November 12: Pre-Event Summary: “Hiring Practices”

IABC-LA Regional Meeting, Calabasas Hills
 “Hiring Practices: What Communications Professionals Should Know”
Thursday, November 12, 2009
8AM – 10AM
Three Distinguished Panelists/Cheryl Farrell, Moderator

Posted by: Cheryl Farrell
Email: la-woodlandhills@iabc.com
If you had the chance to ask a tenured hiring practices expert any question, what would it be? What if you had the opportunity to sit across the table from a managing director of a major recruitment firm that specializes in non-profit executive placements? Or, how about chatting with a senior recruiter of a major entertainment conglomerate? Finally, what-if you can ask a personal branding expert about the essentials of a compelling branding statement?

All this will be available to you at the November 12 IABC-LA professional development meeting. Thanks to the generosity of fellow IABC members, Jeff Snyder and Greg Cash of The ALS Association, the event will be held at the association’s Calabasas Hills headquarters.

As moderator for the event, I have the privilege of preparing questions for our distinguished panel. Here is a sample, and I welcome your questions.

1. Please describe the top two or three themes you find in your successful placements. [E.g., résumé quality, word-of-mouth referrals, use of social networking]

2. On the matter of hiring practices from earlier times, what is your opinion about online applications versus hard-copy submissions? What about following the rules in the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” instruction?

3. Please describe the top two or three impediments you find in your applicant base and how can applicants overcome them.

4. For new entrants in the hiring marketplace, what is the best strategy to distinguish oneself from others with similar credentials? 

5. What does it mean to be a job seeker-entrepreneur? How important are job seekers’ communications skills to increase the chances of being hired?

Register for the event that is sure to provide valuable information on current hiring practices and employment options.

To register, go to http://la.iabc.com to “Upcoming Events.” Click on November 12th event then click registration link.

The ALS Association
27001 Agoura Road, Suite 250
Calabasas Hills, CA 91301
Thursday, November 12, 2009
8AM – 10AM
Members: $30
Non-Members: $40

Price includes light breakfast. Door prizes courtesy of the IABC Knowledge Centre. Free parking. Limited seating.

Panelists
Jay Berger, PhD, Managing Partner, Morris & Berger
Twenty-two years experience as principal with Morris & Berger, a boutique executive search firm working on senior level searches, exclusively for nonprofit clients.

Pamela Jones, Senior Recruiter, The Walt Disney Company
More than a decade of corporate recruiter experience, responsible for full life-cycle recruitment in the areas of Production, Marketing, Studio Operations, Home Entertainment, Distribution and Music.

Lilli Cloud, Founder & Principal, Blue Feet Communications
Communications veteran of 20+ years, Lilli helps entrepreneurs and job seekers develop their personal brand and articulate that both verbally and in writing, in a clear, compelling way that makes them stand out from the crowd. Visit www.yourbluefeet.com.

Panel Moderator: Cheryl Farrell, IABC Board Member and Chair, Regional Events
An award-winning communicator with a career that spans broadcast media to corporate banking. As a volunteer, she writes and speaks on behalf of advocacy organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The ALS Association Hosts
Jeff Snyder, Vice President, Communications
Greg Cash, Director, Communications

October 7 Event Summary: “What’s the State of Your Employee Communications?”

Guest speaker Steve Crescenzo of Crescenzo Communications (www.crescenzocomm.com) presented the latest trends in employee and corporate communications within a small, conversational-style gathering of IABC-LA members at downtown L.A.’s Checkers Hotel.
 
Steve earned his employee communications stripes for years as the assistant editor of “The Ragan Report,” reviewing countless company newsletters and not-so-effective communications efforts.  I enjoyed his story about Larry Ragan, founder (and Mark Ragan’s father), who was way ahead of his time in the 1960’s:  Regan wanted to treat employees like adults and incorporate their opinions and valuable feedback regarding employee and company communications, and ditch the cartoons and recipes.  Fast forward to today’s employee communications climate, Larry Ragan would have embraced wholeheartedly social media, blogs, FaceBook and YouTube as instrumental tools in employee communications.

