Pitching for international committees

Guest post from Past Chair Russell Grossman ABC:

PITCHING IN FOR INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEES – BY SEPT 14TH

As Chair of the IABC International ‘Nominations Committee’ one of my responsibilities is to ensure we have a good ‘pipeline of talent’ of leaders coming through our organisation.

I’m also keen to ensure that when people finish their terms of office we don’t just dump them, but ensure we value their talent and experience for as long as they want to offer it.

IABC has lots of committees and task forces within the organisation. Having good people on them is what makes us tick.

So we’re now looking for people to put their hand up to join five of these key bodies at the international level.

This is necessarily a competition, but based on objective assessment of competencies against defined criteria for the job.   It’s not a case of “if your face fits”.

As the Association’s most senior international leader last year, it struck me (and has subsequently struck this year’s Chair, Michael Ambjorn) that the best people didn’t always put themselves forward for the key leadership positions J.

It follows that the reverse is also sometimes true.

So this year we’re trying something new, which is to hold what we’re calling an ‘open call’ for people to join these five IABC committees:

  • Audit and Risk Committee
  • Investment Committee
  • Policy Committee
  • Research Committee
  • Editorial Advisory Committee

More detail about all of these committees is linked on the IABC website.

By putting your hat in the ring for these committees you’ll not only be exposed to the communications profession at the international level, you’ll make invaluable connections around the world.  And it could add importantly to your cv.

Yes, you do need to have an aptitude for the subject and yes, you should also be prepared to put in some time, creativity – and obviously – effort.

But the rewards can be huge in terms of meeting new people, gaining new skills…..and then there’s that point about looking good on your cv and on your LinkedIn profile.

You can both nominate someone you think would be great at this (they may not have thought about this themselves) and/or you can nominate yourself.

Deadline for pitching in is Monday, September 14 at 11:59p.m. Pacific Time.

All nominations will be treated confidentially by my Nominating Committee.  You do have to be a member of IABC to apply.

The committee will review all submissions and then submit a list of recommendations to the IABC International Executive Board for approval.

How to apply at https://www.iabc.com/about-us/governance/iabc-committees/

And some of you may find I have nominated you!

Russell Grossman ABC is Past Chair of IABC

Creating connection across timezones

Theomary Karamanis
Theomary Karamanis PhD
Sue Heuman ABC
Sue Heuman ABC

Leaders from across the world connect regularly to advance the global profession of communications. Two groups that are at the forefront of advancing IABC’s work for the profession are the Academy team, led by Theomary Karamanis – and the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), led by Sue Heuman ABC.

Janet McCormick PhD
Janet McCormick PhD

The latter has been getting some extra attention thanks to the successful pilot of the world’s first global Communication Management Professional Certification exam at the 2015 World Conference. Well done to the practitioners who took the bold step and tested their mettle – and big thanks Janet McCormick and the inaugural GCCC and the staff team, without whom this would not have happened.

Congratulations to the first certified Communication Management Professionals (CMP), who had their qualifications conferred in August 2015.  Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP Terry Cerisoles, CMP Sandra Reid, CMP Fraser Tingle, CMP Brad Whitworth, ABC, IABC Fellow, CMP Rachel Wong, CMP
Click the image to read profiles of the six new certified Communication Management Professionals (CMP) – including their motivations for taking the test.

The timezone challenge

But how does the Academy team, the GCCC and many other global work groups and committees connect and collaborate to advance the profession – considering that the teams are distributed across the a panoply of timezones? The Tuckman stages of group development still apply.

To form, storm, norm and perform I suggest that…

Face-to-face is essential

For that to happen you need two things: clarity on when to meet, and ideally something that can bring you face-to-face without necessarily jumping on a plane (with that said, I do hope to see you at #IABCLI in February!).

