A brief video update on IABC’s strategy

Over the past two months, Vice Chair Robin McCasland and Chair Kerby Meyers have had the opportunity to meet many IABC colleagues around the world. Over the course of these meetings, they’ve provided updates on how IABC’s strategic plan is progressing.

To help ensure that all members receive this strategic update, Executive Director Chris Sorek joined Kerby in recording a brief video explaining the strategic plan. The association’s leadership is excited about the direction the organization is headed and appreciates members’ ongoing support of IABC. Please contact member_relations@iabc.com with any questions.

Best practices in social media – a workshop

Digital and social media have quickly become the dominant channel through which communicators work. Most communicators have learned the ropes by the seat of their pants; on-the-job training has been the order of the day.

But there is more to success than learning the ins and outs of a social network here and a content-sharing site there. As with any field of communication, best practices are taking shape and the means of measuring success are maturing. Shel Holtz, ABC and IABC Fellow, and Joe Thornley, CEO of Thornley-Fallis Public Relations, will walk participants through the beginning to the end of a comprehensive, actionable and measurable social media plan, in eight interactive sessions.

The series of eight learning modules include both a self-paced, asynchronous component along with a real-time online discussion of trends and issues. Sessions start on Jan. 17 and run through March 14. Participants will complete the weekly self-paced, online components on their own. They will meet every Thursday at noon, Pacific Time for an online, real-time, 60-minute discussion of each week’s module.

Find more information and register here.

Communicating change: The vital role of the business communicator (workshop)

The communicating change workshop is based on Managed Change, a change management model that has been proven effective worldwide. The workshop will discuss the foundational principles and process of a well-managed change project and position the communication element as a key component.

This foundation will be achieved through a set of six one-hour e-learning modules reinforced with weekly real-time online web sessions. Upon completion of the Managed Change e-lessons, participants will attend a one-day facilitated workshop on March 26 in Atlanta that focuses specifically on the tools and techniques of change communication and calls upon the experience and expertise of the participants to apply lessons learned to their own situations.

Find more information or register here.

Linking In: Highlights from IABC’s discussion group

Each month we highlight popular discussions from IABC’s LinkedIn group. Join the conversations.

How can one establish an organization as an “employer of choice”?

Many ideas and examples were shared, however, the overarching theme was that in order to become an “employer of choice” the workplace must be a desirable place to be. For current employees, that means having them communicate to others how much they love their job and employer. For organizations that utilize exit interviews, they need to use them to determine what went wrong and what can be done to prevent future employees from going down the same path.

For attracting future employees, employers may want to apply for various workplace awards such as Gallup’s Great Workplaces, Fortune’s Great Places to Work, and regional awards such as Best Companies to Work For in New York. Applying for and winning awards such as these shows an organization has an active interest in listening to the voice of its employees and can also provide benchmarking and best practices.

To access the threads for these conversations or to see other topics, please visit the IABC LinkedIn group.

Crisis communication is strategic

Even in the frenzy of a crisis, you should seek to achieve specific objectives relevant to the overall goals of your organization in what you say and do.

Your message platform can be built long before the hint of any crisis. Some people use the term “message points,” though the phrase “message platform” is preferable because it conjures the image of a solid area on which you can stand. The platform is built with simple declarative sentences that reveal the central mission, overarching goals and/or purposes of your organization.

The basic message platform of a blood bank, for example, is to provide a safe and dependable supply of blood and blood products. Within that statement are two planks of a message platform: safe and dependable. Whatever the circumstances, executives of the blood bank can use “safety” or “dependability” as the foundation for answering questions about the organization. Challenged on the fees hospitals and clinics are charged for blood freely donated, executives can talk about the cost of the latest technology and the salaries of the finest technicians paid to ensure the safety of the blood supply. Challenged on the continuing call for donors, executives can talk about the need for dependability in the face of increasing demand for blood and blood products for emergencies and for the sophisticated, life-saving operations routinely performed. Every organization ought to have three to four basic planks to their platform.

To these basic planks can be added those required by the particular crisis. For crises that involve investigators or enforcement officers, the plank “working with authorities” can be added. For crises that harm people, animals or the environment, the plank “we’re sorry,” “we sympathize” or “we empathize” for those injured is suitable.

Another method for planning what you need to know and to share can be summarized as the five Cs:

  • Confirmation
  • Compassion
  • Containment
  • Cooperation
  • Correction

Confirmation simply means reporting what you know and can share when you know it. Compassion means demonstrating feelings for the victims, their families and their communities. Containment means reporting actions the organization has taken or is taking to contain the crisis. Cooperation means pledging your involvement to work with those agencies investigating the incident. Correction reports action, whether anticipated or already taken, to ensure that the incident doesn’t happen again.

