An Eye to the Future: IABC Europe, Middle East and North Africa chapters meet

IABC Basel Klavs

Every year, the IABC EMENA regional board and Chapter leaders come together for an extended regional leadership meeting to discuss, and align on, purpose and priorities for the coming year, as well as to share leadership insights. It’s called the EMENA Leadership Institute. This year’s Leadership Institute was hosted by Roche, an IABC corporate member in Tinguely Museum in Basel, Switzerland. IABC UK member Lesley Crook, shares her insights from Basel.


What do you get when you put 23 IABC leaders from across Europe, Middle East and North Africa in one room?


As Dianne Chase, IABCs Global Vice-Chair put it, we were all there to “keep an eye on the future. Stop talking to ourselves. Understand the value of communication outside of IABC. IABC has ‘special sauce’ and we operate with freedom within a framework and our beauty is our diversity”. Her statement signalled that a lot of change is coming for the organisation, building on the work started last year and looking into the future.

For me personally it was a great experience, as a new member of IABC and one of the most recent leaders. It was motivating to see how such a diverse group of talented individuals can come together and volunteer their time to ensure that communications can continue to be a force for good in the world.

Here are the key IABC developments coming our way in the year ahead:

The new IABC Certification exam

Last year the IABC launched the Communication Management Professional Certification, aimed at the generalist/specialist level communicator, as well as a mid-level stage in the communication professional’s development. The UK Chapter will host the first international exam on 9 April, 2016, in London.

The power of student members

Four impressive students from Fonty Uni, Nederlands shared their insights on their involvement with the IABC so far. They shared their views on the value of IABC for starting their careers and, in turn, showed us that it’s never too early to start developing those all-important leadership skills. These students will play a part in our events and experiences in the year ahead.

Eurocomm 2016 – coming to Rotterdam next April

The next Eurocomm conference will take place in Rotterdam’s Old Public Library on 18 and 19 April, 2016. Last year’s event brought together professionals from 29 different organizations under the theme of “Power to the People” and the theme for next year’s conference is in development. If you are wondering what insights and take-aways you can gain from  Eurocomm, Martin Gilbraith’s blog is a great place to start.


Lesley Crook helps organisations embrace the business value of enterprise business tools in her consultancy called Working Out Loud in a Network #wolan . Lesley is also a member of the IABC UK board.

Launching the Gold Quill Awards


We are delighted to announce the launch of the IABC 2016 Gold Quill Awards, one of the world’s most prestigious award programmes for communicators. The awards will acknowledge outstanding communication initiatives and identify the best communication in the world.

Imagine what a gold quill award could do for you and your career?

Imagine what you could learn and how much you would gain from winning this internationally accredited award?

Imagine how your business could benefit and the global recognition your business could gain?

This year’s programme features 28 categories across 4 divisions, with categories to suit everyone.

Judged by a panel of handpicked blue ribbon judges from across the world, the focus will be on finding creative, innovative and groundbreaking work that is worthy of the international recognition granted from the award of a Gold Quill.

Begin your journey, be innovative, get creative and enter the 2016 IABC Gold Quill Awards.

We look forward to you and your team entering this programme, and hopefully we can join together in celebrating a UK winner! Remember Early Bird Entries end November 18th.

Find out more on how to enter, the categories and divisions, and the all important rules.

The Gold Quill Awards is an awards programme staged yearly by the International Association of Business Communicators. Recognising and awarding excellence in strategic communication worldwide, the Gold Quill is the only awards programme that honours the dedication, innovation and passion of communicators on a global scale. 

Communications that change the world: the Sustainable Development Goals

  • 1.25 is the magic number.
  • $1.25 is equivalent to 80p a day
  • That’s less than your average cappuccino
  • Yet more than 800 million people live on this, or less, every day.

Living on $1.25 a day is living in extreme poverty; 800 million people in this state is unacceptable. What can we do change this?

IABCUKGlobalGoalsIn 2000, the UN came up with a plan to half extreme poverty by 2015 and called it the Millennium Development Goals. Did they succeed? Yes, two years ahead of target, but much was left to be done. Three years ago they came together again, this time with the input of the private sector and NGOs, and agreed to take it further. Last Friday, all 193 countries members of the United Nations endorsed a plan to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change: the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 goals have been called too ambitious, too many, too complex and too expensive to be met by 2030. However, even the cynics agree that these public statements have galvanised ambition, raised unprecedented amount of aid-money and, ultimately, changed global behaviour.

Isn’t that what we, as business communicators, try to achieve through our work? That’s the question behind this blog. In my opinion, the launch of the global goals are a great example of how our profession -at its best- can change the world. Here’s why:

1. Engagement led to defining outcomes

As opposed to the MDGs, which were famously concocted by an isolated group of gurus, the SDGs came to life after three years of dialogue. The result, albeit imperfect, is now owned by everyone. Shared results always have a better chance of being successful. The listening exercise transformed the goals, and enriched all of those participating.

