We have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Buzz Summit due to COVID-19. Please stay safe and we look forward to seeing you next year.

The most valuable industry learning happens when like-minded communications and advocacy professionals gather to share their experiences, collaborate to overcome common obstacles, and strive to elevate the practice of modern public affairs.

For this reason, we launched the inaugural Buzz Summit in August 2016. Now celebrating our 5th year, and due to popular demand, the Summit will return to Annapolis, MD in 2020 from July 29th-31st.

Unlike a typical conference, our approach is for the best in the industry to teach the best in the industry. This is why all invitees are asked to participate as a presenter, roundtable facilitator, or session moderator.

As participants rather than mere attendees, we become invested in each other’s learning, helping to boost the quality of the summit experience for all involved.

Watch our Summit experience video to see why you should participate in the Buzz Summit!

A different kind of industry event…

Creating a unique learning experience requires doing things a little differently. This is why the Buzz Summit:

  • limits attendance to just 80 invite-only guests
  • requires invitees to participate, not just attend 
  • features outside-the-industry luncheon guest speakers
  • hosts the event in a historic property at a getaway location that minimizes travel time and expense (1 hour drive from DC and close to BWI airport)
  • includes 2 nights hotel accommodation and all meals and receptions within the Summit fee to encourage a retreat-style experience and maximize knowledge sharing and networking
  • limits the number of sponsors
  • bans booths and sales pitches
  • provides moderators for all sessions to keep panelists focused and encourage audience participation
  • offers proactive networking and professional development sessions
  • starts the first session of the first day at 9:50am so local area participants can leave home at a normal time (registration and welcome refreshments will commence at 9am)
  • ends the Summit on the last day at 12:30pm with plenty of time to beat peak traffic congestion or extend your trip in Annapolis

The Summit Experience 

Hear what other participants had to say about the Summit:

“Inviting a small group to the discussion of storytelling, from a variety of perspectives and approaches, was a brilliant idea that was executed seamlessly.” – Jessica Cooper, National Federation of Independent Businesses

“The Buzz Advocacy Summit has the most engaging and interactive format beyond the typical and tired conference structure. The featured speakers, deep dive breakouts, and demonstration sessions all compelled us to challenge and question what we thought we know and how to improve and stand out in a world where everybody wants their stories heard.” – Katherine Merullo, American Dental Association

“It was a very productive conference and we have already begun to implement some of the takeaways I brought back to DC. Glad to have attended, participated, and shared.”Michael Lewan, The Recording Academy

“If you want a conference that isn’t traditional, where everybody is participating, and you’re always learning from someone else, and not just from the people on stage, then this is the conference to go to.” – Ory Rinat, The Heritage Foundation

Organizations that have participated in the Buzz Advocacy Summit:

  • AAA National
  • AARP
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Amazon
  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Academy of PAs
  • American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • American Cleaning Institute
  • American Dental Association
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • American Forest & Paper Association
  • American Gastroenterological Association
  • American Health Care Association
  • American Heart Association
  • American Hospital Association
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • American International Group
  • American Kidney Fund
  • American Library Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Optometric Association
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • American Retirement Association
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • American Trucking Associations
  • American Urological Association
  • American Wind Energy Association
  • Americans for the Arts
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Association of American Railroads
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric Company
  • BAYADA Home Health Care
  • Beekeeper Group
  • BP America Inc.
  • Care2
  • Center for Audit Quality
  • Center for Civilians in Conflict
  • CF Industries
  • Children’s Hospital Association
  • Cobham PLC
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Congressional Management Foundation
  • Council for Opportunity in Education
  • Council for Responsible Nutrition
  • CQ Roll Call
  • Credit Union National Association
  • Crowdskout
  • CVS Health
  • Davies Public Affairs
  • DaVita Kidney Care
  • DC Public Library
  • DC Strings Workshop
  • Distilled Spirits Council
  • eBay
  • Engine
  • Entertainment Software Association
  • Feeding America
  • FiscalNote
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Friendship Public Charter School
  • FWD.us
  • General Motors
  • Grain Foods Foundation
  • Grant Thornton
  • Grifols
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • HaystaqDNA
  • Healthcare Leadership Council
  • Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
  • Hemophilia Federation of America
  • Higher Learning Advocates
  • Horizon Pharma
  • Human Resources Professionals Association
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Infogroup
  • International Franchise Association
  • International Paper
  • Johnson & Johnson Industries Inc
  • L2 Political
  • LeadingAge
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Microsoft
  • Molina Healthcare
  • MV Digital Group
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Association of Chain Drug Stores
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • National Association of Realtors
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Federation of Independent Business
  • National Grid
  • National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
  • National Kidney Foundation
  • National Marine Manufacturers Association
  • National PTA
  • National Restaurant Association
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
  • NextWave Advocacy
  • Novo Nordisk
  • Nurse-Family Partnership
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
  • Pandora
  • Partnership for Public Service
  • PhRMA
  • Prudential Financial
  • Public Affairs Council
  • RAP Index
  • Safe Kids
  • Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP
  • SBA Office of Advocacy
  • Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
  • Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • State and Federal Communications
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • The Association for Advanced Life Underwriting
  • The Fertilizer Institute
  • The Home Depot
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
  • Thejll-Moller Communications
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • United States House of Representatives
  • University of San Francisco
  • USA TODAY Sports
  • VoterVoice, a FiscalNote Company
  • Washington Improv Theater
  • Western Governors University
  • Women in Government Relations
  • Youth First Initiative

