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Author: Jenny Dougherty

Unconscious Bias in Communications

Did you miss our May lunch and learn? 
Watch the recording below or download out the presentation.

Rita Wuebbeler, president and founder of INTERGLOBE Cross-Cultural Business Services, Inc., an international training and consulting firm based in Atlanta, brings her expertise as an executive coach, leadership development consultant, diversity and inclusion facilitator, and mindfulness instructor to this important discussion around creating communications inclusive of all employees.

Meet Terry Cerisoles, SCMP

2018 IABC Atlanta Lifetime Achievement Awardee

We sat down with Terry Cerisoles, SCMP, winner of the 2018 IABC Atlanta Lifetime Achievement Award, to learn more about what IABC has meant to her throughout her impressive career. Here is what Terry had to say about her proudest professional accomplishments, women movingup in the profession and the people who helped shape her career.

IABC Atlanta: Wow! Congratulations Terry on your lifetime achievement award from IABC Atlanta. What advice do you have for women communicators in the profession?

Terry: The Communications profession has such diversity of disciplines, there’s something for every communicator. If you dig crises, that’s an area really in demand right now. If you love writing speeches or presentations, that’s a high value role in any company. For women specifically, NEVER say “I’m not good at math, that’s why I love words.” Math is the language of business and is critical to your success if you are ambitious.

IABC Atlanta: What does this award mean to you?

Terry: Frankly, I was stunned when told about it! I am so thrilled because it means that my contributions to IABC and IABC Atlanta are recognized and appreciated.

IABC Atlanta: As you look back on your career, what are your proudest accomplishments?

Terry: Winning my first IABC Atlanta Golden Flame award (way back when!). Winning my first Gold Quill (international award) and achieving my SCMP certification are definitely a couple more highlights. Though more recently, seeing my team win them was just as, if not more, satisfying.

IABC Atlanta: Was there a specific person or event that really shaped your career?

Terry: There are a whole lot of people but they are ALL IABC MEMBERS! They taught me good communication techniques, how to support one another and how to be a good leader. They gave me confidence and encouraged me to take risks. They also provided me with a lot of diverse opinions, so I gained new perspectives. I certainly would not have achieved the career successes I have without IABC!

IABC Atlanta: What has your membership and leadership role in IABC Atlanta meant to you throughout your career?

Terry: IABC has been – and continues to be – my extended family. I have turned to my IABC friends and colleagues for advice, for support, to share heavy loads and to challenge myself. I can still remember the day I was asked to consider a board position. I was absolutely thrilled, and that day led to years of different roles. I particularly loved leading Membership efforts. To me, it was so easy to share why I loved being a member.

IABC Atlanta: Who do you admire and why?

Terry: I’m a big Ruth Bader Ginsberg fan. Like me, she lost her mother at a young age and had a lot of challenges to overcome. She used her intellect and drive to take her rightful place in a very male-dominated field. She was a role model for me when I became the first female sports producer for Turner Broadcasting in my pre-communications career. My favorite quote about her from NPR is “She has a soft voice but says really devastating things in that quiet voice!” I admire her advocacy for gender equality and womens’ rights – and that she’s still doing that at 85!

IABC Atlanta members win Gold Quill international communication awards

Winners previously earned local communication award of excellence

FOR RELEASE: July 19, 2018

The Atlanta chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) today announced that several of its member companies earned top honors in the 2018 IABC Gold Quill Awards program, which recognizes excellence globally in business communications.

Entrants from 13 different countries participated in this year’s Gold Quill Awards competition. Atlanta-area winners include the American Cancer Society, Realm Inc., SunTrust Bank and UPS. Considered the “Pulitzer Prize” of the communications field, the Gold Quill Award recognizes excellence in communication and honors the dedication, innovation and passion of communicators on a global scale.

“We’re excited to see so many of our Atlanta companies honored,” said Julie Greenwell, president, IABC Atlanta. “Atlanta has always been a hotbed of business communication given the number of large corporations headquartered here, and these awards underscore the excellence of our chapter and city.”
The awards were presented in June at the annual Excellence Gala, held in conjunction with the IABC World Conference in Montreal. All of these projects had previously earned the IABC Atlanta Award of Excellence as part of the local chapter’s Golden Flame Awards competition. See the full list of international winners here.

