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Shift. #AreyouReady? World Conference Scholarships Now Open

From the IABC Heritage Region:

Connect with communications professionals from around the world when the IABC World Conference goes virtual for 2020. You can join your peers online from June 14 - 17 to explore the newest challenges and opportunities facing the communication profession. 

Keynote speakers include:

  • Scott Amyx, technology thought leader

  • Max Luthy, innovation and trend expert

  • Abigail Posner, brand strategist at Google

  • Carmen Simon, neuroscientist on engagement

Scholarships are available for two Heritage Region IABC members in good standing who need a financial boost to aid their professional development. The scholarships include the full standard conference registration ($675 value). Because the conference is virtual, you will have access to every breakout. No tough choices on which one to attend!

For more details, review the scholarship program overview. Then, submit your nomination using this form. The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, May 25. Recipients will be announced the first week of June. Please direct any questions to IABC Heritage Region Scholarships & Grants Chair Rebecca Gallagher at rebecca.c.gallagher@gmail.com. 

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Join the IABC New Jersey Board of Directors in 2020-2021

IABC New Jersey is dedicated to improving the effectiveness of internal and external communications. We seek to:

  • Provide lifelong learning opportunities that give IABC members the tools and information they need to be the best in their chosen disciplines
  • Share among our membership the best global communication practices, ideas and experiences that will enable the development of highly ethical and effective performance standards for our profession
  • Champion the communication profession to business leaders
  • Unite the communication profession in the state of New Jersey in one diverse, multifaceted organization


Serving on the IABC New Jersey board can help you:

  • Broaden your network and horizons
  • Develop personally and professionally
  • Become more valuable to your organization or clients
  • Gain greater access to professional resources, communications best practices and enhanced networking experiences   
  • Make a positive impact on our chapter, our members and our communications community
  • Guide the professional development of our members, the future of IABC New Jersey, our international organization and the profession


IABC members in good standing, living or working in New Jersey, are eligible for nomination. Non-members are also eligible for nomination provided that they become an IABC member. 

For full details click HERE.

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IABC.com: Transform Virtual Town Halls to Engage Your Employees

Alison Davis is an IABC New Jersey member and CEO of Davis & Company, which since 1984 has helped organizations reach, engage and motivate employees. According to her article at IABC.com, "since the COVID-19 crisis, organizations have had to rethink town halls to make them 100% virtual. And many communicators have been struggling with how to make these events participatory and engaging."

Read more.

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IABC: COVID-19 Resources

IABC is focused on providing you with access to critical resources related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. This page will serve as an evolving resource center, where you’ll find helpful articles, webinars and other materials related to this evolving global health crisis. We’ll also be linking to best practices and other discussions related to the virus that occur in The Hub, our online community for IABC members.

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A New Approach to Generating Ideas Faster and Putting Them into Action --Rob Marzulli, associate director, Communications Strategy and Editorial, The SPI Group.

How do five strangers build a better wallet in three hours?
They co-create.

At the March IABC/NJ event participants learned how to co-create from an expert, Pinaki Kathiari, chief executive officer of Local Wisdom, a digital design, development and content production firm. I attended the event with about 20 other communicators.

Co-creating is when a team improves a product or idea. This process helps you generate ideas faster, refine them and try them out. Pinaki explained seven Dos and Don’ts of co-creation. Participants broke out into four creative groups and put these principles to use by trying to build a better wallet.

To start, a team should bring the right people together. That means including people with diverse perspectives who have a strong working relationship with each other.

To build that rapport, every member of the four creative teams reviewed a chart of personality types, picked two that best characterized him/her and explained that choice to his/her team mates. This exercise helped each team learn about their colleagues. It’s also intended to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinion.

Create an Inspired Vision
Another principle Pinaki spoke about was creating an inspired vision among team members. Doing this requires the creative team to know their customer and his/her pain points. The team leader should communicate that vision to help the customer in a memorable way. Think of Steve Jobs.

For example, while my team didn’t have a leader, we followed through on this principle by asking a colleague to be our customer. Bob volunteered and showed us his “George Costanza” wallet — bursting with cards and receipts. We asked Bob how his wallet could be better. He said its thickness made the wallet uncomfortable to carry. Sometimes it slipped out of his pocket.

Don’t be Afraid to Fail Fast
Fail fast, fail cheap, succeed sooner was another principle Pinaki explained. In a nutshell, you need to get your ideas out in an actionable way and see what happens.
Using felt, Velcro and construction paper, my team designed a prototype wallet. We zeroed in on Bob’s concerns by making it modular. Bob only carried the section he needed. We put treads on the outside to prevent it from slipping out of his pocket. Other teams created a wallet where the customer’s driver’s license popped up, making is easier to show ID; a third wallet hung from the customer’s neck.

Following Pinaki’s principles helped us develop ideas, visualize them and make a prototype. As a communicator who needs to deliver solutions at an increasingly faster pace, co-creation is a great tool to get the job done. What approach does your team take to co-create? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Rob Marzulli, associate director, Communications Strategy and Editorial, The SPI Group.

