The Big Easy makes a big impression

| February 24, 2014

IABC's Leadership Institute was on Feb. 6-8, 2014, in New Orleans. During a few short days, your Edmonton chapter heard the latest news from IABC International, networked, learned ideas from other chapters and generally got fired up about making our local chapters the best they can be, for you. 

By Karen Lamminen, IABC Edmonton, Web Chair

IABC Edmonton on Bourbon Street

Ben Freeland, Kyla Gaelick and I were the lucky IABC Edmonton board members chosen to represent our chapter at the IABC Leadership Institute in New Orleans. Lucky it was held in such an interesting city, and lucky we were able to rub shoulders with so many IABC members from across North America, and indeed the world!

I was particularly taken by the number of extremely experienced communicators who are dedicated IABC volunteers (keyword: volunteers!) and committed to elevating our association and our profession. It’s both impressive and reassuring that we can easily reach out to these kind of experts if needed.

I was also relieved to meet some of the fantastic new staff at IABC International. Boy, are these folks focused on customer service to the chapters. International has received the message loud and clear that chapters are where most members find their biggest value in IABC. It is reflected in the approach of new staff so far. It was music to my ears like Dixieland jazz (now that New Orleans has introduced me to what that is…).

Leadership Institute kicked off with the annual Chapter Management Awards (CMAs). Although our chapter didn’t submit any entries this year, we were thrilled to share in some Canadian pride—including international and large chapter of the year: IABC Ottawa.

the Garden District

Overall, here are the biggest takeaways of Leadership Institute as it relates to general members:

Awards alignment
Not every chapter has an established and successful annual awards program like the Capital Awards here in Edmonton. We are proud of our program, but we still struggle with the same five top challenges that other chapters do: getting entries, finding evaluators, volunteer workload, quality of judging and administration. To create healthy awards programs globally, IABC International is going to give chapters a direct hand with three of those challenges: gathering entries, finding evaluators and ensuring quality judging.

To start, International is piloting an online system this year with a few chapters for gathering entries and processing payments, and, if successful, they hope to roll it out to more chapters shortly thereafter.

The most exciting part of “awards alignment” though is that International is proposing that all chapter programs mirror Gold Quill. This means using the same Global Seven-point Excellence Scale; divisions and categories; and rules and process. And they are backing it up with a Designated Evaluator Pool. All chapter awards evaluators will have gone through the same training, making a consistent program from year to year. Best of all, your submission is so much more transferrable to subsequent regional and Gold Quill awards programs.

What may change within our Capital Awards program is our timeline in order to make chapter awards fit with the region and Gold Quill, but it doesn’t sound like a drastic change. But, our coveted and respected name— the Capital Awards—will stay the same! (There was some discussion that chapter programs would have to be bronze leaf, or something very un-inspired and un-Edmontonian).

The pilots are underway and all the fine details are being worked out (some of which also being quite exciting), but we will be sure to keep you updated as our Capital Awards program evolves.

What chapters want
Huge shout out to Edmonton’s Sue Hueman, ABC, and IABC volunteer and supporter, who presented to all attendees findings on “What Chapters Want”. A task force reviewed IABC supports and services to chapters, with a particular focus on member retention, chapter success, the overall health of IABC and supporting members outside of North America. And what an impressive, practical and realistic list of short and long-term recommendations that the task force came up with! Some of these short-term recommendations have already been addressed, such as staffing at International and stability in International’s IT environment. There are too many recommendations to list here, and they are “recommendations” at this point, but many of them give me the warm fuzzies. A lot to look forward to.

Dixieland jazz

Accreditation clarity
Many communicators have been in limbo to learn the fate of the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) accreditation program. And clarity we received: the ABC program will not return. Instead, it will become something entirely new. Something International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certified! In a nutshell, this step is being taken because there are things we know beyond a doubt:

  • Communicators want their knowledge and skills to be recognized as business essential, and professional credibility that will help them advance to the C-suite.
  • Securing an ISO standard will elevate the value of communication practitioners and the profession globally.
  • Employers are looking for ISO certified professionals across all industries, and there is high awareness among hiring managers and across industry for ISO certification.

Current ABCs don’t fret! We are assured that ABC value will still be heavily reinforced. As Claire Watson, ABC, and session presenter, put it: We will raise our ABCs higher than they have been before. Chapters just have high-level information now, but much more detail will come. Developing ISO certification standards will take time, support and input from many, but it is so worth it. “Our profession is ready!”

In conclusion
It is very difficult to summarize a few jam-packed days of info. There are also more announcements to come at this year’s World Conference in June in Toronto. It truly is an exciting time to be involved in IABC.

Please read our sponsorship chair Ben Freeland’s blog on the Leadership Institute’s fundraising sponsorship session. It has practical info for anyone looking to arrange a partnership.

 softshell crab from Acme Crab Shack


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