Steve covered five biggest trends:
 1) Battlefield has shifted…social media must be incorporated into employee communications. Communication pros can suggest social media as a facilitation mechanism for providing specific company tools and information.
2) The role of the communicator as publisher is over.  We are now creating conversations.
3) Multi-media use such as YouTube is now a viable employee communications tool. 
4) With so much social media overload, communicators are starting to tell better stories with a two-way communications approach… such as employees showing employees what’s happening using a Flip camera. 
5) Print is the “new” technology.  Using print to cut through the white noise of social media is on the rise. Drama, passion and cool photos are making its way back into print…and getting employees’ attention.

We engaged discussion in the importance of mastering content and how good communications spans generations and has evolved to be more conversational.  Board Member Paula Cassin brought up the issue of management pushing company agendas disguised as interactive employee social media, while Steve emphasized “Communicate to the culture that you want to be!” (…not to the company culture that exists.)
 
Check out Steve’s 2-minute video series on his website…hilarious takes on employee communications’ cliches…do’s and don’ts.

June 24 Event Summary: “Best Practices for Effective Communications” at the 2009 IABC-LA Annual Awards Banquet at Dodger Stadium

SUCCESS Award Winner, Linda Livingstone, PhD, and SUNSHINE Award Winner, Danielle ScottPast President, Michael Ambrozewicz, Immediate Past President, Jamie Lipson, and 2009-2010 President, Christie LyReed Dickens, Former White House Assistant Press Secretary  

IABC-LA members enjoyed a winning season as chapter participants celebrated with Guest Speaker,  Former White House Assistant Press Secretary, Reed Dickens.  The event bases were loaded with a fun stadium tour, a mouth-watering southern Backyard Barbeque, a state-of-the-chapter address by outgoing IABC-LA President Jamie Lipson, presentation of awards, and finally, an introduction of new 2009-2010 L.A. chapter Board Members.

Guest Speaker Reed Dickens shared stories that not only illustrated best practices for effective communications while he was in The West Wing, but also how he applies his communications skills to Fortune 500 CEOs, celebrity athletes, and entertainers through his communications strategy firm, Outside Eyes www.outsideeyes.com.  Early on, Reed claimed he knew nothing about politics and was way over his head while taking his third airplane flight of his life in AirForce One, yet evolved and grew through his formative assistant press secretary experiences.  Now Reed and his team are much sought after for crisis management situations, which he not only claims are all the same as far as human emotion and flaws in each crisis, but how participants react and make the same mistakes within the first 48 hours.

Dicken’s strategies involve two key elements to turn a devastating situation around quickly: transparency and speed.  He recommends emphatically not letting lawyers answer questions in the media for a devastated or embarrassed client.  Leave the “no surprises” strategies to the professionals…communications strategists. Yes! Dickens states, “…because everyone will eventually find out everything.”  Reed also emphasized you don’t have to have a major media event to apply best practices in crisis management…a senior level executive being dismissed at your company can be strategized in the same way.   Finally, Dickens presented a tool of asking whether or not a client’s issue is a perception problem or a reality problem?  Sometimes the reality of a situation is the reality, and it can’t be hidden under the guise of perception no matter what the client requests.

A behind-the-scenes tour of Dodger Stadium included a walk through the famous and exclusive DugOut Club featuring outstanding memorabilia.  And talk about a “backyard”!  Members enjoyed sitting in the Dodger dugout and touching, not stepping on the famous groomed grass field.  We learned it’s no accident the opposing team’s dugout is facing the bright western sun during games!

Michael Ambrozewicz presented The SUCCESS Award to superior communicator Linda Livingstone, Ph.D., Dean and Professor of Management, Graziadio School of Business and Management.  Dr. Livingstone accepted her award with great insight about best practices which included truly listening to people around you and in your organization to avoid mistakes.  Jamie Lipson presented the “SUNSHINE” award to our chapter’s enthusiastic Website Chair, Danielle Scott.  And finally, we welcomed incoming IABC-LA President ’09-‘10, Christine Ly, who introduced our new Board of Directors for the upcoming year and made closing remarks. 

DodgerTown got to experience it’s best practices by IABC-LA!  Go, team!

IABC-L.A. members on the field

Dodger Dugout players: Paula Cassin, Linda Davis, Pamela Corante-Hansen, Nancy Shonka Padberg

Dodger Memorabilia

May 13 Event Summary: Latest Trends in Employee Communication

On May 13, 2009, Jonathan Hanwit, Director of Client Services, and Guusje Bendeler, Creative Director, of Parallax http://www.thinkparallax.com presented insight on new captivating trends for online employee communications to 20+ L.A. Chapter members.

