In 2006, I was a few years into my post-grad study in marketing whilst juggling a management role in a busy integrated marketing communication agency and a young family. I chose an elective unit, Change Communications, where I came across models I still refer to these days and first heard of IABC. It was the source of credible research in the space. Upon reflection, I’d connected with the lecturer, a change practitioner, and respected her opinion and expertise. She planted the IABC seed in the back of my mind.
Jump forward five years and I was at a career crossroad. I’d just walked away from leading strategy in a full service ad agency which was no longer the right fit. I didn’t know what I would do next but I knew I had to build my professional network beyond what I already had. I sought out networking events where I could build my profile and connect with people who might be valuable in my job search.
One of those was an IABC Victoria ‘speed networking’ event facilitated by a recruiter I wanted to reconnect with. At the time, networking made me anxious particularly if I was solo. This event was different. My anxiety quickly dissipated as people engaged with me. I felt welcome. The next IABC Victoria event followed suit. IABC people were friendly, diverse and willing to share their knowledge. It was the right fit and I became a member.
At the same time, I’d started my own strategic consultancy working with agencies and brands alike. My first project for a global pharmaceutical firm involved brand repositioning, employee engagement, internal communication and campaigns. It really was the beginning of the convergence of the disciplines for me. Access to tools, relevant research and knowledge was essential and I found this through my professional associations, including IABC.
During this time, I set myself a long-term career goal to be in paid board director roles by my mid-50’s. I knew I had a learning curve ahead of me, so I pursued board or committee roles with two non-profit charities in areas I was passionate about. One of these was a lead from an IABC connection.
In 2012, the Victorian chapter called for board nominations and I became the Vice-President (President-elect). It was a fertile and safe space to learn and further my director capabilities. It was hard work but incredibly worthwhile. Aside from the professional learning, it enabled me to become a better communicator, leader and connector. This IABC leadership role gave me the opportunity to meet and connect with professionals that I would not have had access to including business leaders in major organisations and subject matter experts in Australia and across the world. Many of these are now friends or colleagues that I can call on for advice without hesitation.
During my time as Chapter President, we worked to build equity in the IABC brand with corporate and individual members through a strong calendar of PD events, content, recognising excellence and bringing the “I” in IABC to life. We reached out to our global connections to deliver content and events. We were fortunate to coordinate member events and corporate visits with IEB Chairs for four consecutive years as well as the brand evangelist and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki for a sell-out event. That was an opportunity that I took upon approaching him at #IABC15. I’m still a little star struck that I negotiated with him directly and drove him around Melbourne a few months after we met in San Francisco. I look back at my chapter board experience and I’m thankful. I worked with some of the most talented and generous people who gave so much to make it work. We took the time to connect and understand with our current and lapsed members to deliver value that was meaningful to each of them.
One thing that is clear about Aussies is that we do look beyond our shores for validation. Connecting with global SMEs for best practice, as well as engaging Australian communicators in the IABC Gold Quills program are how we can see where we’re positioned. I’m in a privileged position where I have won a Gold Quill for my work, but each year I mentor some who enter the Gold Quills as well as evaluate entries as a Blue Ribbon Panel evaluator (obviously not entries by people I know). I’ve seen some incredible examples of work across many categories and disciplines, and I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to come across an entry that is at the Gold Quill merit or excellence standard. (I do also judge Australian marketing awards and I can attest to the standard and rigor of the IABC Gold Quill awards.) My fellow Aussies should be proud of the standard of their work as it is certainly on par with the best in the world.
Another interesting insight into IABC comes from volunteering at one or more of the international committees or task forces. Before my IEB commitments, I was able to contribute my brand, governance and program management expertise to time-specific task forces and programmatic committees, which deepened my knowledge of IABC and how it operates globally. This has continued to this day through my IEB commitments, where I’ve either been the IEB liaison or chair. The commonalities across all of these has been gaining knowledge, appreciating the diversity of thinking and culture, the professionalism and the energy of the IABC staff and volunteers.
Stepping up to the IEB in 2016 was a significant commitment which ends this June. It’s a well-run board with strong governance principles and clear focus upon the sustainability of the association and delivering value to members. It’s a competency based board so we have a robust mix of skills and experience, and it’s truly international. Of course, being involved in an international organization means being accustomed to early morning video calls or late evening calls.
