Sponsored by media intelligence company iSentia, CommsCon helps PR and communications professionals better understand their discipline and the issues the ever-changing industry is facing.
A dedicated stream acknowledged the rise of the “influencer” as industry practitioners debated whether influencers can move the needle. 
Here is the conference program for the event that was held in March



08:00 AM

Arrival & Registration

08:50 AM


09:00 AM

KEYNOTE – The hunt for Madeleine McCann

Clarence Mitchell, the man who kept the story of the disappearance of three-year-old British child Madeleine McCann in the media for eight years, will open CommsCon 2016. The former BBC reporter will present on how he worked with the McCann family and media to keep the story of Madeleine’s disappearance in the news, as well as reflecting on how the experience has led to launching his own communications consultancy Clarence Mitchell Communications in August.

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10:00 AM

  • Shiva Kumar
  • The Star Epsom Cup
Royal Randwick Racecourse, Ballroom, QEII Grandstand
Saturday 3rd October, 2015
Photographer: Belinda Rolland © 2015
  • Russell_Mahoney_1_P (1)
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The Lobbying Agenda of 2016

In a federal election year, the lobbying of politicians becomes increasingly important. Hear from senior lobbyists on the key topics that they’ll be pushing and how they work to get the attention of the country’s decision makers.

  • Justin Di Lollo
  • Austereo_Sh4-225
  • MH-Headshot-Page

Influencer 101

Influencers aren’t necessarily a new thing but the term did gain a serious amount of traction in 2015. What are they, who are they, how can agencies find them and connect them with their clients and the key pitfalls to avoid will be discussed by the panel.

  • MattK
  • headshot renee
  • Laney-Galligan (1)
  • Chris_PortraitPRINTSIZE-4 (1)

10:45 AM

Morning tea

11:15 AM

Communications marketing: public relations’ new frontier

There’s a new category emerging: communications marketing. Edelman’s Michelle Hutton argues brands cannot do effective marketing without truly understanding communications, and brands cannot do effective communications without truly understand marketing.

  • Michelle Hutton

McWhopper: how Burger King pulled off the PR hijack of the year

Burger King’s ambush of McDonald’s suggesting the two join forces to create than ultimate hybrid hamburger - the McWhopper - was the PR stunt of the year. The team behind the bold move will outline how the campaign grabbed news headlines around the world, how it’s social “war room” responded to the public, and McDonald’s, in real time once the campaign was launched and how Y&R has evolved to create PR-led work.

  • Josh Moore _linkedin headshot
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  • Lorraine Murphy smiling
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  • headshot-jamesgoodwin

12:05 PM

  • Michelle Hutton
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  • Emma Sturgiss_142 (1)
  • Carl-Ratcliff_Headshot_SAGE-2015-350x350

The year we go virtual: how PR can use VR technology

Virtual reality has been named as one of the big communications trends for the year. Hear from PR professionals on how communications professionals can best tap into the trend for the benefit of clients.

  • Alexis Wilson 1400p (2)
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A code of conduct for influencers

A team of panellists will debate the need for a code of conduct for best practice when it comes to influencer marketing, discussing how this might look and work in the industry.

  • Laurent & Rebecca's Sydney Cronulla Wedding Photograohy by Bird and Bee Studio
  • Tribegroup
  • VonM_name1
  • A1377_JDHS_111

12:50 PM


1:45 PM

Crisis communications: Handling the Lindt Siege

Case Study Presentation: In theory, most practitioners know the key steps of crisis management. But how do you manage yourself, your resources and staff whilst working alongside police during one of the biggest news events of 2014?

  • Ian Pope1

Metal-making campaigns: the award-winning work of 2015

Awards are great but the decision making process behind them is sometimes tough to understand. This session will give you a peek behind the curtain to understand what takes work from being creatively cool and makes it award winning. 2015 Australian representative on the Cannes Lions PR category Ben Shipley will review some of the winners from last year, identifying the things that made them so successful and see if those insights can successfully predict the work that will win this year.

  • Ben Shipley

Do influencers move the needle?

Knowing you’ve chosen the right influencer for your brief is just the beginning. The panel discussion will provide tips on how you can asses the level of influencer the influencer has and how you can then measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

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  • SophieHeadShots-27

2.35 PM

  • Ava (57 of 156)
  • karyn-bw-sml
  • James-Wright-crop
  • Portraits of staff for Salt & Shein, Sydney

Understanding the whole media picture

In this presentation event sponsor Isentia will reveal its research into how a news story changes over a time, focusing in on the role of social media in breaking news and shaping a news story's narrative. Isentia will also present research on how PR and communications professionals, as well as journalists, view social media and how it has impacted on their research and fact-checking habits.

  • Sean Smith
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  • headshotLizCarlson
  • LG

3.20 PM

Afternoon tea

3.45 PM

Headlines, Tweets and TV coverage: how to create newsworthy content

With consumers increasingly switching off from traditional advertising, it is becoming more and more important for brands to be able to break into the news, and social media, cycle.


  • PoemPR081
  • Tribegroup
  • Sonia Stackhouse 3 (1)
  • Kristie Galea Headshot

4.35 PM

Public relations 2020 – who survives, who doesn’t…..

A brutally realistic and practical vision of the future of the industry, and what it will take to triumph at a time of career and business extinction…and practical advice on the skills communications and public relations professionals will need to compete in an ever-changing landscape.

  • Chris-Savage_Headshot_CommsCon 2016

5.20 PM


5.30 PM

Networking drinks