IABC Atlanta is gearing up for its 2018 Golden Flame Awards program, which offers communicators the opportunity to gain local recognition for exceptional work through a peer-based panel of independent, international judges. The deadline for entries is July 27. Learn more or enter at http://atlanta.iabc.com/

About IABC Gold Quill Awards: For more than 40 years, IABC’s Gold Quill Awards program has recognized and awarded excellence in strategic communication worldwide. The Gold Quill competition is the only awards program that honors the dedication, innovation and passion of communicators on a global scale. Since 2008, more than 4,451 projects have been entered in the Gold Quill Awards program.

About IABC Atlanta: IABC Atlanta is the premier professional communications association that provides professional development, networking and best practices for a broad range of communication professionals at all career levels. With membership across internal and external communications, as well as executive, marketing and PR sectors, the association provides unique networking events and learning opportunities for communication professionals to advance their careers and build meaningful connections within the Atlanta community. More information about the organization is available at http://atlanta.iabc.com/.

Contact: JoEllen Saeli-Lane
IABC Atlanta Media Relations
404.417.5828
joellen.saeli-lane@cancer.org

To Secure a Mentor, First Meet One

In Case You Missed It… An Overview of our April Networking Luncheon!

We always hear that mentors are integral to moving in a positive direction along a career path. There’s less chatter about HOW to meet a mentor. At April’s luncheon, IABC Atlanta’s members engaged in small group discussions with five of Atlanta’s leaders in business communications. Each walked us down their path to the corner office and shared advice about how we can do it too.

My table’s discussion began with Terry Cerisoles, SVP, Corporate Communications at American Cancer Society. Terry referenced IABC’s Global Standard of the Communication Profession to share her best advice for building a communications career. She emphasized the power of choice in a career – from choosing between being well-rounded or an expert in a specific area, to the type of environment in which you want to spend your time and the companies with which you work.

Choice also extends to our relationships with industry peers. Terry encouraged us to network widely, even in times when we don’t need its benefits. “Actively build your network – don’t wait until you need it. Support people in their job search mode, and it will come back to you later.”

Our next visitor was Todd Wandtke, VP of Customer Communications and Digital Marketing at UPS. Todd’s role at UPS covers a wide swath: marketing, communications, events, and more. He regularly thinks about what’s next for UPS: digital marketing, storytelling, newer technologies and platforms. Todd related this to committing time to think about what’s next in our career. “How do the changes in the market influence your craft? Find and grow your place within industry changes,” he said.

Todd shared four themes that he’s currently seeing in marketing. First, understand the power of storytelling. This is such a theme in marketing communications right now – because storytelling is interesting, and it works! Second, Todd touted the ability to understand and leverage analytics. UPS is investing in analytics as an integral part of determining where to invest and how well investments work: “We must answer the question of what a dollar of investment is worth.” Next, learn – keep on training, learning new things, growing your mind, every day! Finally, Todd told us to continue honing our basic skills: speaking well, writing to connect with others, and growing our emotional and interpersonal maturity.

We next spoke with Joanna Irwin, Global CMO at Randstad, a staffing and recruiting firm headquartered in Netherlands. Johanna recently joined Randstad as one of its first U.S.-based senior leaders. After she left her previous role, she chose (is there an echo in here?) to be very intentional with her next career step. A career coach, networking, and taking time to reflect enabled that decision. The information she gathered drove her job search and led her to Randstad.

As a recent executive-level job seeker, Johanna’s believes that the ability to connect personally with other company leaders is key to success. “At the executive level, everyone assumes that you have the skills. Making personal connections – building trust and understanding, and throwing in a little humor – are most important,” she said.

Our last table visitor was Shirley Powell, Senior VP, Communications at Cox Automotive. Prior to Cox, Shirley worked for many years in the television and entertainment industries. She shared a key insight on attempting to change industries as a job seeker: “If an interviewer challenges your lack of industry knowledge, ask what they’re really looking for,” she said. “Nine times out of ten, you can solve the problem without deep industry knowledge.”