Technology

Let’s cover the face-to-face tech first – there are two favourites amongst senior leaders at IABC:

  • Skype for 1:1 calls (although I am also seeing an increasing use of WhatsApp for this)
  • Zoom for group calls

Here’s the 2014-15 #IABCieb in action on the latter:

That leaves the timezone challenge

As you can see from my own little at-a-glance cheatsheet, it is almost always 4am somewhere2015 08 26 #createconnection timezone table Two tools that might help here

For when you want to find a time that is a reasonable ask

timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html – quick and dynamic and covers all timezones (as opposed to my cheat-sheet table which only has a few), and especially useful if you’re just trying to co-ordinate with one or two other people

For when there a more than a few people in play

doodle.com/ –  when more people are trying to find an optimal time it can get very confusing quickly… doodle makes this a doddle.

Got something even better? Let me know @michaelambjorn – and if you’re one of IABC’s 1,000 leaders across the globe, thank you for all you do.

Let’s #createconnection – like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. Looking to step up to serve the global communication profession? We have opportunities to lead – and as always, here’s a ready-made Tweet for you:

3 insights from the #sharingeconomy road from Frankfurt to Florence

I recently ended up with a flight out to Frankfurt – and one back from Florence – without one in between. Before I knew it I had a meeting in Vienna and with that I decided to revisit an earlier form of the sharing economy: the humble hitchhike.

As I travelled, and reliant on the goodwill of fellow Europeans, I thought some of the insights would be useful for the IABC Executive Committee, which is meeting in San Francisco this week. Our focus will be on prioritising the work underway on the #IABC1417 strategy – as well as the #IABCieb business as usual.

And I would like to share here too – often the best insights come from unexpected corners, so I am encouraging you to heckle.

In this week’s Weekly Venn I dig into how the ‘gig’; ‘sharing’ and more ‘traditional’ economies intersect, and in this post I’ll be looking at just one of the circles: the so called #sharingeconomy and what it means (in my view) for IABC.

Why am I focusing in on this one over the others? Because the ethos aligns strongly with our purpose as an organisation.

Context for the trip

When I am not busy doing IABC stuff, giving talks or facilitating purpose-driven groups; one of the things I do is to help organisations with their communications strategy, business models – and getting their governance structure right.

I have for some years been member of a network of physical spaces that go under the name Impact Hub. They’re focused on start-ups with a social change imperative and are located all over the world – including 3 out of 4 of the cities I visited last week. They’re the perfect place to run workshops like this and meet a type of client I particularly enjoy working with.

I also wanted to get a fresh perspective on some of our enduring challenges as an association (technology) and a short term one (the IABC HQ lease runs out at the end of the year and we’re exploring new ways of working as we work towards the move).

What does hitchhiking have to do with comms?

Three #sharingeconomy insights & implications

1. Platforms have expanded beyond all expectation

You might have heard of the phenomenal growth of Airbnb. From niche to mainstream seven short years. Unlike a traditional hotel chain, it owns no rooms, yet claims to bring greater economic benefit to neighbourhoods than traditional operators.

Incidentally, the first website I used to offer up a spare room (or indeed borrow one for the night) is still around now some fourteen years later. Back then I hosted people from Asia, Africa, America, Australia – and of course Europe (and I was in turn hosted across all of those). It was entirely without charge.

Whilst I never had a single negative experience using the completely free approach, it is a lot easier to explain to people the premise of Airbnb. And I have to admit that their website is a lot cooler thanks to the resources they’re able to throw at it.

In similar arena – that of transport – people who would probably never have stuck their thumb out and hoped for the best are trying services like Bla Bla Car to get from A to B as I did last week. It is effectively app-enabled hitchhiking.

Office space, where and how you stay, and the transport you use in-between – have all evolved massively.

Why?

2. Social proof is the key differentiator in the sharing economy

People trust Airbnb, Bla Bla Car and a number of the other leading platforms out there because they all integrate an element of social proof. The fact that you share experiences and see how we’re all connected gives an extra level of assurance. These platforms have invested big in this – and for a few of them it is really paying off.

