Rest, reflect, reset Communications / Events / Gold Quill / Leadership communications / Member post / Membership / News

I recently finished a great book by Dr Adam Fraser called The Third Space, in it he details how to use life’s little transitions to find balance; a chance to reflect, rest and reset between the first space (what you’ve doing right now) and the second space (what you’re about to do).

The third space is the gap in the middle. Halfway through our tenure as IABC board members we felt it was an opportune moment to take this time to reflect, rest and reset before we deliver our second 6 months on behalf of our IABC community.

This article is a chance to celebrate the last 6 months but also share our stop, start and continue reflections for the second 6 months.

In 2019 we hosted our first IABC member expertise survey, we listened to that feedback  and actions to instigate an end of the year strategy session in 2019. We used the survey results as the beacon and then started 2020 revisiting the strategy to enable us to welcome our new board members and set out our roles and vision. A reminder that our 2020 commitments and key priorities to you are:

·      Maintain excellent events
·      Centralise the buddy system
·      Map the member experience
·      Develop a targeted approach to corporates, and
·      Ensure a culture of inclusiveness.

Our next level of priorities:

·      Stretch board resources e.g. into sub committees
·      Communication of global thought leadership/podcasts
·      Use Digital to create a more inclusive experience, and
·      Leverage members for content.

I’m loathe to use terms like unprecedented, pivot or new normal but there is no escaping the fact that COVID-19 turned many of our worlds upside down, however with a strategy and vision to focus on we aimed to maintain our momentum and have celebrated a few milestones

Celebrating the last 6 months

– We’ve been so proud as a board that we didn’t miss a beat in terms of our event schedule; very quickly we worked with our speakers to move to a virtual environment. We had to postpone two events but replaced them with new offerings and with the technology came new opportunities.

We’ve therefore seen a 62% increase in bookings from the same period last year. We’ve also be proud to have been able to send video recordings to attendees

Between 80-100% of participants have rated the last handful of events as very good/excellent value and the content as very/extremely valuable. Members have seen exceptional value for money. 

– Our NSW chapter was awarded the highest member retention rate for the month of March, globally (beating off over 80 other chapters) we were the medium chapter winners. IABC NSW has been soaring in terms of membership and we recently hit a milestone – over 150 members that then quickly propelled up to 160+

A 16% increase from the start of the year

We’re thrilled with the quality of members (strategic advisors) as well as quantity – thank you to all our members for your ongoing support. Our business case letter has been helping people get support from their firms for their membership fees (reach out if you’d like a copy).   

– We made a commitment and followed through on a decision that instead of speaker gifts we’d donate this gift to charity. These donations are made on behalf of the speakers to the charity of their choosing. 

So far we’ve donated $350 to speaker charities – see footer for the charities our speakers have supported.

We celebrated our 7 NSW Gold Quill winners. In total, the awards committee has selected 201 entries as world-class, with 81 entries earning an Excellence Award and 120 a Merit Award. The field was very competitive this year, with over 550 entries reviewed by more than 250 evaluators. See footer for the list of NSW winners.

Gold Quill winner, Megan Osborne gave us an exceptional insight into her entry that took customer service of people in need to a new level at NSW Trustee & Guardian.

The Gold Quills are like the Oscars in the communications world which recognises business communication excellence. It’s acknowledged as one of the most prestigious awards programs globally in the industry for strategic communications.

A massive thank you on behalf of the #IABCNSW board to the wonderful IABC NSW members who gave their time to join the 2020 IABC Blue Ribbon Panel and help evaluate this year’s Gold Quill awards. All IABC Gold Quill Award entries are evaluated by professional communicators with more than 10 years of experience, often having earned Gold Quill Awards, or IABC accredited or certified by the Global Communication Certification Council. Special thanks to Anthea Cudworth for expertly chairing the NSW blue ribbon group and to Anne Wickham for hosting the group at her offices. – The board gave away a free ticket (worth over $1000) to the virtual world conference to Cat Dundas for her winning #areyouready post. A range of IABC NSW members attended the world conference including our president. Read more about Kieran’s experience here.

