I knew this day was coming

As soon as I said yes, well over a year ago, to become Mike’s number two I knew that the day when I would have to step up as President of IABC UK would come round soon enough. And on Wednesday evening, with brilliant blue skies and the beautiful London skyline providing a wonderful backdrop for our AGM, I became President of the UK chapter of the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators).

The beauty of getting involved with a professional association such as IABC is that there is built in continuity. You sign up for a three year term, a year as President-elect, a year as President and then a year as Past President. The continuity has come from a succession of great teams. For the year just finished it is right to pay tribute to Kira Scharwey who has completed her three year term and to Mike Pounsford, who has been an inspirational president, leading from the front and giving me a great base to build on.

And we have an exciting year ahead. We have a great Board (names below). Several new faces adding to the majority of last year’s team. These are people who come from a range of roles across the communications sector, and who are passionate about communications and how we can help improve the profession.

I want us to continue focusing on delivering value to our members, something we’ve tried hard to do over the past year, for example not charging members to attend events. We need to keep challenging ourselves to improve our offering thereby encouraging comms professionals to take out a membership because they value what they get for it. That doesn’t just mean the events we run either, but access to so much more, including mentoring (either providing or receiving), recognised certification, a new corporate membership offer, a fantastic wealth of resources and seminars, as well as the Gold Quill awards process and probably a bunch of other things I’ve not mentioned.

This year I judged for Gold Quill for the first time. If you don’t know about them then I can only recommend you find out. I was so impressed by the way Gold Quill sets out what excellence looks like in communications, not just as an award but simply for structuring a communications project.

What really differentiates IABC is the global nature of the organisation. Whether through the connections you make, the events you can attend such as Euro Comm, this year an excellent experience in Copenhagen or World Conference, where just a couple of weeks ago over 1,300 communicators from 30 countries met in Montreal. All reports were it was a great event and next year I want to join them in Vancouver.

Another way we can display our international credentials is through our own activities. Earlier this year we worked with the IABC San Francisco chapter to hold a live ‘Conversation Across the Ocean’ where we had a panel eight hours apart but chatting as if we were in the same room; examining the cultural differences that communicators face. Feedback from the event was brilliant and we know there is interest from other US and Canada chapters to follow up.

Events are our ‘bread and butter’. Over the past year we have run a range of different events targeting and attracting people from across the communications spectrum. We ran one event, a hugely interactive opportunity to learn about improvisation in storytelling, in London and also in Leeds, with the latter attracting over 150 people.

Our relationships with Leeds University, and the London Communications College are flourishing. This year we will think about how we can do more for students, not just so they get a good experience this year, but also to provide skills students can take with them in their careers. We have two student board members this year. One of them Alexa Cifre has already blogged about how she has developed her networking skills at last night’s AGM.

Another key area of focus for this year will be our own communications (which may either be a strange or obvious thing to say for a comms sector organisation). We need to improve our proactivity around social media and website particularly and have plans in place to do that.

One other really important thing that I’m keen we focus on is listening. It’s a subject that I am very passionate about. My belief is listening forms a key part of the communicators’ armoury. As someone said to me recently, for communicators the output of listening is getting and sharing valuable insights, but the outcome is increased influence. Yet I believe, that in many big companies especially, listening is under threat. This may be because teams, shrinking in size but expected to do more are focused on huge tasked-based in trays, or the difficulties of getting around an organisation in an era of strict travel policies or maybe simply a lack of confidence or capability.

I think this is important and we need to do something about it. I want IABC to be involved in this, but it is probably bigger than something we can do ourselves and I’ve had conversations with colleagues from across the industry including some of the other sector groups, such as IOIC and CIPR Inside, to see where we can work together for the benefit of the profession as a whole.

Sometimes we do need to temper our enthusiasm and ambitions though and remember that everyone involved on the Board of IABC UK is a volunteer. For me personally, I’ve just started an exciting new job at Johnson Matthey. Leading a volunteer board means you won’t always get to deliver all the exciting things you might like to. Sometimes real life will get in the way. All the best laid plans etc. I say this because whilst our ambition is big, it is important to have a degree of pragmatism. Hopefully both the quality, and quantity of people we’ve got this year will mean we can cover when someone has to deal with other priorities.

Ultimately though it comes down to what members (and non-members) think. Are we offering value, are we providing something that helps them develop or do their job better? I hope so!

My ask of communication professionals reading this is please get involved, come to an event, tell us what you want and where we can provide you with something that is worthwhile. IABC (and the other comms organisations) can only prosper if you help us provide what you need.

If I’ve learnt anything this year it is the truth of the old saying “the more you put into something, the more you get out”. I’ve had a great year getting more involved with IABC, you can too and I’m excited about 2018/19, which looks set to be a memorable year for IABC UK.

I look forward to seeing you at an event soon.

IABC UK Board 2018/19

Howard Krais (President). Sarah Parker (President-elect), Mike Pounsford (Past President), Ann-Marie Blake, Suzanne Brooks, Claudia Damato, Gay Flashman, Georgia Halston, Sarah Harrison, Lauren MacDonald, Casilda Malagon, Una O’Sullivan, Alexandra Cifre, Kira Scharwey, Mathilde Schneider and Daniel Schraibman

IABC UK Summer Drinks & AGM

Wednesday 27th June, 6-8pm at The Madano Partnership

We would like to invite you to join us for the IABC UK Chapter AGM, where we’ll give a rundown of the past year’s activities and share our plans for the year ahead. 