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3 Ways Communicators Can Help Combat Cybercrime

Cybercrime goes beyond just losing money and compromised personal data. Organizations – whether a business, a non-profit or a government – have far more to lose. Industrial espionage, activist attacks, disrupting the enterprise, outright terrorism or beyond, and every company has probably been targeted or is a target right now. ??

It’s not just about technology
But cyber terrorism isn’t really just a technology problem, says Michael Zimet, a member of the Board of Governors of InfraGard, an FBI partnership with the private sector that focuses on information sharing and learning opportunities to promote cyber awareness and advance national security. It’s a people problem. Up to 90 percent of data breaches start with a person giving an attacker access to a computer network via a phishing attempt   

Malware can be embedded in almost every file type, and our world is already under what Zimet calls “cyberstress” – which can let defenses down. It’s a costly issue. With more than $5 million paid for ransomware, a compromise of business email costing $2.3 billion and the toll of economic espionage is up to $1 trillion. One 2017 estimate puts the cost of all cybercrime topping $2 trillion, with a projected bill of more than $6 trillion annually by 2021.

The role of internal communications
So how can communicators help? Helping build cyber awareness and sensitivity in an organization is where communications comes in, says Zimet. He shared three key priorities in his session with IABC New Jersey in October:

  1. Educate. Help employees know their role in protecting the organization and why cyber vigilance is needed, not only at work, but at home. ?
  2. Deliver. Use simulated exercises to test a person’s ability to detect attacks of social engineering and know the risks.?
  3. Communicate. Sustain awareness of security and provide tools to drive positive behavior.?

Partner with IT
The goal is to drive behavior change amid an ongoing environment of learning. This is where the partnership between IT and communications comes in. Zimet says to be sure to ask:

  • What problems have they seen/experienced? ?
  • What is their greatest concern, exposure? What are the risks? ?
  • What’s most important for employees to learn/do? ?

Elements of a good cybersecurity awareness program also include executive support, funding and the tone set from leaders; defined and understood audiences; a foundation to build upon and sustain cybersecurity awareness; and creativity.

IT provides the tools, while communications provides the mindset.

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Even More Reasons to Join IABC or Renew in October

Regardless of your career stage, IABC membership expands on your (or your team’s) ability to deliver a higher standard of professional communication.

IABC membership allows you (or your team) to stay on top of business communication trends and critical developments. This expands your ability to ensure your organization’s voice remains relevant, informed and proactive. Membership in IABC helps you (or your team) increase the effectiveness of your business communication to expand the impact you have on your organization’s business results.

To Join, click HERE

To Renew, click HERE

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Tell Me … What Do You Do?

Our guest blogger this month is IABC NJ member Laina Minervino, find her at https://lainaminervino.com/

My family and friends often ask me “what do you do all day”? Not that they question if I go to work but more so because they don’t understand what a business communicator does. Business communicators can be writers, strategists, content managers, public relations specialists, marketers or people with skills in each of these areas.

However, unlike, doctors or nurses or plumbers or teachers, there really is no clear definition of what communications professionals do. And television or movie characters don’t help because they just show glamourous people doing something in an office or running around town after a high-powered executive or someone that is just a “fixer” for corporate issues.

Here’s a quick look at how to answer the “What do you do?” question:

1. We are storytellers. Whether it’s for a customer, a reporter, an investor or an employee, we are the craftsman (and woman) building the message, framing the story. We’re the masters of engagement … and wordsmithing.

2. We see the big picture and help leaders see it too. In many situations, communicators have their fingers on the pulse of the organization, industry and community. We know what is working well and what isn’t. We guide the conversations to support the company and leadership mission.

3. We are idea generators and problem solvers. Doing the same things over and over is not only the definition of insanity; it is also boring. Communicators need to find the balance between traditional activities and breaking through the clutter that inundates the industry, the investors and employees. Innovation is critical but so is finding the solution to a multitude of things from bad press to unhappy customers to negative employee morale.

4. We are relationship builders, negotiators and peacemakers. A good healthy dose of emotional intelligence is a good personality characteristic for business communicators. We’re often in the position to influence – the media, the conversation, the direction of an employee program – but that means we must build relationships, understand a wide-range of personalities and how to mediate.

5. We are multitaskers. With more companies looking to do more with less, communications teams are often small which results in a great deal of work done by a few people. The work consists of planning, strategy, writing, editing, coordinating with vendors, reporting on what we’ve accomplished and even ordering food for meetings or making sure microphones work at events.

How do you describe what you do? Do you have insights or ideas about what business communicators do – or should do? Share your thoughts here.

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IABC NJ Spring Social Shows How Comedy Can Enable Standout Communications

Comedy can enable standout communications... it comes with risk, but can bring great rewards.

