Meeting/Event Information

Full Conference | 2020 Midwest District Conference: OctoPRfest

October 05, 2020 8:15 AM to October 08, 2020 11:30 AM
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Virtual Conference


Register for the full 2020 Midwest District Conference. This high-value package spans four mornings and is jam-packed with helpful information for communicators and public relations professionals.

Sessions will be recorded and available to attendees after the conference. 

October 5: Presented by Drake University

We’re kicking things off strong with a day of digital. Starting with our keynote speaker, we’ll dive into the power of digital and how to optimize your communications. You’ll then participate in an interactive presentation on search engine optimization. Wrap the morning by learning how to take a holistic approach to your communications across all digital platforms.

Cutting Through the Clutter: Building Trust with Modern Digital Consumers

Steve Lerch
Steve Lerch, President and Founder of Story Arc Consulting
8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Coronavirus has fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives, but it's also emphasized, to a significant degree, the pre-existing beliefs and behaviors of our culture. From our cultural skepticism to our development of new technologies, to our overwhelming embrace and growing dependence on digital technology and tools. As consumer behavior continues to evolve, our PR, Marketing, and Communications strategies must strive to evolve just as quickly. Steve Lerch will discuss guiding principles to build trust and connection with today's digital-first consumers, who are more unique as individuals and more inundated with content and media than any past generation.

How PR Pros Can Utilize SEO to Increase Exposure

John Kennedy
John Kennedy, Technical SEO Analyst at Blue Traffic
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

PR & SEO have more similarities than just being the most abbreviated job titles in marketing — like the need for high-quality content. We will discuss basic SEO strategies and how to use those principles when creating content.

Pose for the Pandemic: How Influencer Marketing Has Changed & Remained The Same

Brandi Boatner
Brandi Boatner, Social and InfluencerCommunications Lead, Global Markets
Brand Communications Manager, IBM Corporate Communications
Social Justice Communications Lead (Temporary role as of June 15, 2020)
10:30 -11:30 a.m.

From the rapid growth of TikTok to the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, this year has completely transformed the influencer marketing space or has it? Influencers are an asset to social platforms and many brands and organizations. Influencing is an actual paying career. But, how do you influence when the entire world is at home and the influencer economy has taken a hit? This keynote will address the changes and similarities of influencer marketing in the current climate and how brands and influencers can come together for the next normal.

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Sponsored by Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Learn more about their 100% online Master of Arts in Communication degree program, which can be completed in as little as 12 months and features three specialty tracks—Communication Leadership, Brand Communication, and Public Affairs and Advocacy. In January 2021, the school will also launch an online undergraduate degree completion program for students who have earned at least some college credit previously. Students complete hands-on projects as they prepare to become communication leaders. For more information, contact Kelly Bruhn at [email protected]

October 6: Presented by Hy-Vee

Start day two by networking with other attendees before jumping in to a session on using storytelling to make an impact. Hear key takeaways from internal communications throughout the pandemic then learn all about #DSMstrong, a COVID-19 external communications case study;

Make an Impact with Storytelling

Scott Siepker
Scott Siepker (Actor, Filmmaker)
8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Learn how to use storytelling to make an impact from Scott Seipker, co-founder of Iowa Filmmakers. Iowa Filmmakers is responsible for the Iowa Nice series of hit videos that included a two season run on ESPNU's College Football Daily. Though Scott is best known for his work as the Iowa Nice Guy, he is a versatile, veteran actor of stage and screen drama and comedy. 

Internal Communications in the COVID-19 Era

Courtney Greene and Tina Potthoff
Courtney Greene, Director of Communications for UnityPoint Health
Tina Potthoff, Senior Vice President, Communications for Hy-Vee, Inc.
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

It’s no secret COVID-19 has drastically changed the workplace in nearly every industry and shown us just how critical internal communications is for employee behavior, trust and engagement. But, what if you’re in an essential industry, like food and healthcare? Tune in to hear from Hy-Vee, one of the Midwest’s largest grocers, and UnityPoint Health, the nation's 13th largest nonprofit health system, as they discuss how their organization’s internal communications pivoted to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

#DSMstrong: How Greater Des Moines Came Together While Staying Apart

Tiffany Tauscheck and Courtney Shaw
Tiffany Tauscheck, CCE, IOM, CDME, Chief Strategy Officer, Greater Des Moines Partnership
Courtney Shaw, APR, Vice President of Communications, Greater Des Moines Partnership
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

When COVID-19 forced a change in the way organizations could operate, the Greater Des Moines Partnership not only switched to virtual events and programming without missing a beat, but added value beyond what they were providing their audiences before the pandemic. Attendees to this session will learn how to leverage their existing resources to strengthen relationships and garner ideas on how to quickly pivot strategies, messaging and tactics.

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Sponsored by Hy-Vee, Inc. Hy-Vee is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 275 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of $10 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 10 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 5 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 85,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit

October 7: Presented by Corteva

Looking to make the transition to the classroom? Start the day early with a panel on what you need to know to make the leap. After, brush up your writing skills at the Writing with Clarity workshop. Then tune in to find out how to create more compelling social media visuals. Lastly, learn how to get down to the creative problem and put storytelling to work for real social impact.