…which leads to a perhaps counterintuitive insight:

3. Don’t underestimate the power of the analogue

Even in our hyperconnected world we should not forget that the analogue often works just as well. A practical example are these two simple boards from one of the coworking places I spent time at on the trip:

The Impact Hub in Vienna uses a simple board to connect those offering advice and services - to those who need it.
The Impact Hub in Vienna uses a simple board to connect those offering advice and services – to those who need it.
2015 #sharingeconomy profiles board - Impact Hub Vienna
Posting pictures + a little bit of background facilitates serendipitous connections as people build up awareness of each other’s interests – and helps people #createconnection and get to know each other.

They work because of the shared – and sharing – culture.

Three corresponding implications for associations in general – and IABC in particular

A. The sharing economy is not new and the Cluetrain Manifesto from 1999 is still as topical (and provocative to some) as ever. It is time to re-read it and make sure we’re not getting stuck in outmoded ways of operating. I welcome your comments.

Meanwhile, one thing is certain: the demands put on our technology infrastructure at IABC will only increase. We will need to continue to invest aggressively to overcome years of underinvestment.

B. ‘Associating’ is one of the purest forms of social proof – and whilst competition for attention might be stronger than ever and there are more free resources coming online every day, we shouldn’t be timid: we provide an essential glue that helps bind people together thanks to our strong, sharing culture.

At the international level for communicators, we do it better than anyone. Sure, I can easily find thousands of events using meetup.com or, say, lanyrd.com. Anybody can.

But I will always know that if it is an IABC event I will not only have a warm welcome (because IABCers are like that) – it’ll also be useful professionally: network extended; insights shared; skills gained; referrals earned.

C. Whilst we must continue to invest aggressively in the underlying technology that keeps our organisation current and dynamic, we must also remember to temper our desires. It is easy to get distracted or lose focus. Technology is the area that can most easily kill an organisation if it isn’t tied to core purpose, competence and clear direction. IABC went through a near-death experience some 15-or-so years ago due to over-ambition. We have also recently experienced some significant technical discomfort due to underinvestment – at a much more basic level. I reported on this at this year’s AGM.

In conclusion, whilst we continue to uprate our core technology infrastructure, I do wonder what we might learn through the use of a simple paper-and-pen approach at local events as well as our global conferences for part of the drive to connect people.

If you’ve tried it, I’d love to hear from you.

I am also interested in any other ideas you have for IABC to further embrace the sharing economy as a way to build our diverse community, strengthen the global profession – and of course #createconnection like never before. Whether in Frankfurt, Florence or indeed San Francisco or any other number of places where communicators can be found around the world.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. If, incidentally, you wonder where all the hitchhikers have gone, then the good people at Freakonomics have part of the broader answer beyond Bla Bla Car.

It’s the economy … but perhaps not as you know it

‘Gig Economy’ and ‘Sharing Economy’ are two catchphrases that have recently been in the press a lot – the first because of negative connotations and the later for more positive reasons.

Neither are new concepts, but they are increasingly being felt as forces of change. There’s a third popular term, the ‘Collaborative Economy’ which sits at the intersect.

And then you have the ‘Traditional’ setup of fixed, 9-5 employment.

Confusing right? Yes. Especially when there is change afoot. This post will hopefully shed some light on these.

The most memorable outrage against the market changing I’ve come across was at a panel discussion in 2009 at London’s Frontline Club: A set of professional photographers practically mauled the BBC’s editor of user-generated content for threatening their profession: accepting photos for news stories from the public – taken by amateurs on non-pro cameras.
Then, from the edge of the packed room, a seated lady of some considerable age and experience weighed in – bringing about complete silence: she shared her story of how she started out as a writer, reminding the assembled group that fance tools don’t equate to talent, professionalism and craftsmanship. Anybody can after all pick up a pen and start writing… It is not the typewriter that makes the professional (or indeed the camera).

