Category Archives: Field Notes

Strategy summit – at the site of #IABC17

The IABC executive committee and our senior management team met in Washington D.C. at the Washington Hilton, which is set to host the 2017 World Conference – aka – #IABC17. A great location in a great neighborhood.

We met to define our business priorities for the coming board year. It was exciting to be in the room with so many people who are passionate about IABC’s success.

Carlos Fulcher
Carlos Fulcher
Stephanie Doute
Stephanie Doute
Ron Hansen
Ron Hansen
Natasha Nicholson
Natasha Nicholson
Brook Yciano
Brook Yciano
Kirsten Peterson
Kirsten Peterson

Our senior management team kicked the session off with presentations that showcased their ideas on how to move the association forward. I want to personally thank our outgoing Executive Director Carlos Fulcher, and our now Acting Executive Director Stephanie Doute – as well as Director of Professional Development Ron Hansen, Director of Content Natasha Nicholson, Director of Finance Brook Yciano and Governance Manager Kirsten Peterson for their contributions.

We were also joined by Jodie Slaughter, President and Founder of McKinley Advisors, the company that conducted our recent membership survey. She shared trends in membership associations, which was incredibly insightful. One key point – successful associations are exploring relevant Big Data to gain actionable insights.

As we move into the last year of the 2014-2017 strategy, it was a pleasure to mark many items off the list as completed! Thank you to all our 1,000+ leaders across the world for the hard work you have put in to make that happen. Read the latest annual report to learn more.

Moving forward for this board year, we established four key business objectives to continue our progress towards our established strategic goal of achieving financial sustainability and increasing our membership retention.

While we did make advances in each area this past year, there are still improvements that need to be made to reach our ultimate goals.

1. Retention: substantially enhance the existing plan, utilizing the information from the membership survey we conducted earlier this year.

2. Technology Strategic Plan: we made significant investments and improvements in our technology over the past two years, but we must continue to wisely invest to improve our member experience and customer service.

3. Strategic Communications Plan: continue to focus efforts on our external communications and reaching new audiences to generate increased awareness about IABC. Our Communications Committee is in place and working to advance the association and our profession.

4. Strategic Marketing Plan: IABC has a lot of great products and can add significant value to members of the professional communicators profession – however, we don’t do a good job of telling our story and getting our message heard, understood and acted upon.

As to the Strategic Marketing Plan, this is a combination of a couple of objectives from our previous list of business priorities – to focus on the success of our mature products and to engage with professional communicators who are not members – but it actually will provide a platform for making that happen. Utilizing the survey data, as well as the personas developed by the Membership Task Force, a comprehensive marketing plan will be developed to sell all of our products. Initially, it will focus on Academy offerings, but quickly scale up to include all of our offerings.

A senior staff member was assigned to each objective and milestone dates were set – and we’ll keep you posted on progress.

And I hope to see you at the Washington Hilton next year for #IABC17! Mark your calendar now: 11-14 June 2017.

Dianne Chase
2016-17 IABC Chair

P.S. Got a recommendation for the #IABC17 team on who should keynote? Share your suggestion here – and please help spread the word.

Commercial Thinking Critical to Creating Lasting Change

An interview with Clare Woodcraft – by Ginger Homan, ABC in connection with the 2016 IABC World Conference Foundation Panel on giving.

A world that doesn’t need foundations – that is the dream that drives Clare Woodcraft CEO of the Emirates Foundation.

Clare Woodcraft
Clare Woodcraft

“We are working to eradicate a problem, to create solutions that can be spun off into self-sufficient businesses,” says Clare. “That is how you get long-term solutions. We can deliver social value through our businesses and get to a place where we no longer need foundations.”

Under her leadership, Emirates Foundation has transformed from one that was a short-term grant giving organization to one that is focused on solving a social problem – permanently.

“The idea is to focus your efforts so that every dollar spent helps make true, systemic change,” said Clare. “Before we were giving to all sectors. It is very difficult to measure social impact, to determine what is working, what is not.”

Using the model of Venture Philanthropy, the Foundation conducted market research to understand the gaps in the market and then to determine how to fill them. Based in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, they explored the economic challenges of the country, along with the country’s goals and the underlying core strengths.

The research showed that by focusing on the youth of UAE, the Foundation could help create a sustainable future for the country.

Today the Foundation has six programs, all focused on inspiring, empowering and guiding youth to create a thriving nation.

