CMA Communications Training

The CMA has partnered with the PR Academy to deliver training in communications and media skills for the past few years. The PR Academy is built on years of professional and academic experience in the Communications industry. Our courses reflect industry change and trends and are delivered from the perspective of a PR professional.

Our founder, Ellen Gunning, has been working in the PR industry for the past 25 years and is author of the core text “Public Relations: A Practical Approach” (Macmillan Higher Education UK, 3rd Edition, October 2018), which is studied by third level students internationally.

She has drawn together a team of worldwide, world-class professionals who tutor our courses and bring real-world experience to our training.

Our trainers include TV and radio presenters, PR professionals, content creators, journalists, academics, marketeers, and leadership and empowerment coaches. These trainers are based in Ireland, USA, Colombia, Canada and New Zealand. We also work with partner colleges in Greece, Nigeria and the Middle East.

Welcome Message from the Executive Director

Rob DeFrancesco

The Catholic Media Association is a leader in supporting, strengthening, and promoting Catholic journalists and media professionals. Our members join for a variety of reasons. Some join for networking and career growth, others for the faith and fellowship of our community, and some simply for our awards program. Whatever your reason for joining, the Catholic Media Association is always looking for resources to help you thrive in your career.

A couple of years ago, the CMA identified communications training as a key requirement. We looked for a company that specialized in training in this area, and, in particular, we wanted a company with a global focus so that our members were getting not only best practice training, but international insights as well.

We partnered with the PR Academy, based in Ireland, and have been working with them for the past two years. They have been delivering programs, via Zoom, on media interview techniques, social media strategy, content creation, smartphone journalism and much more. Without exception, feedback from members has been universally positive. They have struck a chord with everyone they have trained and delivered valuable, knowledgeable skill enhancements to our members.

We are continuing to partner with the PR Academy for the coming year and have agreed to sponsor an enhanced program of training, encompassing not only communications, but leadership skills as well.

These professional development opportunities are made possible thanks to the USCCB Catholic Communication Campaign. Members pay a fraction of the course fees. This training is incredibly good value.

We look forward to seeing more members take these courses in the coming year, and to continuing to work with the PR Academy into the future.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or to the Academy, if there are training needs that we are not addressing below.

Course Offerings

Start Date: 7 September 2023

Chat GPT/AI Enhancement for PR & Communications Professionals

Course Description

Boost Your PR and Communication Skills with the Power of AI: Join Our One-of-a-Kind Training Session!

Are you a professional in PR or journalism, keen on embracing the newest technologies to make your work smarter, faster, and more impactful? This unique workshop, “Chat GPT/AI Enhancement for PR and Communications Professionals”, is tailor-made for you!

Our webinar runs over a two hour period, and is action-packed with information, examples and take-aways. It divides into roughly four segments, each of which has a slightly different training objective.

Through the workshop, Dominik will be giving you practical examples of how this tool can be used in practice. We will also highlight additional AI tools which can enhance the work of communications specialists creating visuals or audio content, for example. These are not a focus of our training, but they will point you in the direction of other timesaving AI tools which are available.

Key Takeaways

By the end of the course, attendees will:

  • Have an understanding of AI, Chat GPT, and their impacts on the field of PR and Communications.
  • Be aware of the practical uses of Chat GPT for tasks such as content creation, copywriting, research, and analysis.
  • Understand the limitations and ethical considerations of using AI in PR and Communications.
  • Have had the opportunity to see the practical application of Chat GPT and ask any questions about its use.

This is your chance to stay ahead of the curve, to save time, and to bring a refreshing new perspective to your work. The course is open to CMA members at a discounted rate of $75.

Don’t miss out on the chance to leverage the power of AI in PR and Communication. Join us and take your professional skills to the next level! Register today!


Training Objective: To introduce AI in communications and give an overview of Chat GPT.

In this section the trainer will introduce you to artificial intelligence in general, and to Chat GPT in particular. He will focus on 5 key things you need to understand about this powerful tech. He will explain the difference between the human mind and artificial intelligence, and he will explain the necessity of using good prompts to get good answers.

Learning Outcome: Understand the basic concept of AI, its use in PR and Communication, and gain a working understanding of Chat GPT.

Using Chat GPT for Content Creation and Copywriting

Training Objective: To demonstrate how Chat GPT can be used for content creation and copywriting.

Content creation and copywriting are time consuming for both pr and journalism professionals. Copy is important. Getting meaning and understanding is vital. Projecting the right message is crucial. Sometimes, its hard to know where to begin. In this session, Dominik will show you how to use ChatGPT to get you kick started. How to have it generate text and copy for you, so that you have the starter that you can amend, refine, edit and polish. Using ChatGPT as an ‘assistant’ will save you hours of time.

Learning Outcome: Grasp the basics of using Chat GPT for creating engaging content and effective copywriting.

Using Chat GPT for Research and Analysis

Training Objective: To understand the use of Chat GPT in conducting research and analysis.

Whether you are trying to figure out if a crisis like this has happened before, or if there is an existing solution to your problem, or you want to know how many people have been affected by something, or how much it has cost , you need to conduct research. Research which bears your name must be thorough and 100% reliable. Chat GPT can help you with your initial research. It makes it much easier and quicker to check something from multiple angles so that you can establish how you want to present your findings. You need to be careful and cross-check all of the information, but it will do initial heavy-lifting for you.

Learning Outcome: Comprehend the basics of using Chat GPT for research and analysis tasks.

Limitations and Ethical Considerations of Chat GPT

Training Objective: To explain the limitations of Chat GPT and the ethical considerations of using AI in PR and Communication.

Like any tool that we use in modern communications, ChatGPT has its limitations. This session will give you not only an appreciation of the power of the tool, but will also give you a healthy respect for how it can mislead or hallucinate. You will understand the foundations on which it is built and the ethical issues which it gives rise to.

Learning Outcome: Understand the limitations of Chat GPT and how to use it ethically and responsibly.

Course Information

Who: This workshop will benefit any communications professionals (pr or journalism) who need to save time, create engaging copy and learn how to do that using the newest AI tool.

Duration: 1 week X 2 hours per week

Date: 7 September 2023

Time: 4pm – 6pm GMT / 10am – 12 pm CST

Fee: CMA members $75 / Non-CMA members $300

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Dominik Lukes is Assistive Technology Officer at the University of Oxford, UK. His core role at the University is to research and educate people in how technology can make them more productive in reading, writing, and organisation. He established and runs the Reading and Writing Innovation Lab. He has run workshops on AI in education since 2019 and developed an internal training course on ChatGPT at the University of Oxford. He has also delivered keynotes about the potential of ChatGPT for education at multiple conferences. He is also closely involved with efforts to improve digital accessibility. He has published in academic journals, edited several academic volumes and translated both academic and non-academic texts between Czech and English.

Start Date: 13 September 2023

Building Leadership Skills for Secular Leaders in the Church

Course Description

Discover the Leader Within You: A Specialized Course for Secular Leaders in the Church

Are you a secular leader in the Catholic Church? Do you handle the pivotal roles of Public Relations and Communications? If so, we have a transformative opportunity designed just for you!

Step into a dynamic learning experience with our comprehensive training course, “Building Leadership Skills for Secular Leaders in the Church.” Crafted with care, this program was created to address the unique challenges and demands you face in your leadership roles within the Church’s community.

This is not just another leadership course. Our bespoke two-session training is interactive, empowering, and specifically tailored for PR and Communications professionals like you. It equips you with essential leadership skills, fosters resilience, and enhances your capacity to influence positively, ultimately cultivating a thriving working environment for everyone.


Training Objectives

  • Develop awareness and utilization of individual and team strengths
  • Embed resilience into the team culture
  • Develop a coaching mindset and skillset
  • Increase leadership confidence
  • Improve communication skills, especially in delivering difficult messages
  • Enhance listening skills for effective leadership

Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to identify and leverage strengths for individual and team performance
  • Understanding of resilience and the ability to implement resilience-building strategies
  • Development of a coaching mindset and ability to foster a coaching culture
  • Increased leadership confidence
  • Ability to deliver difficult messages through supportive communication
  • Improved listening skills for effective leadership
Session 1: Leadership Foundations

Topic 1: Identifying and Leveraging Strengths

  • Understanding different types of strengths
  • Evidence on the impact of strengths on performance and wellbeing
  • Strategies to create a strengths-focused culture

Topic 2: Building Resilient Teams

  • Understanding resilience and its impact on stress management
  • Patterns of resilience and how it can be learned
  • Psychological skills and strategies to increase resilience

Topic 3: Developing a Coaching Mindset

  • Balance between leading, managing, and coaching
  • Understanding the conditions for effective coaching
  • Strategies to create a coaching culture
Session 2: Advanced Leadership Skills

Topic 1: Boosting Leadership Confidence

  • Overcoming the imposter syndrome and self-doubt
  • Role of expectations, thinking, and beliefs on confidence
  • Strategies to expand leadership confidence

Topic 2: Effective Communication in Difficult Situations

  • Understanding supportive communication strategies
  • Introduction to descriptive rather than evaluative communication
  • Practical applications of supportive communication in delivering negative feedback

Topic 3: Becoming a Better Listener

  • Understanding the importance of listening in leadership
  • Exploring different levels and scales of listening
  • Self-awareness and discipline for improved listening skills
  • Interactive practice sessions (optional, depends on timings and group size)
Conclusion & Feedback
  • Recap of key training points
  • Open discussion and Q&A
  • Feedback and Evaluation

Note: The specific details of each session may be adjusted according to the specific needs and feedback of the participants.

