Presidents Message – Welcome to the New Site

Dear Members,

Welcome to our new website. I hope you enjoy it and find it a step forward from the previous site.

Everyone on the Board has been working hard through the Summer and Fall on the website and other major projects for the Chapter.

I would like to tell you about how the current IABC-Los Angeles Board intends to provide value to members and fulfill our goal of connecting business communicators in Los Angeles.  It boils down to three things: Improving Online Resources, New Events, and Showcasing Members.

Improve Online

With our revamped website, we can now easily post our events calendar, showcase members, post news, and pass on best practice and resources.

If you attended any of our past events, odds are you found people to be friendly and welcoming.  IABC is known for providing great networking and for attracting professionals open to helping one another.  Unfortunately our online presence did not match this!  The old website was static and painfully difficult to update, especially when our longstanding Webmaster decided understandably to move on after volunteering on the Board for several years.

We intend for the new site to evoke the friendliness and accessibility of our face-to-face events, while staying true to IABC.  Now we have a website where great communication is possible!

We have taken up social media, too – please connect at our active LinkedIn Group, Facebook Page, or on Twitter if you have not done so already. We are using these tools to network, share knowledge and provide places to ask for help from fellow members and the wider communications community.

New Events

This year we are continuing our practice of holding regular meetings every month from September through June, rotating between Burbank/Pasadena, Downtown, and South Bay/Long Beach areas, so that members have at least 3 events close by each year. (At the moment we do not have anyone able to organize events in the Thousand Oaks-Woodland Hills area – let us know if you are interested!). We””””ll continue to have two major events a year within this schedule – the December Holiday Party and the June Annual Banquet.

Something new: we are organizing two events completely FREE to members as a way to say Thank You for staying with IABC through the economic downturn. We began with a free networking event in Pasadena on September 23rd, and will host a similar event in the South Bay in February 2011, to ensure at least one is accessible to all members.

This year, we are working more closely with other professional organizations such as Communitelligence and PRSA-LA, to pull in speakers and widen networking opportunities – sometimes our combined efforts enable us to tap into resources and people we could not reach alone!

Showcase Members

The Member Profiles feature on our website has been in demand – we will continue doing this, as many people have found it to be extremely valuable for career development and networking. Once all existing member profiles are migrated to the new site, we will put out all call for new profiles.

We intend to further showcase members by inviting them to guest post on the Chapter blog, providing their thoughts on a topic, raising issues, reviewing events or speakers, etc.  If you are passionate about a communications-related subject and would like to contribute, please contact us – we may be able to showcase your thoughts in an article, video, or at a face-to-face event.

Your Thoughts?

All of us on the IABC Chapter Board are members like yourselves, who choose to volunteer to make the Chapter happen. Please let us know if you think we are heading in the right direction – we welcome your ideas, suggestions, improvements, critiques. You can write to individual Board Members, email or head to the Linkedin or Facebook pages to connect!  And if you’d like to help run the Chapter, we warmly welcome your contributions.

Thank you,

Paula Cassin

President 2010-2011, IABC Los Angeles Chapter

Considering Freelance? Know the Business Basics.

Guest Article by member Myra Jolivet

Numbers, business plans? Increasingly, even the most creative of us communicators find value in learning business basics.  Knowing the basics can not only prepare us for an uncertain future, but can expand our options, or enable us to supplement our finances in retirement.

Tax and Business Law Attorney Patrick Collins gives us some great advice to use now or even apply later, should we ever need to put a plan B into action.  I asked Patrick a few questions. Here are his answers:

If we find ourselves transitioning from employee to contract/freelance work; what should be our first steps in setting up our business?

First, consult a lawyer, financial planner, and/or a tax professional regarding business structure, finances, and tax consequences. Secondly, obtain any licenses or certifications and insurance required for the work you plan to do. Get a business license from the city you plan to do business in, and the city you plan open your office. (Note:  if any part of your name or a variation of your name is in the title of your business you do not need to register a DBA with the County Clerk); and 4) get a Federal Employer Identification Number (“FEIN”).

What is one of the most common financial mistakes you see small businesses make?