The Venue

Governor Calvert House
58 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

This beautiful and historic venue is located directly across from the Maryland State House, and a 5 minute walk to the Waterfront.

The Agenda

THEME: “The Future of Advocacy and Communications”

Is the future of communications and advocacy a scary place filled with deep-fakes, co-opted data, artificial intelligence run amok, and automated interactions in place of real people? Or is it a hopeful landscape where permission-based data helps to build engaged communities, artificial intelligence advances transparency, and automation encourages supporters to share personalized stories?

Whatever the implications, significant changes to our industry are inevitable. This year’s summit will explore how we can prepare for and adapt to whatever the future may bring. Your voice is an important part of this conversation. Join fellow practitioners who are constantly challenging themselves to advance their programs, find new and creative ways to deliver messages to stakeholders, and build awareness of their cause.

To learn more about the Summit, please check out the agendas from previous years.

You can view our agenda from 2019 here, 2018 here,  2017 here, and from 2016 here

For mobile users, please rotate your tablet/smartphone to view full agenda.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


8:30am – 9:50am Check-In & Pre-Summit Networking
9:50am – 11:15am

Opening Keynote: The Future of Media and Storytelling

11:15am – 11:30am Networking Break
11:30am – 12:30pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1: 

Keeping It Cool on Hot-Button Issues

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

Social Media Trends and Content that Shines

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

Art of Animation

12:30pm – 2:00pm

[Outside the Industry]: The Future of Libraries: Lessons in Community Engagement (Lunchtime Speaker)

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1: 

Self-Produced Media

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

After the Fly-In or In Place of It

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

Demystifying Data and Metrics

3:00pm – 3:15pm Networking Break
3:15pm – 4:10pm

Networking Roundtable Discussions

4:10pm – 4:20pm

Transition Break

4:20pm – 5:30pm

General Session: Persuasion and Networking Masterclass

5:30pm – 7:00pm Evening Cocktail Reception
7:30pm – 9:00pm Local Annapolis Restaurant Dining

Thursday, July 30, 2020


7:30am – 9:15am Breakfast
9:00am – 10:15am

General Session: AI, Deep Fakes, Data Privacy, and the Ethics of It All

10:15am – 10:30am Networking Break
10:30am – 11:25am Industry Topic Roundtable Discussions
11:25am – 11:30am Transition Break
11:30am – 12:30pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1: 

Inter-Generational Communications

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

What Would You Do? Real Life PR and Advocacy Challenges

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

Engaging Stakeholders in Rural or Underserved Communities

12:30pm – 1:50pm

[Outside the Industry]: Robots Unleashed (Lunchtime Speaker)

1:50pm – 2:00pm

Transition Break

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1:

Building a Virtual Ambassador Engagement Program

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

Advanced Storytelling

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

Messaging After the Election

3:00pm – 6:30pm Explore Annapolis 
6:30pm – 10:30pm Crab Feast Dinner

Friday, July 31, 2020


8:00am – 9:45am Breakfast
9:00am – 10:10am

General Session: The Future of Work

10:10am- 10:20am Networking Break
10:20am- 11:05am

Demonstration Session 1:

