IABCLA Board Retreat: Celebrating Successes, Planning for Future 

The IABCLA board held a planning retreat on June 11.

The IABCLA board reviewed the chapter’s accomplishments during the first half of the year and began planning the remainder of 2019 at its semiannual retreat on June 11. 

Looking back at the last six months, our group has much to be proud of. We fulfilled our mission: “to heighten the skills, reputation and talents of the community through human connection. We do this by welcoming and inspiring LA’s professional communicators with targeted professional development events and honest conversations.” 

Between January and June, our chapter held several professional development functions  — a Dine & Discuss, two Coffee Connections, and a case study. Discussion topics included “Brand Building in a Digital World,” “PR in the Digital Age,” and “Navigating the Comms Job Market in LA.” We also held a Spring Mixer where guests networked at a popular bistro.  

In addition, we’re constantly looking for new ways to share chapter information and ideas. We now distribute a monthly newsletter — email Grant Skakun at grant.skakun@eucrest.com to subscribe. And, we’ve added an Instagram account — @IABCLosAngeles. Please follow us! 

Several ideas were discussed at the retreat, and we’ll continue to have a full schedule of activities between now and December. Look for reoccurring favorites like Coffee Connection and Dine & Discuss, as well as new happenings. We will, of course, continue to reach out to members and nonmembers and strengthen ties with communicators at all levels of their careers. 

To learn about the very latest, please continue to visit this site and follow us on social media: 
▪ Facebook: @IABCLosAngeles
▪ Twitter: @IABCLosAngeles
▪ Instagram: @IABCLosAngeles

Thank you! IABCLA could not thrive without YOUR support and participation! 

Great times at IABCLA’s Spring Mixer

Thank you to all who attended IABCLA’s Spring Mixer at The Cat & Fiddle Restaurant & Pub in Hollywood on June 4! Attendees enjoyed sliders, chips, pints, and great conversation at the longtime British themed bar. 

“It was a pleasure hosting and getting to know the guests,” said Tery Amaya, the chapter’s vice president of networking who planned the gathering. “We hope to see everyone again at our upcoming happenings this summer and fall.”

Please stay up-to-date by continuing to visit this site and by following us on social media:

Facebook: @IABCLosAngeles

Twitter: @IABCLosAngeles

Instagram: @IABCLosAngeles



A Look Back at IABCLA’s Recent Case Study Event

The IW Group’s Lauren Alvermann, Eljay Feuerman, and Annie Zhao present at “IABCLA Case Study: How to Entice a New Audience to a Traditional Treasure.”

IABCLA held a professional development event — “IABCLA Case Study: How to Entice a New Audience to a Traditional Treasure” — in partnership with the IW Group on April 11 at IW’s office in West LA. 

The agency’s Lauren Alvermann, Eljay Feuerman, and Annie Zhao presented their successful campaign for the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden Magical Lantern Art Festival held between October 2018 and January 2019. The arboretum was filled with dozens of enormous glowing lanterns that included dragons, pandas, and flowers. Guests also enjoyed live performances by dancers and acrobats and sampled delicious cuisine. The venue is a 127 acre arboretum, botanical garden, and historical site in Arcadia. 

Attendees of the case study learned about IW’s integrated advertising and public relations initiative — videos were shot, radio spots were recorded, ads were placed, articles were written, signs were installed, and influencers were asked to influence. The result? The happening sold 153,000 tickets, garnered 133 million media impressions, and received 277,000 social media imprints — all of this far exceeded initial goals. 

“Congratulations to the IW Group!” said IABCLA’s Vice President Jenny Matkovich. “On behalf of the chapter, I want to thank them for sharing their amazing work and for being such gracious hosts. We look forward to collaborating with the firm again, and we wish them continued success as they begin preparations for next year’s festival.” 

IABCLA and USC IABC Hold “Vibrant” Mentoring Event

IABCLA and the IABC chapter at the University of Southern California (USC) partnered on a 360 “speed mentoring” function on March 18 at the campus. Twenty students and ten mentors were on hand — the students are pursuing master’s degrees at Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the mentors included IABCLA board members. 

The “speed mentoring” format allowed the students to seek advice from multiple people. They queried the professionals on various topics, including career paths in the communications field, qualities recruiters seek in candidates, and the current landscape for comms roles in Southern California. 

Grant Wright, CEO at (W)right On Communications, was one of the mentors. He enjoyed taking part, and he described his conversations with this next generation of communicators as “vibrant and engaging.”

Vinisha Kothari, head of the USC IABC chapter, coordinated the event. She was also pleased by the success of the gathering and that meaningful connections were formed. 

“Thank you to everyone who helped make this event happen, especially our wonderful mentors who volunteered their evening to share their wisdom,” she said. “When I became president of the USC IABC chapter, I knew my priority would be to set up a mentorship program — I was introduced to IABC through a mentor who has been instrumental to my success in my career and education, and I wanted to make sure other students had similar opportunities.”  

IABCLA Hosts “Thought-provoking” Exchange at Dine & Discuss

IABCLA’s Dine & Discuss in February.

Our chapter held its first Dine & Discuss of the year on February 27 at TOMGEORGE in Downtown LA. Julie Wright, president and founder of (W)right On Communications, Inc., lead the discussion on “PR in the Digital Age.”

Attendance was capped at 10 people; we keep the number small in order to facilitate a discussion in which everybody can participate. There were folks who were newer to the communications industry, as well as those who had been in the field for some time, and all with diverse career experiences – Julie said this mix led to a “thought-provoking” conversation. 

The group talked about issues from fake news and distrust in media to technology trends like content marketing, visual storytelling, and data-driven communications. There was general agreement around the notion that a compelling concept and story are at the heart of all successful campaigns and initiatives. Regardless of technology trends and changes in media consumption, well-crafted stories and well-researched messages that speak to target audiences are what drives successful communication.

One of the best moments of the evening came when a guest brought up this intriguing idea: what if we communicate less? For instance, what if you could only send five business emails a day? Who would you send them to and what would you say? Also, he mentioned Banksy, the street artist, as someone whose work speaks in a sparse, yet powerful way. 

Julie was intrigued by the concept of being discrete and sparing in her digital communication. The next day at her company, she talked to colleagues more in person rather than through messaging. When Julie did email, she held onto her feedback longer than usual – she found that often issues had already been resolved by the time she weighed in. 

Board member Ephraim Freed noted the counterintuitive nature of this suggestion: “As communicators, we assume everybody needs more communication, but often when you talk to your audiences you find out something different than what you assume.” 

New ways of thinking are just one of the many positives to come from Dine & Discuss, and that’s why it’s one of our most successful programs. Look for this and other upcoming events on our website, as well as social media – our group is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Instagram. We also send out regular emails to our members and supporters notifying them of activity. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list, please reach out to Grant Skakun: grant.skakun@eucrest.com

IABCLA Discusses “Communicating Big Changes” 

Panelists at IABCLA’s professional development event, “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.