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

Course Date: 14th May, 2024

AI Enhancement for Communications

Course Description

Welcome to the AI for Communications workshop, where we explore the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) in business communication. In today’s evolving digital landscape, AI has emerged as a game-changer, offering unparalleled opportunities for organizations to innovate, optimize operations, and enhance user experiences. Throughout this interactive session, we will explore the diverse applications of AI in communication sectors, unravel key concepts and terminologies, examine practical examples, and examine the ethical and legal considerations surrounding AI adoption. For communications professional seeking to unlock the potential of AI this workshop offers invaluable insights and strategies to harness AI’s full potential effectively.


Areas Covered:

  • Overview of key AI concepts and terminology – Practical examples of how AI can benefit your organization
  • Exploration of AI tools and technologies available to organizations 
  • Case studies highlighting successful AI implementations
  • Exploring the many ways AI can be used to increase efficiency and productivity and better meet users’ needs
  • Exploring how AI can be used to optimise marketing strategies, including user segmentation, personalized recommendations, predictive analytics, and sentiment analysis.
  • Addressing ethical and legal implications of using AI, including data privacy, bias and fairness, transparency, and regulatory compliance.
  • Q&A session to address participants’ questions and concerns
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: 3 Hour Workshop

Date: 14th May 2024

Time: 4pm – 7pm GMT / 10am – 1 pm CST

Fee: CMA members $125 / Non-CMA members $450

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Course Date: 23rd April 2024

Crisis Communication Strategy

Course Description

Every organization is susceptible to facing crises, the key to mitigating the impact of such crises lies in preparation and effective communication. This workshop, is specifically designed to equip communications professionals in the CMA with the essential knowledge and skills needed to navigate through turbulent times and emerge stronger.


Led by seasoned crisis communication experts, this workshop will guide participants through the critical areas of crisis preparation and management. Through interactive discussions, case studies, and practical exercises, attendees will gain invaluable insights into:


  1. Understanding the Nature of Crises: Participants will delve into the various types of crises that organizations may encounter, ranging from internal scandals to external emergencies. By understanding the nature and potential impact of different crises, attendees will be better prepared to respond effectively.


  1. Preparedness Planning: Preparation is paramount in crisis management. This workshop will advise participants in developing comprehensive crisis communication plans tailored to their organizations’ needs. From risk assessment to stakeholder mapping, attendees will learn essential strategies for proactive crisis preparedness.


  1. Effective Communication Strategies: During times of crisis, clear and timely communication is crucial to maintaining trust and credibility. Participants will learn how to craft effective crisis messages, utilize appropriate communication channels, and ensure consistency in messaging across various platforms.


  1. Managing Stakeholder Relations: Crises often involve multiple stakeholders, including the congregation, staff, volunteers and the media. This workshop will explore techniques for managing stakeholder relations during crises, including strategies for transparency, empathy, and building trust.


  1. Social Media and Online Reputation Management: In today’s digital age, social media can amplify the impact of a crisis within seconds. Participants will discover best practices for managing crisis communication on social media platforms, monitoring online conversations, and safeguarding the organization’s online reputation.


By the end of the workshop, participants will emerge with a comprehensive understanding of crisis communication principles and the ability to build an action plan to be implemented in their organizations. Armed with practical strategies and real-world insights, attendees will be well prepared to effectively manage communications during times of crisis and safeguard their organization’s reputation and resilience. Don’t wait until crisis strikes – join us and empower yourself to navigate turbulence with confidence and competence!

Course Information

Who should attend:  Communications professionals responsible for managing the flow of information for their organizations during a crisis. 

Duration: 3 hour workshop

Dates: 23rd April 2024

Time: 4pm – 7pm GMT / 10am – 1pm CST

Fee: CMA members $125 / Non-CMA members $450

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)


Ellen Gunning, Chief Executive Officer, is a thought leader, author of the academic textbook (Public Relations, a Practical Approach, Macmillan Higher Education International, UK, 3rd edition, October 2018), and founder of the online training provider, The Irish Academy of Public Relations. An international conference speaker and lecturer, Ellen is globally networked through IPRA (past national president), PRII (conferred with a fellowship), EADL (central council member, 5 million online students), SERAS CSR Awards for Africa (board member), Dublin City FM (Former Chairman of the board of directors), and active membership of PRSA, NUJ, EAJ and the World Trade Centres. Ellen is a regular media commentator on Breakfast Television (Virgin Media 1).

