Membership Month Profiles – Miguel Cortez

October is IABC membership month. In line with this, we have gathered insights from select IABC members on how the organization has helped them in their respective careers.

Mr. Miguel Cortez – International Student

Miguel Cortez is a Full Time Masters in Public Relations student at the London College of Communication (LCC).

Over the years, IABC UK has offered a mentoring program for students in select universities in the United Kingdom. LCC is one among a handful of institutions which the IABC has had a fruitful partnership with.  Through this, Miguel has managed to broaden his perspective and hone his communication skills through working closely with a variety of respected industry professionals. He is also a member of the 2017-2018 IABC UK Board of Directors.

“Working in communications for over a decade has helped me understand the value of establishing relationships with industry professionals at all levels.  IABC UK has helped my development through giving me access to networking opportunities and consultations with industry experts. This is vital both for students looking to kick start their careers, and students with more working experience who want to prepare themselves for more significant responsibilities.”

Miguel further shared that he has felt enriched by his involvement with the IABC, and that he feels more confident about reaching greater heights professionally, in the future.

“My IABC UK mentor and others in the organization have graciously shared their time and knowledge with me. IABC UK has made it possible for me to pair my scholastic experience as a postgraduate student with professional skills development through exposure to truly global industry perspectives. It’s been an amazing learning experience thus far. I now feel better equipped to face the challenges associated with taking on higher profile communication roles in the future. Furthermore, I now feel confident about being able to make a positive impact on society with my talents.”

For more information on IABC UK membership, and links to other key facets of the organization, visit https://iabcemena.com/uk/how-to-join/.

 

The Power of Fun

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By Stephen Welch
Communication, HR and Change Consultant. @stephenwelch11

When was the last time you had some fun?  Some real fun? I’m guessing maybe quite recently seeing as most of us have just had a break over the New Year.

But what I mean is real fun at work? For many, 2016 was not only a year of depressing news, but also a year of hard slog at work. Almost every I know said their plan over Xmas was to get lots of sleep and try and recharge. But why should work be so hard? What is it about being trapped in our day-to-day lives that means we run out of energy at the end of the year. (Or in my case at the end of every week!)

We can get fun from different ways. For 2017, I challenge every IABC member in the UK to find a way to have some fun at work. You can do this in many different ways:

  1. Work with people you like, on a project you like. Admittedly, this is easier for some than others. My favourite project last year was developing Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders with Casilda Malagon: a new way of helping communicators develop their career through gamification. The game itself is a lot of laughs and developing it was too. We’ve now run it with people from 8 countries and continue to develop in new directions, with video and new designs for our popular workshops.
  2. Create excuses to take a break. I’m working with a colleague on a corporate design and internal communications project. Our modus operandi is to have a one hour meeting late afternoon and then reward ourselves for a successful meeting down at the local wine bar.
  3. Change the scene. Why meet at your office when there are millions of great alternatives? Sure, this is easier if you are in a city, where there are plenty of cafés. But don’t limit yourself to simply Starbucks, a common Costa or pedestrian Pret a Manger. In the last year, I’ve had meetings at London Clubs, Museums, the Royal College of GPs, Somerset House, and many other places which are free and open to the public. Or: support your local small, artisan café, please.
  4. Make the most of your memberships. Obviously as an IABC member, I am biased, but whatever association you join, make sure your objectives for joining are clear and tailor your activities towards those objectives. Take a moment to see if your original reason is still the right one.
  5. Focus on the essential. This Friday (Jan 6) is the official Epiphany. Mine came over the holidays when I realised I wasn’t listening to my own advice. Let me explain. I run lots of courses on how to be a business partner and strategic adviser. One of the components is time management and how to say ‘no’. But in 2016 I wasn’t focused enough and got too distracted. In 2017, by focusing on the essentials, I’m going try and leave more time for fun.

I’m not saying fun is something you can have all the time. But in my experience these are five things that you can do to have a more fun experience at work. Not all of them will be possible for all people. And I fully expect to look back at the end of 2017 and realise I’ve totally forgotten at least one of them.

How are you going to have fun this year?

Creating connections – 2015/2016 IABC report

Last week, we celebrated our Annual General Meeting at the UK chapter at Madano’s beautiful roof terrace. It was a lovely informal gathering to celebrate what has been a year of growth and consolidation for the association.

As I prepared for the AGM, reflecting on my role as president of the UK chapter, I was stunned by two things: how fast a year can go by and how much can be accomplished when you have the right team in place.