Like any professional board, we set the strategic direction, evaluate the progress, change course if needed and oversee risk. It’s been hard work with some challenges, but the reward has been immense. It’s no longer about promise and potential, IABC is really moving forward. It’s thanks to our staff, our volunteers and of course our members.
When you’re in the leadership role, whether it is at chapter, region or international, you do need to walk the talk. Sometimes that means stepping outside your comfort zone. For me it was stepping up to lead, entering the Gold Quills, writing the SCMP certification exam, public speaking or undertaking thought leadership research. I’ve learnt every step of the way and validated my expertise.
Challenge yourself and take a risk. That could be as simple as getting involved at a chapter or regional board, the regional or world conference organizing committee, a programmatic committee or task force, speaking at an event or webinar, running an Academy course or contributing content for CW. Make sure it works for you. IABC is a diverse and inclusive organization that has been called a “tribe” – it is in its own way. It will welcome you, help you, develop you and give back.
What’s next for me? Continuing the growth of IABC in Asia Pacific supporting the chapters to deliver value to their members and our members-at-large.
IABC leaders — the deadline to register for Leadership Institute 2019 is FAST approaching, and I don’t want you to miss out. Come join us in sunny Long Beach, CA Feb 7-9 and learn how to grow your chapters, and your career. I can’t wait to see you there! 🏖 Already registered? Yay! Please tag in some of your fave IABC leader colleagues you’re looking forward to reconnecting with in Long Beach next month 😊
Join keynote speaker, Cynthia D’Amour, MBA, author of The Lazy Leader’s Guide to Outrageous Events, to learn how to design magnetic experiences that keep your members coming back.
You will learn how to:
Together you’ll create a collection of meeting starters to use when you get back to your chapter.
As we celebrate #GivingTuesday, I am reminded of the many ways the IABC Foundation gives back to our community globally. If you are not familiar with the Foundation, it is the charitable arm of our organization with four pillars of focus: The Gift of Communication; the Gift of Excellence; the Gift of Insight; and the Gift of Experience. Though I encourage you to learn more about the Foundation, and how it is working within our organization, I’d like to focus today on the Gift of Communication.
The Gift of Communication encourages members and chapters to give back to our communities by utilizing our professional skills and expertise to help local charities address communication challenges. Gifts happen year-round in chapters around the globe and at the World Conference each year in June. And in recent conversations I have had with IABC members, I have heard a resounding pride that our organization has a focus on giving back to our peers in the profession.
Earlier in my career, I had the privilege to work for a global nonprofit organization. I was the VP of Communications and Marketing and was lucky to have a small department staff, which is rare for most nonprofits. However, we were still challenged to support more than 30,000 people who received our services, a volunteer base of more than 20,000 and something like 500 events annually. The only way to find success with so much going on and limited resources was to be strategic, creative, and build partnerships.
Through these partnerships, I was able to build a volunteer communication and marketing advisory group of eight senior communication leaders, who freely shared their experiences, guidance, and resources. Their dedication to our organization, and those we served allowed us to run amazing award-winning communications and branding campaigns that greatly benefited our organization.
I think of that group often when I think of the Gift of Communication. Most nonprofits don’t have that luxury. In many cases, they may have one person that does fundraising, marketing, and communication all in one. Sometimes they want direction and guidance, sometimes they need solutions, and sometimes they desire peers with whom to bounce ideas. The expertise our members give so freely during Gift events allows the nonprofit staffs to be more successful for their mission.
If you’d like to participate in a Gift, I’ve listed a few upcoming December events. If you’d like to host a Gift at your chapter or if you are hosting a Gift, we’d love to hear about it. Reach out to IABCs Foundation Manager Kirsten Peterson for more information or to share your Gift news. If you’ve volunteered for a Gift, THANK YOU! Time is the most precious gift you can give.
As an independent consultant, I know the success of my business often rests on my ability to achieve a goal – whether it be increasing awareness of a government program, enhancing the fundraising efforts of a non-profit corporation, or engaging the public using social media tools.