This is not an attempt to reduce communicating in a crisis to a formula, but it does demonstrate that much of what may be said during a crisis can be anticipated and prepared for before the crisis occurs. The message planks can be prepared for your greatest vulnerabilities and rehearsed by those most likely to be spokespeople for your organization. In a very real sense, no one will be unprepared for an ambush interview if they know and can use the organization’s message platform. The information sought by the media, or anyone for that matter, can be given on your terms, or more accurately, using your terms.

Having a platform and people prepared to speak on it has gained importance in the age of the “amateur journalist”; that is, the person with a smart phone or flip-cam who records an event then distributes the pictures via a growing number of social media platforms on the Internet. The demand for immediate response to a question no longer is the purview of big media. To paraphrase a comment made by Horton the elephant, “An ambush is an ambush no matter how small.”

A message platform assists in communicating with all publics, not just the media. Your employees, their families, neighbors, stockholders, government agencies and other stakeholders will all depend on your organization to provide accurate, timely information. Having a platform in place to help frame what will be said over the various vehicles used to reach those publics can improve communication efficiency and effectiveness.

Excerpt from Crisis Management and Communication: How to Gain and Maintain Control, third edition by Dan P. Millar, Ph.D., and Larry L. Smith.

Upcoming IABC workshops

Visit the workshops website for more information and registration details.

  • Social media workshop
 A series of eight weekly live online sessions on Thursday mornings with accompanying weekly on-demand online training modules. Presented by Shel Holtz, ABC, IABC Fellow, Holtz Communications + Technology
    Jan. 17 through March 14, 2013.
  • Communicating change: The vital role of the business communicator
 A series of six live weekly online sessions with accompanying weekly on-demand online training modules culminating in a one-day face to face workshop. Presented by Jeanenne LaMarsh, LaMarsh Global
    Tentative schedule
    Online sessions: February 12 through March 19, 2013
    Onsite session: March 26, 2013 (in Atlanta, Ga.)
  • 2013 World Conference: Hilton New York, New York City
    June 23-26, 2013

Strategic Communication Leadership Summit: Innovation and transformation to drive business results

The Strategic Communication Leadership Summit, Dec. 6–7, in Scottsdale, Arizona, focuses on the leadership capabilities that are critical for executive communicators to succeed in a world filled with constant innovation and rapid change. Bringing together an elite faculty of experts who know the power of business communication, the Leadership Summit will offer provocative insights, superior strategies, and smart thinking that will help you optimize your individual performance and organizational impact.

Take your place with leaders of successful public and private firms, including business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate officers and nonprofit executives.

Cost-based dues increase

In 2013, there will be a cost-based dues increase of 2 percent, which will raise international dues for members by $5.00 or less. As required by a board motion from 2003, the IABC executive board conducted its annual review of consumer price index statistics and determined a 2 percent increase was necessary. The increase allows IABC to keep up with costs in order to maintain the same quality of programs, service and membership benefits, as well as invest in new programs.

While no one likes increases in dues or for any services, the board’s decision to make small adjustments on an annual basis eliminates the need for large “correctional” increases on an infrequent basis.

Members can avoid the dues increase if they renew their membership (regardless of when their membership comes up for renewal) before Dec. 31, 2012, at www.iabc.com/renew, by calling +1.415.544.4700 or by downloading a form and faxing it to IABC headquarters.

IABC launches redesigned 2013 Gold Quill Awards program

IABC has launched the 2013 Gold Quill Awards with a number of enhancements that will make it easier for communication professionals to enter the program. Key changes in the 2013 Gold Quill Awards include:

  • New divisions and more categories: The awards will present a broader offering with four divisions and 46 categories.
  • Longer timeline: Entries will be accepted from October 2012 to March 2013, offering entrants an extra six weeks for submissions. The early-bird deadline for entries is Jan. 31, 2013, and the final deadline is March 5, 2013.
  • Online submission of entries: This year’s program has an easy-to-understand online application.
  • Expert evaluation: All entries will be evaluated by trained senior evaluators at one of five Blue Ribbon Panels across the world.

•  More resources: Personal mentors, constructive critique, expert guides, the new score sheet, “how-to” webinars and a new website provide information and insights to help entrants prepare an award-winning entry.

Take a tour of the new program and let us know what you think!

Discounted registration for IABC’s workshops

To start 2013 off right, IABC is excited to provide a 20 percent discount for both the Social Media Workshop and Communicating Change Workshop.

The Social Media Workshop, led by Shel Holtz, ABC, IABC Fellow, and Joe Thornley, CEO of Thornley-Fallis Public Relations, is a series of eight weekly live online sessions on Thursday mornings with accompanying weekly on-demand online training modules.

The Communicating Change Workshop, with Jeanenne LaMarsh, founder, LaMarsh & Associates Inc., will outline the foundational principles and process of well-managed change and position the communication element as a key component.

To receive the discount, simply enter “IABCSocialMedia” when registering for the Social Media Workshop and “IABCCommChange” when registering for the Communicating Change Workshop.

Please be aware that the code will be valid between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1.