IABC-LA Nose Wine Cellar Networking Event 9-21-11

IABC-LA Nose Wine Cellar Networking Event 9-21-11

IABC-LA Chapter kicked off the beginning of the networking season with a warm toast of conversation, and networking at Nose Wine Cellar Networking Event in Pasadena on Wednesday, Chapter President, Paula Cassin welcomed members and very special guest, Adrian Cropley, IABC Chair in from Australia! Members were surrounded by brick “cellar” walls and stocked wine shelves, and enjoyed especially warm and lively conversation, deep red wine “legs” while sipping glasses from premium vineyards, bruschetta and cheeses, all while continuing that signature friendly-chapter atmosphere that is IABC-LA.  Cimone Farrell, volunteer event coordinator did a lovely job of putting the event together at Nose.

Paula Cassin welcomed everyone to a new networking event year, and noted the chapter’s collegial engine really does run on the steam of its volunteers.  New Zealander Paula and all of us were delighted to welcome affable international colleague, Adrian Cropley, who addressed the crowd with a few words on this year’s three-point focus of career, content and more value regarding IABC membership.  Adrian is the Principal for Cropley Communications in Melbourne.

Chris Cabrera invited members to “stay out a little later on a school night” for the After Dark after-event portion of the evening…which will continue throughout events this year so participants can connect a bit more over lattes.  Susan San Martin, our chapter career development volunteer and Christopher Swan enjoyed some chat time with Adrian.  Bill Spaniel welcomed members to assist in the process of judging the writing category for the Gold Quill Awards in January.  Paromita Ghosh and Rebecca Mikkelsen continue to bring their fresh energy to events, while Cheryl Farrell hit “the big time” recently in a professional video for diabetes including dozens of singing kids. Members attending or on the guest list included Greg Cash, Kerry Bonner, Shannon King,  Julie Lowe, Sandy Smith, Jessica Santana, and Jane Stenehjem and Dyanne Weiss.  And UCLA grad student Aubrey Kelly stated on Flip camera that this event helped her make up her mind to join the chapter as well as volunteer!  And Cimone’s  peer, Courtney is looking to join as well. Delighted to have all of you in attendance!

Our chapter sponsor and volunteer “paparazzi” Ed Carreon kept the flash bulbs going and we look forward to our visages posted on our website.

The chapter makes an effort to create plenty of networking and career development events throughout the year and in locations that give plenty of ease-of-access to members.  We’re off to a terrific start this year under Paula’s second direction with her second term as President.  Existing volunteers and members and our newest faces all toast to career, content and more value!

Melcrum’s “What Does the Future Hold for Internal Communication?”

May 10, 2011…IABC-LA held an exclusive event “What Does the Future Hold for Internal Communication?” for 25 participants presented by Melcrum’s Strategic Communication Research Forum.  Melcrum is an internal communications company dedicated to offering domestic and global clients comprehensive body of knowledge of best practices, toolkits and research on every level of internal communication.  Jeff Hostler, Melcrum Vice President Research and Content, presented some eye-opening research such as “people don’t leave companies, people leave managers of companies.”  Jeff was accompanied by Melcrum’s Key Accounts Executive, Mike Dombo. Mike briefly described  Melcrum’s Black Belt Program which sets the standard for internal comms globally and the basis for research data presented during the evening.

IABC-LA Social Media Chair dynamo, Rebecca Mikkelsen, introduced Jeff Hostler who led us through a discussion starting with the post-recessional environment. Companies must rebuild trust and re-engineer respective employee value propositions.  Later, Jeff covered corporate structure and management style, roles and responsibilities, partnerships, technology, research and measurement and more with an emphasis on outcomes, not just outputs.
 
• Companies must take into account how four cross-generational groups of employees must interact and communicate with each other…and then think globally, culturally as well.

• The great challenge of evolving internal communications, no longer just a function “sitting on the side of the desk.”  Developing processes to support trust and transparency as well as sustainability is a key factor.