A much longer term shift well beyond the semantics has been underway for quite some time – what is happening is it is hitting the mainstream.  And it has implications for how communication professionals operate – and advance. In this week’s Venn we’ll look at the intersect – and I’ll be keen to hear your experiences of how you have adapted, as well as any implications you feel it has for associations such as ours.

The latter is highly topical this week as the IABC Executive Committee and our senior staff convene in San Francisco for a summit set to focus and prioritise the work underway as part of the #IABC1417 strategy.

The Gig Economy explained

Strategic advice on communications has been around as long as Aristotle but the way it is secured has changed over the years. Think of ten communicators in your network five years ago vs. now and I expect you’ll find that quite a few have increasingly been working ‘gigs’ at least part of the time rather than in ‘traditional’ full time employment.

An informal poll of my own network also shows that those who remain in ‘traditional’ employment increasingly supplement their project teams with ad-hoc assistance, either drawn from their own network, or through intermediaries such as VMA, Harkness Kennett and equivalents. You could call it small-scale outsourcing.

Some also turn to platforms such as guru.com (around since ’01), elance or Upwork – and you may even have visited the Crews Control exhibitor stand at World Conference – they act as an intermediary between corporates and video teams having facilitated an impressive 84,000+ shoots!

The advantage for professionals operating in this space is potentially more freedom, self-determination – and ideally higher pay. The drawback is that each needs entrepreneurial skills, in addition to their communications expertise.

The Sharing Economy in context

Where the gig economy is about short-term transactions, usually with a financial element to them, the sharing economy is a much broader concept.

What really sets it apart is the ethos.

Whilst your Airbnb booking might not be that cheap, you do expect a less commercial experience than you might in a hotel. In other words, whilst the gig economy is at least old as the Guilds that used to govern the medieval professions, the sharing economy is as old as hitching a ride and on that note, I’ve got a Field Notes companion piece to this one based on my insight from a week working my way from Frankfurt to Florence, via Prague and Vienna – where I’ll talk more about insights from what you might call the bleeding edge of all three economies. The intersect known as the collaborative economy.

The collaborative intersect – from a global profession point of view

Associations sit naturally in the intersect between the ‘gig’, ‘sharing’ and the more ‘traditional’ economy.

Through providing professional standards, a code of ethics – and a career roadmap – IABC caters for all of them.

Let’s dive into each in a bit more detail:

Traditional

This is the place where standards, the career roadmap, certification etc. (as set out above) at first feel the most familiar – but they have an important role to play in the…

Sharing economy

Through our ethos of collaboration and freely sharing experience and advice, our members advance their careers.

This happens through hundreds of local events; our big conferences (London, San Francisco, Johannesburg, Baltimore, Denver, Calgary etc. this year alone); mentoring programmes – and of course our 42,000 strong LinkedIn group.

What ties it all together and makes it work is that shared objective set of frameworks: the Global Standard, the Career Roadmap etc. and of course for our leaders, the IABC Leadership Competency Framework (you’ll quickly come across the latter if you apply for one of the current opportunities to step up and lead).

Gig economy

It looks like it is here to stay, and railing against it like the photographers in the story from ’09 might consign us to the fate of Kodak (who incidentally is in the news again for suppressing an invention in 1975 which could have put them in pole position for the future).

In fact, I would argue that through the diverse community that is our membership, professionals have been finding and exchanging opportunities for as long as we have been around (45 years and counting!).

We’ve been looking more at how we might best step our support here – and see the P.S. below for one thing on that front you can do right now. Meanwhile…

In conclusion – I’m keen to hear your experiences of:
  • how you have adapted to this changing environment?
  • if it changed your working relationships?
  • what implications do you think it has for associations such as ours?

Please help #createconnection – share your story.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. If you’re thinking of dipping your toe into the market on your onw, here’s a worthwhile workshop by one of IABC’s most highly decorated communicators – who has comprehensive across all three economies.