This year-long adventure exceeded my expectations and gave me back more than I ever imagined. If my theory is right and IABC is like a savings account, leading a chapter makes is a high-yielding bond. Unparalleled the interest rates!

A year ago, in a lovely pub in Holborn, I took up the baton from Tessa O’Neill and pledged to focus on three things. As a board, we agreed that in every aspect of our work we would:

Demonstrate that we are an outward looking association and cover the full spectrum of communication

  • have and use our global network
  • effectively engage our members

I also made a request that the title of Chapter President be changed to facilitator in chief, because it is the work and effort of our volunteers that make the chapter work. While my request was ignored, the ambitions set out the three objectives were met and, in some cases, exceeded. This is my chance to say thank you and recognize the passion, professionalism and talent that each of our board members have put into managing their portfolio.

This year we have held eight events covering global communications, crisis, measurement and the future of the profession. We held a joint event with the Montreal Chapter, strengthened the links with the Global IABC, and contributed to the Regional board through the Leadership Institute and Eurocomm. We also launched the global #myiabc video competition spearheaded by the incoming president Kira Scharwey.

I’d like to recognize Kirsty Brown for having taken our chapter’s events to the next level and, as we prepare to host Eurocomm 2017, we are incredibly lucky to have her on board.

In addition to events, our thought-leadership blog has become a space for UK and international experts to share stories and opinions that provoke, inspire and build stronger connections. Under Gay Flashman’ s direction we covered the evolution of the Italian PR industry, the TalkTalk and Volkswagen scandals, the misadventures of Alan Sugar and The Apprentice; we also shared insights into how to manage brands, crisis, corporate websites, social media campaigns, and international communication. Communicating for the communicators must be one of the biggest challenges in the business and Gay has done an excellent job with our website and social channels. Thanks as well to Leslie Crook for shepherding our LinkedIn group into their 1000 members.

We are also looking at the future of the profession and the association: our student members. Our continued relationships with Bournemouth University and the London College of Communication remain strong. This year we welcomed an agreement with Leeds University. The latter gave us 80 new members thanks to the resolve of two people: Daniel Schraibman and Dr Kendi Kinuthia’s, who joins the board this year. This agreement also strengthened our mentoring program. This holistic and long-term approach to student membership won us a global recognition at the last Leadership Institute.

In a time when membership in associations is struggling, we are thriving and that is down the work done by the membership team: Lauren Brown, Kira Scharwey and Marcie Shaoul.

As the well-known African saying goes, if you want to go fast go alone but if you want to far go together. We want to go far, and so this year increased our relationships and partnerships to deliver content, events and opportunities for our members. Thank you to our event partners Anglo American, Simply Communicate, VMA, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, Regester Larkin and our hosts tonight, Madano. Thank you as well also to all the support of our event sponsors: Pitch Pack, Scarlett Abbott and Communicate Magazine

Thank you to each and every one of the national, regional and global volunteers that help us create connection like never before.

How can organisations prepare to communicate in a cyber crisis?

Ahead of this year’s Crisis Management Conference, Regester Larkin’s chief executive, Andrew Griffin, looks at how organisations can prepare to communicate in a cyber crisis.

Organisations must be prepared to face any sort of crisis, from major physical incidents to scandals and performance failures. According to our recent crisis management survey, organisations are more confident in their ability to respond to familiar risks, such as industrial accidents and extreme weather events, than they are unfamiliar risks. For most, a cyber attack is unfamiliar territory. Yet cyber risk is a key commercial and reputational vulnerability that has moved quickly up organisations’ risk registers in recent years.

As with all aspects of crisis communication preparedness is key. The unique dynamics of a cyber crisis need some special attention. Here are three tips for organisations getting ‘cyber crisis ready’.

  1. Plan the logistics of communication

All organisations should have a crisis communications plan but few of these plans consider the logistics of this. A cyber crisis might require direct communication with consumers, customers and stakeholders, sometimes with important information about actions they should take. But a cyber attack could debilitate normal communication channels, most of which don’t have the capacity to reach large numbers in short time periods. And, of course, internal systems may have been directly impacted, isolated or disconnected to contain the attack. Thinking through these realities during peace time is an invaluable time saver in a crisis.

  1. Don’t be a victim

Even if an organisation is the ‘victim’ of a cyber attack, it can never play the victim card.

Stakeholders may feel let down: an organisation they trust has failed to protect their interests. They must feel that you understand and regret that they have been impacted by the cyber attack. The watchwords here will be care, concern, containment and control. Containment in particular is hugely important in a cyber crisis. If the organisation cannot put a fence around what has happened, the assumption will be that the situation is out of control and uncontained. The last thing stakeholders want in this situation is for the organisation to play the victim card: they want to see action and hear the right emotion.