“Even the approach to fundraising is different,” says Clare. “No longer are we going into a corporation and asking them for money to support our causes. Now we are bringing something of value to the table and asking them to partner with us for mutual benefit. We build a value proposition around their corporate objectives, showing our common goals and how we can create more social impact together. These are true partnerships — we are offering them a service, not just asking for money.”

Foundations experimented with variations on the classic grant-giving model for years, but as budgets got squeezed, philanthropists began blazing new trails in funding models designed to yield social impact, as well as a financial return on their investments. Clare has taken this model and created a foundation with programs that can solve the social issue, but also generate enough funding to ultimately be self-supportive.

“Our goal is to create programs that fix a social issue,” says Clare. “What do young people need? What does the market need? Can we create a product or service that closes the gap? Then we test solutions and find the right balance using business-based concepts. That doesn’t mean we are turning the philanthropic sector into a commercial entity,” she added. “What is means is that there is a call for philanthropic funds to be spent wisely and more systematically so that they create long-term change.”

“In today’s world, businesses can’t just focus on the bottom line. Millennials want companies that are focused on meeting a purpose beyond the profit. They want to be a part of a business that delivers not just to the shareholder, but the broader stakeholder base.”

At Emirates Foundation they measure results with solid metrics tied to each program – how many did they deliver services to, were services delivered cost effectively, were participants satisfied, was the issue solved?

“The mindset of the organization has changed,” says Clare. “We are much more entrepreneurial – more like a private sector company. We have great traction with our corporate partnerships and funding from the private sector too. They trust us to create value – and we are.”

The #IABC16 Bloq Squad – step up!

Here’s the official blog squad for the #IABC16 World Conference

Be sure to follow these intrepid international reporters – they will share their insights from key sessions – as 1,000 communicators from around the world convene in New Orleans.

Brad Gorman
Brad Gorman

Brad Gorman
United States

Communications & Engagement Manager at Whirlpool Corporation.

Follow @BradGorman

Claudia Vaccarone
Claudia Vaccarone

Claudia Vaccarone
France

Head of Market Research & Customer Experience at Eutelsat and also a member of the #IABCieb.

Follow @claudia_v_

Alain Legault
Alain Legault

Alain Legault
Canada

Directeur des communications, affaires publiques et relations gouvernementales at Cégep Edouard-Montpetit et son École nationale d’aérotechnique. Also #IABCieb. 

Follow @IcareMtl

Amy Miller

Amy Miller
United States 

Senior Customer Communication Specialist at LexisNexis, one of the leading providers of legal, government, business and high-tech information sources. 

Kristin Hancock
Kristin Hancock

Kristin Hancock
Canada

Manager Of Communications College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba.

Follow @KristinAnneH

Christine Elmer
Christine Elmer

Christine Elmer
Australia

Director, Marketing and Community Relations Cabrini Health 

Step up and join the #IABC16 blog squad: be a conference reporter in three easy steps

  1. Write a brief (<500-word) story about a session you’re attending, drawing out key learning points and highlights – following the IABC Content Guidelines when developing the story.
  2. Tag with #IABC16 and post it on your preferred platform – for example: LinkedIn, Medium or your own blog.
  3. Share via your favourite social channels – again using the hashtag so others can find it and help spread the word.

Also, submit your best story of the day on IABC’s editorial contributions page. Filed stories will be reviewed for possible inclusion on wc.iabc.com – and may be featured in CW Observer, a blog-based supplement to IABC’s magazine, Communication World.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. Got Tone of Voice?

#FutureFitComms – the follow-up

Big thanks to conference producer Kirsty Brown who helped pull this together – and the IABC UK board (especially Casilda Malagon) for putting this event on. 


RESOURCES, ADVICE AND QUOTES

** If we’ve missed something above (or below), be sure to share it now using #FutureFitComms **

RESOURCES

Find more useful resources on this IABC Extreme Reading / Listening List as collated by your international peers.

ADVICE

At the heart of every good comms strategy…

  • Use of rigour and a systematic approach to answer – ‘on what basis do you know what you know?’
  • Communications sharpens the organisation’s mission. Make sure your comms strategy / plan is rigorously aligned to the leaders’ strategy.
  • Focus on business objectives or how communications makes the business more professional, rather than delivery.
  • Employ strategic planning that incorporates insights from staff on what think will work in their context.
  • Professional communicators are / should be trusted advisors. Claim your place!

IABC resources that can help you put the above into practice:

Organisations are about people…

  • Find your soul, humanise your brand.
  • Communicators humanise business.
  • Humanise it!
  • Good conversations with humans – “understanding the soul of the business. Trust and transparency are key.
  • Two-way conversations, through whatever channel it takes. Around the campfire analogy.
  • The growing importance and understanding of how our minds work and how we use that knowledge to improve our ability to understand and influence audiences.
  • Know yourself, know your customer. Required: self discipline!

