IABC World Conference 2010 – Day Three

June, 11 – BY TAM SANDEMAN – So to the last day.

But before I get on to that, I must make mention of the very enjoyable gathering which took place last night.  About 18 like-minded comms folk from Australia and NZ gathered for a quick bite and a few drinks.  This posse included one lady from NZ who’d won a Gold Quill of Excellence for her media relations work with the NZ potato industry.  In a clear, but unintentional, bid to damage international affairs, I nicely managed to call her Potato Woman while trying to introduce myself.  Good work Tam.  At which point, to negate any damage to Aussie/NZ relations, I tell her I’m actually British to try to explain my bumbling.  She is happy.  We move on.

Potatoes aside, the chatter round the table did lead us all to one important conclusion.  From all the sessions / ideas jams /keynotes we’d attended, and content we’d absorbed, we know our work is up there with the best strategic and creative campaigns we’d seen.  Something not recognised enough by our industry.  With Australia taking 15 Gold Quill awards of this year’s 103 awards  – that’s just shy of 15% of the total award haul of all international awards – it’s clear, we’re delivering the best there is to deliver.

So… back to the final day.  So while it was only a half day, it did not disappoint.

I firstly attended a session entitled Pirates of the Intranet (Arrrr Jim Lad) led by UK publisher Marc Wright (he of fame – a useful case study resource for internal communicators).

We explored the challenge organisations face with the internet opening up opportunities for what he called ‘pirate sites’, as employees set up websites for employees.  Marc’s most pertinent point being, that if you don’t invest in your own intranet / make sure your own internal comms are working, these pirate sites can become the source of truth, or ‘untruth’ for employees.

He also emphasised the rising importance of developing and embedding guidelines around social media behaviour are vital, something many of our Impact clients are investing in at the moment.

Conversely, he talked about the challenge brands face when passionate consumers  can start to ‘take over’ your brand online.  Do you leave it, or do you do something about it?  Case in point.   Michael Werch, formerly known as @HJ_HEINZ on Twitter, was a big fan of Heinz Tomato Ketchup and was tweeting many sweet nothings about ketchup.  However, the company decided he was violating their trademark policy.  They took a heavy handed approach and successfully had his Twitter feed changed to @notHJ-HEINZ.  This back-fired for Heinz.

He was not harming the brand, but is no longer tweeting about the product.  Were they right or wrong to do this?  Food for thought.  For more – see

The conference closed with incoming IABC chair, Shelley Bird, committing to raising the visibility of the association to its 15,000 members worldwide and to ensuring it moved ahead of what is now a rapidly changing profession.

She also introduced a great keynote speaker, entrepreneur and venture capitalist – Guy Kawaski.  Guy was ex-Apple, dynamic, engaging and presented his 11 points to innovation.

He emphasises something we in the internal comms world already know. Mission statements are too long and cited the following ‘mantras’ as strong, memorable and clear for employees – Nike – ‘Authentic athletic performance’; Wendys – ‘Healthy fast food’; Fedex – ‘Peace of mind’; Ebay – ‘Democratise commerce’.  This is not new.  But important to remember.

Before I close, it’s also worth noting, particularly in light of our own passion for this space through our work through our OgilvyEarth brand, the IABC has done a really good job this year of expanding its environmentally and socially responsible practices.

I warmed the cockles of my green heart that this year I did not see reams of paper everywhere.  Participants were encouraged to download only the information they needed throughout conference, recycling bins were prominent and with most marketing materials from exhibitors were provided online.  There was also the opportunity to take part in a local community program with the Evergreen  Bricks Works.  Good work IABC.

And so I now head to New York to join other opr Employee Experience colleagues for a few days.  I leave this conference with even more confidence (if that were possible) in the bottom line value our work brings to organisations, large and small.