IABC World Conference Day Two: the Good, the Bad and the Board

IABC World conference 2013


With 4 days, more than 80 speakers and 60 sessions, this year’s IABC World conference offered something for everyone.

Here’s a perspective on day two (and a tad more!) brought to you by Stephen Welch.

Stephen is IABC UK chapter president, director and partner at Hay Group and member of the International Advisory Panel at Communication World magazine which, by the way is now fully digital!

So, what did he think?


Things started with a real bang courtesy of a fantastic panel discussion with transformative CEOs from Heineken, Marvel Comics, Ogilvy & Mather and SAP.

In contrast to yesterday this was a very strongly business-focused discussion which really helped demonstrate the role that communication plays in delivering a motivated workforce. Lessons for all communicators on the power of their role.

Then I attended a great session by Cyrus Mavalwala and past international chair Adrian Cropley on how communicators can put these lessons into action.

That included taking a business focus. Aligning work to strategic objectives and ensuring that communicators measure impact in terms their paymasters understand, not crazy cod-measures like GRPs or page views.

One challenge is that sometimes when you calculate ROI, the figures can come out very high. This is a testament to the power of communicators, but we may fail as communicators when we publish figures such as an ‘ROI of 3,500%’ (as per one example Adrian cited from this own work). That’s simply too high to be believed. And makes it too east for you to be dismissed as a statistical charlatan.

So facts, data, proof – yes! – but in a way that resonates, please. And of course, as you would expect from Adrian and Cyrus, it was fun, entertaining and edgy.


After lunch I went to probably the most dire session of the whole conference. I’m sure the presenter had interesting stuff to say but managed to package messages in a way that did not resonate at all – a total contrast to the previous two sessions.

But, it was a good lesson in the law of conservation of energy (the 1st law of thermodynamics): the low-energy presentation was balanced by the high energy of people getting up and voting with their feet.


Thence to the IABC AGM and the election of the new Board.

Congratulations to the five EMEA based people on the new or outgoing International Executive Board: Michael Ambjorn, Russell Grossman, Vita Kernel, Jane Mitchell, Gloria Walker.

We heard a positive speech from the new Global President, Robin McCasland, talking about her agenda for the future. Robin, I’m sure, will do a wider announcement soon. I won’t pre-empt her agenda but we’ll be sure to bring you news as soon as it’s official.


On the final day of the conference, I continued my CEO theme and caught up with Barbara Gibson  from IABC UK who was presenting her latest research on intercultural competencies for CEOs.

She told us about the five competencies a CEO needs to master if they are going to succeed globally:

  • Cultural self-awareness
  • Cultural sensory perception
  • Open-mindedness
  • Adaptability
  • Global perspective

If these sound a bit obvious you, read her research: it really gets into the depths of what makes the difference, especially when seen through the lens of CEOs’ response to setback or failure.

I thought this was a great session, but it turned out the most popular session of that time slot was from Caroline Kealey, developer of the results map, who was presenting on the top 10 questions for strategic communicators. They had to open an extra room and there was standing room only, apparently.

Luckily for readers of this blog, you don’t have to stand at the back of a huge room and try to take notes on the edge of a table.

Just click here for the top 10 list, here for the presentation, or here for the worksheet to help you use the top 10 in practice.

See, even when your reporter misses the news he still gets the story!

That’s all for now but if you want to hear more about the World Conference be sure to get yourself to London on July 4, for IABC UK’s special American-themed night: reflections from New York. Click here to book your place.

Posted in IABC Global news, Leadership development, Strategy and planning.