How communicators can benefit from our association


Hello everyone,


With so much going on in the world of IABC, I wanted to share some of the many ways communicators can benefit from the Association.

A couple of weeks ago I joined over 150 communicators at this year’s IABC EMENA Regional conference, held in Bahrain for the first time.

It was really interesting going to the Gulf for such an event. Different cultures, but many similar challenges to those we face in the UK. Having worked globally over the past few years, I’ve always found it fascinating to think about the impact of local culture on global communication efforts. Meeting many communicators from different parts of the world certainly shines a light on the profession, and I’m pleased to say on IABC which is really at its best at events like this. Only IABC can bring communicators together from so many countries and it was great to see the IABC family looking so strong in EMENA.

We had several IABC UK board colleagues, and members attending, doing us proud presenting and hosting a range of fascinating sessions. We’ve published some reflections of the EMENAComm event on our website which I hope you’ll find interesting.

Last weekend a number of IABCers came together to help judge this year’s Gold Quill entries. I find this an inspiring part of the year. For me Gold Quill is the best definition of excellence in communications. The rigour that Gold Quill sets out, providing anyone starting a communications project with the best guide to what it takes to communicate with excellence. The event was run ably as always by Neil Griffiths, who we congratulate on recently being awarded an IABC Fellowship.

IABC provides opportunities and services for members across the world. Our Regional Chapter leader Mike Klein attended the recent global Leadership Intititute. After the event Mike chatted to Global Chair Ginger Homan and Executive Director Stephanie Doute. You can read a really interesting article on Mike’s blog that sums up the exciting approach that IABC is looking to take going forward here.

In the UK have a range of other events coming up, hopefully something to suit every taste:


Book Club

I’m excited about a new venture that we are going to experiment with. Thanks to long time IABC member Susan Walker, the idea is simple – one person reads a communications (or business) book so everyone else doesn’t have to. Susan is currently reading Lab Rats which looks like an interesting choice. We will look for a small group to meet in an informal manner to discuss with the date and venue confirmed shortly.


Ideas Exchange (21 March)

Last year one of our most popular IABC UK events was the Ideas Exchange session on ‘Running your own Business’. The Ideas Exchange is an informal learning event where we learn through discussion and sharing experiences rather than listening to an ‘expert’. It works through choosing a topic that all have a view on and that we are open to learning more about by listening to others as much as sharing our perspectives.

This year’s topic is “What does a fulfilling career in Communications look like and how can we get what we want from our own career?”.

Lauren MacDonald has kindly offered State Street’s offices in Canary Wharf for the session, which will run from 6.00-8.00pm and it will be hosted by Mike Pounsford.

For more information and to book your place go to our Eventbrite page here.

Later in the Spring we are planning for three big events.


Listening Workshop

On 1 May, Mike Pounsford, Kevin Ruck and I will run the Listening Workshop that we ran in Bahrain.

This subject seems to have some momentum which is great as it is an important topic. At the session we will share the results of some research we’ve been running over the last few weeks and also looking at how communicators as individuals, and as part of an organisation can improve listening.

The event will take part at Lansons office in the City, and you can book here.

Another event will focus on Ethics and communications – a real hot topic for many communicators and the other will be our annual showpiece event, most likely during the first week in June, which we call Future Fit. This is a half day event where we hear from some great speakers who take a peak into where the world of communications might be heading.

In other news, we continue to build our presence outside of London. In the North we were delighted to partner with Marketing Show North – the biggest ever gathering of marketing companies, vendors and suppliers held outside London. This was a great opportunity to spread the word about the IABC, grow awareness and, hopefully, membership in the North of England. More details can be found here.


Board opportunities

As always, I am keen to talk to anyone who might be interested in getting involved with IABC. We’ve had plenty of interest shown recently but always welcome more, especially from people who are interested in getting involved in IABC at a senior level.

With the success and impact of EMENAComm giving us a real spring in our steps I look forward to a great few months ahead for IABC in the UK.