By the end of this course, you will walk away with a greater understanding of your strengths, improved resilience, an enhanced coaching mindset, heightened leadership confidence, and superior communication and listening skills.

Enroll today and start your journey towards becoming an extraordinary secular leader in the Church, inspiring positive change, fostering resilience, and driving performance at the highest levels. Embrace the opportunity to make a difference in your role and the wider church community.

Course Information

Duration: 2 week X 4 hours per week

Dates: 13 & 20 September 2023

Time: 4pm – 8 pm GMT / 10am – 2 pm CST

Fee: CMA members $300 / Non-CMA members $1200

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Martina Doherty is an accredited Leadership Coach and Corporate Trainer. Originally from a PR/Comms background, she now supports leaders and organizations to create high performing, happy and healthy cultures. Martina’s skills include leadership and team development, organizational behaviour and strategic communications.

Start Date: 11 October 2023

Social Media Strategy & Reputation Management

Course Description

Elevate Your Church’s Online Presence: Enroll in Our Unique Course on Social Media Strategy and Reputation Management!

Calling all PR and Communications professionals within the Catholic Church: are you eager to optimize your online presence and extend your reach to wider communities?

Join our 4-week training course on “Social Media Strategy and Reputation Management”, designed specifically to meet your unique needs and challenges. The course will be held weekly, with each session running for two hours.

Kickstart your journey with a professional evaluation of your church’s current online presence. With this insight, we will guide you in identifying key audiences and stakeholders, crucial to creating meaningful personas and content that resonate with their needs and behaviors.

Key Takeaways

By the end of the course, attendees will:

  • Have a professional evaluation of their current online presence.
  • Understand their key audience and have created detailed personas.
  • Be able to manage various social media platforms effectively.
  • Know how to create and post engaging, platform-specific content.
  • Be able to develop and manage a social media content calendar.
  • Be able to monitor the impact of their posts and manage negative online comments effectively.
Professional Evaluation and Audience Understanding

Training Objective: To provide a professional evaluation of the participant’s current online presence and to understand their key audience.

Learning Outcome: Gain insights into the current state of their online presence, identify key audience groups, and begin developing audience personas.

Persona Creation and Social Media Platform Management

Training Objective: To facilitate the creation of personas that match the needs and behaviors of the identified audience, and train participants on managing social media platforms.

Learning Outcome: Ability to create detailed and accurate audience personas, and effectively manage different social media platforms.

Content Creation, Posting, and Social Media Content Calendar Development

Training Objective: To provide a detailed step-by-step approach on how to create engaging content, post it to various social media platforms, and develop a social media content calendar.

Learning Outcome: Develop skills in creating platform-specific content, learn the best practices of posting on various social media platforms, and create a comprehensive social media content calendar.

Post Monitoring and Reputation Management

Training Objective: To train participants on monitoring the impact of their posts and managing negative online comments.

Learning Outcome: Ability to use analytics to monitor post impact, effectively manage and respond to negative online comments, and maintain a positive online presence.

Course Information

Who: This course benefits those who already have a social media presence and want to develop more effective strategies to grow their audience and audience engagement.

Duration: 4 weeks X 2 hours per week

Dates: 11, 18, 25 October & 1 November 2023

Time: 4pm – 6pm GMT / 10am – 12pm CST

Fee: CMA members $300 / Non-CMA members $1200

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Jose Penso has professional consulting expertise in the areas of Branding, Strategic Marketing, Content Creation and Strategic Communications, working with companies in the United States and Latin America. He is also an adviser with the Interamerican Center for Political Management (Miami, Fl); former Committee Chair of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and member of the National Association of Communications Professionals (NAMIC, USA). He is a professor at Universidad del Norte (Colombia).

Start Date: 15 November 2023

Effective Internal Communications

Course Description

Sharpen Your Communications Strategy with Our ‘Effective Internal Communications’ Course!”

