IABCLA Discusses “Communicating Big Changes” 

Thank you to all who attended IABCLA’s professional development event, Communicating Big Changes, on November 8 in Santa Monica!

Experts in branding, internal comms, marketing, and community-building shared their experiences communicating to their stakeholders, and thereby enabling understanding, engagement — and success.

The panelists were:
David Gordon Schmidt, communication director at Strategic Outreach
Jenny Matkovich, marketing director at MarketCast Group
Jose Zavala, director of employer branding, communications and training at
Twentieth Century Fox
Ephraim Freed, employee experience manager at Regent LP, moderated

IABCLA’s next happening will be a holiday mixer on November 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Pearl’s Rooftop in West Hollywood. Click here to sign up!

Join IABC in October and Save!

The IABCLA board at a chapter mixer in May 2018.

October is IABC membership month! Join now and you’ll receive 10 percent off. Some of the many benefits include networking, professional development, and educational opportunities.

Eli Natinsky, the chapter’s vice president of operations, reflected on his time with IABCLA in a recent blog post. It’s a personal account on the advantages of belonging. 

To learn more, go to the membership section of the IABCLA site. You can also email: la-membership@iabc.com.

We hope you’ll take part!

IABCLA Discusses Writing Skills at September Coffee Connection

Grant Skakun led a conversation about writing at September’s Coffee Connection.

IABCLA met for its Coffee Connection meeting on September 8 at Ambrose Cafe in Pasadena. Grant Skakun, IABCLA director of newsletters and instructor at Eucrest Writing, led a conversation about clear and effective writing with fellow board members, IABCLA members, and communications professionals.

Topics discussed included analyzing the audience before writing, achieving the purpose for writing, following a writing process, structuring key messages, using professional word choice, following style guides, and improving writing performance.

Coffee Connections are fun and engaging opportunities to network with colleagues, discuss topics related to our field, and enjoy coffee and pastries. Check the IABCLA calendar for our next meeting.

 

“Eighth Grade” made me consider my relationship with social media

By Eli Natinsky
IABCLA Vice President of Operations

“I know very little about anything, but what I do know is that if you can live your life without an audience, you should do it.” -Bo Burnham, YouTube star

I admit it – I don’t share much personal information on social media. Why? Maybe it’s not my nature. Maybe I don’t crave the level of peer approval I did years ago. Maybe I know people are watching and a misstep could hurt my changes of securing whatever it is the grown-up me needs – a job, a reference, a loan. It’s probably some combination of the three.  

I was struck, therefore, by “Eighth Grade,” written and directed by Bo Burnham, a professional YouTuber. The film chronicles the last week of middle school for Kayla (Elsie Fisher), a 13-year-old growing up in unnamed American suburb. “Eight Grade” is very much a study of the here and now in that Kayla is an avid social media user – she has a YouTube blog, she constantly posts to Instagram and Snapchat, and she closely follows her classmate’s online activities.

The subject matter is familiar territory for Burnham, one of YouTube’s first stars. The platform had recently launched when, at the age of 16, he began posting his original satirical songs for his friends and family. The segments quickly went viral. I watched a few of his early videos including “I’m Bo Yo.” Just how “viral” are we talking? Burnham’s rapping and keyboard playing on that ditty has now garnered it 28 million views.

Burnham was a recent guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” He spoke about “Eighth Grade” and the fact that he wanted to make a movie that is not judgmental of today’s online climate. Rather, he wanted to be an observer who takes an “emotional inventory.”

“I really set out to just make a story about how I was feeling at the time that I was writing it, which was nervous, and sort of wanting to talk about the Internet and how it felt to sort of be alive right now,” Burnham said.

“The problem is it – we are hyper-connected, and we’re lonely. We’re overstimulated, and we’re numb. We’re expressing our self, and we’re objectifying ourselves. So I think it just sort of widens and deepens the experiences of what kids are going through.”

Burnham’s last thought particularly resonates, and I feel fortunate social media wasn’t around in my younger years. Growing up is hard enough without the added pressure to perform as Kayla does in the film. I found it troubling that she advises viewers “How to Be Confident” on her blog even though she’s a mass of self-doubt and insecurity. Another scene that made me uneasy had Kayla wake up, get out of bed, put on makeup, return to her covers, take a selfie, and post it with the caption, “Ug! Woke up like this!  