…and as usual, here’s a ready-made tweet for you:

 

The Weekly Venn: Why lead?

I sometimes get asked why I do what I do for IABC and the answer is simple: it sits at the intersect of what I enjoy doing (work with great people), what I am reasonably good at (I hope) and finally, a vision, mission and purpose I believe in (absolutely).

To make that come a bit more alive, I’ve also shared it in the form of a brief story: a 62 word sestude in line with this storytelling challenge (do take it too – you’ll be in good company).

Why lead? Don’t just take my word for it

Getting on Board infographic the benefits of board level volunteering. Click the image to download.
Getting on Board infographic the benefits of board level volunteering. Click the image to download PDF.

We’re an international association – and whilst I recognise that there is invariably some variation across countries, I did find this dataset from UK non-profit Getting on Board on the value of board-level leadership experience compelling (check out the infographic on the right):

It’s official – being a trustee makes the UK’s professionals happier, more confident – and perhaps even richer.

Note: whilst the term trustee/trusteeship is used here, I believe it is interchangeable with board-level leadership – and I also believe that similar results would come out of a geographically broader study. Agree/Disagree? Comment below.

Also worth noting from the study:

The results reveal that for job seekers, trusteeship is more important than ever. 92% of trustees who are currently out of work said they felt being a trustee was building their professional skills and boosting their motivation. 73% of respondents said that a role on a charity board boosted their confidence.

For ambitious workers, board level volunteering could provide the next step up the corporate ladder. Trusteeship has taught vital skills to 100% of respondents aged 18-24, with 65% of all trustees stating that a board volunteering role has improved their CV. A quarter of respondents (22%) even went so far as to say that they received a promotion as a result of trusteeship. Trusteeship can also be an important weapon in cultivating female leaders. 74% of polled women improved in confidence thanks to being a trustee, and 38% had new leadership aspirations as a result.

Board-level volunteering is doing wonders for UK employers too. 85% of bosses said trusteeship is an effective and low-cost way for staff to develop skills. 62% of bosses believe that firms that encourage trusteeships among employees positively raise their corporate responsibility profile.

Need more to justify the time to yourself or your employer?

Continue reading The Weekly Venn: Why lead?

The Weekly Venn: stories that #createconnection

Natasha Nicholson
Natasha Nicholson
Jessica Burnette-Lemon
Jessica Burnette-Lemon
Caroline Cornell
Caroline Cornell

The August issue of Communication World is out.

And it is all about storytelling.

Communication World: What's your story?

I found the Mark Di Somma article on telling stories that connect useful, and I loved Lynda McDaniel’s dissection of the six elements of a good story. Read more here: cw.iabc.com/ – and big thanks to Natasha Nicholson and her team for pulling off another great issue.

IABC is full of great storytellers

To pick up on the theme I am going to challenge a few folk to tell a story… and to make it more manageable in the winter sun (if you’re in South Africa) or the summer heat (if you’re in, say, London): I am going to suggest you keep it concise.

In fact a mere 62 words – aka – a sestude.

Ezri Carlebach
Ezri Carlebach

I learnt about this from long-time IABCer Ezri Carlebach and he’s already put his bit in against this challenge.

// In 62 words, share your story of how IABC helped you #createconnection

The visual leading this story implies that it sits at the intersect of people, profession and practice – but I expect there’ll be some creative interpretations that push those boundaries. That’s certainly what I found at a recent IABC UK event focused on storytelling. Riveting it was too.

Great stories across the globe

Is your Chapter putting something on connected to any of the upcoming Communication World (CW) themes? I’d be interested to know.

Here’s what is coming up:

  • September — Barriers to authenticity
  • October — Targeted communication
  • November — Make change management a participatory process
  • December — Communication trends for 2016: A look ahead

Also, did you know that you can contribute to CW?

