IABC Cutting Edge Internal Comms Panel Wrap Up

(Los Angeles) On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, IABC Los Angeles hosted a networking panel event “Cutting Edge Internal Communications” with internal comms experts at the South Pasadena Central Library in Pasadena.

Moderated by President-Elect, Mike Spasoff, the internal comms panel provided everything from insights to the newest internal comms vehicles, what new tools add value and which tools get in the way, approaches to cross-generational challenges, tried-and-true skill sets, and the differences from internal comms compared to external marketing and PR.

The panel consisted of Kristin Wong, Manager, Internal Communications, Global Corporate Communications at Avery Dennison, Jeremy Soule, Manager of Employee Communications at Activision Blizzard, Daniel Penton, Founder of ICPlan, and Betty Henry of Betty Henry Communications.

IABC Members, non-members and guests enjoyed a light dinner, pithy panel discussion and Q&A.

Kicking off the question on what “stubborn” vehicles are still being used vs. what’s new, Jeremy Soule simply replied, “Email!” Regarding new tools, Jeremy emphasized a social collaboration platform is a must with  a “fun, positive voice” to reflect the employees. Kristin Wong stated Avery Dennison made the decision “the email attachment was dead” and transformed the entire employee population to Google Docs for shared collaboration.  Daniel Penton discussed Yammer, smart phones as engaging employee comms tools. Betty Henry emphasized connecting the company’s brand with internal tools, including entertaining or humorous ways to engage employees.

Attendees at IABC-LA's "Cutting Edge Internal Communications" event on 2/26/14 in Pasadena.

On tools adding value or getting in the way:  Kristin stated employees absorb information visually now in an anytime, anywhere platforms. Avery Dennison created a risky yet very rewarding video blog of the CEO who uses his own iPhone to capture himself all over the Avery Dennison global offices and shares the super short video blog posts with employees, and answers questions.

Jeremy Soule says tools must reinforce Activision Blizzard’s “We make fun” motto.  He shared his views on how extremely important trust-building is with employees, especially when there are tough announcements later.

Kristin Wong shared on cultural shifts and a values-based company culture affecting Avery Dennison’s significant milestone building location change.

Betty Henry discussed mapping out employees’ ages, education-levels, towards understanding the employee audience. She also discussed a fun case study engaging employees through an employee film festival in which over 50 hilarious films were submitted. Betty also mentioned employee audiences are more of a finite audience compared to external audiences.

Photo Feb 26, 20 00 58

Internal comms approaches also included wi-fi, no company phones on desks, gaming, using enthusiastic employees as change champions, training bosses to walk the walk, and profiling departments separately vs. treating employee populations as one homogenous group.

“Use your feet!” says Jeremy Soule.  Face-to-face hallway meetings can be incredibly effective in gaining needs information, even at super-cool and gadgety Activision Blizzard!

Daniel Penton emphasized internal communicators “must give internally what employees are exposed to externally.” In other words, same quality counts inside as outside messaging and visuals.

The attendees’ Q&A produced some terrific follow-up discussion on different apps such as Crowd Campus, push notifications, MailChimp and more case studies. The audience got a big laugh at Betty Henry’s story on “Compliance. A Hotbed of Comedy” and enjoyed Kristin Wong’s recap of how a life-sized cardboard cut-out of the CEO was photographed all over the world and authentically connected employees from Ohio to employees in Asia.

Huge, special thanks to Mike Spasoff for putting such an outstanding, informative panel together and the South Pasadena Library.  Thanks to board members Dustin Alipour, Kyle Kearney, Gerhard Runken and Christie Ly. And thanks to Bill Severino for assisting in the set-up!

For more event details and photos, follow us on facebook at “IABC Los Angeles” or twitter (@iabcLosangeles)

Photo credits: Kyle Kearney.


Warner’s Corner – IABC Media Leaders Content Marketing Panel Wrap Up

(Los Angeles) On Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, IABC Los Angeles hosted a networking media panel event with Media Leaders at the ROC Center Santa Monica.