Course Date: 29th May, 2024

Photography (Smartphone)

Course Description

Unlock the creativity of smartphone photography with our Smartphone Photography Workshop! In just a few hours, discover how to craft visually stunning and engaging photos using the device you carry every day. Led by seasoned photographers, this hands-on workshop delves into essential techniques for unleashing your imagination, from experimenting with unique compositions to harnessing the magic of light and shadow. Learn how to infuse your photos with personality and emotion, turning ordinary moments into engaging content. Whether you’re a beginner or an enthusiast, this workshop is your gateway to exploring the limitless possibilities of creative smartphone photography. Join us and embark on a journey of visual storytelling like never before!

Course Information

Who: All those responsible for creating image content for social media and websites. 

Duration: 3 hour workshop

Date: 1st May, 2024

Time: 4pm – 7pm GMT / 10am – 1pm CST

Fee: CMA members $125 / Non-CMA members $450

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Marc O’Sullivan is a professional photographer working in Dublin for 30 years. He is the Winner of over 10 PPAI (Press Photographer Association of Ireland) Awards. Marc is one of the most in-demand PR photographers in Ireland, who work regularly is seen in newspapers and magazines. As a trainer, he brings a unique and creative perspective, matched with a knowledge of the type of images that can deliver a message and engage audiences.

Take a look at Marc’s online portfolio here:

Course Date: 7th May, 2024

Creating A Podcast

Course Description

Are you eager to dive into the exciting world of podcasting but don’t know where to start? Join us for a comprehensive 3-hour workshop designed for beginners who are ready to turn their podcasting dreams into reality.

Session 1: Crafting Your Concept (1 hour)

In the first hour, we’ll explore the foundational elements of a successful podcast concept. From identifying your niche and target audience to brainstorming engaging topics, this session will guide you through the process of refining your podcast idea. You’ll learn how to develop a unique angle that sets your podcast apart in the crowded digital landscape.

Session 2: The Technical Essentials (1 hour)

In the second hour, we’ll demystify the technical aspects of podcasting. From selecting the right recording equipment and software to mastering audio editing techniques, you’ll gain practical skills to ensure professional quality sound for your podcast. Whether you’re recording solo or conducting interviews, this session will equip you with the knowledge and tools to produce polished episodes that captivate your audience.

Session 3: Launching and Growing Your Podcast (1 hour)

In the final hour, we’ll delve into the strategies for launching and growing your podcast. From choosing the right hosting platform and submitting your podcast to directories to promoting your episodes and engaging with your listeners, you’ll discover proven tactics for building an audience and establishing your podcast brand. Whether you’re aiming for monetization or simply seeking to share your passion with the world, this session will empower you to navigate the journey of podcasting success.

What You’ll Learn:

 Crafting a compelling podcast concept

 Selecting the right recording equipment and software

 Editing and producing professional quality audio

 Launching your podcast on major platforms

 Promoting your podcast and building an audience

 Engaging with your listeners and growing your community



Course Information

Who: This workshop will benefit any communications professional who wants to reach out to their community through the exciting medium of podcasts.

Duration: 3 hours

Date: 7th May, 2024

Time: 4pm – 7pm GMT / 10am – 1pm CST

Fee: CMA members $125/ Non-CMA members $450

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

Hugh Hick is an award-winning independent audio and radio producer from Dublin who has worked with RTÉNewstalk, and several local stations around Ireland. Hugh is an avid fan of podcasts and is currently developing ‘Making Waves’ in partnership with Headstuff – an exciting new outreach programme to open the world of podcasting to new voices Previous programmes he has worked on have won awards in the New York Festivals Radio Awards and Celtic Media Awards, as well as shortlisting in Prix Europa and BBC Audio Drama Awards.  


Course Date: 21st May, 2024

Social Media Strategy Workshop

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: 3 Hour Workshop

Date:  21st May, 2024

Time: 4pm – 7pm GMT / 10am – 1pm CST

Fee: CMA members $125 / Non-CMA members $450

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)

April McManus is an experienced social media strategist, content creator, and AI enthusiast,  with a robust professional background in the industry spanning over 6 years. April is an expert at incorporating AI tools into workflows and maximising their potential. April has been assisting businesses across various sectors in elevating their online presence through education and the implementation of cutting-edge strategies and sees AI as an invaluable resource.

Course Date: To Be determined

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: TBD

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.

Course Date: To Be Determined

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: To Be Determined 

Mastering Video Content for Effective Communication

Course Information



Dates: TBD

Time: 7pm – 9pm GMT / 1pm – 3pm CST

Fee: CMA members $75 / Non-CMA members $450

All training is delivered by live webinar (Zoom)




Register now to secure your place

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