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.

10 steps to building an employee champions network


We trust the people we work with, so we trust what they say.

Once again, the Edelman Trust Barometer reports that we have twice as much trust in ‘experts’ and ‘someone like me’ as we do in our CEOs.

That’s not good news for internal communicators, where traditionally we’ve spent time and resource on developing core channels such as leadership communications and managers as communicators.

So why not invest in a network of employee champions who will communicate your organisational story in a credible way to the people they work with?

A champions network will be your extended voice, reinforcing key messages on the ground to engage the hearts and minds of the people that matter.

Champions know the area of the business they work in better than you. They will instantly localise and tailor your messaging to their audiences. It will be more impactful, more relevant and more authentic.

Take time to listen too. Your network will be your ears and eyes on the ground. Get your champions to feedback on how messages are landing to help you tweak or even switch up your strategy.

Are you in? Here’s how to start…

Read more

3 common mistakes in using social media and how to prevent them

 No. 1: Embracing social media without a strategy and vision

Using social media in corporate communications without a clear vision, purpose and strategy in place is a recipe for disaster.  It means going nowhere.  A clear symptom is the appearance of thousands of groups with only 2-3 members in each.


  • Think of social media as a business journey, a transformation in the way your organisation communicates.
  • Link your social media initiatives to clear business objectives.
  • Start with awareness, acceptance and participation from the leaders.
  • Have devoted community managers who understand how to manage relationships on the network.
  • Gain strong support from advocates, your early adopters and champions who understand social media.
  • Have simple guidelines in place, and also make sure you train and educate your employees.
  • Allow people to experiment with the tools, and take their time to familiarise with them.

No. 2: Underestimating Brand Vandals

Brand Vandals are defined by Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl as social media users who publicly and vociferously criticise your organisation. They are not just members of an external community, but they can be your own employees too. When employees turn to social media for complaining and sharing their grievances a company and its corporate communicators have some major issues to deal with.


  • Engage with your employees more and encourage an honest working environment.  Take steps to rebuild trust and to openly communicate with employees.
  • Inspire healthy debates inside the organisation through enterprise social networks (ESN).  ESNs encourage sharing knowledge and information: they create two-way dialogues, reduce power distance, connect colleagues globally; they give employees a voice, allow them to make meaningful contribution and innovations, increase engagement and satisfaction (Altimeter, 2012).

No. 3: Focusing on technology rather than on behaviours
Many social media initiatives fail because of too much focus on technology and too little on behaviours.


  • Look at engaging with your stakeholders through a new type of relationship, one based on shared values and listening. In social and digital media today people are seeking authentic conversations. They don’t want a canned response.
  • Help your organisation turn into a social enterprise by utilising social technologies – and not just technologies – but social attitudes and the preferences of everyone involved in the enterprise to help run the business.

Further reading:

Brand Vandals: Reputation Wreckers and How to Build Better Defences: Corporate Reputation Risk and Response
Authors: Waddington, Stephen and Earl, Steve, 2013

Making the Business Case for Enterprise Social Networking. Focus on Relationship to Drive Value
Author: Charlene Li, Altimeter, 2012.

Gloria LombardiArticle written by Gloria Lombardi
Community & Editorial Manager,
Follow Gloria on Twitter: @LOMBARDI_GLORIA