Moderated by Josh Ochs, the integrated communications panel covered everything from effective content creation, industry blunders/lessons learned, content marketing trends to leveraging social media tools.

The panel comprised of Chris Bechtel, Chief Marketing Officer, Make Good Social, Debra Eckerling, Goal Coach,Guided Goals and WriteOnLine, Priscilla Vento, Founder & CEO, 30 Miles North and James Aldous, Communications Director, OpenX.

IABC members and guests mingled with a diverse mix of West LA StartUps, Investors, Marketing/PR & corporate communications pros, social media managers, web developers, entertainment folks, gaming peeps, SEO gurus and much more.

Kicking off the panel, Josh Ochs asked the panel about leveraging online platforms to gain brand momentum, for which panelists cited a variety of tactics.

From hiring guest bloggers to managing editorial calendars, Debra Eckerling shared blogging tips, workflow tools and best practices.

On driving brand visibility, “get your video into the hands of relevant influencers,” said YouTube guru Priscilla Vento of 30 Mile North.

Chris Bechtel and James Aldous agreed Facebook is more consumer driven, and less business to business orientated. Panelists agreed. Aldous cited online chat tool Quora and Linkedin.

“Understanding where your audience lives is key,” said Bechtel.

2013-10-08 IABC-LA Media Leaders Event

 On integrated communications, the panel discussed the changing tides of earned-owned-paid-evolved media silos.

One IABC member asked where the panel thinks social media departments “live” these days. Vento said their social media manager functions separately from their media relations. Panelists agreed.


In closing, panelists each shared a unique personal story. Turns out Priscilla Vento is an avid skateboarder, Aldous a non-fiction writer, Eckerling a karate black belt with stripe, and my personal favorite…Bechtel, a Bay Area rap video production founder (no longer). “Once clients who paid all in cash wanted their money back, I left town,” said Bechtel. The audience laughed.

For more event details and photos, follow us on facebook or twitter (@IABCLosangeles)

Special thanks, IABC-LA volunteers Stephanie BelskyLinda Arres and event sponsor Angel Launch.

by Warner Boutin, VP, Communications – IABC Los Angeles. Photo credits by Calvin Lee. 

For the complete 1-hour plus event video:



IABC Los Angeles “Diverse Storytellers” Video Series

Nicole Maury kicks off the “IABC Los Angeles Diverse Storytellers” video series featuring board members, past chapter presidents and chapter members. Bringing insights about our chapter from a Los Angeles niche perspective, the video series aims to bring fresh collaborative energy on what it means to be an IABC member here in L.A., and the benefits for you that resonate outwards to your work community.

May 14th – Bill Chott’s Presents “The Improv Trick”

Standing in a circle for an improv exercise, pointing to a peer across from you, and waiting for a “Yes” from them before walking across the circle to take his or her place doesn’t take a lot of brains. Yet it did for me, because I wanted the already-established rhythm of pointing and “Yes’s” and criss-crossing in the group to keep going. If a participant was slower on the “Yes”…I needed to not move until hearing that positive, welcoming “Yes!” from another.  But I did move! Welcome to Bill Chott’s “The Improv Trick” presented at our host, DIRECTV’s facilities.

Embarrassed? Sure! The “Slow Down. Walk. Don’t Run” tool applies here which is difficult to do in a business climate where we are expected to be “on” and “prepared” 24/7. Bill Chott, an experienced comedian from The Second City, is a highly experienced improv master who had us on our feet to experience creating, facilitating and bringing about positive change in ourselves and our team to approach just about any work situation.

So what is “The Improv Trick”?  In all fairness to Bill’s workshop participants all over the globe, we won’t reveal the answer here.  Yet the trick is related with taking that nerve-wracking anxiety we have all experienced when in a new business situation and…following your fear. Fun, interactive exercises included posing while another responds to that pose with his/her own pose.  The interactive creativity began when the rest of us called out 10 different adjectives or nouns to describe these integrated “statues”.  Once again, no planning involved, just getting out of ourselves and  participating in a moment’s notice in what’s happening. In another interactive exercise, DIRECTV host and IABC Exec Board Member, Michael Ambrozewicz waxed poetic on “cobwebs.” Student Outreach Chair Kyle Kearney let loose on “chocolate” and Greg Cash put “brussel sprouts” on our minds. When I looked over at Michael and Warner Boutin, Development Chair doing the mirroring exercise, it looked like a John-Wayne-Meets-The-Matrix-movie situation.