I am curious how I would have handled social media if it had been around when I was a teen. Like Kayla, would I have also taken endless selfies? Would I have had my own video blog? Would I have felt the need to constantly “like” and comment on my classmate’s posts? I’ll never know. 

I can only tell you how I use social media now, and that’s in a more practical and responsible manner. It often serves as my news aggregator, as well as my resource for learning about people, places, and things. I’ll often say during the course of conversation, “I’ve heard of that!” How exactly did I hear of “that?” The answer is likely Facebook or Instagram. Someone probably posted an item, I saw it, and then I put it out of my mind until it was discussed some months later.

On a final note, I want to mention a scene in “Eighth Grade” I found relatable. It’s the end of the day, and Kayla has retired to her room. Enya’s ethereal “Orinoco Flow” is heard as Kayla’s eyes dart across her phone. Overlaid on the teen’s face is a collage of various photos, videos, emojis, what have you. She’s in utter bliss. It is a wonderful melding of sights and sounds, and it’s one of the best representations of the social sphere I’ve seen. There are times when I’ll also lie in bed and scroll. The imagery is random and infinite and, as Enya sings in the chorus of her tune, I “sail away, sail away, sail away…”


Eli Natinsky is IABCLA’s vice president of operations. His writing explores various media, marketing, pop culture, and technology topics. Additional pieces are on his website: elinatinsky.com.

 

Victoria Dew Leads Inspiring Discussion on Entrepreneurship

 

Victoria Dew headed up a conversation about entrepreneurship for IABCLA.

Victoria Dew, the Founder and CEO of Dewpoint Communications, recently led a thought-provoking professional development session for IABCLA titled, “Are you an Indoor or an Outdoor Cat? The Choice of Entrepreneurship.” Dew is also Vice Chair, International Executive Board, IABC Board of Trustees.

During the discussion, Dew debunked myths about entrepreneurship. She also examined critical mindset factors for success and offered insights that inspired guests. 

“I was so proud to present this talk to IABCLA,” she said. “There are lots of opportunities for communicators to forge their own path, but it means knowing what you want and taking ownership of your career.”

To learn about Dew’s practice, please visit: dewpointcomms.com

Thank you to (W)right on Communications for sponsoring the function. 

The chapter board is now working on several fall events. Be sure to check back, as more information will be posted in the weeks ahead.

Managing Ethical Conversations at the Leadership Table

By Rob Campbell
IABCLA, Membership VP

Richard Edelman

On April 12, USC hosted its 28th Annual Kenneth Owler Smith Symposium. Richard Edelman, CEO and founder of Edelman Communications, shared his perspective on ethics and trust in communications during his keynote speech. Edelman is the creator of the Edelman Trust Barometer.

His remarks offered a host of information and thoughtful points intended to help communications leaders better manage ethical conversations at the leadership table. Here are a few highlights that may help you take action:

1. Existential challenge of trust: by understanding the media is now considered the least trusted institution globally, communications professionals can advocate for better ethical actions and ideas that change the purpose of a business.  Among media channels, social media is 40 percent less trusted than traditional methods. 

2. Employer reputation: employers are now considered the No. 1 trusted source of information after family, friends, groups, and the media. People are now withdrawing from traditional sources and expecting leadership to speak up and, as a result, businesses have the opportunity to change society.

3. Be your own media company: organizations can and should consider creating and distributing their own news and information to ensure accuracy and transparency. Doing so means owning story tone and language that can and does get modified in social and traditional media outlets. 

4. Perception gaps: be aware that among stakeholders your organization’s reputation can vary greatly, so be prepared to address partners. Reputation perception is key to solidifying and upholding your organization’s ethical status.

If your organization needs to establish ethical standards, Edelman offered the following four steps:

1. Accuracy: organizations should aim for factually and rigorously sharing information with stakeholders. 

2. Transparency: leaders should be accountable for what they promote through transparent communications that provide clarity and deliver information correctly the first time. 

3. Open Exchange: create platforms for consumers and employees that offer an opportunity for an exchange of ideas, conversation and, as needed, feedback. 

