by Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink
Successful communications is a juggling act that is ever changing. The more than 1300 attending the IABC World Conference in Chicago found a schedule of events filled with the importance of keeping a sharp eye on the communications ball.
“Twenty percent message retention! That’s the best-case scenario when using traditional change communication methods with employees,” according to Tim McCleary, the principal of The Involvement Practice. The multitude of communication channels that bombard your people every day can drive that number even lower.
McLeary lead an Idea Jam of worldwide professionals in an exercise to rewrite the book on how to get attention, buy-in and action from employees. This is the second year for the successful early morning breakout session. The crowd sourced ideas from last year were published in a book available to participants. This year’s Idea Jam will be written for the experts, by the experts and made available to attendees after publication.
Much has changed since the first Excellence in Communication Leadership (EXCEL) Award was presented in 1961 to Edwin Canham, then the editor of the Christian Science Monitor.
The development of a digital world has tested business leaders’ ability to adapt their communication to the times. Irene Lewis of SAIT Polytech University in Canada, the winner of the 2012 IABC EXCEL Award, discussed the communication challenges, and how a visionary CEO demonstrates leadership and commitment to the communication profession. Lewis shared her unique perspective on the role communication plays in a successful organization working to become more productively with a CEO while advancing the brand.
From communications to the board room brand advancement has become a hot topic for business. According to Bob Killian of Chicago’s Killian Branding, “business has two functions – marketing and innovation.” In the new digital world businesses must have an effective website that is written and designed to address the differing needs of three challenging audiences: the Quals, the Quants and the Bots.
Quals, 86 percent of web visitors, want your brand story, simply and quickly, the other 14 percent, demand more. They want to know process as well as results, and drill down for details. Bots—or search engine spiders—continuously test sites for fresh content and relevance.
“I really enjoy speaking at IABC events because of the well informed audiences that always have thought provoking questions,” said Killian. “These are a group of professionals that take the information from the story I tell and are not afraid to implement it right away.”
Telling the right story is important for communicators, but a number of disappointed communicators were left standing in the hall unable to learn how to get their story heard.
Storytelling is a “must-have” tool that is powerful but vastly underutilized. Jane Praeger, of Columbia University, and Heather Thomas, of New York’s Ovid Inc., explained the techniques of how storytelling can be used in business by harnessing the power of the story to meet both personal and professional objectives.
First time IABC World Conference attendee Vivian Jackson from Washington, DC feels IABC has dropped the ball somewhat. Working for the World Bank in DC she constantly works with senior level speakers and thought leaders.
“Although the conference has been interesting I think there is ample opportunity for IABC to step up their game in terms of current technology and coming technology as well as examining the bigger picture,” she explained in the hallways of the Sheraton. “I think that it has been too focused on minute things and issues of yesterday instead of issues of tomorrow.”
The future was also on the minds of IABC members from the southern region as they gathered for “happy hour” at the D4 Irish Pub. More than 75 southerners from Atlanta to Jamaica, and Dallas to Charlotte gathered for a round of fine spirits and catching up with old friends.
Standing high upon a bar stool, Cloreth Greene, the new chair for Southern Region, invited the her fellow communicators to “come the Charlotte for the Southern Region Conference in September.” After repeating “Charlotte” for a third time, members of the committee gently reminded her that the conference was being held in Charleston, SC, not Charlotte, NC.
Juggling a couple of olives in a martini glass at days end, Terri Parris from IABC Houston feels the international flavor of the conference has been outstanding, “I’ve met people from Barbados and almost every city in Canada. It has been truly eye opening on what IABC has to offer professional communicators.”