Half Of Communications Should Be Listening

ByRussell Grossman

Half Of Communications Should Be Listening

Earlier in April I was in London at our Europe, Middle East & N Africa region conference. One of the topics, by incoming EMENA Region Chair Klavs Valskov, AB’s Katie Macaulay and HSBC’s Ulrike Felber, was especially good : on the value of listening and power of ‘employee voice’.

“No-one is as smart as everyone” said Katie, adding that social media is a behaviour, not a tool.

Through my year as International Chair I’ve tried to incorporate this kind of philosophy as much as possible, listening hard to others, and inviting challenge as part of developing ideas for the future.

Thus it was that last Thursday I chaired a focus group at Pfizer’s New York World Headquarters of senior communicators, brought together for us by NY IABC Chapter Chair Bob Libbey and Past IABC International Chair, Mark Schumann.

The group, mostly non-, or lapsed members, were united in the potential of IABC to make a global difference for and by communicators and to be a stronger voice for the profession in the business and wider world.

“But at the moment, IABC is just talking to itself” one retorted.  “Unless you sort your external communications out, no-one will hear you” (an ironic moment, because until it was dropped last year IABC was using the infamous tagline “Be Heard”).

It’s often said that to the outside world IABC is just a well-kept secret.

Some of our chapters are very happily introspective, yet the quality of members and their work  (just look at the brilliance of this year’s Gold Quill entries, with over 300 Award winners) means this is a huge untapped resource. The Association, business and society at large are all losing out.

So we’ve created a new international standing committee devoted to improving our external communications and to putting IABC more on the map much more effectively among three distinct audiences.

Those audiences are:

(1) communicators, globally, who are not traditional members of IABC but who will nevertheless attend events and speak well of us;

(2) industry media and stakeholders, with whom we can also present a campaigning platform for the profession and

(3) the wider business community, so it comes to recognise the value which effective communications, and IABC specifically, can add to their firm’s success.

Expect to hear more soon.

This, together with our new brand (to be publicly launched in June) and refresher media training for our Vice Chair, Chair and Past Chair, means we will in the future speak more powerfully for IABC, the industry and business.

Thank you for listening.

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