Monthly Archives: March 2010

IABC Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panel 2010

This year has been a pivotal one for corporate communications with the speed of technological change and global economic turmoil. The work that came in from around the world to be judged at IABC headquarters in San Francisco reflected that turmoil. Crisis plans that managed H1N1, companies struggling to do more with less, non-profits getting amazing results with limited resources and the continued integration of social media characterized the work we reviewed. Work plans both challenged the judges to contextualize the results and to be critical where little strategy was in place and when excellence was found we celebrated. A cow bell from Vancouver was the sign of exuberance inspired by the world’s best communicators.

The judging panel was made up of some of the best minds in the communication business and the best personalities. We had representation from Russia, India, South Africa, Argentina, Australia, China, Belgium, England, Canada and the US. Collectively, we represented all aspects of the communication world from technical to written, and creative to management. Together, we looked for winning entries.

The IABC staff did a great job acting as a host and a resource. Thank you for your efforts and the instant creation of a spell checker (which I should always use).

Entry Highlights

Great work seemed to always follow a good understanding of the business need and some solid research of the audience.

One area that seemed be weak in many entries was the audience description. Note to all who enter in the future, everyone is not an audience you should program for. A great example of a description is one that lets us know the primary audiences demographic details, and provides an evidence based assessment of their behaviours and attitudes.

One trend was an increased number of entries for micro sites to support organizational programs. I am not sure if this was a reflection of smaller budgets or the ease of implementation when we do not have to attach our efforts to our corporate websites.  I was surprised to note that many of these sites did not integrate social media options for feedback or sharing.

What a great time to learn and improve my own professional practice. To give you a flavour of the process above is a short video with Tim Buckley finishing strong with an original Gold Quill anthem.

A special thanks to:
Julie Freeman, ABC, APR for the use of her office.
Paul Matalucci, ABC for opening his home to us and being such a great host.
John Finney, ABC for his wisdom and good humour.
Stacey Thornberry for getting us there and making us feel so welcome.


1 Comment

Filed under Communications, Leadership, Public Relations

Evidence Of Leadership – Who Did It New Orleans?

The city of New Orleans has been through a history of social problems and then was pounded by a traumatic natural event that has been a catalyst for change.

The stats – five years after Katrina

  • Low of 250,000 residents and now has 380,000
  • Unemployment is at 7%
  • Crime rate is dropping
  • More restaurants than pre-Katrina
  • Largest Mardi Gras ever this year
  • Close to 500,000 attended the Super Bowl parade
  • A great feeling that the city is going in the right direction

Two weeks ago it was encouraging to be in a city with a vibrant passion and what seemed like a shared vision for a better future. So how has a city that felt that the federal government had abandoned them and they had a local mayor who seemed unable to deal with the enormity of the challenge, go on to demonstrate collective leadership that transformed the city?

My theory:

Aints No More

Individually there was a real desire for change and the ability to go about business as usual was impossible after Katrina destroyed the physical and social bonds that were in place.

  • They had need for and willingness to be hopeful
    • A new football coach and quarterback signed up for the city’s team as they played football and won despite Katrina (symbolic leadership)
    • Mardi Gras was a demonstration of resilience and celebration that they would continue on when that first year they took to the streets
    • Many people despite hardship and sacrifice determined they would rebuild the city and stayed on
    • Partnerships and individuals set about participating in supporting and serving each other (One example is the Habitat For Humanity musicians village, image to the right)
    • Celebrities brought attention and resources to the city

This year, five years after Katrina, the city seems to be turning a corner. The football team galvanized that feeling by winning the super bowl and sharing it with the city. Today, in the city you can feel the energy and shared hope. No less than 10 people that were on the street, in my hotel and in the Jazz clubs thanked me for being there and asked me to tell others about their city. They didn’t need to thank me, because it is a great place to be.

Who has influence to make a difference?

  • The city had many followers of a vision for a better city (hospitality, food, music, fun, community)
  • The individual efforts of a diverse community made the difference
  • A symbol (football team) brought unity and hope that acted as a change agent
  • Many people provided leadership to make this positive change

What can we take from this leadership story? What are you leading today?

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership