Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bringing the Global Standard into Your Practice

(Blog 3 in a series of 3 on the Global Standard of the Communication Profession)
Mary Hills, ABC, Six Sigma
16 March 2015

The refreshed Global Standard was the first deliverable from the Career Roadmap Committee (CRM) that had been instituted from the IABC Life-long Learning Summit held in October, 2011.  Qualitative research began immediately to identify “core themes /concepts” found in the practice of communication.  In May, 2012, an external research house surveyed IABC members via a full membership survey to establish the importance and usage of the themes in professional practice.  The survey findings, valid and reliable, resulted in the Career Purpose and six Principles of the Global Standard.  Some have viewed the work done by the CRM to be the most significant work done by IABC since the excellence work it did in the 90’s.  Similar to the Excellence Study, the CRM’s impact and relevance to the communication professional and their daily work continues to morph.

So, where do we see the Global Standard in the everyday?  Let’s take a look at four communication professionals on different career paths to see the Global Standard in action.

As Emma, Wei, Samuel and Ivana have shown, using the Global Standard daily in our communication practice can guide us in mediating organizational challenges and give us a reason for acting. How do you see the Global standard impacting you and your work?
Blog 1 & 2 - The Global Standard Grows UP!  and Body of Knowledge, Terms and the Global Standard can be read here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Body of Knowledge, Terms and the Global Standard

(Blog 2 in a series of 3 on the Global Standard)

Communication or communications?  Professional communicator vs. communication professional? And, where does practitioner and practice fit in?  Not quite the issue of consistency surrounding the English word tomatoe but we can only guess as to the countless hours spent by communication professionals around the world who have debated labels/terms in our profession.  (FYI - Tomatoe can be spelled tomatoe or tomato, pronounced tomātoe or tomăto and is categorized both as a fruit and a vegetable.)

In 2012, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) put discussions on communication(s) and professional before or after communication to rest by releasing the terms to be used by communication professionals.  Here is a great way to put it in context:

We are communication professionals who work in the field of communication (science) often using communications systems to deliver communication messages.
The plural of communication – communications -- refers to technical things like systems, infrastructures, smartphones or cables.*  A communication practitioner (someone actively engaged in a profession) can support, or not support, this practice (the actual application or use of an idea, belief or method as opposed to theories about such application or use) as they chose.

Of all the terms associated with the Global Standard, “body of knowledge” is probably the one that builds and expands our thinking on the communication profession more than any other.  Wikipedia** defines a body of knowledge as

the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional domain, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association.

Through the last 40 years, as the field of organizational communication evolved from individual disciplines into today’s organizational communication industry, practices grew into reliable processes and procedures that inform the development of a communication practice. We identified processes to use when building plans, programs or campaigns.  Procedures, specific instructions for performing the tasks or activities in the processes, were captured from best practices in getting tasks/activities done effectively and efficiently.  Based on this body of knowledge, communication policies rose in companies, businesses and organizations throughout the world that stated rules and guidelines to ensure consistency and compliance in communication within the organization’s context. 

Using results from a global survey of communication professionals, the Global Standard of the Communication Profession isolates six areas – termed principles – that make up the core body of knowledge as the foundation for organizational communication.  Ethics, context, analysis, strategy, consistency, and engagement guide us in developing a practice. The Career Purpose guides our constituencies and us as to the role of a communication professional. 

*Whalen, Patricia. (2005). Corporate Communication from A to Z: An Encyclopedia for Public Relations and Marketing Professionals. P.32.
**While Wikipedia is not recognized as a credible root source, its role as a launch point to root sources is useful here.

Blog 1 – The Global Standard Grows UP! can be read here.

Next - Bringing the Global Standard into Your Practice

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Global Standard Grows UP!

If you asked an IABC member what the Global Standard was four years ago, they might have said, “Isn’t that about being accredited, an ABC?”  And, that would have been somewhat right.  However, even four years ago, the Global Standard referred to the use of the strategic communication management process when practicing organizational communication.  Those practitioners that exemplified this competency in their practice went through the accreditation process to earn the ABC designation.  But just as all things and disciplines evolve, the Global Standard grew in 2012 to include a shared career purpose with six guiding principles for communication professionals around the world known as the Global Standard for the Communication Profession. (Global Standard)

Based on independent, third-party global research, the Global Standard presents a shared career purpose among practitioners – our purpose is to represent the voice and conscience of the organization to its many and diverse stakeholders.  The six guiding principles – ethics, context, analysis, strategy, consistency and engagement – provide the foundation for the way competent work is done in diverse cultures and in organizations of all types and sizes around the world.  This Global Standard refresh aligns with the current state of the industry and truly is THE Global Standard for the Communication Professional.
Career delineation has also been mapped with career paths defined as Foundation, Generalist/Specialist, Strategic Advisor and Business Leader.  Development of a refreshed IABC certification, currently underway, rests in the Strategic Advisor level when practitioners have built and developed competencies to serve as an advisor/counselor to an organization’s leadership. 
The Global Standard has grown into an amazing foundation for professionals to use knowing it is a benchmark for a global organizational communication practice.  Is it the base for your practice?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Great words of 2011 - Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.