This desire to achieve a goal is shared by all of us who work in communications – creating some kind of change – that’s what our work is all about. It’s the foundation of why we do what we do. The formula for success is always the same – identify the business problem, create objectives that are measurable, do your research and analysis, find a solution and evaluate your results. Voila! Success! Easy peasy right? If only…
We all know the hard work that goes into ensuring success, so now that you’ve achieved a business goal or two, why not be recognized for it? Consider submitting your successful project for an IABC Gold Quill Award and tell the world about your success!
The IABC Gold Quill Awards program recognizes innovative, strategic work that delivers business results as measured against a global seven-point scale of excellence.
Not sure where to start? The Gold Quill Awards website provides numerous resources including a work plan template to help you prepare. The website also provides details on the global scale of excellence, case studies of Gold Quill Award entries, FAQs on the program process, and more.
Award winners are chosen in April, which gives you lots of time to plan to attend the Excellence Gala at the IABC World Conference in June, where you will be presented with your Gold Quill in front of hundreds of your peers.
Please note, the deadline to enter the 2019 Gold Quill Awards Program is Jan. 9, 2019. See www.gq.iabc.com for more details!
In the middle of the United States we are officially in the dog days of summer — long days of sweltering heat and no breeze. We dream of nippy nights and an occasional storm to cool things off.
In the midst of the heat, the board’s Executive Committee met with senior IABC staff in July to hammer out our work plan for this year. This past week it was approved by the board – so it’s full steam ahead.
Since this is the second year of our three-year strategy, so we are definitely focused on advancing the profession, creating connection and developing strategic communicators around the globe. Here are some highlights from each area:
At our board meeting the IEB approved IABC’s first D&I statement that will serve as a guide to building diversity and inclusion as a core strength. It will be released later this summer with the approved short and long-term strategy to help us achieve more diversity at the international level – including a commitment to the #PanelPledge, a new Chapter Management Award for chapters that excel in D&I and creating safe spaces at all of our events.
I’m proud of how welcoming we are as a group, but there is always room for improvement. In the coming months you will hear more about changes we will be making to ensure we are living this core value. We know that improved business outcomes are directly tied to diverse workforces and communities. IABC is no different. This is critical to our success as an organization and we can’t just talk about, we have to be intentional to succeed.
Where ever you are, I hope you are enjoying your family, friends and work. We have a few regional conferences coming up APAC, Southern, Africa and Heritage. I encourage you to attend if possible. It is always great to connect and grow with other communicators.
Last week I got to hang out with a bunch of IABC superheroes — the Council of Regions.
As IEB Vice Chair, I serve as Chair of the ‘Council of Regions’ — every time I say the name, I can’t help but picture the superheroes in the DC Comics ‘Justice League’. So, it’s a good thing for everybody that the Council of Regions is mostly just known as CoR.
The members of CoR really are superheroes though — these are the eight region chairs from around globe, and their role is to oversee the chapters and members-at-large in each region, providing a critical link between the international association and local leaders.
This year, CoR will be focusing on several key objectives:
Last year, each region also developed a strategic growth plan, and this year’s CoR will be focused on executing initiatives that will strengthen chapters, increase engagement of members-at-large and grow the region overall.
See what I mean? Total superheroes.
One of the coolest parts about CoR is that every region has different strengths and challenges, so the group can serve as a great knowledge-sharing resource, and its members can inspire each other to tackle old problems in new ways. For example, a region that has been very successful at recruiting amazing chapter leaders, may have strategies and processes that can help a region that has struggled in this area.
Last year’s LI keynote speaker, Cynthia D’Amour made a big impression on CoR. Her call to eliminate the style of ‘martyr leadership’ prevalent in so many volunteer-led associations, including ours, will be a vital tool in helping CoR achieve its goals.
Personally, I am really excited to see how CoR can contribute to the success of the new corporate membership program. Having a group that can help connect the dots, broker relationships and identify opportunities to bring in corporate memberships with communicators in multiple regions is a powerful role to be able to play in IABC’s growth.
I always feel like the Council of Regions is one of the best kept secrets in IABC. We focus on chapter leadership, and region leadership and the IEB, but people forget about the magic of CoR — this group that links all of those elements together. It’s also one of the times when the ‘I’ in IABC is most evident — it is the only leadership committee in the association that, by definition, has 100 percent global representation.