Best wishes,

Howard Krais
IABC UK President 2018/19

EmenaComm 2019: Key Takeaways

Bringing together senior communicators from across the region for two days of conversation and insight, the IABC in Bahrain hosted the inaugural EmenaComm conference on 11th and 12th February 2019. I was lucky enough to attend, along with a group of UK IABC members and board members attended, hosting sessions on sustainability messaging, the power of listening, social media and content marketing. Here are our takeaways from the event.


From Howard Krais, President at IABC UK

As I sit in the lounge at Bahrain international airport, a day after the conclusion of IABC’s EMENA Conference, I am left to reflect on what has been an inspiring week, for several reasons. I often talk about how important the I in IABC is. Demonstrating how the organisation is truly international, bringing together communicators not just from Europe and the Gulf, but also the US and Australia shows what it’s all about. Realising how many issues and challenges we share, how much brings us together, and yet how much we can learn from the different cultures and ways of working present can be truly humbling.

Continuing the theme of our IABC year, together with Mike Pounsford and Kevin Ruck, I was delighted to run a workshop on listening. We shared the highlights of some recent research we’ve done about listening which has thrown up several interesting issues. We looked at what listening means to individual communicators and to organisations. We also looked at the best way of using some of the many channels we have available to listen. And we’d love to listen to more people – we are just finalising a date to run a similar workshop in London in April so look forward to continuing the discussion then.

I’d say if you ever get the chance to go to an international conference of peers then take it. You’ll find your horizons being broadened and your eyes being opened. You’ll grow your network and you’ll have a fantastic experience.


From Georgia Halston, of Halston Marketing

Broadening your horizons is an understatement. The value that can be gained from throwing yourself into a completely alien scenario is incomparable. From experience in public speaking, never before have I been met with an audience so diverse and as any advocate for diversity will tell you, the exposure to new points of view make it invaluable. The feedback, questions and intrigue from the audience and delegates in general did not disappoint – I’ve been met with points of view I would never have experienced if it wasn’t for a platform of this magnitude.

Quick-fire learnings –

  • Lewis Woodward – Purpose is made powerful through daily actions
  • Joss Mathieson – Make the leadership team visible and accessible and through the use of local communicators (#letstalk champions) you share ownership of the conversation
  • Joe Lipscombe and Nick Driver – Make your audience the hero of the story
  • Brad Jennings – Communicators are meaning makers and meaning shapers

My real stand out moments –

  • Yasser Zaki gave insight into B2B strategies with a concise case study and explained how his company not only penetrated but smashed their way into the Egyptian market. What I took away from this session is that B2B marketing is so similar in terms of strategy, no matter where you are and no matter what the product is. It’s the execution that bears the cultural differences and it was amazing to be in a position to really learn something here
  • Aimee DaBrule introduced a case study on the benefits of building on purpose. The work being showcased was multi-faceted and delivered insight on how a campaign can help to deal with the media, the audience and regulatory compliance.


From Casilda Malagon, Past president, IABC UK

I have a confession to make. I was very skeptical about speaking at EmenaComm. It is the height of the sustainability reporting season, I have a small child and Bahrain is so far away. I also had ethical reservations about the choice of venue, its regime and human rights record made me ponder.

However, over the years I have learned that faith in the IABC colleagues always pays back. And this was definitely not the exception. Doing my research, I realized that the Gulf region is not even represented in the Dow Jones Sustainability Emerging Markets Index, so that infused me with a double call to action: give back to IABC and take the sustainability message to the region.

I chaired the sustainability track and present alongside Helen Lamb and Matt Painter from IPSOS, and Monaem Ben Lellahom a MENA sustainability consultancy. It was such a rewarding experience. We discussed trust, evidence-based decision making, the role of communicators and had a spirited debate over CSR vs Sustainability. I had one goal in mind when I prepared, inspire our audience. At the end of the session, we asked them one question: How do you feel right now?