4. Ethics training: train employees at all levels about the importance of ethics and what it means to conduct business with moral responsibility.

In summary, the consensus during April’s symposium was communications is the vehicle by which an organization can lead change and be an advocate for a better community. Ethical communications can alter a business, give purpose to a brand, and can help solve societal problems.

The New Shape of Internal Communications

My fellow IABCLA board member Ephraim Freed recently wrote a blog post entitled “The iconoclast’s guide to internal communications” where he outlined best practices for internal communications. An iconoclast, we note, is “a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions.” Freed, the employee experience manager at Regent, L.P., encouraged me to comment on his work.

Here are my thoughts:

– Item #1: “The smasher of cherished traditions has no time for dry, boring communications that may, in fact, say nothing at all,” he wrote. “Today’s leading internal comms teams help executives tell authentic stories that show emotional vulnerability, ensure transparency around decision-making, and strive to help employees make personal connections to leaders, the brand and each other.”

The words “authentic” “vulnerability,” and “transparency” stand out. In our information age, people crave genuineness. The public is inundated with news, opinion, and marketing and its volume and ease of access can create cynicism and doubt – it’s hard to know who or what to trust. Therefore, it is vital that communications professionals help others tell authentic stories that can slice through the clutter by conveying genuineness. Leaders need to be relatable to their employees, letting them know they also face struggles in their personal and professional lives.

Freed mentions, for example, Facebook’s Cheryl Sandberg. The tech giant’s COO is an executive who embraces openness. She discussed the challenges of being a woman in the workplace in her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” In addition, Sandberg chronicled her grief following the loss of her husband in “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.”

– Item #2: “The new internal comms team is actually an employee experience team that, in addition to multimedia communications capabilities, includes skills around UXD, research and data analysis, business process management and product management,” Freed notes. “This team also needs to be connected at the hip with technical teams that work on networking and security, sys admin, development and support.”

The words “employee experience team” resonates. As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve come to appreciate the group dynamic and the fact that each person brings different experiences and abilities to the collective. My primary skills are PR/marketing writing and project management, and so I must rely on those who are adept in areas outside of these. One of my favorite expressions is “I know what I don’t know,” and I’m all too happy to collaborate with a colleague who possesses an expertise that I lack.

– Item #3: “In the new model internal comms plays a role of expert sherpa, helping employees at all levels identify their audiences, use optimal channels, and deliver content that meets relevant quality standards,” Freed explains.

The phrase “helping employees at all levels identify their audiences” is noticeable. It is vital to hear from people at various standings in an organization, as everyone brings value and perspective. A personal example of this is a blog entry I recently wrote for the IABCLA site
(“I Found My People in IABCLA”). The chapter’s senior leadership asked me to talk about the association from the perspective of someone who recently moved to Southern California and joined the board. They felt that as a newcomer, I would offer a fresh take on the value of involvement in the group.

To summarize, my takeaway from the Freed’s post is: the field of communications is fluid and must change with the times. Further, the best comms is authentic, team oriented, and should involve individuals at all levels of an organization. “Today the employee is the customer, the leader is a listener, and internal comms is a multidisciplinary team that facilitates connection and change,” Freed noted, and I completely agree.

Creating Engaging Content with Facebook’s Newest Update

 

We hosted our first event of 2018 on February 21! Julie Wright, president and founder of (W)right on Communications, moderated our Dine & Discuss focused on the newest Facebook algorithm changes and how that impacts brand strategy.

If you don’t already know, the Facebook algorithm, nicknamed the “friends and family update,” favors content from your friends rather than from businesses. This change pushes for businesses to pay for boosted content in order to still be seen. Although paid boosted content can be very valuable, Julie advises that there’s still a great opportunity to be seen through organic content – that is if you are creating the right kind. In order to still reach audiences amidst the algorithm change it is crucial to create content that fosters engagement, meaning content that encourages comments, conversation and sharing.

Julie shared seven tips on how to do that:

1. Avoid yes or no questions: Julie says to think of social media as a cocktail party. Asking yes or no questions at a cocktail party leaves room for a one word answer and doesn’t allow for the conversation to flourish. Instead, try to ask questions that encourage a longer response and more engagement.

