The value of relationships: Member profile of Mathieu Larocque, Spokesperson, CATSA

Mathieu Larocque believes relationships are at the heart of great communication. As the spokesperson for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), the Crown corporation responsible for screening air travellers and their baggage, Mathieu says building connections with other people can make all the difference.

“I have a large network of contacts across the country in our regional offices, with media, industry partners, law enforcement agencies, etc.,” says Mathieu. “When an incident happens, as it’s often the case in our industry, being able to pick up the phone and get the information you need quickly is invaluable.”

Building relationships is also one of the main reasons why Mathieu decided to join IABC in 2013. He wanted to network with other communications professionals, stay current on industry trends and have greater access to professional development (PD) opportunities. Since then he’s remained a member, finding benefit in the ability to stay current and on top of best practices from around the world of communications.

“The PD opportunities evolve and are quite relevant to my work,” Mathieu says. “The newsletters and other resources available to members are great sources of inspiration.” Such resources help keep him on top of an ever-shifting work environment, Mathieu explains. CATSA screens more than 150,000 passengers every day at major Canadian airports, meaning there are many opportunities to communicate “proactively or reactively” with passengers and stakeholders.

Mathieu is responsible for all of CATSA’s media relations, which includes media monitoring, interviews and announcements, as well as its social media. He also liaises with other entities in CATSA’s world: airlines, airport associations, law enforcement and government departments. To do this he has to be good at public speaking in front of large audiences with a microphone or in front of a camera. Being fully bilingual in French and English is an added bonus.

But what really gets Mathieu excited about his job? “I love to manage issues,” he says. “When I receive a media request or when an incident happens, I get really excited. I love chasing information down and passing it on as we try to find the best way possible to address the issue.”

Given the success Mathieu has had with CATSA, his advice to young communicators is unsurprising: “It’s never too early to start building your network and your writing skills are never good enough. You can’t go wrong with joining IABC, either— it’s a great way to have access to resources that will help you in your career.”

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Building internal communications success stories: Meet IABC Ottawa member Eileen McKeever

Eileen McKeever knows it’s a cliché, but in her case it’s true: No two days are ever the same.

That’s because, when you’re working in internal communications, you aren’t just working in one corner of an organization. You’re communicating with an entire company.

“I love the interaction and collaboration with our internal clients in trying to come up with communications solutions that will work for their programs and initiatives – ensuring that they are properly communicated, promoted and well received by our employees,” says McKeever.

McKeever is the Manager of Employee Communications at NAV CANADA, Canada’s air navigation service provider. Together with a team of five other communications professionals, she handles internal communications for the company and its roughly 4,600 employees.

This can mean everything from supporting the communication of company benefits and wellness programs to producing their flagship newsletter.

“You consistently try to view communications from an employee’s perspective – what do they need to know, how can we reach them, how will this be received and how can we achieve employee understanding and buy-in,” says McKeever.

The company, which celebrated its 20th anniversary as a private company last year, has won several awards over the years, including three International Air Transport Association Eagle Awards for Best Air Navigation Service Provider. NAV CANADA was recently named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and was also on the 2017 Forbes list of Canada’s best employers.

McKeever’s membership in IABC Ottawa has played a role in that success and in her growth as a communicator.

The networking opportunities and events, featuring guest speakers, first drew her in. Since then she’s taken increasing advantage of other IABC resources. IABC Ottawa’s job posting service, Jobline, has been a great source of external candidates for communications positions for which NAV CANADA is hiring.

“IABC provides you with access to so much information and the opportunities to meet and discuss common communications issues with colleagues who are often dealing with very similar challenges,” says McKeever of her membership.

She also wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a position to internal communications to young communicators – even if they’ve never before considered it.

“You’re learning all the time,” says McKeever. “And because you generally work with so many different people in various disciplines within the organization, it gives you a unique perspective and a broader view of the company as a whole.”