What does brussel sprouts have to do with business interaction? The answer is “trust”. Trust that your mind and creativity will work in a spontaneous, non-planned situation.

“The Improv Trick” managed to work well with introverts and extroverts alike in the group. We learned tactical tools in how to think and engage differently while on our feet and it made for a truly fun, friendly and “Yes!” evening.

Huge thanks to Bill Chott, and Michael Ambrozewicz and Caroline Leach of DIRECTV for sponsoring the event. I enjoyed planning the event while Christie Ly, Treasurer managed Eventbrite and registration details. Betty Henry, Communications Chair and Warner helped promote. Mike Spasoff, Media and Technology Chair did on-site and post-production work. Warner and Kyle captured still photos. Catering services provided by Open Sesame Grill.

In a final addendum announcement, we invited participants to stay to add a few words to our “Who Is IABC Los Angeles?” video project.  This chapter video series of :45-:60 video clips featuring current and past board members and members will support the niche that makes the Los Angeles chapter unique while also supporting the overall vision of IABC headquarters.  Look for the video series soon as we’ll populate social media.







November 15, 2012 – Erin Dick presents Megatrends in Communications at Il Fornaio, Pasadena

One of my favorite laugh-out-loud commercials of all time is when a then-unknown Jane Lynch (of “Glee” fame) hammers a microchip into the forehead of a new customer at Washington Mutual’s competing bank. A few moments later Jane’s colleague tries to scan some other poor customer’s head over and over.  With all the megatrends in technology moving at lightning speed, we may not be too far behind this commercial…and Erin Dick, Director of Communications for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne knows this.

Through “The Future is Now…Now What?”, Erin presented some equally amusing demonstrations of just how far we’ve come with communications methods and gadgetry, as well as some very dramatic evidence of how technology supports our message-delivery choices, keeping us connected in ways that were impossible even just a decade ago.  Over appetizer skewers, stuffed mushrooms, and warm red wines at Il Fornaio in Pasadena, about 25 IABC-LA members and non-members listened to how megatrends in communications has evolved.

Erin discussed key elements, especially over the last decade, which includes shrinking gadgetry (think phone booths vs. cell phones and Nanos) and attention spans, transparency and decentralization, socialization and personalization, the need for speed, and the constants that continue to remain in the sea of change.

Besides a humorous overview of past devices such as brick-like cell phones and 8-track tapes, we got plenty of laughs from a spoofed newscast depicting the use and heavy reliance of social media amongst its “anchor and reporters.”  The reporter was up to 88 followers on Twitter yet just couldn’t seem to report the actual news.

On a more serious note, yet absolutely astounding, Erin presented a simulation of tweets that occurred before the earthquake and tsumami hit Japan and just after.  Social media was a means of communication that allowed Erin, who was in Florida at the time, to exclaim “I was in Japan!” meaning she was following the tweets as it was happening. She was stunned by the gravity of the unfolding situation as well as the importance of just how fast Twitter facilitated communications amongst the watching world.

Shrinking gadgets translate to shrinking attention spans to process the barrage of informative overload expected on a daily basis. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of heavy multi-tasking having experienced the underbelly of it: brain fog!  Both Erin and other studies show our iCrazy “smart’ world is leading to shrinking attention spans, an inability to use imaginations, poor focus and much lower comprehension.  Erin points out we are assimilating data at such a rapid pace, our brains are adapting to this new pace. Instead of memorization, we are analyzing data more.  Yet through these shrinking gadgets, the world just got smaller.  We are globally connected…big time.