•  Building 10% more trust equates to 36% more pay increases for employees.  Now that’s positive!

Jeff also discussed partnerships and the importance of ensuring consistency across channels and stakeholders, as well how execs can foster trust without just pushing info out. 

On the topic of technology, Jeff purposely did not discuss social media in-depth, yet stressed connecting with local IT to collaborate on defined goals.  Too many internal comms departments put the FaceBook horse before the business strategies cart, without first evaluating whether specific social media is applicable.  Business priorities must lead over choosing tech methods. That said, too many companies also negated employees’ social media use by banning use during work hours, only to discover employees have smart phones in their purses and pockets to access social media anyway. 

Jeff also covered research and measurement and again, emphasized how important it was to measure outcomes not output.  It is internal comms responsibility to prove the value of a specific suggested strategy, which does require extra work time.  It’s not enough to know that 4,000 employees actually read an email (output)…how did they act on it (outcome)?   Company internal comms mistake survey answers from employees who state they understand a company’s business goals, yet that’s not a measurement…how do the actions of the employees support the business goals?

There were some excellent feedback and suggestions from our savvy participants providing terrific takeaways for everyone.  Chris Cabrera of Southern California Edison described a truly innovative employee resource group at SCE supporting SCE’s employee value proposition.
 
Big Thanks to the incomparable Gail Herring and Toyota for hosting the event.  Gail also serves on the chapter board as Treasurer.  Participants were also very appreciative to meet and hear experts Jeff Hostler and Mike Dombo of Melcrum, and to partner with Melcrum on senior internal communications events.

Please see video posted on YouTube at http://youtu.be/b54ZNZ9X5cI

Murder Mystery Holiday Luncheon 2010

 

IABC-LA’s annual holiday teas have been truly lovely and held in beautiful tearooms over the last few years…however, there was a chalk mark drawn around the still body of the tea concept this year in favor of something entirely newand unique: A Holiday Murder Mystery Luncheon! 

How well does a Murder Mystery go with the holidays? Only ZorroClaus, a wisecracking “LAPD detective” and crime-solving IABC members them-elves could participate in such twists and turns at The Porterhouse Bistro in Beverly Hills on December 11, 2010.  And yes, the demise of some “victims” was brought on by our own members (see video attached).  Who was involved and why?  Besides inspired event coordination by Myra Jolivet (who brought up the idea originally), with assistance by Christie Ly and Christopher Cabrera, a secret source supplied information about some chapter members to the host of the interactive Murder Mystery to create intrigue, heavy laughs, red herrings and fun.

The L.A. Chapter maintained its commitment and passion to communications as bodies fell from being “shot”, “stabbed” or “poisoned.”  Chapter member Bill Spaniel donned his baseball caps in Sherlock Holmes style and used his delightful wit as one of the crime-solvers. Bill also reminded us of the upcoming judging opportunities for The Gold Quill Awards.  Rebecca Mikkelsen and chapter President, Paula Cassin, reiterated how much we learn from the entries in participating as a Gold Quill Judge…with terrific networking opportunities professionally and personally. (Rebecca and I have become wonderful friends since pairing up as Gold Quill judging partners last January.  I later joined Rebecca’s social media team for the chapter this year.)  Rebecca and Stephen Cassin also participated kindly as our mystery host threw questions at us about what we know about these two possible suspects. 

We enjoyed our four-course luncheon of gourmet food and wine while catching up with members. Later, Julie Fornaro, our new website’s mastermind, read from a suspiciously-dropped business card “Hits-R-Us” while a wisecracking “LAPD detective” threaded the mounting clues throughout the interactive plot… including a Santa hat with a sword poked through a note from “ZorroClaus.”  Otherwise hard-working Chapter President Paula Cassin revealed herself as “ZorroClaus” …and Keeping Up with the Kardashians..well, sort of…having much fun distributing “stolen” cash and presents.  Kerry Bonner sported her bright and cheery red jacket during the event’s pre-luncheon cocktails…only to “wear a knife” and create some great laughs during her “death scene.” Bill Spaniel, David Schmidt, Gail Herring, Chris Cabrera and Stephen Cassin were terrific sports against the detective’s banter. Chapter crime-solvers also included Mauria McPoland, Marsha Webster, Louvenia Austin, Elodie Khavarani , Susan Delgadillo and Pamela Corante-Hansen…all suspects until proven innocent. Cheryl Farrell had some serious explaining to do…which led to some hilarious communications and “battle scene” antics between the detective and Cheryl.  

