IABC Victoria’s professional partners, marketing and communications recruiters Carrera Partners, met with IABC Chair Kerby Meyers to discuss the future of the communications profession and what businesses want when recruiting business communicators, including the thorny questions of accreditation, generalists v. specialists and declining literacy standards.
On his recent visit to Melbourne, IABC’s global chair Kerby Meyers sat down with IABC Victoria’s valued professional partners, Carrera Partners, to discuss his vision for the IABC, how sponsors and chapters can drive greater value from their relationship, and the future of communications.
Carrera Partners is one of Australia’s leading recruiters in marketing and communications, and Kerby was keen to probe Director Christine Khor on the value placed on communications accreditation, by recruiters, business and candidates. It was agreed that awareness of IABC accreditation is low in this market, and there would be great benefit to the overall stature and quality of the communications profession in raising recognition and awareness. Kerby outlined the enhancements being made to the Gold Quills and ABC programs, and the plans to build the brand awareness of these.
Building on the issue of accreditation, Carrera Partners were keen to explore the extent to which IABC currently partners with academic institutions. Kerby acknowledged that while the current situation was patchy, some communications faculties were being very creative in the way they link with business. In other markets, more basic but just as valuable relationships exist with chapters and universities sharing content and facilities, and working together to link communications students with the IABC. Kerby also flagged that IABC was definitely looking to a partnership model with education providers, particularly in the area of developing curricula for professional development and accreditation.
The area of sponsorship was explored in some depth, with IABC Victoria’s professional partners program being acknowledged as an example of best practice – its value demonstrated by this conversation, and the breadth and depth of the relationship developed between IABC Victoria and Carrera. An idea was raised to enable a sponsorship structure for national/regional/global companies to be able to partner with multiple state-based chapters within their region, without needing to negotiate and execute multiple smaller agreements. Similar to accreditation, it was also agreed that the IABC generally could raise awareness of the value for businesses to partner with it, although some chapters are already doing this well.
The conversation turned to exploring and exchanging insights with respect to the communications profession – where it’s currently at and where it is headed. The shared experience is that the global financial crisis has accelerated the drive for increased productivity, and people being asked to do more, with less. This pressure in turn is driving a growth in generalists at the expense of specialists, and that even those who start out as specialists inevitably end up as generalists. There was a sense that this may be amplified in a small market like Australia, and a question as to whether this is a permanent or cyclical shift. Kerby’s sense was that increased pressure on margins and growth, along with growing competition, would likely prevent a permanent return to the luxury of specializing.
Kerby sees change management, corporate social responsibility and integrated reporting as three key areas for communicators to prove their value to the business, and overcome the occasional grievance of needing a seat at the table. Also key to future success is for communicators to develop and hone good business acumen.
The increasing importance yet declining standard of writing skills was also lamented by all participants. There was a sense of declining educational standards in the basics of communication, which has been borne out by Australia’s poor performance in the recently released Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.
The conversation covered a lot of communications-related territory, and was a great opportunity to share experiences and insights related to the communications profession. Kerby Meyers valued Carrera Partners’ deep understanding of where the profession is currently at in Australia, where it should be headed, and how it might get there. Kerby thanked Christine Khor and Carrera Partners for their commitment to IABC in Victoria and their evident thought-leadership in communications. Christine welcomed the conversation, and came away with a deeper understanding of IABC globally, and some more innovative ideas as to how our partnership may develop to benefit the organization, and the profession.
By Clayton Ford, Sponsorship Chair, IABC Victoria Board
If you or businesses you know are interested in becoming a professional partner of IABC Victoria, please contact Clayton Ford, Sponsorship Chair, IABC Victoria, at claytonTford@gmail.com.