Tools for Cutting-Edge Communications Professionals


I am always curious what others are accessing to grow their marketing knowledge or learn new communications skills.

So, I jumped at the chance to attend a recent Coffee and Conversations sponsored by the Des Moines, Iowa Chapter of the Association of Women in Communications. The topic of this coffee was “Favorite Resources to Improve Our Communications Skills.” Each member shared their “go-to” resource and they included the following:

First, man or woman, check out the professional development opportunities available from the Association For Women in Communications. Monthly Know to Grow webinars (free to members, only $39 for non-members) feature national speakers on the topics of leadership, communications, employee development and personal branding.


For anything and everything having to do with improving your content marketing skills there is the Content Marketing Institute. In addition to great on-line tools and tips, this publisher also organizes one of the better industry conferences, Content Marketing World. They also manage some wickedly great social media accounts.

As their web site states, Marketing Profs provides “Real World Education for Modern Marketing.”  While the free resources are great, become a “Pro Member” and you’ll have access to classes that dive deep into many marketing communication topics. Their signature event is the annual B2B Marketing Forum. Even if you don’t practice in the B2B space, this event is still chocked full of great marketing information – and some good networking with your peers, too! Ann Hadley is the Chief Content Officer for Marketing Profs. If you don’t know and follow her already, you should. (See below for her book recommendation.)

Social Media

Quickly becoming the go-to-guy for all things Facebook, Jon Loomer at writes a great blog and offers on-line courses that demystify getting the most value from this social media platform.


Web Site Magazine is both an on-line and printed resource covering design, digital marketing, user experience, analytics, and many other topics.

Software is a great on-line tool to learn a new skill or a new software like Photoshop or Illustrator.  It really is amazing the wide variety of on-line instruction this site provides. This subscription-based site offers different plans. NOTE: One member of our coffee mentioned that her local library offers free partial access to as part of her library membership.  Worth a check.


Not sure when to use “in” or “on” in your email, then head on over to This free on-line tool “helps you write mistake-free on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and nearly anywhere else you write on the web.”

Then there is the “Queen” of all things writing and editing –  the Associated Press Stylebook.


Many of us at the Coffee were surprised to hear about Camtasia. One member described it as “an easy to use” video editor and screen recorder.  She was using it for internal training sessions.

More on-line resources include:

American Express Open Forum – small business tips and advice



Ted Talks

Some favorite books for both personal and professional development were also shared.

You Can Teach a Pig to Sing – Mary Jane Mapes

You Are a Bad Ass – Jennifer Sincero

Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

Everybody Writes – Ann Handley

To up your professional communications game and to find a local chapter of the Association for Women in Communications, visit