Congrats to Ariela Iringan and Briana Sharp who were the closest in figuring out the details, motives and storyline when everyone paired up to solve the crimes.  Our host proclaimed the rest of us as not-yet-detective-ready in our “pathetic” attempts to solve the motives behind the secrets.  We enjoy solving communications issues…or bad puns like “Nobody Does It Deader.”

Chris Cabrera of Southern California Edison and Paula Cassin, presented a $500 donation check to our chapter’s guest, Gina Quesenberry, Librarian at the El Monte Library in support of the El Monte Library’s programs that reach children, teens and adults.  We were delighted to have Gina take part in our mystery while being a gracious and good-humored recipient toward our chapter’s commitment to supporting our communities.  Chris Cabrera also stated that Southern California Edison is making a donation of 85 books to enhance the library’s materials towards further support.

Warm thanks to Myra Jolivet, Christie Ly, and Chris Cabrera for putting their distinct and creative fingerprints all over this memorable event.  Acting nods to Paula, Kerry and Cheryl…for hilarious comedic “drama” and our thanks again to The Porterhouse Bistro actors and staff who put some holiday crackle into our tongue-in-cheek event.

Post Event Report: Nov 17th, 2010: “Staying Relevant as a Communicator”

November 17, 2010…IABC-LA presented Susan San Martin’s “Staying Relevant as a Communicator.” This event was graciously hosted by Ernst & Young in downtown Los Angeles, and coordinated by our talented chapter member T.J. Stevko. “Who is hiring?” “What skills are in demand?” “How can a communicator showcase his or her special experience?” These questions and much more were addressed by San Martin, Principal, Plan B Communications, a results-driven executive search and consulting firm.

“It’s always dangerous for me to draft a presentation a few days early before the event.” said San Martin. San Martin shared with us her decision to scrap her well-prepared presentation in order to re-tool the entire thing…brainstorming on her dining room table with large sheets of rolled paper connecting boxes and brainstorming notes. And San Martin does get results. Feedback came in from 18 reliable lifelong communications contacts. This global outreach fostered an even more substantive cross-section of answers and suggestions from communications leaders all over the U.S. and the world…including India.

Is the hiring market improving for communicators?

• In absolute numbers, hiring is quiet in the U.S., yet we’re seeing a lot of hiring where business is growing in Asia and Latin America.
• There’s an increase in internal and employee communications communicators
• Re: social media expert hirings: Hire a 20-year employee. They know how to write and how to work through the system of a company.
• Bi-lingual and tri-lingual employees are in demand regarding social media with their ability to switch between cultural environments

What role does social media play in your communications strategies?
• Just knowing how to use FaceBook and LinkedIn does not define you as knowing social media.
• A really strong social media strategy pairs an employee 2-3 years out of school who knows how to connect with bloggers and dig out resources with a more traditional communicator of 20+ years who truly understands how to edit content.
• (One of our favorites!) Question: Do you have a social media strategy? Answer: Do you have a telephone strategy backing up your social media? (Nice!) Too many social media strategies rely on digital relationships without any personal touch.
• For communicators intimidated by social media…social media is a new tool, but not a new skill. Relax…you can do this because you already know how to communicate.
• Audiences do care about the written word, it’s just not accessed the same way.