Making it happen…

  • Know about filter bubbles leading to confirmation bias when reaching people.
  • Working out loud in a network #WOLAN.
  • Use visuals to make the complex simple.
  • Encouraging interactivity across cultures and technologies.
  • Integration of chatbots to interrogate engagement and social discussions.
  • Incentivise collaboration by remembering motivations: reputation; self satisfaction.
  • Don’t just protect a reputation, build a brand (the 3-some thing!)

IABC resources that can help you put the all of the above into practice:

  • Tap into your peers at IABC – attend local and global events (we hope to see you at #IABC16 too!).
  • Consider mentoring or apply to become a mentee – learn more here.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

“The future of the future will still contain the past” – Everything But The Girl

PROPOSED NEXT STEPS

  1. Follow the speakers to stay tuned to what they’re up to next.
  2. Share this with a communicator who couldn’t make it but who might find it useful… and if you’re not already an IABCer, why not join now.

Big thanks to all who contributed in-person – and virtually.

Let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

 

 

Future fit communications: Connecting trends, strategies and actions

Never has seeing the bigger picture been so important for communications practitioners. This IABC conference is all about connecting you with the ideas, people and impetus that can help you make a difference back in the business – both immediately and in the long term.

Come and join the debate.

EVENT OVERVIEW

Running on the afternoon of Monday, 16 May 2016, the agenda will be split into four key parts and chaired by Michael Ambjorn, International Chair of IABC.

PART 1: What’s the big idea?

A look at current and emerging societal, technology and economic trends that will have an impact on our lives and businesses over the coming years. Our speakers for this section:

Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd

PART 2: So what if?

A quickfire #Rapido session with 5 speakers each taking 5 minutes (and not a second longer) to share their thoughts on what’s hot, and what’s not, in the future of corporate communications. Curated by the incomparable Ezri Carlebach. Our speakers for this section:

Una O’Sullivan, Head of Internal Communications – Global Financial Services, KPMG
Darren Lilleker, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Bournemouth University
Gay Flashman, Founder & CEO, Formative Content
Lesley Crook, Client Advisor, Enterprise Strategies
Susan Walker, Head, AES Communication Research

PART 3: From talk to walk – what do the big ideas mean to your business?

Michael Ambjorn will lead a reflection on the earlier #Rapido session and a panel-audience discussion of the role communications professionals play in making their organisations future-fit. Our panelists:

Andy Gibson, Author of A Mind For Business
Matt O’Neill, Managing Director, ModComms Ltd
Ashish Babu, Director of Communications – UK & Europe, Tata Consultancy Services
Joanna Osborn, Head of Customer Communications, GE Oil & Gas
Keith Coni, Deputy Director of Capability, Standards & Professional Development, Cabinet Office

PART 4: What next?

A group sharing of key learnings, next-step resources, shared objectives and individual action plans. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and transform the big ideas into a plan that works for you. After the event we will curate and share all of these outputs.

TICKETS AND BOOKING

Book one of the last remaining seats now

The IABC is a not-for-profit organisation. Proceeds from ticket sales will be used to cover the cost of running the event and invested back into future IABC member initiatives.

ABOUT IABC UK

IABC UK is the local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators – the global organisation for people working in business communications. It offers members a global forum to develop professional skills, share knowledge of and develop best practice in communications and to discuss important issues affecting the profession.

PARTNERS

Future Fit Communications is supported by Scarlett Abbott, PitchPack andCommunicate magazine.

Leadership Institute Main Session: A Rapido Recap

Time has flown since the 2016 Leadership Institute.

Here’s a quick recap of the blog posts:

…and here’s a rapido recap specifically of the main points and Q&A from the opening session – enjoy!:

2016 Leadership Institute Main Session: A Rapido Recap on Vimeo.

+ see lots and lots of pictures on Flickr.

Let’s #createconnection – like never before.

Michael Ambjorn
@michaelambjorn

 

#IABCLI leadership advice from your peers

Paper airplanes…

Take flight: some great concise advice from your peers.

Have a flick through – then share…

Reflective blogs…

If you’re looking for something slightly longer-form, then here are some great reflective blog posts from leaders who attended – do help spread the word:

Want to absorb more of that energy?

Check out the official photography: flic.kr/iabchq

2016 Leadership Institute

2016 Chapter Management Awards

and the winners are.