Does your role involve fostering strong communication within your church or Catholic organization? Are you in the field of Public Relations or Communications and looking to enhance your skills to better serve your community? If so, our ‘Effective Internal Communications’ course is specifically designed for you!

Over this comprehensive course, you will learn how to leverage various communication channels and tools, develop impactful messages that resonate with your stakeholders, and foster effective cross-departmental collaboration within your organization.

Key Takeaways

By the end of the course, attendees will:

  • Understand the critical role of internal communications in shaping organizational culture and achieving goals.
  • Be equipped with knowledge of different communication tools and channels, and their effective usage.
  • Gain skills in crafting effective messages that align with the organization’s values and objectives.
  • Enhance their active listening skills and master the art of providing and receiving constructive feedback.
  • Be able to foster cross-departmental collaboration and build effective working relationships.
  • Understand and apply strategies for measuring and evaluating the impact of internal communications.
  • Be able to learn from case studies and best practices and apply these insights in their organization.

Don’t miss this opportunity to refine your communication skills and create a stronger, more connected organization. Enroll in the ‘Effective Internal Communications’ course today and take a significant stride in your PR or Communications career!

Understanding Internal Communications

Training Objective: To understand the importance of internal communications and its role in an organization.

Learning Outcome: Participants will appreciate the role of communication in organizational culture, productivity, and engagement.

Communication Channels and Tools

Training Objective: To gain knowledge about various communication channels and tools.

Learning Outcome: Participants will be able to choose suitable channels for different communication purposes and apply best practices.

Crafting Effective Messages

Training Objective: To learn principles of clear, concise, and compelling communication tailored for various audiences.

Learning Outcome: Participants will develop impactful messages aligned with the organization’s values and objectives.

Active Listening and Feedback

Training Objective: To understand the importance of active listening and constructive feedback.

Learning Outcome: Participants will enhance their active listening skills and learn how to provide and receive feedback effectively.

Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Training Objective: To learn strategies for promoting collaboration across teams and departments.

Learning Outcome: Participants will build effective working relationships and leverage communication tools for collaboration.

Measurement and Evaluation

Training Objective: To understand methods for measuring and evaluating the impact of internal communications.

Learning Outcome: Participants will use metrics and feedback to improve internal communication strategies.

Case Studies and Best Practices

Training Objective: To learn from real-life case studies and best practices in internal communications.

Learning Outcome: Participants will be able to apply these insights to their own contexts.

Course Information

Duration: 4 weeks X 2 hours

Dates: 15, 22, 29 November & 6 December 2023

Time: 4pm – 6 pm GMT / 10am – 12pm CST

Fee: CMA members $300 / Non-CMA members $1200

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)


Mary Cassidy is a seasoned PR professional with over 20 years’ experience. Excelling in both agency-side and in-house roles, she has developed robust internal communication (IC) strategies across government, non-profit, corporate, and consumer sectors. Mary is passionate about IC and believes in the power of open communication between organizations and their most valuable assets: their staff and volunteers. Her objective is to help organizations cultivate a culture where trust and engagement are paramount.

Start Date: 12 October 2023

Reaching New Audiences with Podcasting

Course Description

Expand Your Outreach with the Power of Podcasting!

Are you looking to connect with your community in a more personal and impactful way? Want to breathe life into the stories, teachings, and messages of our faith? Join our ‘Reaching New Audiences with Podcasting’ course and learn how to create inspiring and engaging podcasts that resonate with your audience.

Throughout this course, you will gain the practical skills needed to launch or elevate your podcasting journey. You will learn everything from understanding the essence of podcasts and selecting engaging content, to planning, branding, and utilizing online editing tools. Our course will equip you with the knowledge to use podcasting as an effective tool for delivering content and teachings to your audience, ensuring they remain connected and engaged.

Key Takeaways

By the end of this course, attendees will:

  • Understand the essence of podcasts and their role in content delivery.
  • Be able to select suitable and engaging content for their podcast.
  • Know how to plan and prepare for their podcast efficiently.
  • Be able to visually brand their podcast and understand the process of uploading it.
  • Have skills to use online editing software for podcast creation and editing.

This course is perfect for content creators in the Catholic Church looking to deepen their connection with their community. Don’t miss the chance to enhance your digital outreach in an increasingly connected world. Sign up now and take the first step to reaching new audiences through the power of podcasting!

Understanding Podcasts

Training Objective: To understand what podcasts are and why they are created.

Learning Outcome: Participants will gain a clear understanding of the purpose and function of podcasts in content creation.

Content Selection

Training Objective: To learn how to select suitable content for a podcast.

Learning Outcome: Participants will be able to identify and choose compelling content for their podcast.