What career missteps do you see?
• Communicators can be too choosy and too fearful. Get outside of your comfort level. If you’re a specialist, take on communications challenges so you become a generalist.
• Google, Ford, Intel all produce exceptional communications employees. Why? Because the employee does a stint in many different departments, becoming a business person first, a communicator second. Become a business person.
• Don’t forget how to write…grammar, SpellCheck. Print, emails, blogs all count.
• You must tie communications to business results.
• Don’t ramble in interviews. Practice sound bytes.
• STOP TMI!!!! Too much information on an interview or exchange.
• Not enough follow-through. Excitement on a social media project does not replace follow-through.

What smart moves are communicators making?
• Companies look for intangible qualities; sometimes the softer piece of information on a resume can make you stand out…rather than “blaring” it out loud.
• Go above and beyond. It’s about attitude…unexpected opportunities are your friend.
• Use a pay-it-forward mentality. Have a relationship-building focus.
• On an interview, do say “I’ve got initiative” as opposed to “I’m a fast learner”…be prepared to back it up.
• Research the company culture in your job search and understand it first, be honest with yourself if it’s the right culture for you, regardless of the company.
• It’s okay to make a resume 3-4 pages, as long as the information helps you to stand out.
• Look for successful communications organizations who reward good work and punish bad work consistently the same. They talk the talk and walk the walk.
• Develop relationships with subject matter experts.

Overall, Susan encouraged all communicators to get out of our comfort zones, and reassured those with 20 years experience that traditional skills still work in our rapidly changing landscape. Re-aligning relevant talent and skills is challenging…yet very rewarding.

Susan San Martin was a Vice President and Executive Recruiter with The Repovich-Reynolds Group where she conducted mid to senior-level communications and marketing searches. She has partnered with clients such as: SC Johnson, DaVita Inc., Dell Inc., Western Union, The Blackstone Group and many others. Over the last two years, she stepped out on her own to create Plan B Communications, using her 20+ years of diversified communications and marketing experience to become a highly-regarded executive search professional.

We welcomed Susan to join us for the “After Dark” portion of the evening at “The Library Bar” to learn more about Susan’s passion for talent acquisition and her love of cooking!

Thanks to T.J., Ernst & Young and Susan San Martin for a very powerful evening of professional development.

September 23, 2010: IABC-LA’s Fall Networking Kickoff Mixer and “After Dark” Event

http://www.youtube.com/v/rq4WIpEk6oU

September 23, 2010 – IABC-LA hosted its free fall Networking Kickoff and Mixer to members in Pasadena with Indian flair and “After Dark” desserts.  Paromita Ghosh, Events Chair for the area, put together a lively, colorful, mouth-watering evening at Mezbaan Indian Bar & Restaurant, Pasadena.
  
Paula Cassin, President, IABC-LA, says the L.A. chapter’s plans for the 2010-2011 year will include more fun, more relaxed and casual networking opportunities in addition to the year’s schedule of heavy-hitter speaker and panel events.  So we Chicken Tikka’d and found some new friends and members along the Kickoff way. 
 
We welcomed new and existing members Karrie Hawbaker, who just moved from Washington, DC, Lisa Wendt, David Jamieson and Kelley Haggert of Disney, Ernest Greene from USC, Vivien Hughes of Resources U.S., Jim Wong, Dawn Pace of KPMG, Risa Koppel of Pacific Bell, and David Gordon Schmidt of DG Schmidt PR/Marketing Services. Rebecca Mikkelsen, Social Media Chair for the chapter enjoyed a social media topic chat with Jim Wong and David Gordon Schmidt, who recently relocated from Michigan.

The chapter also kicked into the new IABC-LA “After Dark” series of meet-ups after events to continue the conversation and fun at a nearby location for after dinner drinks, desserts and/or those foamy lattes we all enjoy. David Schmidt enjoyed “After Dark” at the buzzing Mi Piace in Pasadena on Thursday night after Mezbaan…well, he should…he’s a former Wolverine in his past Michigan life!  Chris Cabrera of Southern California Edison, mastermind of the “After Dark” series, welcomes L.A. chapters members to enjoy just a little more nightlife together at L.A.’s best haunts.