In one of her final columns of the year, WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan, declared “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow,” as the great words of 2011. As I read her column, I found myself smiling and nodding.

These were the final words of Steve Jobs, recounted by his sister Mona Simpson in her October 16 eulogy at her brother’s memorial service at Stanford University. Noonan wondered if she “was right to infer that Jobs saw something, and if so, what did he see? What was happening there?” What compelled these final words of WOW? (WSJ, 12/24-25/2011, pg.A15)

What was your first thought when you read them?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Innovation Comes from Comprehensive Review

“Innovation and Technology: The Path to Market Leaders” was the topic of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs meeting on October 26 in Chicago. Kudos to an amazing panel of experts who spoke on the compelling need for innovation to compete in today’s global marketplace as well as ways to be innovative. The key take-away -- a challenge to business leaders to think about innovation outside of the new product development box and foster innovation in distribution platforms, promotional tactics, processes of current products and services and customer experiences. It’s apparent that like marketing, innovation has gone holistic.

Farhan Yasin, Chief Operating Officer, International at Groupon, outlined how they took the age-old promotional pull tool - the coupon - and through innovation at the intermediary level developed a service that delivers customers to businesses in local markets. Here’s how it works. Groupon partners with businesses in the local market to deliver a “groupon,” a coupon provided via the Internet to a collective group within that market, to motivate the consumer to visit the business and take advantage of the promotional offer. Groupon serves as an intermediary for the business in a very novel and unique way.

So where to begin? Using Blue Ocean Strategy’s Four Actions Framework can establish a customer-driven starting point for an innovation effort. Through the Four Actions Framework, managers look at their industry to determine:
· Which factors are taken for granted and can be eliminated?
· Which factors should be reduced well below the standard?
· Which factors should be raised well above the standard?
· Which factors could be created that have never been offered?

As businesses research the marketplace to answer theses four questions, they build a comprehensive base on all the major marketing activities open to innovation. Is your company innovative? What is the framework you use to BE innovative? Isn’t it worth it to look at innovation as more than new product development?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

HeimannHills Assists Unilever to Advance with Strategy Inculcation

This past Spring, in the fast-paced alpha city of Singapore, HeimannHills served as a partner for the International Association of Business Communicators in aligning internal communication employees at Unilever in the Asia, Africa, Middle East and Thailand region. Employees came from 8 countries – Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, UAE and Singapore – to become inculcated with Unilever’s business strategy, corporate policies, standards and culture and to bring all up to an externally recognized global standard of strategic communication and ability, the Accredited Business Communicator.

The development and accreditation program was accomplished through a series of workshops and virtual training modules through the course of 10 months that culminated in the final week-long development and credential exam administration in Singapore. Media training, ethics, corporate social responsibility and integrated marketing communication were just a few of the skill sessions. Leadership development and planning workshops resulted in each employee developing a go-forward plan for their country office.

Early measurement and results indicate a unified, synergistic approach that has benefited Unilever as a multi-national company and enhanced employee performance multi-fold. Imagine the increased value Unilever will realize as this inculcation really delivers alignment with plan implementation?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Social Media Impacts Local Political Campaign

The HeimannHills Marketing Group had the opportunity to work with Desiree Grode in her campaign race for Chicago Cook County Board of Commissioners. Desiree’s major competition was the incumbent, with a large campaign budget.

The primary objective for our campaign was to communicate Desiree’s positions and successes to the right messengers (influencers). That’s because the right messengers that share the initial messages with the greatest credibility and velocity, deliver the message while it’s still fresh, new, and worthy of sharing.

Reaching the right messengers with social media tools would be essential to a successful campaign. One of our initial campaign tactics involved identifying the right messengers – people who care passionately about a better local government, and winning over those who would spread our campaign message.

To do this we used Twitter to identify and engage people who most likely would care about Desiree’s campaign. For example, shortly after Desiree was endorsed by a State Representative and Alderman, we followed their followers on Twitter and then Tweeted them about the endorsements, winning some of their supporters. This type of targeted communication hasn’t been available before.

We also used trackable URLs to learn what parts of our messages were resonating. For example, the “Where to Vote” link on the campaign website was one of the most popular links, followed by the Chicago Tribune editorial endorsement link and then the Chicago Sun-Times editorial endorsement link. This type of feedback enabled us to create Email and Twitter communications that were important to our messengers.

We were successful in achieving 2nd out of 4 candidates. This was Desiree’s first political campaign, and social media was a key success factor. In the past, a candidate needed a much larger campaign budget to finance a costly direct mail and television campaign.