Podcasts for Content Delivery

Training Objective: To comprehend how podcasts can serve as a method of content delivery for organizations.

Learning Outcome: Participants will be able to use podcasts as an effective tool for delivering their organization’s content.

Audience Engagement

Training Objective: To learn techniques for grabbing and retaining audience attention.

Learning Outcome: Participants will acquire skills to captivate and maintain audience engagement throughout their podcast.

Planning and Preparation

Training Objective: To understand the planning and preparation practicalities of podcasting.

Learning Outcome: Participants will gain knowledge on how to efficiently plan and prepare for their podcast.

Branding and Uploading Your Podcast

Training Objective: To learn how to visually brand and upload a podcast.

Learning Outcome: Participants will be skilled in branding their podcast visually and understand how to upload it effectively.

Online Editing Software

Training Objective: To learn the use of online editing software for podcast creation.

Learning Outcome: Participants will be proficient in using online editing software for podcast recording and editing.

Course Information

Who: This workshop will benefit any communications professional who wants to either introduce or enhance their podcasts to reach and engage an audio audience.

Duration: 4 weeks X 2 hours

Dates: 12, 19, 26 October & 2 November 2023

Time: 7pm – 9pm GMT / 1pm – 3pm CST

Fee: CMA members $260 / Non-CMA members $1050

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Andy Clarke is a talented and experienced audio producer who is a past IMRO Award nominee. He has worked extensively with major radio stations and produced numerous podcasts. His experience spans all roles from producer to radio station manager.

Start Date: 16 November 2023

Mastering Video Content for Effective Communication

Course Description

Unleash the Power of Video: Boost Engagement with Masterful Video Content Creation!”

Are you a content creator working within the Catholic Church or a Catholic organization? Are you seeking to deepen your connection with your audience and promote your message more effectively? Our course, “Mastering Video Content for Effective Communication,” is tailored specifically to help you harness the compelling power of video content!

Research shows that video content outshines all other formats in creating audience engagement. This course equips you with essential skills to create engaging, high-quality videos that resonate with your audience. We’ll take you on a journey from conceptualizing your message, storyboarding your content, to learning the fine art of shot sequencing for maximum impact.

Whether it’s for promoting events, sharing messages, or bringing the vibrant life of your church or organization to the online world, our course will help you tell your story more compellingly.

Key Takeaways

By the end of the course, attendees will:

  • Understand how to effectively employ storytelling in their video content, leading to more compelling and resonant messages.
  • Be skilled in storyboarding, allowing for better planning, visualization, and structuring of video content.
  • Gain knowledge on shot sequencing, enabling them to maximize impact and enhance storytelling in their videos.
  • Have a comprehensive grasp of the short-video creation process, from concept to post-production.
  • Develop the practical skills needed to shoot and edit videos to a professional standard, raising the overall quality of their video output.

Enroll in the “Mastering Video Content for Effective Communication” course today. Let’s transform the way you engage your audience with the power of video!

Storytelling & Storyboarding in Video Content

Training Objective: To understand how storytelling in video content can effectively deliver your message, and to learn the process of storyboarding for structuring video content

Learning Outcome: Participants will gain the ability to craft compelling stories that convey their intended message. They will be able to create storyboards to plan and visualize their video content.

Shot Sequencing

Training Objective: To comprehend the concept of shot sequencing for maximizing video impact.

Learning Outcome: Participants will understand how to sequence shots for effective storytelling and viewer engagement.

Video Creation Process

Training Objective: To walk through the entire process of short-video creation including shooting, editing and adding sub-text.

Learning Outcome: Participants will gain hands-on experience and knowledge about the workflow of creating a short video.

Participants story-video

Training Objective: To learn from the video story that you created and to share those learnings with others in the group. To be given professional evaluation of your work by both trainers.

Learning Outcome: Participants will develop the skills to shoot and edit videos to a professional standard.

Course Information

Who: This workshop will benefit any communications professional who wants to either introduce or enhance their video content to deliver greater engagement.

Duration: 4 weeks X 2 hours

Dates: 16, 23, 30 November & 7 December 2023

Time: 4pm – 6pm GMT / 10am – 12pm CST

Fee: CMA members $300 / Non-CMA members $1200

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Len Clark’s professional work includes consulting in emerging media technologies, sales development, and leadership training. He works with a number of global media companies and specializes in helping organizations and individuals to develop their storytelling skills. He tutors the multimedia journalism course at the University of Notre Dame.


Register now to secure your place

Thank you for your registration, your place is secured. You will be invoiced at CMA membership rates.