This is a great evening to meet up with fellow IABC members and friends – fingers crossed for fine weather so that we can enjoy the spectacular City views from Madano’s roof terrace.

We hope to see you there.

Please register here.

Using Enterprise Social Networks to nurture employee engagement and advocacy


Our journey to digital transformation by Working Out Loud continues with an event dedicated to the subject on 16 August in London.

wolan model-MAY2016

Co-hosted with the Employee Engagement Alliance, this evening session will discuss how enterprise social networks (ESNs) like Jive and Yammer hold the key to successful employee engagement and advocacy.

Key topics include:-

  • Reasons why ESN can fail
  • Winning ESN strategies, sustaining tactics and success stories
  • Why it’s important to care about employee engagement and advocacy in the context of a changing work environment, increasing pressure for talent development, retention and acquisitions
  • Why Comms/HR/Knowledge Management/IT need to work harmoniously to nurture and sustain an ESN.

Our speakers:-

  • Kate Senter, Senior External Communications Manager, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Stephen Morris, Marketing Project Manager, Merck
  • Crispin Manners, Chairman and Managing Director, Employee Engagement Alliance
  • Allison Maguire, Collaboration and Future of Work Consultant, Enterprise Strategies
  • Lesley Crook, Internal Digital Communications Manager, Working Out Loud in a Network

We hope to see you on the 16th August. In the meantime, get involved in International Working Out Loud Week (#wolweek), 6-12 June that asks us three key questions – What am I trying to accomplish?; Who can help me?; How can I personally contribute to deepen relationships?

Book your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/using-enterprise-social-networks-to-nurture-employee-engagement-and-advocacy-tickets-25695110768

Reflections and case studies in crisis management

While every organisation hopes that they will not be confronted with a crisis, the reality is that a crisis could happen to anyone.

On the 14th March, IABC and Regester Larkin are hosting an evening seminar reflecting on recent corporate crises and the lessons that can be learnt from them. Delegates will also have the opportunity to share their own experiences of crisis communication.

The seminar will be led by Regester Larkin’s chief executive Andrew Griffin. His insights will be drawn from crises including the crashes of Malaysia Airlines’ flights MH370 and MH17, Volkswagen’s emission scandal and TalkTalk’s cyber attack.

Join us to learn more about what makes an effective crisis response.

There are just 30 places available and these will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Should the event become fully subscribed we will put a wait list in place.


  • 5:45pm arrive
  • 6:00pm welcome from Casilda Malagon, President, IABC UK
  • 6:15pm presentation from Andrew Griffin, CEO, Regester Larkin
  • 6:45pm Q&A and group discussion
  • 7:15pm round up
  • 7:30pm finish and drinks


Book at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reflections-and-case-studies-in-crisis-management-tickets-20888733765


Cancellation policy: 100% refund if your place is cancelled on or before the 6th March 2016. If you cancel your place between 7th-10th March we will refund 50% of your ticket cost. If you cancel on or after the 11th March, there will be no refund. You are welcome to send an appropriate replacement in your place.



Date: Monday 14th March


Venue: Regester Larkin, 6th Floor, 16 St Martin’s le Grand, St Paul’s, London, EC1A 4EN



  • 5:45pm arrive
  • 6:00pm welcome from Casilda Malagon, President, IABC UK
  • 6:15pm presentation by Andrew Griffin, CEO, Regester Larkin
  • 6:45pm Q&A and group discussion
  • 7:15pm round up
  • 7:30pm finish and drinks

Metaphor-jams or why IABC is like a savings account


Last night, I had the pleasure of taking part in a #Rapido Networking event to kick off a relationship between IABC and Leeds University Business School. It was my honour to share what IABC had to offer our 80 new members from Leeds. Here are some thoughts about IABC, hoping we can kick off a metaphor jam…

To me, IABC is like a career savings account. Let me explain:

  • The earlier you start putting into it, the better.– I wish I had been a member when I was doing my BA in Mexico, or my MA in Bournemouth Media School or even when I first moved to London to start a second career.
  • It would have made my path into the UK industry much smoother. It has given me something I didn’t have then: a global network of contacts that are more than happy to provide guidance on anything from good recruiters and career choices to favourite local coffee bars or suppliers.
  • You only get out as much as you put in – As an IABC member you can choose: stay on the side-lines and you’ll receive tons of useful information. Dare to become a volunteer – like many of us – and the sky is the limit on what you can achieve. IABC is a safe space to try out new skills, experiment and innovate.
  • You should be putting more in as you get older – As a student, a savings account is a luxury. So that’s the time when you should be squeezing as much as you can from those who are further along and have started to give back. Enrol in the mentoring scheme and push your mentor to give you more.

There is one way in which an IABC membership beats the saving account. It is portable and global. Many of our student members will move to other countries once they complete their studies. They will be taking IABC with them. From Manila to Paris, Los Angeles to Johannesburg, the local chapter is always there to welcome you.

Last night I walked away energized, inspired and in impressed at the quality and professionalism of the student-run event. It took both parties 18 months to turn an initial conversation into a real tangible, mutually beneficial partnership. So thank you to Daniel Schraibman and Dr. Kendi Kinuthia, among many others, for making it happen.

IABC is the largest network of professional business communicators in the world, and a source of peer-to-peer best practice sharing. This circle of learning wouldn’t be complete without those starting out their careers and we are delighted to welcome those students into our growing community.