Forward Planning Content Mapping

Demonstration Session 2:

Finding and Pitching Thought Leadership Opportunities

Demonstration Session 3:

Technology Workshop

Demonstration Session 4:

Design Forward: A Return to Print

11:05am- 11:15am Transition Break
11:15am- 12:30pm

Closing Keynote and Panel Discussion: The Impact of Social Media’s Political Ad Bans

Advisory Committee

Our Advisory Committee is comprised entirely of industry practitioners who have a demonstrated passion for public affairs and advocacy. The Advisory Committee will be tasked to challenge traditional thinking, to recommend topics and presenters that are at the leading edge of innovative advocacy, and to find featured speakers from outside our industry who can offer new and unique perspectives.

Eileen DenneDirector, Corporate CommunicationsAmerican Academy of PAs
Eri O’NeillVice President for Volunteer Engagement and GrassrootsAmerican Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Katherine MerulloManager, Public Affairs and Advocacy CommunicationsAmerican Dental Association
Cody LyonManaging Director Grassroots & Political AdvocacyAmerican Farm Bureau Federation
Amy Shope ManziDirector, Grassroots AdvocacyAmerican Heart Association
Emily WagnerInformation ManagerAmerican Library Association
Deirdre MiddletonDirector, Strategic and Advocacy CommunicationsAmerican Optometric Association
Allen SegalDirector, Public Policy and AdvocacyAmerican Society for Microbiology
Brian Lehman Director, Public AffairsAssociation of American Medical Colleges
Laura NessDirector, Government AffairsBAYADA Home Health Care
Suzanne SwinkSenior Director, Regulatory Advocacy – Communications & External AffairsBP America Inc.
Gina DrioaneManager of Public Policy CommunicationsChildren’s Hospital Association
Trey HawkinsDeputy Chief Advocacy OfficerCredit Union National Association
Thao NguyenManaging Director of AdvocacyFeeding America
Chris GoldenDirectorFWD.us
Ashley LernerGrassroots ManagerGeneral Motors
Lauren CantrellGovernment Relations and Advocacy Senior SpecialistHabitat for Humanity
Rachel FeinsteinSenior Manager, Government AffairsHearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
Sarah ShinkmanAdvocacy & Outreach ManagerHemophilia Federation of America
Joe FrancoVice President, GrassrootsLeadingAge
Jim MacGregorDirector, Advocacy Communications and MobilizationNational Association of Realtors
Jessica CooperNational Grassroots DirectorNational Federation of Independent Business
Andrew FullertonGovernment Relations ManagerNational Kidney Foundation
Joe JoinerManager, Political Development and FundraisingNational Restaurant Association
Gabe SnowPAC DirectorNational Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Jon SimonsAssociate Vice President, Digital AdvocacyNCTA – The Internet & Television Association
Sarah NordstromAssociate Director, Federal Government AffairsNovo Nordisk
Katelyn Moga-GesingNational Advocacy Manager Nurse-Family Partnership
Adam KatzGrassroots Advocacy SpecialistSociety for Neuroscience
Jennifer FoxManager, Political AffairsThe Association for Advanced Life Underwriting
Sarah McDonaldSenior Manager, Political ProgramsThe Home Depot
Sarah WeissmannAssociate Director, Grassroots EngagementThe Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Our 2020 Host & Sponsors

You won’t see booths or hear sales pitches at the Buzz Summit but you will meet with a curated selection of sponsors who understand that knowledge sharing and listening to practitioners is essential to create superior advocacy tools and services.

Beautiful Historic Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD is a hidden gem. Located less than 35 miles from the Washington, DC Metro Area, Annapolis, MD is far enough for a retreat-style getaway, yet close enough to travel there without much hassle.


Please purchase your tickets early to get discounted pricing.


The Summit fee includes 2 nights accommodation, commencing on July 29,2020. to ease your morning arrival, our first session will commence at 9:50 am, with registration opening at 9 am. Welcome refreshments will be provided.

Early Bird: $995 (Before March 31st, 2020)

Secure your ticket before March 31st to receive Early Bird pricing. Early Bird tickets are 100% refundable before March 31st and 50% refundable* before June 30th.