When I became APAC Chair in 2015, I remember sort of stumbling into my first CoR meeting, not really sure what it was, truth be told. I was instantly blown away by the opportunity to work with all these other amazing leaders from around the world, and to get this glimpse into their regions. This experience vaulted me into a whole new level of understanding of the association, and played a big role in helping me take on my current role as IEB Vice Chair.
Last week was the first official meeting of the 2018-19 Council of Regions, and it was so exciting for me to be their Chair as that same powerful realization started to sink in for them. As you can see from the photos, they are a pretty cool group, and I can’t wait to see what they achieve together!
This year’s Council of Regions is:
Our Montreal World Conference was a whirl wind – but now we are running at pace to prepare for 2019 in Vancouver.
For those of you that missed our Annual General Meeting (AGM), here is a rundown of the business conducted:
In addition, our out-going chair Sharon Hunter gave a report about progress made in the 2017-2018 board year (including the launch of The Hub) and secretary/treasurer Alain Legault gave a financial report. Sharon’s annual report will be released this week.
As the new chair, my remarks focused on creating an organization that our next generation will value, with a focus on executing year two of our three-year strategy. I highlighted three items for our 2018-2019 plan and beyond:
Stay tuned as we explore mentoring and how it can make us all better. In addition, we are launching a Panel of Producers. Check out this link to apply to create videos, audio, photography and animation to tell our story. The deadline is June 21, so don’t delay.
While it didn’t happen at the AGM, we announced a partnership with ICKollectif — an independent nonprofit based in Montreal; dedicated to sharing knowledge, insights and on the practice of internal communications. So far, they have included practitioners from more than 157 countries. This is a major step forward in delivering top quality content to members and supporting work being done in our profession.
These are exciting times – so stay tuned.
In a speech entitled The Battleground is Trust delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, global PR leader Richard Edelman notes that the codes of ethics and conduct of professional membership organizations like IABC and others are worthwhile. However, in the wake of the recent Bell Pottinger scandal, Edelman believes current standards do not go far enough to enforce ethical behavior and we must do better as an industry to regulate our practice.
Edelman states, “We need a set of principles that are universal, consistent, and well understood across the industry. The time has come to adhere to a single set of strong standards, and to hold all of our people accountable to them.” Edelman called for a PR Compact encompassing four principles of a global standard to regulate and enforce ethical practices that may serve to rebuild public trust in our institutions. He then called on like-minded groups globally to partner for ensuring the standard is followed around the world.
As the only global association for professional communicators, IABC applauds this initiative. We firmly stand by our Code of Ethics to guide the personal conduct of our member practitioners and we look forward to participating in this critical conversation about industry regulation on a global scale.
We have always believed professional communicators are at the heart of building trust, advising and holding executives accountable to authentic leadership, and driving business results through ethical practice within their organizations. In fact, the thrust of our #IABC1720 strategy to advance the profession is underpinned by our IABC Global Standard encompassing six core principles of professional practice where ethics stands at the top.
The Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), an IABC initiative, tests communicators against that Global Standard. Ethics knowledge is a key competency within the Communication Management Professional (CMP) and Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP) certifications. The IABC Academy online courses also cover ethics themes.
IABC is dedicated to making standards of excellence accessible to communicators around the world.
We welcome the continued conversation.
Sharon Hunter, Chair
Recap on the road to a new 3-year strategy
#longread – it has been a journey!
We launched a global listening tour in September using Appreciative Inquiry – to engage our community in creating a shared understanding of what we value most to bring forward into 2020 and beyond.
We shared some great stories, experiences and achievements to bring out the best in us.
“You come for the professional development, you stay for the people”, “IABC peers are like family” and “IABC has honed my leadership skills more than any paid gig” are but three examples of what we value as a united peer community. See #IABC1720 for highlights of this journey.
The strength of passion and purpose to advance the profession within our global network cannot be overstated – and it will take a commitment to collaborative leadership to bring this new strategy cycle to life. Fortunately, IABC leaders have this in spades!
Throughout the strategy development work, the International Executive Board, regional and chapter leaders participated where we:
We are a diverse global community – it is our greatest strength but also our greatest challenge. How can we deliver relevant value across a broad spectrum of needs?