– The board gave away a year’s free membership to Andrew Blunt for his winning #createconnection post. Thanks Andrew for creating membership connections.

– We leveraged the power of our network for a range of thought leadership articles and event write ups and key takeaways including those from Sally Bruce, Former CEO AMP Bank and Sonia Clarke, National Lead – Creative Comms, PwC’s The Difference.

– The board ensured that we highlighted the range of exceptional resources, content centre, academy courses, podcasts, hub online community and webinar resources from the global and regional IABC teams including the content repository navigating through the COVID-19 Storm.

– We have been consistent with our comms ensuring that we only send one newsletter a month (sign up here) and have been growing our LinkedIn group now to over 900 members and grown our company page to nearly 300 followers.

– We have forged stronger connection points across the IABC APAC region and globally with participation in both AGMs, joint event initiatives and Patrick Armstrong, IABC NSW Board Director and Treasurer, presented at IABC’s Leadership Institute in Austin, Texas.


From an events perspective the board managed to host two face to face events before moving to a virtual offering so the community:

– Called BS on work life balance where Clare Robinson led a members only workshop on how smart leaders look within to create powerful change. Read some of the key takeaways here.

– Experienced the power of sharing personal stories to communicate business messages. Gabrielle Dolan provided compelling reasons and insights for why leaders need to embrace storytelling to connect, engage and inspire. Gabrielle was subsequently named Asia Pacific Communicator of The Year award and has launched a new book Bullet points kill – congrats Gabrielle.

– Delivered two #createconnection events. When the pandemic hit we believed more than ever our members needed to feel connected to the community to keep our sanity and to keep a clear head as we adjusted to the crisis and uncertainty. The power of IABC is in finding peers who are going through similar, if not the same issues. We believed that as the inevitable work ramps up, the unity in our community is there as a support.

– Worked on a joint initiative with our IABC Victoria friends to host Janine Garner to unlock the secrets to networking success, help build networking confidence, help us take a strategic approach to networking and drive success for your business and career. Janine has also subsequently launched her new book Be Brilliant – congratulations Janine.

– Hosted Amanda Blesing who holds one of the top 1% LinkedIn viewed profiles globally  on how to amplify executive brands via LinkedIn. This interactive workshop was valuable to all communication professionals but especially those feeling uncertain about what employment look like in a COVID-19 world and wishing to give their career prospects a boost.

– Supported a members only exclusive event with Amanda on the 7 critical elements of subtly powerful self-promotion and work out what you need to do to get noticed for all the right reasons and inspire change.

– Tuned into hear Dr Neryl East who taught us how to connect with our audiences and deliver an outstanding virtual presentation. This session provided deep insights and practical tips to help us and our leaders communicate in any on-screen environment.

The board have also ensured that our future events are on track, so:

We are thrilled to announce Oscar Trimboli as our guest speaker on the missing half of communication.  Communication is 50% speaking 50% listening – yet only 2% of people have been trained in how to listen. The more senior you are, the more of your day is spent listening. Executives and boards spend 83% of their day listening. In this workshop you will learn about the art and science of listening. Get your tickets today.

We also have our forthcoming events with Pheul. A high performing teams/leadership development workshop hosted by Jo Pollard, Director and Facilitator, Pheul, our Corporate communicators (virtual) roundtable where three experts will help you take your communication to the next level and our final workshop on Strategic Content Development from Rob Vass, Director and live communications strategist. Finishing with our gala event and our end of year celebration.

We are honoured that so many new and existing members have put their trust in the NSW board in supporting them and their membership to the comms community.

We want your insights

Our next step is setting up our 2021 event schedule and plan – by the end of July members will receive our event survey so we can ensure that we are delivering an event and professional development schedule that meets your needs. Please let us know in the comments your speakers or hot topics you want to see included in our 2021 delivery.