The most common financial mistake I see small businesses make is forming a corporation before it is necessary. Corporations in CA are liable for a minimum tax of $800 each year regardless of losses or inactivity, however in their first year of formation they may be granted an exemption from this minimum fee.  So, wait until the New Year to get the full value of the first year tax exemption, and the business risks and or activity justify the need for a corporation, before forming one.  Also, CA charges a total of $125 for corporate registration so don””t pay $300 or more to an online company or other entity to form a corporation.  A corporation””s annual cost for tax preparation, accounting, and tax payment is a minimum investment of $1,500 per year.

What are some things we can write off of our taxes that people don””t often realize?

The most commonly overlooked expense deduction for most self-employed professionals is the home office deduction.  This deduction enables those who work from home to deduct the portion of household utilities, repairs, rent, phone, and miscellaneous household expenses relative to the business use percentage of the home.  Also, commissions paid to others, legal and professional fees, vehicle mileage instead of actual vehicle expenses (government currently pays $.55 per mile for business use of vehicle), and interest paid on credit cards and loans used to finance business purchases.

What else should a new freelancer keep in mind?

Good record keeping is the key to good business management.  Record keeping enables you to track your performance and therefore to make informed business decisions.  It is also a must if you intend to attract either private investors or banks to invest in your business.

2009 IABC Gold Quill Marketing Communications Judging

In February, IABC-LA member Bill Spaniel hosted a judging session for the Marketing Communications Category of the 2009 IABC Gold Quill Awards.

Volunteers spent the afternoon reviewing entries and they took a moment to comment on what they were looking for in winning entries. See the judges’ thoughts and opinions here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6Yvfz0kGoA

March 20th, 2009 Event wrap up: venturing into new territory, experiencing a new approach to writing

After spending some time networking and catching up over breakfast, we spend an hour and a half with Virginia Green, PhD, who took us through some exercises to help up approach writing in a new way.  We drew self portraits using 5 lines (!), brainstormed over a Vermeer painting, explored our strengths through an entrepreneurial lens, and then tied it all back to tapping into right brain creativity as well as left brain analytics and language.

Here’s a video wrap up from some of the participants:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/2F4hjtlEEes" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

In order of appearance:

Jeff Gilling of McCrindle Research, visiting from Sydney, Australia

Rebecca Mikkelsen, new IABC member recently relocated to Los Angeles

Virginia Green, our esteemed speaker, and

Kerry Bonner, IABC member and PR/Marketing freelancer.

February 19 Event: Measuring Communication’s ROI on a Shoestring Budget

We had a great meeting at Edison on February 19. More than 60 people attended to hear communications superstar Angela Sinickas talk about “Measuring Communication’s ROI on a Shoestring Budget” – and in some cases, with NO budget.

Angela’s presentation was jam packed with useful ideas that participants could walk away and implement the next day – from low-cost/no-cost research techniques to a host of grids (she loves grids) that can help you demonstrate your value to even the most skeptical senior exec.

You can listen to the presentation here. (please be patient with the download — it’s a big file.)

For more information and great free stuff, go to Angela’s web site at www.sinicom.com. After you listen to her presentation, email her at angela@sinicom.com to get a copy of her slides too.

Thank you, Angela!

Many thanks to Zanku Armenian and the fine folks at Edison for hosting the meeting and providing a buffet of yummy hors d’oeuvres. Zanku and his colleague Jeramy also did a presentation on all the neat stuff Edison is up to with their communications and advertising.

February 18 Event: Integrating New & Old Media

On February 18, Cara Good, Chief Executive Officer of WunderMarx PR, spoke with a group of almost 30 communication professionals about how companies are combining new media (blogging, podcasting, social networking, etc.) and old media (newsletters, press releases, etc.) to reach their strategic objectives.

As Good explained, new media is simply another tool that communicators can add to their toolbox. These technologies don’t replace the other communication tools we have come to rely on. Instead, communicators must learn when and how to integrate these new tools into their communication plans.

One key point Good made was that, in addition to creating a blog or social networking site, it’s important to monitor existing blogs that write about your company or products. Communicators must stay on top of what others are saying so they can respond quickly when necessary. One attendee cited an example where a blogger posted inaccurate information about one of their products. Because they were monitoring the blog, the company was able to quickly send that blogger accurate information and correct the post before it was picked up by other blogs and potentially other media outlets.

