June 16th: 2010 IABC-LA Annual Banquet: “Putting Communications at the Center – A Way to Frame the Future of Media, Public Relations and the World”

On June 16, 2010, at IABC-L.A.’s Annual Banquet 2010, the chapter presented “Putting Communications at the Center – A Way to Frame the Future of Media, Public Relations and the World” at the trendy venue of First & Hope Downtown Supper Club.

After cocktails, a Downtown family-style dinner and some lively networking, the chapter welcomed and was challenged by esteemed keynote speaker, Ernest J. Wilson III, Dean, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, to “figure out or fail” in the ever-changing new media environment.  Dean Wilson relayed a quote “The new rules environment has created both a blessing and a curse of the nearly unmanageable deluge of information essential to the communications function.”  The Dean also encouraged “weird experience and weird stuff” works to our advantage to figure it out (!)

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Collectively and individually, the L.A. Chapter has the brain power, determination, and the talent to figure it out.  As a new resident of Los Angeles over the last three years, The Dean spoke of “just listening” in his first year in The City of Angels resulting in four big issues facing communicators:

• The gap between C-level execs and the communication function of an organization.  Executive staffs don’t understand media, while communications professionals don’t always understand a CEO’s big-picture strategy.   He notes communicators get comfortable knowing what works, then a profound communication change comes along like the internet…then social media…then what’s coming by 2013. Dean Wilson has heard the same story from communicators whether it’s the White House, entertainment, manufacturing, oil companies…it’s a multi-industry-wide issue.

• “Who does what?”  This second big challenge issue is the reconfiguration of communications functions in the midst of new media.  Corporate communications, PR, Marketing, Strategic Communications all used to have clearly defined roles.  Yet a vast realignment of these departments and roles has shifted due to the new rules environment of new media and technology.

• With the expansion of dense communications through tweets, blogs, etc. beyond the traditional methods of communications and PR, the walls are falling away between these two functions.  The most trusted information now comes from employees, not the PR department of a company.  Who is managing the content?  Dean Wilson spoke of his faculty meeting which was reported in the L.A. Observer the next day.

• Finally, the “blessing and curse” and unmanageability of vast information increases the importance of metrics.  By measuring and evaluating messages, there are strong implications for organizational design, who gets promoted, and even on whole industries. Dean Wilson emphasized we’re only 10%-15% along in this social media revolution journey.

We appreciated Dean Wilson’s quest to thrive through “SAKE!”
• Skills
• Attitudes – we must embrace and adapt to change
• Knowledge – of technology, sociology, and globalization
• Experience – “We can’t afford to have identical people.”  Talk to innovative people who are doing weird stuff, weird experiences in new media and elsewhere.  The grid and demographics is constantly changing.
 
The quite accessible (and humorous) Dean took questions as the L.A. Chapter stood fortified and ready to take on his proposed issues.
 
Christie Ly, IABC-LA President, ’09-’10, presented the “State of the Chapter” thanking this past year’s board members and welcoming incoming President 2010-1011, Paula Cassin.  Paula presented Christie with a sincere “thank you” gift commemorating Christie’s dedicated service this past year, especially while the chapter faced strong challenges during a tough economy.  Paula also introduced new board members and their roles, as well as plans to update the website to become more social media-connected with the communications community.

A pregnant and glowing Jamie Lipson, past chapter president ’08-’09, presented the “John F. Cartwright – Sunshine Award” to a pregnant and glowing Jessica Schlotter, Chair, Membership ’09-’10!  The award is presented to a dedicated member of IABC for “infectious humor, kindness to others, enthusiasm and, above all, dedication and service to the Los Angeles chapter.”

Chris Cabrera, past chapter president, and Communications Project Manager, Corporate Communications, Southern California Edison, hosted Dean Wilson and chapter members at an “after-party” at the Downtown’s elegant-cool bar.

The event not only celebrated the success of the chapter this past year, yet also provided an extremely informative networking opportunity for all attendees.

The event was kindly sponsored by Toyota, VMS, and Cut Through Communications.

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