Standard Price: $1,295 (Between April 1st – June 30th, 2020)

Our Standard Price ticket is eligible for a 50% refund* anytime before June 30th, 2020.

Last Minute: $1,595 (After July 1st, 2020)

Last Minute tickets are not refundable.*

Come in One Night Early: +$250

For out of town guests, and those who want to get a jump-start on the first day of the Summit, you can purchase a room in our hotel block for July 28th, 2020 (the evening before the Summit). All early arriving guests are invited to a reception that evening at a local bar.

*Please note that due to a commitment with the venue, no tickets are refundable after July 1st, 2020, but may be transferred within your organization.

If you would like to pay for your ticket by credit card, please visit the Eventbrite registration page (fees apply). To avoid the Eventbrite fees, please contact us at buzzadvocacy@gmail.com and we can send you an invoice.


What's Included in the Summit fee?

The Buzz Advocacy Summit includes:

  • two nights hotel accommodation at The Historic Inns of Annapolis
  • welcome refreshments on the first morning (assorted breakfast treats)
  • two hot breakfasts
  • two lunches
  • two dinners
  • two evening cocktail receptions
  • wifi
  • coffee and snacks
Can I just come for part of the Summit or forego the hotel accommodation?

While the Summit may be close to home for most participants, this is intended as a convenience so invitees may avoid extensive travel to a far-flung destination. We want to preserve a retreat-style feeling to promote networking, shared experience, and to allow for an ongoing and informed discussion about the future direction of our industry. This is why hotel accommodations are included within the Summit fee, to encourage us to stay on-site together throughout the Summit. This also helps defray some of the costs of the event as meeting room space is included in the hotel room block.

Of course, if you would prefer not to stay on-site overnight, we just ask that you commit to attend each day of Summit sessions. Unfortunately, no refund is available for unused hotel accommodations.


Why host the Summit in Annapolis

When planning the inaugural Buzz Advocacy Summit we wanted a destination that would be far enough away from DC to encourage a retreat-style atmosphere, yet close enough for an easily commutable end-of-the-week event. You don't need to hop on a plane to get to this summer destination! We also had the opportunity to secure a beautiful hotel in the center of Historic Annapolis, MD that is easy walking distance to the waterfront.

Why do I have to participate, can't I just attend?

We believe that something important changes when you become an active participant in an event. When you aren't just learning from others, but are also sharing your thoughts and ideas. There are numerous excellent industry conferences that offer attendees a chance to soak in knowledge without necessarily joining in. However, we want this Summit to be different. We want the best in the industry to teach the best in the industry, and your involvement is essential to that goal.

For those less comfortable with the spotlight, there are a number of opportunities to participate in a smaller group setting including as a roundtable facilitator or networking session moderator. Please let the host know your preference and we will try to accommodate your request.

What is the role of a panelist?

Panelists will present at moderator led keynote or breakout sessions. Topics will be determined in advance and some preparation may be required including providing slides or other materials. Panel moderators will coordinate with panelists ahead of the event.

What is the role of a roundtable facilitator?

Roundtable facilitators will conduct a roundtable discussion on selected topics during our roundtable breakout session. Roundtable facilitators will assist with preparing materials on their selected topic as well as a discussion guide for their session.


What is the role of a networking session moderator?

Networking session moderators, will coordinate our networking speed dating session. They will host each networking group and will encourage interaction among participants.

What is the summit dress code?

Our only emphasis is on advanced advocacy learning among peers. Plan to bring your creativity, but leave the suits at home!

Where are my hotel accommodations?

We have attendee accommodations booked in two of the Historic Inns of Annapolis- the Governor Calvert House and the newly renovated Robert Johnson House. Both are on Stat House Circle and very easy walking distance from each other.

What are my transportation options?

We chose Annapolis because it is within easy driving distance for most attendees. If you'd like to participate in a carpool, please let us know and we will happily help coordinate it - please just reply to this email.

For those driving themselves, there is valet parking at the hotel, but other parking options include the Noah Hillman Parking Garage (150 Gorman Street) and South Street Parking Lot (101-199 South Street).

You can also Uber from DC for approximately $45 with UberX.