There are lots more pictures on Instagram and Facebook… just search for #IABCLI – and be sure to add the hashtag if you’re uploading your own.

Let’s #createconnection – like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

P.S. If I’ve missed your #IABCLI post, tweet me @michaelambjorn and I’ll add it here.

Using Appreciative Inquiry to grow as a leader

A subset of the 140+ leaders attending the 2016 IABC Leadership Institute got together to explore the power of Appreciative Inquiry – and how it can help you grow as a leader.

_MG_4490

Organizations are created, maintained and changed by conversations. It is how connection is created.

In this session we explored how you can use a tool like Appreciative Inquiry to identify opportunities for change, how to mobilize leaders – and maintain shared momentum. 

Here, below, is the hand-out – including a word cloud (slide 2) which you’ll see more about on this blog in coming weeks.

Also, keep an eye on the IABC Leader Centre for hand-outs from all the other breakouts.

Top tweets

It was a wide-ranging discussion – and it is not too late to add your appreciation for some of the key points-turned-into-tweets – by RT/liking below:

Thanks to all who contributed.

Let’s #createconnection – like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

Your ABCDE Checklist for #IABCLI Success

This week I’m heading to a IABC’s annual leadership institute and I thought I’d share my basic high-level pre-attendance checklist in case it is useful to anybody else:

A is for Align

Take a moment to clarify what success looks like.

Think of it like a countdown:

  • 3 for the organisers
  • 2 for the people you’re representing
  • 1 for you

Confused? Read why Venn anyway.

B is for Briefed

You only get out what you put it. Arriving well informed tends to help. Here’s my knowledge packing list.

C is for Connect

Tap into the community.

Most likely people have already started the conference well before it kicks off – say, via Twitter. The hashtag is #IABCLI – get stuck in. Like a good library, there are more shelves though, have a look below for some of the going-on-elsewhere / coming-up-soon topics:

2016 #IABCLI hashtage reference sheet

…and here’s one for the competitively minded:

D is for Develop

Conferences are all about developing what you’ve got into something more. A great way to do that is through sharing your insights and learning (hint, refer to C above).

E is for Engage

Engaging without a purpose is pointless. Right?

2016 #IABCLI hashtage reference sheet - share

Be sure to follow through: say thanks to Council of Regions and the staff who put this together (they’ll appreciate it), as well as any speakers you found inspiring.

Also, connect to relevant people you met via LinkedIn and otherwise follow up on any actions you agreed and promises you made.

In conclusion:

A for Align
B for Briefed
C for Connect
D for Develop
E for Engage

What does your checklist look like? Let me know @michaelambjorn

P.S. Hat tip to Jane Mitchell for the 3-2-1 thought.
P.P.S. A humourous venn that might be helpful if you’re checking up on your LinkedIn (and other social) presence(s) prior to travelling – be human, banish the buzzwords:

 

What communicators can learn from start-ups: paper folding segmentation

This week I’ve been at #SLUSH15 – an event that brings together 15,000 people interested in start-ups: entrepreneurs, investors, academics and of course the raw talent who power it all.

Here’s one of the things I took away – advice given to start-ups, but just as applicable to communicators operating at the strategic advisor level:

Paper folding segmentation

‘Impossible is nothing’ said Muhammad Ali – and whilst that is true, he did take a rather meticulous approach.

The same goes for start-ups (and communicators) who succeed: they don’t try their luck across all the weight classes.

They pick their fights carefully.

The first step? Segmentation.

Kim Väisänen
Kim Väisänen

Kim Väisänen brilliantly brought this to life with a visual shorthand: and no, I’m not talking about boxing gloves. Rather, something you’ll most likely have to hand: a plain sheet of paper.

From Wikipedia: A size chart illustrating the ISO A series and a comparison with American letter and legal formats
From Wikipedia: A size chart illustrating the ISO A series and a comparison with American letter and legal formats

Now just imagine that piece of paper is the whole world.

Tempting, yet hopefully obvious that you can’t address all of it.

Kim’s advice? Keep folding until you have enough specificity to make it meaningful – but also realise that you can’t fold infinitely.

The average piece of paper can only be folded 7-8 times.

If you want to geek out on more on start-up advice – including Rachleff’s Law of Start-up Success, then there’s a useful write-up here. For those just starting out, this simple ‘business plan basics’ Prezi which I’ve taken on the road in the past may also be useful.

Or, if you simply want to prove that you’re a world class communicator who knows how to target what you do… the time is now to enter the 2015 Gold Quills.

 

2015 Gold Quill - IMAGINE

Share your good practice: let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn