Shortening my to do list

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by KayAnn Rutter

In the midst of a long “to do” list at work, I debated about taking time away to attend IABC Heritage Region’s 2017 On Point Conference. On the one hand, there were so many good topics, from branding to video to data, and the chance to meet with colleagues who do everything from internal communications to nonprofit marketing communications to running their own shops. On the other hand—that never-ending list!

Yet I could not turn down the opportunity to learn, connect and communicate. Spending two days in Pittsburgh gave me the chance to pause, see where trends are going and to reset my priorities on that “to do” list. So much is changing in the communications field—so rapidly—you can’t learn it all on your own; you need to learn from others! Though my chances of making a Super Bowl commercial or directing communications for a professional sports team are slim, there were still lessons learned from those who do.

The mantra from Steve Crescenzo’s keynote sums up my reason for attending: “Do less and do it better.”  Many of the other sessions armed me with the ideas and tools on just how to do that. Plus, I have an expanded network of colleagues who can help when I get stuck.

In the end, I came away from this conference with a renewed commitment to data, to becoming a better business partner within my organization. Thought it might add a few extra projects to my list in the short term, I’m now looking forward to shortening that “to do” list going forward. Thank you, IABC!

From AI to zombies, IABC World Conference covered it all

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by Connie Feick

As a first-time attendee at the IABC World Conference, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve been to numerous workshops and conferences during my career, some good, others not so much. By the end of my four days in Washington, D.C., I told anyone who would listen that the 2017 World Conference was the best professional development event of my life.

Teresa Zumwald, Pat Frey, Connie Feick and Amy Miller at World Conference opening reception.jpgAnd it wasn’t an exaggeration. More than 1,000 communicators from around the globe gathered June 11 – 14 for a deep dive into global communications leadership. The conference included a wide range of session types led by the experts from all corners of the globe and every area of the discipline.

Gabrielle Dolan’s opening keynote about authentic storytelling perfectly set the stage for the conference. Many of the follow-up sessions echoed her emphasis on authenticity as the key to successfully reaching audiences. As Dolan put it, jargon is killing our engagement. Instead, we should use stories that create emotional connections so our audience doesn’t just remember the message, but repeats it to others.

Several presenters shared case studies that proved Dolan’s point. PR and communications expert Marco Greenberg of Thunder11 led The Ohio State University’s announcement of a brain implant that allowed a quadriplegic to use his arms again, which tapped into the power of a personal story to generate interest. Ingenium Communications’ Caroline Kealey shared how her organization personalized a change management story for the University of Ottawa so it resonated with the audience—and, most importantly, drove the desired actions.

Technology was another hot topic at IABC World Conference. Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President of marketing and communications for IBM, explained how artificial intelligence like his company’s Watson will allow us to personalize communication to the individual level. But don’t worry—Iwata assured everyone that AI will enhance, not replace, what we do. Many of the companies in The Hub exhibit hall also offered new ways of segmenting audiences and cutting through the sheer amount of information people receive daily.

So what about the zombies? More good news—there’s a cure for the affliction of zombie communications (you know, those reckless, stiff and haphazard communication strategies that contradict a company’s values). Zombie slayers Julie Lellis and Melissa Eggleston know exactly what weapons are needed to keep away the oncoming hoard: flexibility, originality and mindfulness.

And these are just a few highlights. IABC World Conference had something for everyone and captured what it really means to be a communications professional in the 21st century. Even better, the conference’s multiple formats made it easy for attendees to learn exactly the way they needed to.

It’s not too early to start planning for next year’s World Conference, which will take place in Montreal June 3 – 6, 2018. In the meantime, the Heritage Region Annual Conference offers another great opportunity for networking and development, November 5 – 7, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

Making the most out of your membership

Chapter president Teresa Zumwald recently shared on LinkedIn her personal tips for getting the most out of professional organizations like IABC.  Among her observations from 28 years as a communications entrepreneur:

“I sometimes see longtime members of professional organizations revert to nonmember status when they change jobs, and their new employer no longer foots the bill for their membership in a professional organization. This is unfortunate – not only for the professional organization, but even more so for the longtime member, who gets cut off from the local and national professional networks; misses exclusive, professional development content; and loses access to insider opportunities (not to mention the long list of member-only discounts available in most organizations).”

Read her full post to see why participation in organizations like IABC matters to your personal and professional development.

Have a tip to share with other IABC of Greater Cincinnati members? Submit them here.