Some constants that still endure are:

  • the need for timely and relevant information,
  • the use of both traditional and non-traditional media and
  • the importance of keeping relationships on track

There is evidence that our bullet-train information overload is now creating a welcome backlash through marketing and ads that suggest unplugging, communicating and recharging in the most old-fashioned of ways.  And as Erin concluded, let’s remember to meet face-to-face, write a handwritten note sometimes and be socially connected through one of the best pieces of technology on the planet…our human selves.

We thank Erin Dick for her passion in communicating these megatrends and for bringing her extraordinary experiences from her U.S. Air Force experience to illustrate just how far we’ve come into the future…which is now!

Thanks to Betty Henry, Communications Chair, for connecting and arranging Erin’s guest spot and event postings, thanks to Mike Spasoff, Media Chair, for his experimenting with streaming the event as well as setting up the tech side of things. Thanks to Christie Ly, Treasurer and Past President, for coordinating details with the restaurant and Eventbrite coordination, and thanks to Paula Cassin, Past President for some admin coordination.








A reminder: Upcoming free-to-members web seminars

Two new webinars will be offered to IABC members this fall at no charge. They include the following programs:

  • The cresting wave of integrated reporting
    Presented by Annette Martell, ABC, MC, IABC Fellow
    Wednesday, Oct. 10, 9-10 a.m. PDT

  • Plagiarism and copyright infringement: Are you guilty of either one?
    Presented by Wilma Mathews, ABC, IABC Fellow, IABC Ethics Committee Chair
    Wednesday, Nov. 7, 9-10 a.m. PDT

To register, go to the IABC website. (Registration may not be available yet for all webinars.)

Numerous webinars have been archived and are available to listen to at your convenience. These are also free to members and include the following programs:

  • The power of framing: Challenging the language of leadership
    Gail Fairhurst, University of Cincinnati
    Recorded Wednesday, July 11, 2012
  • Engage, inform and retain: Employee communications for a company acquisition
    David J. Flaherty, Molina Healthcare, Inc.
    Recorded Wednesday, May 9, 2012
  • When bad things happen to good organizations: Making reputation management matter for nonprofits
    Martha Muzychka, ABC, Praxis Communications
    Recorded Wednesday, April 11, 2012
  • Communicating to employees for healthy behavior change
    Michelle James, Intel Corporation
    Recorded Wednesday, March 14, 2012
  • Step up to brand advocacy
    Tim Connelly, Best Buy Corp
    Recorded Wednesday, February 22, 2012
  • Google+ for communicators
    Shel Holtz, Holtz Communication + Technology
    Recorded Thursday, January 12, 2012


Become an Effective Leader

Saturday and evening courses to fit your schedule

Cal State Fullerton offers several certificate programs designed to train managers to be great leaders. Registration is open now – courses begin in early  September.

Human Resource Management – classes begin September 8th
Human Resource managers and those looking to move to an HR career, will receive a comprehensive overview of human resources management in this series of five courses. Learn where and how to find employable staff, become familiar with the varied aspects of employment law and learn the importance of communication skills in the retention of good employees. This series of Saturday courses offer recertification credit hours for those who are PHR/SPHR certified and has been approved for up to 68 recertification credit hours and can be completed in one semester.

Certificate in Leadership Development – classes begin September 11th
Learn what it means to lead with vision and an emphasis on teamwork. Learn how to put together and work with a team, mentor and coach your  employees, use management performance tools, examine the nature of strategic leadership and develop a better understanding of your purpose and role within the organization. The Leadership Development Certificate program includes six courses totaling 36 hours of lecture and hands-on experience.

The Art and Science of Effective Management – classes begin September 6th
Equip yourself with the tools to implement and practice strategies that promote employee retention and a more productive workforce. The courses will focus on current theory, and are integrated with case studies and role-playing exercises.

For program information, contact Rene De Leon , 657.278.8392, redeleon@fullerton.edu
To register, please visit: www.csufextension.org/Classes/Certificate or call 657.278.2611.

