Tag Archives: PR

IABC Gold Quill 2011 Lessons Learned – Change that didn’t hurt

In this past month’s issue of Communication World the focus was on change and the role of the professional communicator. The issue contained sage advice and examples of how to support and/or create change. In the light of judging at IABC’s Blue Ribbon Panel this weekend it was re-enforced to me that effective communication involves change. We seek to change attitudes and behaviours. Outcomes sought by Gold Quill entries this year included more votes, sales, saved lives, and ensuring human dignity.

The best and the brightest in the communication profession shared their work to be evaluated by peers. The entries were insightful, well measured and at times inspirational. Some took change resistant environments and effectively matched communication tactics with a process that ushered in new opportunities and achievements.

Our Leader

Other entries helped me think big and dream about what could be. Some campaigns really did change the world. When the winners are released these entries will inspire us all.

Providing communication platforms and being change agents with good research and hutzpah entrants charted new courses but they did not operate alone. Many of the successful communication campaigns were in partnerships with larger movements and other change agents. By listening to the needs of our audiences and our businesses many participated in movements. Communicators enhanced the positive sentiments while minimizing the barriers to success. Communicators were crucial leaders and implementers that led to great outcomes.

A memorable conversation
Blue Ribbon brings together communicators from around the globe. I find my colleagues challenges and insights invaluable. This weekend, I learned from an American adjusting his style to operate effectively in Hong Kong. His story unearthed some vital principles that will help me be successful in Canada. The conversation left me with some questions to contemplate.

  1. How and when should we adjust our approach to meet the culture we are operating in?
  2. Does the culture we are operating in need to be challenged so we can achieve our goals?
  3. Are we evaluating the positive and negative aspects of our own culture?
  4. How is our culture impacting our communications?
  5. Do we have overarching principles as professional communications that apply across cultures?
  6. Am I, North American centric and believe others should conform to my cultural beliefs?

Asking these questions will enable me to understand the needs of those I interact with and adjust or advocate depending on the situation.

Linking Communications to Leadership
Great conversations and great communication entries reminded me that transformational leadership is not asymmetrical. As communicators we have espoused two-way communication for decades as necessary for positive change. Recently, the topic has moved to three-way communication, where the audience communicates with the change agent and with others in the audience. Steve Crescenzo in this month’s Communication World stated this as a new responsibility for communicators to foster.
Interactive communication acknowledges that for leadership to be sustainable the leader and the led both need to change. With the increased emphasis on dynamic feedback and interaction this becomes more likely. Effective communication and leadership both seek to deepen relationships – relationships impact both parties.
My challenge for professional communicators and myself is to be willing to change as part of the communication process. When my audience shapes me, I am able journey into a deeper relationship. The relationship should grow the influence of all parties involved.

Thank you – IABC
To all the wonderful people and minds that make the Gold Quill experience possible, thank you for engaging in the profession and enabling our community of professionals to learn, grow and transform. This weekend many fun stories were told, collectively we encouraged passion and the food in San Francisco fed my growth.

I hope to see many of you in San Diego in June for IABC`s world conference.

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IABC World Conference in Toronto

What a great time with old and new friends at this years IABC World Conference. Some speakers were great, some good and one dud. Free the Children was inspirational and Guy Kawasaki was motivational. I enjoyed engaging colleagues from Tanzania, Poland, South Africa, Brazil and the US. What a bunch of great people. My presentation was well received and I would love to get more feedback. My slides are below. You would have had to been there to hear the story. So as IABC seeks to enhance value, be vital and increase its visibility how do you think the profession will change or should change?

Short version in Prezi

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Genius is not required for great leadership – learn how

I love the game of football and I am not the only one. I work with a group of men who feel the same way. We love the process, the practice, the games and the social aspects. For those who really love the game it is the purpose that young men find in the game that really motivates us and as coaches we have the opportunity to impart values, work ethic and show young men what love looks like.  The touchdowns are fun but it is the changed lives that create passion.

Learning how to deal with disappointment and victory offers coaches the chance to grow with their team. We dedicate countless hours with game plans, practice plans, breaking down film and professional development to be the best. This desire comes from the belief that we can win and that will change lives. We are not that smart but we work hard, we are organized and we have passion for what we do.

I write this blog to share the leadership lessons I learn on my journey as a consultant, a coach, father and husband. I have a belief that good leadership is good leadership. With this belief, I go as often as I can to the annual University of Washington Huskies football clinic. Some of the most inspiring and insightful leaders I have met and listened to have been at this clinic. Some of these leaders were 40 season high school football coaches, legendary college coaches and NFL greats.

This year, a former NFL coach made an impression on me. Jim Mora coached both the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons. He is a ‘loose cannon’. He is the type of speaker that makes you nervous, like the nervousness you get when you watch the Office television show. You really don’t know what he is going to say. He knows this and warns you for this eventuality. This is one of the reasons he is a former coach. So with his lack of brain filter how did he become a head coach in a competitive profession – the answer is he has some great leadership practices.

  1. He sets the big picture for his players in terms they can understand. His premise for all his drills and systems are used to increase turnovers for other teams and reduce their own. He has the stats – 62% of teams with a +1 turnover ratio will win. This is the focus around which all other activities are based. We will win when we cause turnovers and when we protect the football. To do this he has to encourage specific player and coach behaviours.
  2. He clearly defines what bad behaviour is and what good behaviour is. Bad behaviours are ‘Loafs.’ He breaks this out into observable activities like accelerating out of every move on the football field. That acceleration is termed a burst. The absence of this burst is call a’ Loaf ‘. Good behaviours have themes. Competitions are created to have winners and losers for protecting the ball. If you cause a big play or turn the ball over it is acknowledged.
  3. When everything is defined it can be measured. The team films and counts everything they do. This information is aggregated and tracked individually, by units and as a team. They track and trend and relate those measurements back to what they do. In business planning terms their outputs.
  4. When measurement happens accountability is possible. Football teams watch a lot of film and everyday Mora’s teams will get the ‘Loafs’ posted by player number for all to see on the film room door. Along with the Loaf, great plays are celebrated and posted.

Players know why they are doing what they are doing, they know what is expected of them, they know it is being tracked and they know that it will be reported. Now think about your work day – can you say these same things. These practices drive performance and yet in business the planning and measurement budgets may be the first things to be cut. I think we can all learn a little from a fired NFL coach.

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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.

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Filed under Communications, Leadership, Public Relations