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.
One of my favorite things about working on a university campus is this time of year – back to school time represents a fresh start. Each year is a new beginning and a chance to learn new things – or maybe make good after a prior year that didn’t go so well (or where too much fun was had!)
They don’t always believe me, but I tell students that, particularly in our business, you never really stop learning. You could argue that the field of marketing broadly, and especially marketing communications, has changed more with the digital revolution of the past 10-12 years than in several decades previously. The explosion in new technologies coupled with the rise of the empowered stakeholder make it more important than ever that those of us who work in audience communications think about our skills development.
Given this need, the value proposition for IABC should resonate more strongly than ever. Gone are the days when interacting with our broader professional community colleagues is a “nice to do” or a box to check off to make us feel like we’ve networked. The cold reality is that, if you aren’t constantly thinking about what Covey called “sharpening the saw”, you risk being left behind. The lost opportunity cost of missing a promotion or even losing a job opportunity to someone else who presents themselves as more knowledgeable is too great to ignore.
The good news is that organizations like IABC make the process of life-long learning manageable and cost effective. As an IABC member, for example, whether you pick up a concept or a tool that can help you on The Lab, attend a professional development session with a local chapter, or take an entire educational course through the IABC Academy, the opportunities are plentiful.
As I participate as a new member on the IABC international executive board, I am thrilled to see the very intentional and deliberate emphasis on professional development offerings. We realize that the high-caliber communications professional who joins IABC understands the need to improve themselves, and that they have careers that require multiple (and convenient) learning formats. I think it may be the most meaningful way we can contribute to the industry.
Enjoy this season and its reminder of our need to keep our saws sharp.
Earlier this week IABC joined eight other communication and public relations associations in issuing a statement in support of a free press globally.
It started with an email from the National Chair of PRSA, Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, asking IABC to join in support of a #freepress. I’m so glad he initiated this effort — and proud of so many who immediately stepped up.
As a board, we felt it was important to do. Our Code of Ethics states, “I support the ideals of free speech, freedom of assembly, and access to an open marketplace of ideas.”
Every year when we renew our IABC membership, we reaffirm our belief in this code — but everyday when we practice our profession, we live it. While protection of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution is specific to the U.S., support for the critical role of a free press is universal.
These are the organizations that joined IABC in making this statement:
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.
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
For the last three years, IABC has been under a transformation – revitalizing programs to improve membership retention and achieve financial sustainability. As we transition from the 2014/2017 strategy to the 2017/2020 strategy, we reviewed IABC’s vision, mission, purpose and philosophy statements to give clarity to who IABC is, what IABC does and the value we bring to communication professionals.
We started the review last fall with a global listening tour, holding appreciative inquiry sessions in every region, and then opened the conversation on this blog for input back in January. Armed with your input, vice chair Sharon Hunter and I presented draft statements at Leadership Institute in Dallas.
Knowing that these statements need to work at the chapter, regional and international levels, the input we got in Dallas from IABC leaders crystalized our path forward. We knew which statements were right, and which ones needed work. We also had a better understanding of what each statement should accomplish and who the intended audience was for each one.
A few times I heard members say, “I need to explain to my CEO the business value of IABC.” Your feedback, gave us our new value proposition: IABC is the only global association connecting me to the people and insights I need to drive business results.
Here are all the statements that will be added to the IABC bylaws and voted on at the Annual General Meeting on Saturday, 10, 2017 in Washington D.C.
In addition, this statement will be updated in our Brand Guidebook. It is our elevator speech and will be used in marketing and communications materials.
All of these statements use the work of the Brand Task Force, led by Priya Bates, ABC, MC, CMP, IABC Fellow, as a foundation. That, coupled with your guidance, gives us four strong statements that can serve to unite us and guide our work. They reaffirm our strategic intent as an association to stay relevant into the future, underpinning the 2017-2020 new strategy framework that is currently in development. Stay tuned for more updates as we countdown to kick-off at World Conference in Washington, DC this June.
Thank you to IABC members around the globe who participated in this process and helped get us to a better, stronger place.
A brief sampling of feedback from Twitter:
— Dominique Jolicoeur (@dominiquejoli) April 1, 2017
IABC is clarifying the vision and purpose to create a stronger community — and a stronger brand. Be a part of the c…https://t.co/G60o9DflD8
— Ginger Homan, ABC (@GingerHoman) March 9, 2017
— Angela Anderson (@angeandersonyyc) February 24, 2017
— Jennifer Wah (@Jenniferwah) February 24, 2017
— Chris Gessele (@ChrisGessele) February 24, 2017
— Diana Quinton (@QuintonDiana) February 24, 2017
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
Here we are on the cusp of October! Wow- time flies when you’re having fun and everyone is in high gear for our IABC. We’re entering a busy time of the IABC year with three region conferences and regional leadership institutes coming up in the next four weeks, along with the all-important October Membership Month which is going to be stellar this year!
For all the scoop check out our September Leadership Forum featuring our Awards Committee Chair, Lynn Barter, ABC.
Some important links and hashtags for you:
Also, please mark your calendars for the upcoming Leadership Forums. We’re staggering the times for these monthly conversations with leaders so as to engage as many time zones as possible with as little “pain” as possible. We definitely want you to get your sleep!
Here are the dates and times coming up:
26 October at 2 p.m. Pacific Time
16 November at 10 a.m. Pacific Time
14 December at 2 p.m. Pacific Time
25 January at 10 a.m. Pacific Time
In the meantime, please do reach out with any questions, input, suggestions, recommendations and insights. Your contributions are encouraged and most welcomed. Let’s #createconnection and #engage2excel like never before!
With deep appreciation for all you do for our IABC,
Regional leaders launch our global conversation campaign to shape IABC’s next 3-year strategy at the Europe Middle East and North Africa (EMENA) leadership institute today.
These questions frame the appreciative inquiry approach we’re using to create a shared vision of the future into 2020 and beyond.
Today we launch the discovery phase of this strategy process. It’s a global listening tour that will travel through a series of world cafes at regional conferences, leadership institutes and select chapter events over the next few months.
These sessions aim to engage our community to explore the best of what we are with an eye toward what more we could be.
Next steps will include a master session at the International Leadership Institute in Dallas, Texas happening February 23-25 2017. Save the date! The board will then review three iterations of the new plan before it lands at the AGM next June.
It is the Vice Chair’s role to lead this process. It’s a duty I’m honored to advance in collaboration with co-author Ginger Homan, ABC, IABC Secretary/Treasurer, Chair Dianne Chase and the Executive Committee, the entire board and all who will bring their passion and ideas forward to help us along. I thank you all for the time and energy that you will bring to this community effort.
Follow #IABC1720 for tweets coming out of EMENA today. Fellow IEB member Michael Nord is leading an inspired group including Nikki Edwards, EMENA Chair, Alex Malouf, Vice Chair and dedicated leaders from across the region.
Check back here often for ongoing updates. The conversation will continue through sessions in Heritage, Southern and Pacific Plains regions in October, South Africa in November and other area events to follow.
Have an idea, question or experience to share? Email email@example.com – we’re listening!
With appreciation for all that you do,
Sharon Hunter, Vice Chair