Event Summary: May 8th, 2012 Master Storytellers: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Scientists are great master storytellers. One of the Voyager themes at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is “reaching out to touch where no one has gone before.” IABC-LA members got to participate in an event never before offered through the chapter: “Master Storytellers: Jet Propulsion Laboratory”…an extraordinary look into NASA’s JPL California Institute of Technology where scientists and engineers have so many stories to tell.

Dana Edler, JPL’s Communications Specialist and IABC-LA Chapter President-Elect ’12-’13 led an out-of-this-world event featuring a tour of JPL’s von Karman Visitor Center and Space Flight Operations Facility before members heard insight into the use of storytelling communications.

Our tour guide explained JPL’s focus on robotic planetary spacecraft and astrophysics, not jet propulsion at this time, leading to missions such as the exploration of Mars. When visiting the Space Flight Operations Facility, the precise communications data told a story as code and numbers came through on big screens from satellites.  While we were not visiting the Facility during a launch of a  Mars mission, our tour guide explained the relatively quiet room was a good thing…it meant that all the robotics and satellites, missions and projects are humming along.

Dana welcomed all of us and briefly discussed utilizing storytelling as an alternative to formal, fact-filled yet dry presentations that simply do not get an audience excited.

Stephen Kulczycki, Deputy Director of Communications and Education, and Dr. Teresa Bailey, Information Science Specialist and JPL FIOA Liaison, discussed the methods of JPL’s storytelling to inform, educate and persuade audiences.  While scientists’ and engineers’ data can be as boring as a bad Powerpoint presentation, these two communicators presented just how lively scientists and engineers can truly be when their passion for the planets and for discovery is the focus.  Stephen presented a few videos with different tones…one example was an emotionally-charged video on the history of the NASA space programs and how a disconnect exists between what the U.S. public perceives as too much money spent on space exploration and what is actually spent.  “How much would you pay for the universe?” was the theme.

Dr. Teresa Bailey developed the JPL organizational storytelling program beginning in 2000 and wrote her dissertation “The Experience of the Storyteller: Moving from Personal to Collective Knowledge Sharing.”  Teresa emphasized the importance of experiential knowledge sharing and “stepping into the light”. Teresa shared insights with us that while she had to endure some teasing at first about the very concept of storytelling (“Will there be cookies, Teresa?” came from a few JPL participants!)…these events soon became an engaging part of the JPL communications culture, including a more opened-space remodel and arranging furniture, and using props and audience participation to better serve the storytelling events.  These events allowed scientists and engineers to connect his or her personal experience to a project or mission illuminating knowledge in a way that placed expected facts and figures in their rightful place: as supporting information, not lead information and therefore losing the passion of the “why”.  As Stephen noted, the scientists and engineers truly become stirred up when they are connected to “the why” they want to explore a specific planet or star…dream makers as opposed to machine makers.

Big universal thanks to IABC-LA shining star, Dana Edler, Membership Chair, who did a superior job in pulling all the JPL event pieces and parts together. Thanks also to Cheryl Farrell who was instrumental in helping with event registration and welcoming guests.  Adam Kevorkian also assisted Dana with the event.  Thank you, Adam! Catering provided by Jack M. Smiler of Black Diamond Catering.

We thank JPL for the overwhelming hospitality to IABC-LA during the tour and event.  And finally, JPL really is a cool, quirky place… I walked to my car post-event and was greeted by a live deer in the parking lot.  Perhaps a satellite directed him to go there.







Nominations Open – 2012-2013 LA chapter board members and directors

Nominations for July 2012 – June 2013 LA chapter board year are now open.

If you are a current IABC member and interested in volunteering to advance your career, expand your network, gain management experience, or develop your communications skills, please review the board and volunteer positions listed below and contact Paula Cassin, at la-president@iabc.com or 805 758-3392 to discuss!  We welcome all help, of all sorts and sizes.  We do have people expressing interest in many of the roles listed, but can always find a match for your personal goals and what’s needed to run the chapter. 

The deadline for nominations is midnight Saturday, the 12th of May.