Their answer is what we work for.

My lesson: step up and say yes. It pays back.


Mike Pounsford, Past president, IABC UK

The theme for the conference was Transformers: Communicators driving strategic change.  Maybe you just hear what you want to hear but I loved:

  • The lessons about the importance of clarifying and communicating purpose with passion, great storytelling and authenticity that came through Colin Hatfield’s session, Lewis Woodward from EY and others in different ways
  • How to help people cope with uncertainty because of change, change, change: digital, disruption etc and in particular Brad Jennings talking about his experiences of helping to get the voice of disruption and the voices of the people into the executive suite
  • Celebrating and using diversity – which played out in front of our eyes in a room full of different cultures, backgrounds, ages, organisation and gender
  • The listening session I ran with Howard Krais and Kevin Ruck because of the challenge around how to make sure that better listening improves the quality of the business

A bit like Casilda I was in two minds about whether this was the best use of my time when faced with so many pressures and priorities in life.  But, again and again, I am struck by the quality and warmth of the IABC crowd.  It is such a good network of like-minded, argumentative and challenging colleagues who share a passion for what they do and an openness to share their ideas and support each other.   I know we will do more on listening because the session went well and with Howard and Kevin we’ve got a team keen to take this further, and I know it’s a topic we will all get value from.


My own reflections

As I reflect on my whistlestop visit to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and then Bahrain for EmenaComm I am reminded what a unique opportunity this was to forge new partnerships, new friendships and learn more about global communication. As well as the formal sessions, lunches and dinners provided a great opportunity to understand the nuances of doing business in the region, and to workshop individuals’ own challenges. Through relaxed, honest conversations I gained much more of a sense of the region than I had in the past, travelling more widely than more usual destination of Dubai.

Hanisha Lalwani was confident on ‘how to say no’ in the workplace – always a challenge but ultimately such a great approach to avoid disappointment and misunderstanding.  There was a fantastic, and energetic final panel moderated by Amith Prabhu from a team of senior Indian communicators on migrating their comms campaigns from tactics to strategy – my primary takeaway from that was the notion of ROO (Return on Objectives) as a more realistic/real-life alternative to ROI (Return on Investment). Here are some additional takeaways from the first ever EmenaComm, expertly organized by Alex Malouf:-

Joss Mathieson outlined how GSK streamlined its internal comms to deliver clearer messages to staff, streamlining 100+ newsletters into one with a single editorial process. Guidance on how to really cut through? Keep messages simple, work as one team and focus on outcomes now outputs. On the critical success factors for internal comms success – leaders must be human and visible, you must listen and involve your people, and you

Jon Hammond delivered practical guidance on how to gain more presence in your presentations and communications: be confident about yourself and you will be confident in your presentations; create stories that will resonate with your audience

My own session on the Power of Brand Journalism was well received – the power of informative, broad and wide-ranging articles posted on your own corporate website to drive engagement and build audiences. Definitely worth making the trip as an extension of my client work and brand building in the region.

A year of listening – please help us by completing our survey

We’ve called this year (2018/19) a year of listening. This has been in response to concerns that listening, a critical tool for the communicator, is in danger of being shuffled to the bottom of the pile as we struggle under the pressures of delivering more content, often with less resource.

If it is a year of listening, then it is fair to ask what are we doing about it?

Well, one thing we want to do is listen – to you, our members and colleagues, to hear whether this assertion carries any weight or not. And we are interested in finding out about how communications professionals and organisations are listening to their stakeholders externally and internally.

To help with this, I’d like to invite you to spend no more than five minutes completing a short survey which you can find here

Your feedback will provide valuable input into the state of listening in organisations today. It will also help Mike Pounsford, Kevin Ruck and I to shape a workshop we are running at the IABC EMENA Region conference in February, a workshop we will also look to run in the UK in the spring.

Thank you in advance for completing the survey. If you would like a copy of the report please contact me and I’ll happily send it to you.