Stop, start and continue

After a reflect, rest and reset linked to our commitments the board are committed to stop, starting and continuing the following:

We will continue to:

  • Maintain excellent events including an ongoing commitment for virtual events (members to receive recordings of the webinar events)
  • Centralise the buddy system and ensuring our personalised buddy system welcomes new members and is our members conduit to the board and information, ensure new members and recent attendees feel welcomed
  • Map the member experience and the amount of global/regional/local comms
  • Develop a targeted approach to corporates
  • Ensure a culture of inclusiveness and build stronger connections to IABC regional and global opportunities
  • Stretch board resources e.g. into sub committees
  • Communicate global thought leadership/podcasts
  • Use digital to create a more inclusive experience, update our website and ensure our engagement across social is hitting the mark
  • Leverage members for content similar to the opportunities we have taken around articles produced by members and their teams

We will stop

  • Sending  lengthy untailored emails and look at how we can work with the region on one regular bulletin that could have space for global/regional and local chapter updates. As a chapter we are still committed to only sending one local newsletter a month and tailoring our local comms through our buddy network.

We will look at these opportunities to start: 

  • Forward planning for the 2021 event schedule and circulating that to members before the end of the year
  • An IABC NSW board alumni community
  • Inviting a member of the IABC APAC board members to a board meeting twice a year
  • Turn speakers’ events into podcasts for on-demand listening for members
  • Play a part in reconciliation with an event
  • Think about our application for the 2021 Chapter Management Awards
  • Host a certification exam
  • Our NSW representation for Fusion 2021
  • Linking IABC members wanting to do pro bono work with not for profit organisations that may need it

Members please let us know what else you think we should be stopping, starting and continuing. Our ongoing thanks to our key sponsors Salt & Shein and Lucy Newcomb, to our speakers who give their time and insights to help propel our comms community forward, to our dedicated members and to the board for your tireless efforts and commitments.

IABC is the only global association connecting communication professionals with the people and insights they need to drive results. Your membership benefits and packages can be found here. We look forward to welcoming you to the local NSW chapter and community.

Clare Robinson nominated her speaker gift to Mates on the move; a social enterprise of Prisoners Aid Association of NSW. A removal, recycling and storage company providing life skills, education and work experience for people leaving prison in NSW.

Gabrielle Dolan nominated her speaker gift to Sisterworks; a not-for-profit social enterprise, based in Melbourne. Through work and entrepreneurship, their mission is to support women who are refugees, asylum seekers or migrants to improve their confidence, mental wellbeing and sense of belonging.

Janine Garner nominated her speaker gift to Taldumande Youth Services a for-purpose organisation that supports vulnerable and homeless children and young people aged 12 to 21 years, and their families. On any given night Taldumande has 65 children and young people in residence.

Amanda Blesing FARPI nominated her speaker gift to Vinnies Australia ‘Vinnies CEO Sleepout’ a one night event (this year transforming into an interactive online event) that helps the St Vincent de Paul Society support Australians all year long. Vinnies advocacy, education, counselling and housing programs are designed to tackle the root causes of inequality.

Dr Neryl East CSP nominated her speaker gift to RSPCA NSW caring for and comforting thousands of animals across New South Wales. Winter is a really difficult time in the shelters, but the donation keeps the animals warm and protected.

Our NSW Gold Quill winners

Award of Excellence

Customer Excellence Team Activities
Communications & Engagement, NSW Trustee & Guardian
NSW Trustee & Guardian

Tunnel Vision – a Worker-based ‘One Team’ Video ‘Newsletter’
Stakeholder and Community Relations Team
John Holland CPB Ghella 

PwC Australia’s CEO Survey: Making it great again
Content and thought leadership team – Kieran McCann, Sabrina Muysken
PwC Australia

PwC’s Australia Matters content marketing campaign
Andy McLean, Kieran McCann, Sabrina Muysken
PwC Australia          

Award of Merit  

Zero to 2 in 10 months: Registration of engineers in New South Wales.
Engineers Australia                        

 2035: Moving People and Goods
Aurecon Marketing and Communications Team

Customer Operating Model
Woolworths Communications Team 
Woolworths Group Limited

Zoning in on Scouts
Scouts NSW

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