IABC Los Angeles is a unique professional association, known for its friendliness and for providing access to network of 14,000 professionals around the world. The Los Angeles Chapter has been providing face-to-face, quality networking and professional development events for all communicators in the LA area for decades, all through a rotating volunteer board.IABC Logo

Serving on the board provides an incomparable professional development experience, creates lifelong friendships, and provides opportunities for communicators to expand their skill set in areas that may not be available at work.

Potential projects for 2012-2013 include planning the events program for 2012-2013,  rethinking event structure (virtual events? can we tie in social media more deeply at live events? partnering with other organizations? experimenting with the cutting edge in comms), overhauling how we showcase members online and at events, expanding our membership to new groups of practitioners.

Board level roles include the opportunity to travel to IABC Leadership Institute (Scottsdale, AZ in 2013) and regional IABC meetings, to meet with peers from around the world and also to regional chapter meetings and conferences.

Chapter board level roles:

President 2012-2013 – (Dana Edler)

Past President 2012-2013 – (Paula Cassin)

President Elect – Position Responsibilities:

  • Automatic succession to the position of president
  • Perform duties assigned by the president
  • Act on the president’s behalf in case of their absence
  • Act as the chapter’s main contact person for the Pacific Plains Regional Board
  • Manage the development of the official slate of next fiscal year’s Board members and work with the president to issue the final slate for voting to IABC-LA’s members
  • Manage the volunteering director and help establish  a healthy turnover of volunteers
  • Provide advice and counsel to the president on the direction and progress of the chapter

VP of Communications – Position Responsibilities:

  • Maintain the chapter’s broadcast communications calendar and craft the communications plan for the year (using past resources, best practice templates/work plans, and own initiative)
  • Manage and coach the social media, email, newsletter and website directors as needed to get content posted and broadcast.
  • Ensure all member mailings reflect the IABC-LA brand
  • Create and maintain a style book that reflects IABC-LA’s preferred look and feel for all member communications
  • Collect and publish member profiles
  • Work with the newsletter director to deliver the monthly e-mail newsletter for members

VP of Membership – Position Responsibilities:

  • Advocate and coach chapter volunteers on membership value and craft a membership promotion for the year (using past examples, best practice templates/work plans, and own initiative)
  • Member outreach – new, renewing, and lapsing members
  • Email new member packets monthly to all new IABC-LA members
  • Call members on their anniversary to thank them for their membership and ask for their feedback about events etc. being offered
  • Reach out to prospective new members and encourage them to join – through email, phone or mailings
  • Manage and coach new member welcome volunteers
  • Promote membership deals that IABC International offers by asking Website Chair to post details on the LA site and sharing that information with regional event planners so they can announce opportunities at monthly events.

VP of Professional Development (Programming, Events) – Position Responsibilities:

  • Lead Programming Committee to determine event calendar for September 2012- June 2013
  • Responsible for event calendar changes, updates, and relaying info to website director for posting
  • Manage and coach regional event directors, helping them stay on track, flag any problems
  • Responsibility for maintaining central database/info on topics, speakers, venues
  • Maintain a list of locations that have hosted events in the area for use by future Board members
  • Update Board on event status monthly

Treasurer – Position Responsibilities:

  • Must have served on the IABC-LA Board of Directors for one full fiscal year prior to accepting the role of Treasurer
  • Ensure the financial health of the chapter by monitoring the budget, managing all financial accounts, monitoring all financial transactions and issuing payments to vendors
  • Reimburse board members for expenses
  • Store and maintain all financial receipts and records
  • Prepare financial reports for IABC as requested by IABC
  • Manage new vendor contracts as necessary

 Directors (reporting to and coached by a board member, varying levels of commitment required):

Social Media – responsible for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Group, and promoting chapter members and activities through social media

Events, South Bay – organize an event for a particular month in a particular region

Events, Pasadena/Burbank – organize an event for a particular month in a particular region

Events, Downtown- organize an event for a particular month in a particular region

Events, Woodland Hills/Westlake- organize an event for a particular month in a particular region

Website – post news, event information, member profiles, event photos/video on our website

Monthly Newsletter – monthly round up of events, activities, notable news from IABC that goes out to members and non-members