2. Focus on nostalgia: This is great for unique content creation. For example, take part in #ThrowbackThursdays or #FlashbackFridays.

3. Focus on storytelling: Posts that tell a story are more engaging and interesting.

4. Feature real people: Whether this means using user generated content or posting about your company’s employees, showcasing real people and real emotions creates engaging content.

5. Use Facebook Live: Facebook Live achieves 6x the interaction than organic content. Followers are notified when a buisness goes live, encouraging more viewers to watch and engage with the video. Furthermore, the video can live on as a post on your page allowing followers to watch the video long after it was recorded. Julie advises to still prep before going live: decide on an introduction, have a focus for the video and end with a call to action.

6. See First option on Facebook: Facebook users have the ability to check off a “see first” option for a Facebook page. This guarantees that your page’s content will have priority for showing in their newsfeeds. Julie says not to be afraid to ask your followers to check off this option for your page! For example: “If you want all the latest news on our upcoming event, make sure to check off the “see first” option on our page….” More information on how to set it up is here.

7. Turn on the Audience Optimization setting: Facebook allows you to improve your organic visibility on posts by turning on this function in your settings. This allows you to target your posts to specific segments of your page’s audience based on their interests! An easy and effective tool. More information on how to use the function is here.

We want to thank Julie for the invaluable insight and to all those who could make it last night! We all enjoyed great food and even better conversations. To those who couldn’t make it, we hope the above tips will help get your social media strategy focused in the right direction!

Join us at our next IABCLA event: Coffee Connection on March 3!

I Found My People in IABCLA

By Eli Natinsky
IABCLA, Vice President of Operations

“Do you want to join the board?” IABCLA Vice President Jenny Matkovich asked me at the end of my first chapter event in November. I had the opportunity to not only meet Jenny at that first function, but several board members and chapter regulars. It was a warm and welcoming group, so it was an easy decision when I was asked to take on a leadership role.

I was already well-versed in the benefits of IABC, having been involved in the Detroit chapter. I gained a great deal from my participation – networking, friendship, professional development, educational opportunities. So, IABC was one of the first organizations I sought out when I moved from my hometown of Southeast Michigan to Los Angeles this past fall.

I’m now the vice president of operations, and my duties include taking notes during board meetings, writing up said minutes, researching and implementing internal tools such as conferencing capabilities, creating blog posts such as this, and contributing in whatever other ways are needed. It’s the first time I’ve been on the board of a professional organization, and I love it.

I took part in our board retreat in January, and it was tremendous experience. There was great energy and enthusiasm at the gathering and several programs were conceived – this includes Dine & Discuss on February 21 at TOMGEORGE and Coffee Connection on March 3 at Andante Coffee Roaster. I’m excited for both happenings, as it’s rewarding to see ideas go from inception to completion.

Being on the board has provided me entry into the LA communications world. I look forward to continuing to build relationships with other local practitioners, as well as exploring the regional comms landscape. I’m now searching for a full-time position, and my involvement in the association will likely play a part in securing me a job.

I often hear of the need to “find your people” in that it’s important to seek out like-minded individuals who appreciate you. I’m happy to say I’ve found them in IABCLA, and I encourage other communications professionals in Southern California to become involved just as I have. Thank you to Jenny and the other board members – Ephraim Freed, Deborah Hudson, Sara Laurence, Morgan Robson, Grant Skakun – for including me in their efforts to build a stronger chapter.

Ready to learn new skills and take a leadership role in a supportive environment?

IABCLA has several board openings….

… If you have web experience or would like to add WordPress to the list of skills on your resume, IABCLA needs a Director of Website (Webmaster)

… If you have the gift of gab and are interested in reaching out to communications vendors and corporations to build our partners, sponsors, IABCLA needs a VP, Sponsorships and Corporate Membership

… If you’re interested in professional development and have or want to develop skills and experience in events, IABCLA is looking for a VP, Professional Development

… If you’re a skilled networker, or someone who wants to build your LA network, IABCLA needs a VP, Membership

… If you’re detail oriented, IABCLA needs a Treasurer

To learn more, email: president@iabcla.com