According to Good, social media allows communicators to establish a personal connection with employees or customers. Blogs, for instance, should be written in a personal tone as opposed to a more formal or “corporate” tone. As a general rule, Good says blog posts should be rather short and frequent — about 250 words per post with new posts added 2 to 3 times a week.

This is just a portion of what Good covered at the event. You can view her entire presentation here.

And you can learn more about WunderMarx and Cara Good using the following links:
www.wundermarx.com
Follow Cara Good on Twitter: twitter.com/remarx
Subscribe to Cara Good’s blog: caragood.com
Get LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/caragood

December 14 Event: Annual Holiday Tea

Once again, the Annual IABC-LA Holiday Tea was a great success. Almost 40 people joined us in the Magnolia room of the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for a lovely afternoon event. After mingling for about 30 minutes, guests enjoyed champagne, finger foods and, of course, an assortment of teas.

The chapter would like to thank Toyota for generously sponsoring the event and donating $1,500 to our honorary charity WriteGirl. We would also like to thank the attendees for donating notebooks, dictionaries and thesauruses.

Pictures from the event

Selecting and Selling Freelance Services – Hear it now!

Please find below the full podcast of our recent breakfast meeting in Woodland Hills – our panel of experts discussed what it takes to be a successful freelancer, and what to think about if you need to use a freelancer for a project in your company.

We all got some great insights and thrashed out the topic quite thoroughly!  Thanks to Bill, Deborah, Charlotte, and Judy, our panelists – and thanks also to the audience members who contributed their own insights and asked great questions…

This is the PODCAST LINK

Here are some podcast markers for you:

Introductions until 5 min 20

5:20 Bill Spaniel – from an employer’s standpoint, what’s he looking for in a Freelancer.

13:40 Charlotte Lassos – discusses personality fit, connections/referrals, persistence when hiring

17:30 Charlotte Lassos – stand out as a Freelancer, show you care/be responsive, portfolio tailored to needs, never burn bridges.

20:50 Judy Sterling – anecdote about friends, acquaintances – make sure you let them know what you do -great potential business sources.

27:10 Deborah Hawkins – branch out, try new things if you need work/having a lull, use IABC (fabulous for connecting)

31:15 Audience Questions – what about graphic design/creative Freelancers, what about collaboration (dynamics of pulling a team together), how to pull a team together, etc.

October 14th Event: Selling and Selecting Freelance Services

What does it take to start up your own communications practice? How should you go about finding the freelancer who’s right for your company’s projects? We’ll ask these questions and more to our experienced panelists over breakfast. They will share with you what makes a successful partnership between a freelancer and corporate professional. They’ll talk about the successes and the nightmares they’ve experienced, and leave you with food for thought you can use.

October 14th, 8am – 10am

Maggiano’s Restaurant in Woodland Hills, CA.

So please – get up early, join us for a great breakfast & lively discussion, and then cruise on over to work after rush hour. (Click here to register).

Your Expert Panel:

Deborah S. Hawkins, Freelancer

Charlotte Lassos, Straight Up Communications

Bill Spaniel, ABC, California Society of CPAs

Judy Sterling, Sterling Communications

Click here to go to Speaker Bios.

April 22 Event: Secrets of Highly Effective Employee Communications Departments

April 22, 2008 at Villa Sorriso Restaurant in Pasadena

6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Speakers: Valli Thornton & Jennifer Lee from Watson Wyatt Worldwide

We’re very excited that Valli Thornton and Jennifer Lee from Watson Wyatt Worldwide are joining us on April 22 to share the findings from their latest Communication ROI Study.

They’re going to share both encouraging and discouraging trends that have come to light since their initial study in 2003/2004.

If you attend this event you’ll learn:

  • Best practices of highly effective communication departments
  • The six secrets for effective communication
  • How to assess your communication effectiveness
  • How to build a business case for additional communication staff and budget
  • And more!

But before the event, we’re curious to hear about your best practices. Add a comment to this post and tell us about your successful communication tools or techniques. Even if you don’t think they’re particularly “cutting-edge,” we’d like to know what’s working for you.

You can learn more about the April 22 event and register here.