We're pleased to introduce Julie Weldon – IABC Victoria's new membership chair. As one of her first tasks, Julie happily agreed to be put under the '5 minutes' griller. Bad move!
Welcome to the IABC Victoria Board Julie. You’ve recently taken on the role of Membership Chair. Can you tell us what that entails?
While I’ve only been in the role for a few weeks, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to broaden my network. I am the first point of contact for anyone who has queries about becoming a member of IABC in Victoria. Part of my role is also advocating for members, sharing their views and needs with both the local board and IABC headquarters. So I’ll be asking you all for feedback and input and making sure that it reaches the right people.
What about corporate members? What can IABC Victoria offer them?
The list is so long! One of the biggest benefits is access to the wealth of knowledge across the global communications profession. It’s also the opportunity to up-skill your team, and IABC will shortly announce a number of changes to the accreditation program, and there are some really exciting developments afoot in relation to structured professional development. The other benefit I enjoyed as a corporate member was the chance to network with others outside our immediate team, plus there are some great speakers who come in from time to time, and our corporate members can often enjoy a private audience with them!
You are the principal of JAW Communications, which is a boutique communications consultancy. Can you tell us a bit more about what you do?
We help the leaders of small to medium professional services organisations articulate and refine their messages and then get them out to the right people, through the right channels. We only work with a few clients, so our approach is to deep dive into an organisation, really get to understand it, and then work with the leadership team to harness the power of communication to help achieve their business objectives. We’re a small but versatile team and we’ve done things as diverse as developing copy and designs for websites, brochures and monthly newsletters; managing social media engagement, launching new products; writing speeches, submissions and presentations; producing annual reports; and coordinating video production. And if we can’t do it, there’s usually someone in the IABC network who can!
You have a wealth of experience as both an IABC member and a communicator. How has the world of communications changed since you started in the field? How has your IABC membership helped you?
When I started my first communications role, I didn’t even have a laptop, so it has changed quite a bit! The biggest difference is the immediacy of communication. When I started, newsletters were something you planned weeks in advance, sent to the printer, then stuffed into envelopes (oh the paper-cuts!), and sent out. Now, I can share information the same day as I write it, rich with multi-media and links to other information. In terms of the role of IABC in my career, every time I’ve changed jobs, IABC has played a valuable role – either connecting me with the right people or providing research papers and the latest thinking to guide me, as new challenges emerged. However, I probably got most out of my membership when I first started working in a global organisation, with a widely dispersed workforce, speaking multiple languages and with varied access to information. The network was an immense source of advice.
What would be your advice to someone starting out in communications today?
Step out of your comfort zone. Take every opportunity that comes your way – whether that’s proofing an annual report (which is the job I took that eventually led to me becoming the VP of PR for a global corporation!), taking a secondment onto a project, or even running the mic’s at a conference. You’ll gain exposure to so many different parts of your own organisation or whatever group you’re part of. It also lets you see different jobs up close, without having to take the plunge and do them full-time. And get involved … whether that’s with IABC, or with your favourite charity – you get much more out of it than you ever give.
Finally, what are the two communications web sites or publications you couldn’t live without?
The IABC Discovery website is a mine of information … the reports and collections from around the world are like a ‘best of’, and as a consultant, it gives me access to global best practice. The other site – although not sure it’s really a “site” – is Twitter. By following a variety of people, I not only get to stay on top of breaking issues relevant to my clients, but it is a great way to stay on top of the latest reports, studies and ‘how to’ tips in the communications world, without spending hours trawling lots of sites.
You can contact Julie by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.