While Parallax clients present objectives and strategies, Jon and Guusje (pronounced “Who-sha”) focus on compelling, interactive, explorative visual communications that take online employee communications past the usual intranet and newsletter formats. Jon and Guusje emphasize, “Employees seek an inside, personal perspective from each other on company information, rather than an executive one.”

We saw an online virtual employee tradeshow example for Qualcomm to educate employees about what each division is currently working on, including plans for the future.  The employee tradeshow featured:

  • Virtual department booths and a 2-3 minute video of a department head,
  • Links to internal teams’ website, and graphics “collaged” from photos of Qualcomm’s employees and facilities. 
  • A simple review quiz led to a giftcard incentive.

The site garnered thousands of employee clicks and results were increased employee awareness, product and service knowledge and increased retention/engagement.

The next example was a customizable intranet entitled “The Skinny” where employees may choose what content they prefer through a choice of widgets. Think of a typical intranet page combined with iGoogle.  The objective is to streamline workflow, increase engagement, and make communication in real time. For example, not only can a favorite dictionary widget be linked to the homepage, but a company’s unique terminology dictionary can be available.
 
And finally, Jon and Guusje presented an Online and Printed Employee Annual Report for Qualcomm, a “Thank You” that has increased morale, awareness, and promoted “connection.”

Outstanding annual report highlights that helped connect 15,000 global employees were:

  •  A photo contest featuring 700 photos taken around the world by Qualcomm employees,
  • Text content featuring fun, culture questions such as “How does wireless affect your life?”  

We asked questions, “How labor intensive was it putting the project content together?” Jon and Guusje pointed out that content was generated by employees, for employees, which makes putting the project together easier for us!

Parallax Speakers

As communications professionals who want to spark employee engagement, knowledge or perhaps education on an upcoming merger, we now have new, energetic online employee communications tools to support our company or clients’ efforts (see Parallax Handout.)

“The Skinny” has won a past IABC Silver Quill Award, while the Online and Print Employee Annual Reports have been submitted for 2008 Gold and Silver Quill Awards. Good luck to Jon, Guusje, and their clients!
 

April 23 Event Summary: Inside the Mind of a Reporter

On April 23, 2009, Mark Bernheimer, Principal of MediaWorks Mark Bernheimer photoResource Group  (http://www.mediaworksgroup.com/), and former CNN correspondent, presented insight on news reporting and interviewing to 20+ IABC members.  The late, great Tim Russert would have celebrated this lively, interactive event and Mark’s key point: “Always have a message of distinction prepared.”

We watched a hilarious clip of imposter reporter Stephen Colbert interviewing Georgia Congressman Westmoreland, whose questionable PR team did not prepare the deer-in-the-headlights congressman for Colbert’s questions…or even Colbert’s fake reporter status!  

While IABC members are much smarter in preparing our executives, employees, or clients for real interviews on or off-camera, Mark’s example illustrates the crucial need for his 2-step formula when preparing interviewees:

1. Satisfy interviewee’s own objectives first (get his/her messages across)
2. Help the reporter satisfy his/her objectives

We watched more video clips illustrating tricks by reporters, who are not looking for answers. Capturing sound bytes is the goal.  Unsuspecting, unprepared interviewees provide emotion. Better story, but an even better train wreck from a PR perspective if unprepared.

In addition, interviewees:
• should never answer a question they don’t know the answer to (instead say, “We’ll try to get information for you later.”)
• should not answer a question they don’t understand (reporters often prepare minutes prior to interview asking confusing questions…interviewee should ask for clarification.)
• should direct a question better suited to someone else when necessary
• should not answer questions based on reporter’s speculation about the future (news stories are more dramatic regarding what could have happened, not what did happen.)

Finally, volunteer Jessica Schlotter put Congressman Westmoreland to shame during Mark’s surprise on-camera interview. Jessica did a terrific job answering Mark’s questions.  She delivered messages of distinction regarding IABC’s purpose with the audience in mind. Mark suggested Jessica’s only improvement was to always insert the organization’s name instead of using pronouns like “we” during the interview.  Here’s Mark’s interview of Jessica…

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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:

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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.

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.