Shirley echoed early mentors’ thoughts about the value of “basic” skills such as communications. She sees employee communication as one of companies’ biggest challenges right now. People who can devise ways to help employees assimilate information effectively will become more and more valuable.

The small group format of April’s luncheon allowed members to engage in real, unhurried conversation with potential mentors. We’d love to hear about connections you made at the event – comment below, or message me to share your story!

Shout out and thanks to our luncheon sponsors: Leland on Location, Poppulo, and Swift Branded Apparel and Products.

Photos by the multitalented JoEllen Saeli-Lane.

Author’s Note: Suzanne O’Brien works with businesses and organizations to design and execute informational, inspirational and educational initiatives that promote stakeholder experience and satisfaction. Her work is grounded in the conviction that collaborative and creative design yields effective and sustainable solutions.

Share Your Company’s Untold Story

In Case You Missed It… An Overview of our March Networking Luncheon!

A C-level exec I used to work under recently posted this question here on LinkedIn:

WHY? What are some reasons you go to a cybersecurity company? My marketing team asked me that question. I said “to get better at being secure.” Apparently that is not the right answer – so I am asking you – why do you go?

The responses were logical: Because they don’t know what they don’t know. Because of fear. To compensate for weaknesses in their business model. To mitigate risk.

My response was a little different – because my professional focus is communications and engagement, and because I had just attended Doug Busk’s presentation at IABC Atlanta’s March luncheon.

I sketched a story about scary people who work every day to get the information an organization holds about its amazing customers. And how the awesome people at the cybersecurity company do cool, innovative things to protect that information from the bad guys so that the organization’s customers are happy and can read stories to their kids at night.

I hope that Doug, who’s Managing Director at MSLGROUP in Atlanta, would approve.

“Discover your company’s untold story.”

Doug explained to attendees that every company, no matter how big, boring, simple or predictable, has an interesting brand story. Today’s successful communicators and marketers draw out and broadcast the story, making the audience want to be part of it. That relationship is what converts marketing metrics (impressions and likes) into executive metrics (engagement and corporate reputation) that drive the company’s mission.

“Move the ball of corporate reputation by telling stories.”

Real, true stories that reflect a company’s priorities also humanize it. They make it likable. And people want to buy from companies that they like.

Doug encouraged us to experiment with fun and new ways of sharing the stories. Document “the story behind the story.” Try out an emerging social platform. Go into the company’s team to source ideas. While some strategies may prove ineffective, Doug [who is clearly king of the marketing quips] reminded us that we must “test and fail to learn and scale.” A useful method for testing is to couple a small, strong team with smart freelancers who know the tool or process being tested. This enables quick iteration without commitment.

Companies also must bravely partner with the outside world to share the story. Create a web page with timely, ready to use content and images. Give journalists ideas, content, breaking news. Encourage employees to brag about your company. Document your process for quickly responding to breaking news about your company or industry.

Remember the C-level who asked the question at the beginning of this article? The reasons a customer might turn to a cyber-security are multi-fold, but, in the end, not nearly as interesting as the story that draws them there. As Doug pointed out, what matters is the journey there. With that in mind, a smart marketer on my colleague’s team might have responded with: “Because I lost my last job when 1,000 employees’ personal data files were hacked.” That is a story.

Author’s Note: Suzanne O’Brien works with businesses and organizations to design and execute informational, inspirational and educational initiatives that promote stakeholder experience and satisfaction. Her work is grounded in the conviction that collaborative and creative design yields effective and sustainable solutions.

It’s Membership Month at IABC!

It’s a big world out there for professional communicators – but you don’t have to go it alone. Why be a lone wolf when you can be a part of the tribe?

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is unequaled as a resource for community, networking, and professional development. Current members know it, and new members don’t take long to realize the benefits of IABC membership, or to wonder how they ever got along without it. Being a part of the IABC tribe brings you access to the Association’s full range of benefits and opportunities, including conferences, seminars, job postings, and our library of materials for perfecting and furthering the work you do. Above all, membership puts you in contact with a constellation of amazing professional communicators like you, all around the world, in every sector of business, ready to learn from you and help you to grow. Sometimes it takes a village… and sometimes it takes a tribe!

