch the Boston bombers because of what they learned from the Israelis. They bought in their PIO and got on Social Media immediately. They used Social Media not only to keep the public informed, but also to glean information and intel from the public. The Israelis also taught them to understand terrorist behavior. Go inside the Israeli war zone, and learn how their PIOs keep their public informed and prepared. And then consider how you can do the same right here in the U.S. 

Jurassic Parks and Rec: Engaging the Community (with dinosaurs)
In the past, traditional campaigns to solicit feedback typically resulted in very little response. With a history of a 3.7% response rate from the target audience, the Town of Marana Communications Division and the Parks and Recreation Department worked together to create an eye-catching campaign that resulted in a response rate of 15.1% - nearly quintuple the rate of previous efforts. And it’s all thanks to dinosaurs.  Learn how this campaign (and a few dinosaurs) helped to increase community involvement.

Lessons Learned: West and Waco
Crisis situations test a city on many levels, the least of which is communicating the tragedy and/or disaster to citizens, to the media and in some cases, to the world. On April 17, 2013, Waco Police PIO Patrick Swanton responded to the fertilizer explosion in West, Texas, even though it was not his responsibility or jurisdiction. He went to help fellow officers and the residents in the nearby community. He spent the next 24 hours as the face of the news and information for the disaster as first responders tapped him to be the incident PIO. West was a learning experience for Swanton that would come to serve him well later in his own community. Two years later a shootout erupted at a Waco restaurant between rival motorcycle gangs and Waco Police responded to the gunfire. In both West and Waco, Swanton was called on to provide information to the media in the midst of very public and personal tragedies. Swanton will share how each event, though dramatically different in origin and scope, offered unique lessons in communicating during a crisis.

Managing a One-Person Communications Shop
Ever feel like the man behind the curtain pulling all the levers with little to show for it? Hear how you can manage better, agonize less and harness that inner Great and Powerful “Wizard of Oz” that’s churning inside of you. You know who you are…don’t miss this one.

On Target: How to Design a Successful Social Media Campaign
Has your agency embraced social media advertising? If not, then this workshop is designed for you! Learn how to maximize your marketing funds and harness the multiplier effect of social networking. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram campaigns are perfect for promoting community meetings, public programs, and government services. You'll find out the necessary requirements to launch an ad campaign and define your target demographic. We'll also review a/b testing options to make sure you optimize your results based on real-time data.

Playing it Safe: Law for Public Communicators
The law of communication, particularly in areas of copyright, trademark, and privacy, has become increasingly complex as technology has advanced. In this session, these areas of law, how they operate on social media and mobile platforms, and what that means for public communicators will be discussed.

Social Innovation & Engagement
Getting someone’s attention in our fast paced, media-rich social environment with a constant in-your-face bombardment of images and content is not an easy task – especially for government agencies. In this session, Lon will share uber-cool examples of social and digital innovations that create value. Come learn how the City of Palo Alto has been using social media and digital communications in creative ways to significantly extend its public engagement, increase transparency and get the public’s attention.

Special Events
What makes an event special? It's all in the details. Learn the tips and tricks that were used to help make these events truly stand out! 

Ten Tips for Building Usable Websites
A website is only as good as the user experience it offers. But, how do you know whether your website is designed for optimal user experience or not? In this session, we will share the structure of a user-centered government website and its benefits for the community, from legal compliance to enhanced site visitor satisfaction. Attendees will also receive practical tips, examples and best practices for website design and content that will delight users by making it easier for them find the information they’re looking for.

The Ethics Project
What values should a code of ethics contain? What challenges are present in our daily working lives that need to be informed by ethics? This session builds on a conversation and survey from June 2016, when 3CMA members discussed developing a code of ethics for 3CMA members that would serve the specific needs of public-sector communicators. This workshop will use an interactive format and small group work to continue that important conversation and work.

Two Thumbs Up for Savvy Film Festival
Critics agree: This year's Savvy Film Festival is the best yet. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll want more of these award-winning films created by communities around the country.

Using Humor in Social Media
Thinking about incorporating humor into your messaging?  Without very specific elements in place within your office and your organization, you risk becoming the internet's next joke.  This session will help you determine whether to go for the laughs or play it straight.

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