2. They’ve made it matter to everyone, so everyone is involved.

The spirit of the goals is to leave no-one behind: youth, women, minorities, and even big corporate businesses. But how to get them involved?

“A key challenge was to make the goals accessible outside the development community” says Katja Iversen (@Katja_Iversen), CEO of the global advocacy organization Women Deliver. Before running Women Deliver, Katja led strategic communications at UNICEF and knows first-hand the value of meaningful communications. “If we want to drive progress, we need broad engagement, including by the business community. And it has to business as unusual. Stories about real people, showing that success is possible – that it is not all war, doom and gloom- are key. That is where the identification blossoms, the collaboration starts and action accelerates”.

The role of the UN Foundation in translating a policy-heavy text into a meaningful campaign was crucial. Take a look at their Employer toolkit or let the stories of the Tell Everyone campaign move you to action.

If you are in-house communicator, this is your chance to map your business outcomes against a global movement and motivate your people.

The responsibility of meeting the UN goals might lie with the governments, but the role of business can’t be ignored: we are employers and generate the income needed. We bring expertise, investment and can catalyze development. Cutting-edge companies are making their commitments public – you and your company however large or small can do the same. Join Richard Branson, Paul Polman from Unilever or, my employer, Mark Cutifani of Anglo American, in publicly stating how your company will support government in achieving the goals. As Mark put it supporting the achieving of the SDGs “means doing our work with excellence and ensuring our presence in host countries leaves a positive lasting legacy.”

Now what? In the worlds of Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, (and Elvis!) “A little less conversation, a little more action -please”. The work begins after launch, and the true test of this global movement will come with implementation. Just as any communications campaign. You can start by telling everyone the story of how you – as a communicator – can change the world. 


The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global membership association with a network of 12,000 members in more than 80 countries. We deliver on the Global Standard in communication through educational offerings, certification, awards programs and annual World ConferenceFollow us on Twitter @iabcuk

Making Global Communications Work

Global Communication



With the internet and social media enabling the fast and efficient distribution of communications messages, it’s easy to overlook the complexity of cross-cultural communication. A message that works in one country can be misconstrued in another, whilst the accepted working practices of a CEO in one region can be markedly different to those in another.

What are the challenges for the modern day global communicator and how can these be overcome?

Communication is broader than language

One of the most important things to recognise, says Claudia D’Amato, a change communication manager at Anglo American, is that communication is broader than just differences in language.

“Communication is about culture and symbols,” says Claudia, “and a closeness to the culture of the people you want to communicate with is key.”

Tom Blackwell is an experienced communicator who is CEO of EM Communications based in Moscow. He believes it’s not enough to parachute specialists in to promote stories and campaigns on an ad hoc basis: “You must have teams that are living and breathing the issue; some communications just cannot be done remotely.”

As Michael Ambjorn points out, communications is no longer an English-centric or Euro-centric activity, there is always an international element to all messaging.

One of the best ways to grow your understanding of a culture, country or audience is simply by talking and listening to people, as well as being patient. “One of the things that I have learned over the years is that it’s important to assume good intent,” says Emma Thompson at the IABC’s session ‘The World Is Your Oyster: Making Global Communications Work’.

Be prepared and do your research

“Good intercultural skills certainly include patience, trust and a whole lot of listening,” says Emma, who has worked across the Middle East and Africa for more than ten years as a senior communicator.

Emma has clear guidance for those wishing to break into regions in which they have little experience or presence. “It’s worth considering a focus on specific markets or key potential growth areas so that you can do your research properly.”

Focused, rather than broad comms, often work best. “It’s also important to develop and maintain senior buy-in to the communications plan with continuing education,” says Emma. She also encourages communicators to research and understand the ‘rules of the game’ when it comes to social media in the country or region. Planning can also ensure your schedule does not clash with local holidays or religious events.

Reach for the heart, not the head

The panel at this IABC event in London agreed on the importance of local language and versioning for communications. Claudia D’Amato of Anglo American reminded us of Nelson Mandela’s famous quotation, that if you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head whilst If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart.

Other tips for improved communications at the IABC UK’s session – hosted by VMA Group – include:

  • Identify local champions for your comms strategy
  • Consider arranging regular ‘virtual brown bag’ lunches or Skype chats to build understanding and bridges
  • Use resources such as the World Economic Forum’s blog and website to build knowledge
  • Utilise the IABC’s Global Standard for insight and guidance

Global Comms Infographic


The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global membership association with a network of 12,000 members in more than 80 countries. We deliver on the Global Standard in communication through educational offerings, certification, awards programs and annual World ConferenceFollow us on Twitter @iabcuk