Learning to Teach: What You Need to Know to Transition from the Profession to the PR Classroom

Moderator, Dr. Kelly B. Bruhn, APR, Associate Dean, Professor - Public Relations, Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Bob “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA, Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Tricia Hansen-Horn, Professor of Public Relations at the University of Central Missouri
7:30 - 8:30 a.m.

This session will provide insights and guidance for new educators and public relations professionals who want to make the transition from the profession to the classroom. Seasoned educators will share tips for finding teaching opportunities, being a successful part-time or full-time professor, developing a syllabus and creating real-word projects and assignments, and effectively evaluating what students learn.

Writing with Clarity

Ken O'Quinn
Ken O'Quinn, Communications workshop leader and writing coach at Writing With Clarity
8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

In this stimulating workshop, you will gain new tools and insights to deepen your knowledge of the writing craft and to help you master new writing skills. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a communicator new to the profession, you will invigorate your writing and gain greater confidence in this enlightening session.

Create Compelling Social Media Visuals

Chris Snider
Chris Snider, Drake University Associate Professor
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Visuals work. People are six times more likely to remember information if it’s presented with an image. As social media becomes more and more visual, how do you continue to make your images stand out? This presentation will discuss design basics as well as tips, tricks and tools to make sure your visuals are optimized to succeed on social media.

Leveraging Your Superpowers in Digital Spaces

Lindrea Reynolds
Lindrea Reynolds, Personal and Business Branding Expert
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Every organization has a unique way of solving problems. It is their superpower; an exclusive, influential ability to develop solutions that build and amplify their brand. During this webinar, communication professionals will learn how to identify and effectively connect their organization’s brand superpower with their intended audiences – a win that may be difficult to achieve in our current jam-packed, competitive digital landscape.

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Sponsored by Corteva Agriscience. Corteva Agriscience is a publicly traded, global pure-play agriculture company that provides farmers around the world with the most complete portfolio in the industry - including a balanced and diverse mix of seed, crop protection and digital solutions focused on maximizing productivity to enhance yield and profitability. With some of the most recognized brands in agriculture and an industry-leading product and technology pipeline well positioned to drive growth, the company is committed to working with stakeholders throughout the food system as it fulfills its promise to enrich the lives of those who produce and those who consume, ensuring progress for generations to come. Corteva Agriscience became an independent public company on June 1, 2019, and was previously the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. More information can be found at

Follow Corteva on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

October 8: Presented by Principal

Engage in the final networking session of the conference before joining us for key insights surrounding diversity and inclusion in 2020. Follow those important lessons with lessons from editors from Meredith on PR best practices. Wrap the conference by hearing from an impressive political communications panel that is sure to be both interesting and informative.

Communicators Guide to Improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Veronica Appleton, PhD-abd, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at The Marketing Arm
Courtney Reyes, Executive Director, One Iowa
8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

The panel discussion will focus on identifying shortcomings surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion in communications, action items on how to truly improve in these areas and direction on how to measure for progress.

Tips and Tricks for a Better Pitch

Meredith Editors
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Get advice from Meredith editors on how, when and what to pitch for the best results. Walk away with insights and ideas on how to better structure and deliver your next story angle.

Campaigning During a Pandemic – How to Reach Voters (And Customers) in a Virtual Reality

Moderator, Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, APR (Drake University)
Caroline Closson, State Campaigns Team Lead for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (Washington, D.C.)
Madison Holmes, Finance Director, New Jersey Republican State Committee (Trenton, N.J.)
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

In any other election season, small armies of staff and volunteers would be knocking on doors, meeting in coffee shops, and having living-room meetings with candidates in neighborhoods all across the country. This year, of course, that’s not possible. But reaching voters and engaging them to take action is still Job One for campaigns and candidates. How have campaigns for state and federal office adapted, and what can we learn from their experiences to apply to our own audience engagement work? We’ll be joined by two campaign professionals with Iowa and national experience, and an Iowa state legislator, to discuss what’s working just weeks from Election Day.

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Spnosored by Principal. Principal helps people and companies around the world build, protect and advance their financial well-being through retirement, insurance and asset management solutions that fit their lives. Our employees are passionate about helping clients of all income and portfolio sizes achieve their goals—offering innovative ideas, investment expertise and real-life solutions to make financial progress possible. To find out more, visit us at

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If you wish to register for a single day, please visit our events page. This is an incredible value, so register by September 21 to take advantage of the best pricing. The conference is free to students. Anyone facing financial hardship is encouraged to apply for a financial hardship scholarship


$79.00 PRSA Member Ticket | Full Conference
$69.00 Earlybird rate before September 26

$89.00 Non-member Ticket | Full Conference
$79.00 Earlybird rate before September 26

$0.00 Student Ticket | Full Conference

Future Meetings

Tips and Best Practices to Help You Gear Up for PRIME Awards

April 28, 2021
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Zoom (link sent 24 hours prior to event)

This event will leave you with tips and best practices for putting together strong award nominations for PRSA Iowa’s signature PRIME Awards and beyond.

Read More

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