Discovery, insights and meeting the challenge of change and control: IABC’s Chair Kerby Meyers talks about the association’s focus in 2013
Can you give us an overview on the PR and communication landscape in the US? According to you, what are the main challenges and opportunities for the PR professionals working in the States?
As I have had the opportunity to travel around the world while serving as the Chair of IABC’s International Executive Board, members from Australia to Africa and from Europe to North America have described a profession in transition. More specifically, control of the message is slipping away—if it’s not completely gone already—and organizations are still trying to determine how to best handle that loss of control. Meanwhile, communicating about change is becoming a regular responsibility for many communicators.
Let’s focus on IABC, the International Association of Business Communicators. Taking into consideration its international outreach, what role does it play in the current context?
With its global network of members, IABC can tap into a wide range of insights and knowledge to assess the current needs of its members and the communication profession worldwide. For example, I am leading a Board that includes colleagues from six different countries and our larger initiatives strive to include colleagues from around the globe. This helps ensure that what we do speak to communication professionals worldwide, and not just North America.
What are the main services you provide your members? How do you support the professional development of communicators?
IABC provides content that communication professionals need to expand their insights into the profession and fulfill the ever-expanding demands on their time and energy. A leading resource for such content is Discovery, an iabc.com tool that provides access to all of IABC’s content. The organization is also developing the Global Standard (SM) for communication profession careers, which features a road map complete with needed skills and knowledge for each level of achievement. This all feeds a professional development offering that includes webinars, face-to-face conferences and workshops designed to help colleagues throughout the profession improve their standing in their current role or prepare them for the next level.
IABC’s members have very diverse background in terms of industry, level of seniority and area of responsibility. How do you facilitate knowledge sharing in such a complex member community?
Traditionally, face-to-face sharing between members has occurred at chapter and regional events, as well as at World Conference. As online tools have evolved, these, too, have been utilized by our members looking to connect with each other – in addition to the classic approach of picking up the phone and ringing a colleague in another country or region. As IABC’s new digital platform evolves, we’re looking forward to facilitating connections via online communities dedicated to different specialties.
What relationship do you have with academia and what kind of support do you provide students?
Historically, IABC has worked with student chapters at universities that have a faculty sponsor and membership of at least 10 students. We’re not sure if the student chapter approach is the right model in 2013 (and beyond) – at least for all campuses. Ultimately, we know that students have different needs from a professional association, and we’re working on assessing those needs and determining how to best meet them.
What is the IABC Research foundation? What is its purpose and how does it contribute to the development of the PR and communication profession?
The IABC Research Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization, which means that U.S. taxpayers may receive a tax benefit for contributions made to the Foundation. So at its core, it is a fundraising organization. What does it do with the funds it raises? It supports research studies and initiatives that are developed by the organization’s research committee and IABC staff.
In June IABC will hold its 2013 World Conference. What is the main theme of this key event? What are the main reasons why a professional communicator should attend it?
The broader theme of IABC’s 2013 World Conference is New York’s energy and IABC’s passion, which is reflected in the extensive depth of content that will be covered over the three-plus day event. Professional communicators of every stripe will have a variety of tracks to explore, ranging from global trends to strategic leadership. Furthermore, the World Conference’s general sessions will cover invaluable topics such as the rise of Millennials in the workplace, navigating digital assassination, and a panel of transformative CEOs.