March is Member Month, and while there’s still time, there’s no better time to join the IABC.

Until the end of the month, we’re offering a slew of cool perks and benefits, including:

  • For new and renewing members: a 10% discount on your dues, and a chance to win the drawing for the Grand Prize VIP World Conference Package (details below)
  • For current members who refer new/renewing members: for every new or renewing member who lists you as a referral source, a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card; a year of free membership for five or more successful referrals; and more
  • For chapter leaders: a $200 Visa gift card for small, medium, and large chapters with the greatest net growth

What’s in the Grand Prize VIP World Conference Package? One full conference registration to the 2018 IABC World Conference in Montreal, including three nights of luxury hotel accommodation, shuttle service, conference VIP seating, and more!

There’s no time like the present – start or renew membership with your IABC chapter today, and make 2018 the year you join the tribe!
Join Today

IABC Atlanta Golden Flame Award Winners Share How to Win!

In Case You Missed It… An Overview of our February Networking Luncheon!

There’s a simple recipe for winning a communications project award:

An award-winning communications project entry describes a complete strategy with defined objectives that were measured early and often and then achieved or exceeded.

While simple to define, naturally, the execution is the challenge. And that’s where IABC Atlanta’s February luncheon attendees received not just a few tips, but a wealth of great information. Eric Berrios, VP of Professional Recognition for IABC Atlanta and Director of Strategic Planning at Realm, facilitated a panel of 2017 IABC Atlanta Golden Flames Awards winners as they briefed us on their companies’ award-winning projects and shared entry creation tips.

Andrea Dempsey from Newell Brands presented the strategy for her team’s social media management of the 2017 Bassmaster Classic, a three-day fishing tournament.

The team’s success was rooted in extensive planning (and contingency planning). They prepared video, image, and written content based on anticipated scenarios. During the event, the content was deployed and recycled according to real-time changes.

“Just because your event will be unpredictable doesn’t mean you should plan less,” said Dempsey. “If anything, you should plan more.”

Newell Brands also found high value in leveraging platform tools such as geo-targeted Facebook and Twitter ads to personalize communication with interested audiences.

Lee Birdsong presented Southern Company’s creation of an updated corporate brand. Their objective was to develop a contemporary brand that is tied closely to company strategy and recognizes the company’s recent and future growth along with its energy sector leadership.

The team interviewed and surveyed stakeholders, evaluated and questioned the answers, summarized what they had learned, and shared it with the design team. Birdsong emphasized revisiting project and company objectives as each project decision is encountered so that the project remains on target.

After many iterations, the Southern Company team landed on a brand and logo that, even to a layperson, clearly met the objectives defined at the beginning of the project.

A comprehensive internal and external rollout solidified the project. Their primary focus was on internal audiences, though. “When you get employees to be ambassadors of your brand, they will be ambassadors to your community,” said Birdsong.

Swati Joshi of GE Power and Thom Gonyeau of Mountain View Group partnered to create the Golden Flames Best in Show award winner, an anthem video for GE’s Power Services.

“Our goal was to capture the hearts and minds of our customers and employees,” said Joshi. That meant creating a video that appealed to and reflected the company’s global presence. So the team traveled across the world for footage and included all types of stakeholders in the video – employees, customers, and end users of their services.

Joshi and Gonyeau emphasized the value of high production quality and creating an emotional connection with the audience. They agreed with the rest of the panel that a clear strategy, message, and measurable objectives are key to success.

For more about the luncheon panelists and 2017 IABC Atlanta Golden Flame winners, visit the IABC event page.

Photos by Leland Holder of Leland on Location.

Author’s Note: Suzanne O’Brien works with businesses and organizations to design and execute informational, inspirational and educational initiatives that promote stakeholder experience and satisfaction. Her work is grounded in the conviction that collaborative and creative design yields effective and sustainable solutions.