That’s how Chip Ambrogio characterizes the use of humor in strategic communications, both inside and outside an organization. The award-winning communicator, comedian and comedy writer provided insights on leveraging the power of the laugh to educate and inspire during IABC New Jersey’s recent Spring Social. The social brought together nearly 50 New Jersey communications professionals, both IABC members and beyond, May 17 at the Basking Ridge Country Club. ??Chip’s background as a stand-up comedian and comedy writer includes writing for the Friars Club Roast, TV and film, and many of today's top performers. He has successfully used that experience to add appropriate humor and fun to a diverse corporate communications. He showed how appealing to an audience’s funny bone can raise awareness, create a sense of community, enhance performance and align with an organization’s corporate mission.

But, first, about those risks, which are office politics and egos, the chance of stepping on toes, navigating areas of diversity and inclusion, to name a few. Comedy is subjective, and some people are literal. Balance those with the rewards – using humor can stand out from traditional tactics. It can also create connection on multiple levels – whether it’s great writing, great performance or a strong emotional appeal. Great comedians – Robin Williams, Richard Pryor and George Carlin – mastered each of these, respectively, Chip shared.

Chip’s own comedic journey began nearly a quarter century ago when he was in a job he hated. An advertisement for a comedy class in the Village Voice caught his eye, and he entered the world of stand up. At the same time, he began a new job in communications.

“For the last 23 years, I’ve been dealing with difficult audiences, prima donnas and with hecklers, and then of course there was the stand-up,” Chip says. “But the more I did stand-up at night and communications during the day, the more I saw the connection – the cross-over skills – where comedy could help me with my day job.” Chip’s takeaways included:

  • Write for the stage, not for the page. Be conversational, be engaging and humanize the perspective.
  • Get to the point, and do it fast. Writing a great joke is about getting from the set-up to the punch line as fast as possible. The approach also applies to communications tactics.
  • Make the core message clear. Great communication and great comedy is stripping down to the connection … to what the audience can take home with them.
  • Comedy lets you create characters and tell a story. “By putting the characters in similar situation as the audience, we build empathy and understanding, and get them to laugh,” says Chip. “It’s less parental and more organic way to get the word out.”
  • Take risks, and enjoy success.
  • All you really need is that first one to work. You need someone to believe and then deliver on it.

According to Chip, learning to use humor appropriately in a corporate situation is an art, but if you're willing to take a chance the benefits are many. After all, comedy can elicit an emotional reaction much more than any email can. Seinfeld would say if an audience does not laugh at a joke, it means they do not like the joke. It does not mean they do not like me. Chip adds: “That fearlessness allows you to open doors, get buy-in on projects other people may be afraid to pitch, and open up new ways to connect with your audience.” Thank you to IABC New Jersey Spring Social cocktail opening hour sponsor Davis & Company, as well as IABC sponsors Spi Group, Monmouth University, Fairleigh Hickinson University, BMW Morristown and HomeAdvisor. Find out more about IABC New Jersey, join and get involved at the IABC New Jersey website.

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An inside look at Verizon’s Innovation Lab and how emerging technology can change how the world connects

by Malecia S. Walker

As the speed of communications becomes more crucial to business, busy professionals don’t have time to wait for their mobile devices to perform.

At April’s IABC New Jersey professional development event, business communicators got a look into how new technology might affect the way the world works. As part of “Future Tech and the Future of Communications,” Verizon offered a tour of its Innovation Lab in Bedminster, N.J., on April 26, which included a peek – and at times no pictures, please – at developments in mobile communications technology, such as 5G.

Howie Waterman, media relations lead for wireless networks and technology at Verizon, and Lutz Erhlich, director of device performance, offered some insight to attendees before the group split up for tours.

“We always try to be ahead of the curve,” Waterman said of Verizon’s efforts with 5G, which is being tested in 11 U.S. cities and is expected to bring faster speeds and shorter wait times to device users.

To highlight the evolution of mobile phones today, Erhlich asked the group to take out their phones, look at a slide of an old newspaper ad from RadioShack, then determine the relationship between the phones and the products in the ad.

“Everything except the microwave” is in the smartphone, he said.

Although the process is extensive, evaluations of new devices are done within a three-week time period, Erhlich added. A device’s path to consumers includes simulating locations with background noise and field testing in situations like driving (presumably hands-free).

If a manufacturer’s device fails on multiple fronts, Waterman said, Verizon will not allow it to reach its retail storefronts or retail website.

On the tour, communicators saw firsthand what devices go through. Tests are performed early (repeated as much as 20 times) to see how well batteries withstand shock if, for example, a user touches something that generates static electricity. Products are tumbled by a machine then visually inspected for damage. A second chamber drops devices six times on multiple sides onto a steel plate at the bottom. If those tests aren’t passed, they go back to the manufacturer.

But if they make it past that point, the devices are tested for other qualities like sound clarity -- in a soundproof room, of course -- using male and female voices in different languages. A room is also exclusively used to test various antennas.

What does all this mean for the future of the communications profession? Time and network speed will tell.

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