Email communications – manage email broadcasts and eventbrite broadcasts during the year

Job Board  – receive and post job openings provided for SoCal during the year (5-10 per month currently), promote and spread awareness of our members-only free channel

Event volunteer – check in registrants, print out badges, etc)

Secretary/Administrator – attend board meetings, take minutes and post, print name badges,

New Member Welcome Committee – volunteers who contact new IABC members, find them a buddy, assist the VP Membership,  introduce new members at events

Programming Committee – volunteers who meet during June and July 2012 to agree and schedule the event calendar for 2012-2013

Volunteering – connect with members and non-members interested in volunteering and connect them to the right director or VP.


Health Care Reform Event at L.A. Care Health Plan on March 21, 2012

IABC-LA presented a highly informative panel of communication experts to discuss “Communicating Complex Change: Health Care Reform” on March 21, 2012 at event program sponsor L.A. Care Health Plan’s headquarters.  Cheryl Farrell, Board Member of IABC-LA, moderated this invaluable panel session to share how local health care professionals are communicating the complex changes of health care reform to various audiences (Event Podcast).

The distinguished panel included Patricia Clarey, Senior VP, Chief Regulatory and External Relations Officer of Health Net ;  John Merryman, Senior Director, Marketing/PR of South Bay Family Health Care; Ronald Owens, Director, Corporate Communications of Kaiser Permanente Southern California; Elena Stern, Communications and Marketing Director of L.A. Care Health Plan; and Cheryl Fields Tyler, Owner and CEO of Blue Beyond Consulting. The panel informed our chapter members how health care reform is being received and integrated by leading health care companies in Southern California (listen to the event podcast).

The panel discussion after a quick buffet dinner covered topics such as how this legislation is an extraordinary opportunity for innovation within the health care system as well as communications, how the new competitive environment created by mandating state-based Exchanges on individual policies will create positive benefits for consumers, and how do communicators break through to its new and existing audiences (we learned about the role and importance of Spanish-speaking Promotoras!)

So many advances have been made towards creating a communications system that is much more efficient than yesteryear including revolutionary a $5 billion electronic computerized patient records system as opposed to handwritten files and notes as discussed by Ron Owens of Kaiser Permanente.  Doctors are required to learn this system so a patient can be treated across states with tremendous efficiency.

Healthcare communications consultant Cheryl Fields Tyler emphasized the extraordinary opportunity for innovation that comes with such far-reaching legislature and how this is a game-changer for U.S. business overall.  She also emphasized the need for communicators to embrace and support the new legislation positively to create better understanding and trust between employers and employees.  Employees trust face-to-face meetings with direct managers.

Pat Clarey of Health Net has served as chief of staff to both former California governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, with current Health Net responsibilities for federal and state regulatory, legislative and compliance issues.  Pat discussed the new legislative concept of “guaranteed issue” for individuals seeking individual insurance policies through the reform’s American Health Benefit Exchanges, which has not been offered in the current California landscape if an individual had a pre-existing condition such as asthma.

John Merryman of South Bay Family Health Care noted the importance of funders for newly established programs.  In his view “money follows money” and the health care reform will shift how funding funnels through non-profits as well as private health care companies.

Elena Stern of event sponsor L.A. Health Care Plan enlightened us on how significant the role and use of a Promotora, a female Spanish-speaking healthcare advocate, is to underserved communities needing an array of healthcare and healthcare related services.

Finally, audience participants engaged in a Q&A with more information shed on topics such as how doctors are receiving all of this new legislation.

Big thanks to “Communicating Complex Change: Health Care Reform” event committee including IABC-LA members Cheryl Farrell, Paromita Ghosh, Adam Kevorkian, T.J. Stevko and Cimone Farrell.  Bill Spaniel served as podcast engineer while Ed Carreon of www.carreonphotography.com provided photography.

The chapter also kindly thanks event sponsor L.A. Health Care Plan for its sponsorship and use of its downtown headquarters facilities.

Please click here to listen to the event podcast.