For associations, this doesn’t change at the core: It’s to continue to help members be successful in what matters most to them – supporting through education and insights, credentialing, community exchange and advocacy for the profession. What changes over time is the format and content of programming – and how we create opportunities for people to access it and engage each other to learn and grow.
For communicators in a rapidly changing business landscape, it means a commitment to adapt and develop new multi-disciplinary skills and demonstrate impact on key business outcomes.
Recall the Top Three Professional Challenges cited in our Global Membership Survey:
This, from over 18,000 respondents where 72% have more than 10 years experience in the field.
Business leader interviews we conducted confirmed this familiar story: Communicators need to demonstrate business acumen and prove their ability to drive key business results. This is where we take our cue for advancing the profession over the next three years.
It’s time to prove the impact of strategic communications using #insightsandresults and to develop strategic communicators – through the Global Standard and certification – to become trusted business advisors.
What comes next? We vote at the AGM tomorrow to affirm our strategic intent
Input on these new Vision/Purpose/Philosophy statements was enthusiastic and incorporated into revisions approved by the International Executive Board to go forward to AGM vote. A special thank you to Ginger D. Homan, IABC secretary/treasurer and #IABC1720 co-author for leading this essential exercise to conclusion.
The three elements of the Purpose statement – Advance the Profession, Create Connection and Develop Strategic Communicators – form the pillars of the proposed framework for the 2017-2020 strategic plan.
As we look to the future, IABC’s next three years will aim to advance the profession through a proactive approach to thought leadership and by helping communicators realize their strategic potential as business advisers to prove their impact on the organizations they serve.
With this framework approved, work to tie strategy to action for the 2017-18 term begins immediately at the International Executive Board meeting on Sunday. Stay tuned here for more as we put our best foot forward – together!
In my role as Vice Chair this year, it has been a privilege to lead this planning process. A note of sincere thanks to the 2016-17 board, regional, chapter and committee leaders for your time and ongoing engagement in this important work – and to our hardworking staff.
And finally, thank you to members and Gold Quill winners whose commitment to professional practice advances our standards of excellence each and every day.
Hope to see you here in Washington! #IABC17 awaits!
Sharon Hunter, Vice Chair
What an incredible conversation we had at Leadership Institute about updating the IABC vision, purpose, philosophy and value proposition. Any time you look at change, you always expect push back – not spontaneous applause! I think we are all ready to have a statement that is our rally cry and that will keep us on track – at our chapters, regions and at international.
When we got home from Dallas, Sharon Hunter and I recreated the white board on my office wall. We took the time to go through each note and reflect on how it might change the message. It made us aware of a few things that we needed to keep in mind:
For example, the vision statement is for us. That statement needs to set out our ultimate goal as an association so that professional communicators know, in a moment, what IABC is trying to accomplish. That is why the statement, “a professional communicator at the heart of every business,” resonated with so many members. It is what IABC is trying to accomplish
However, the value proposition is for our external audience – perhaps a fellow communicator about why they should join, or a business leader on why they should support our involvement. It definitely needs to include the business value and expected outcome. Great input.
We want a vision, purpose, philosophy and value proposition that resonates with our members and becomes our rally cry. The world café showed us that the three areas of our proposed purpose statement – advance the profession, create connections and develop professionals – work for chapters, regions and international. Now we need to work on the words around them.
We got clear feedback that “a force for good” does not resonant with our international audience. We took that to heart and the phrase is now on the cutting room floor (basically, my office floor).
This has been an incredible experience – from getting your input in every region on the Listening Tour, to our hands-on work at Leadership Institute. Your voices are in our heads. We will continue to brainstorm, edit and tweak away. Good governance dictates that an association review these statements every three to five years, in conjunction with a new strategy cycle. So check back for updates posted here. Chapter delegates will vote on any changes at the Annual General Meeting at World Conference in Washington D.C.
In the meantime, if you have an idea or suggestion, please send it to us, email@example.com. We are updating these statements as part of our work to develop the next three-year strategy. Below is a chart that shows how all the pieces interconnect.
Together we can align the vision, purpose and philosophy statements so they guide our actions for the future, help us see the opportunities and ultimately, deliver enduring value to our community.
Together we can align the vision, purpose and philosophy statements so they guide our actions for the future, help us see the opportunities and ultimately, deliver enduring value to our community.
Thanks for all you do.
How Everything Fits