This is a timely opportunity to thank the CW Editorial Advisory Panel for their time and dedication – if you’re up for serving in such a capacity, look out for an Open Call coming soon, as I outlined in my inaugural comments at the recent IABC Annual General Meeting.

Ultimately, is the answer is 42… 42,000?

And whilst I have your attention, it is also a great moment to talk about another element of how IABC is using our 42,000 strong LinkedIn group to create connection.

Melissa Dark ABC
Melissa Dark ABC

Our Communications Director, Melissa Dark ABC, has been working with her team to tighten up the moderation on the group so that it is better meeting the its good-practice sharing aim:

The members of this group share new, relevant and thought-provoking content, as well as create and participate in conversations that share knowledge and further the global communication profession.

And practical example which I love is a new effort to connect the dots between a couple of different streams currently in play: an opportunity to continue the weekly #CommChat beyond the usual one hour slots (and the 140 character limit).

2015 08 LinkedIn #commchat continuation

How topical that the first one was ‘choosing the right comms channel’. I hope you’ll get stuck in!

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. You can find the full group rules on the About page within the group.

P.P.S. If you’re up for helping spread the word on storytelling, here’s a ready-made one for you:

#IABCieb Notes & Queries: August ’15 board meeting

Dianne Chase
Dianne Chase
Ginger Homan ABC
Ginger Homan ABC

The IABC International Executive Board – aka #IABCieb – just closed out its third board meeting of this term and here’s a quick recap of what was on the table in addition to the usual reports from the Chair; Vice Chair Dianne Chase (with a specific focus on the work of the Council of Regions – aka #IABCcor); Treasurer Ginger Homan ABC and last definitively but not least, the report from our Executive Director, Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE:

Awards

Cindy Schmieg ABC
Cindy Schmieg ABC
Monika Lancucki ABC
Monika Lancucki ABC

Cindy Schmieg ABC, board liaison to the Gold Quill Committee, shared an update on their work: it is well underway with planning for this year’s awards cycle.

I hasten to bring your attention to the opportunity to serve here: are you the next Vice Chair of Awards? You’ll be working with Monika Lancucki ABC who is looking to take the awards work to the next level in line with the board’s priorities for this year.

If you want to see how the Gold Quill framework can be used off-season too, check out this earlier post.

Academy

Theomary Karamanis PhD
Theomary Karamanis PhD
Sharon Hunter
Sharon Hunter
Ron Hansen PhD
Ron Hansen PhD

The board also had an update from the IABC Academy – one of the perhaps less exciting roles of the board (yet essential) is reviewing terms of reference to ensure clarity of roles, responsbilities – and ultimately alignment with our purpose, vision, and mission. Big thanks to Academy Chair Theomary Karamanis (and congrats again on the recent move to Cornell) as well as board liaison Sharon Hunter for their work on this with Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE and Ron Hansen, our Education Director on staff. This work forms an essential part of the #IABC1417 strategy, specifically in consolidating gains from the 2011-13 strategy cycle.

Meet the full IABC Academy Committee and check out the upcoming workshops and webinars that can help you stay sharp in a competitive environment.

World Conference

Preston Lewis
Preston Lewis
Natasha Nicholson
Natasha Nicholson
Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE
Carlos Fulcher MBA CAE

Carlos, our Executive Director, took us through the comprehensive report on this year’s World Conference – big thanks goes out to Preston Lewis who chaired the #IABC15 Programme Advisory Committee and helped feed into the analysis work led by Natasha Nicholson, IABC’s Director of Content. All that after they had delivered a successful conference too! ‘No rest …’ as the saying goes.

Stacy Wilson ABC
Stacy Wilson ABC

I’m super excited to be working with Stacy Wilson ABC on #IABC16. We’ve had a tremendous response to the Open Call to serve on the 2016 Programme Advisory Committee. Great to see so many leaders from around the world looking to step up and serve.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you all to New Orleans.

Here’s a sneak peek – do help spread the word:

Continue reading #IABCieb Notes & Queries: August ’15 board meeting