  1. Ensure you know the facts

A cyber crisis, again like most crises, is characterised by a lack of information in the early stages. What exactly has happened here? What has been compromised? What information is lost? With a cyber incident, the lack of knowledge is about other people’s information and details. Knowing what the organisation does and doesn’t hold on its customers, employees and consumers is the most important step. The organisation’s spokespeople (many of who will find the whole ‘cyber thing’ very unfamiliar and confusing) will need to be reassuring wherever possible.  Knowledge is key: information should include what data is held on customers, how the data is stored and details of the organisation’s investment in cyber resilience.

We have seen through a series of recent high profile data breaches that cyber attacks can have significant commercial and reputational impacts. Preparedness is the key to successful response.

The Crisis Management Conference will be held on Wednesday 14th September in London. For further details on the programme and how to register, please visit the CMC website.

LUBSxIABC: New Communication Frontiers

On Wednesday the 8th of June 2016, Leeds University Business School hosted the second of a chain of LUBSxIABC events as part of its agenda to develop the newborn partnership with the International Association of Business Communicators through student-organised conferences where industry professionals are invited, as speakers, to share their experience and valuable insights.

As professor Kendi Kinuthia and CCPR program director Tony Byng underlined in their introductory statements, the aim of this collaboration is to make sure the program stays relevant and delivers knowledge and skills that can be applied in the world and in the workplace; all while granting students the chance to organise the event planning committee and IABC’s new UK chapter a broader influence and impact.

After regional vice-president Daniel Schraibman briefly introduced the students on the many ways they can still benefit from their membership after the end of their studies; the mic passed on to the first of four speakers for the day, freelance communications consultant Janet Morgan.

Janet’s speech covered the topic of opportunities and threats of social media in the context of today’s organizational crises. After discussing the loss of control on their storytelling that organizations have suffered from the introduction of digital media, Janet went on to analyse how brands are trying to face the issue today by improving the timeliness of their response and integrating their communications across all departments and branches. The best companies today are able to address issues raised by users anywhere in the world with timeliness and consistence responses to online comments and messages.

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The floor was then left for Grant Mercer, LUBS alumni and CMO of DJI Holdings Plc., who shared his future perspectives around the topic of “Brands vs Consumers. Who’s leading who?” providing the crowd with a very clear answer and warning early on in his speech: “Make no mistake: Brands will win”. Grant then developed his speech around the two core reasons for that to happen, focusing on how, although brands have had to step back and re-invent themselves, “brands do not surrender”. And the amount of data we share every day has reached such unprecedented size and detail that in around 5 years’ time brands should be able to develop techniques to use all this data in order to profile consumers ever more accurately and provide even more customer-tailored solutions to all their needs and wants. And thus retain their position of power. While this will most probably be the case in terms of monetary power and influence which brands, contrary to common beliefs, are indeed planning to hold on to; the question remains whether these techniques will also allow brands to re-gain the level of control they once had on their message. In particular enabling customers to participate in co-defining both brands’ public image and their performance may very well instead constitute a power loss that brands will accept as a given cost; given that more and more brands today tend to mould their activities around expectations expressed by their customers online and tailor their offer for specific customer profiles and customise their offer to the needs of particular market segments. As the same Grant admitted this to be the case for corporate responsibilities they “kind of” endorsed, such as being more responsible and the idea of being held accountable for everything since “where there were once walls, there are now windows.”

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Next up was pensions & benefits consultant Karen Bolan, who introduced the audience to “The 7 mega trends of Communication”. She connected to many previously mentioned novelties within the industry such as the influence customers have acquired thanks to product validation they nowadays seek to find in online reviews by other random users online and the segmentation of companies’ offers to address different behavioral or attitude-based customer profiles and the consequent customization their products.

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Finally, LUBS alumni and eminent scholar Joep Cornelissen took the floor to give us a more academic and analytical overview of these recent changes, analysing the evolution of communications from mass dissemination (broadcasting) to individual stakeholder engagement (crowd-casting) and how marketing and public relations are increasingly combined in the one activity such as content creation or storytelling. His analysis underlined once again the increasingly key role of transparency and authenticity, along with mentioning advocacy and interactivity as other two trends of the new millennium.

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After many questions from the audience, the event ended with drinks and refreshments in the hall, granting participants a chance to network with one another and ask further questions to the speakers in private.

 

By: Marco Romero