PD Event Recap: Networking in the New Year

On Thursday January 22nd 2015, IABC Ottawa had the pleasure of hosting 9 industry leading communications experts from various backgrounds at The Fox & Feather for a speed dating style of networking, interactive discussions and Q&A.

While the notion of speed dating often sparks images of strategically timed candle lit dinners between strangers looking for a romantic connection, every January it takes on a new meaning as IABC hosts their annual Networking in the New Year event. For one night only, strangers become colleagues, and small talk becomes in-depth industry advice, as communications professionals from across the Ottawa come together for the highly anticipated event.

This year’s experts included:

  • Jamie McLennan – Partner & Designer, Character Creative
  • Ryan Thompson – Partner & Designer, Character Creative
  • Philip Cartwright – Director, Transportation, Infrastructure & Communities, Global Public Affairs
  • Chris Neil – President, Prospectics
  • Yasmine Mingay – Director of Public Affairs, Canadian War Museum
  • Avra Gibbs Lamey – Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer, Canadian War Museum
  • Courtney Symons – Partner Marketing Manager, Shopify
  • Ted Wagstaff – President, the Ted Wagstaff Group
  • Graeme Ivory – Media and Communications Director, Ottawa Fury FC

Upon arrival, guests were given the opportunity to network with their peers over cocktails and appetizers before a xylophone signaled that start of the event. Similar to past years, guests chose a seat at one of the 7 tables set up around the room, while the experts made their rounds and spent 8 minutes discussing their area of expertise and fielding various questions with each of the groups.

Some of the topics and take away points include:

Design – Jamie McLennan & Ryan Thompson

Less is more – get to the core message, rather than overload on content/graphics for your site.

Government Relations – Philip Cartwright

“Rule #1 – know your audience. Then position your organization’s issues in a manner that aligns with the goals/interests of said audience.”

In leading up to the federal election, various government departments seeking funding need to communicate their issues in a way that highlights the notion of driving economic growth. While their programs may also add cultural, social, emotional (etc) value, economic growth needs to be the main driver in order to get onto the platform.

Measurement – Chris Neil

“Whether your desired outcome is to increase profit/culture/memberships etc., it needs to be measureable.”

Time spent on a site does not necessarily equate with high engagement levels. Is the audience able to find what they are looking for, or are they spending lots of time navigating between pages?

Media Relations – Yasmine Mingay & Avra Gibbs Lamey

“Know your objectives – what is the end result you want to accomplish? Choose platforms accordingly.”

“Know what resonates with both your audience and/or your media outlet’s audience. Customize your message for the platform. This includes tone.”

“Once you’ve built a relationship, maintain it! Keep in contact, keep it professional.”

Partner Marketing – Courtney Symons

Global branding can be difficult for organizations that work in the background, as the audience may not even recognize that they are on a site powered by said organization. Partner marketing allows these types of organizations to simultaneously showcase the work they’ve accomplished while promoting/advertising their clients’ sites.

Sponsorship/Partnership – Ted Wagstaff

“Develop your core business objectives and then find a partner that fits those objectives.”

“One must consider brand authenticity and appropriation when finding the right partner.”

Sports Media – Graeme Ivory

As we transition away from ‘traditional’ forms of media, there are numerous ways to add value to the fan experience. This includes, but is not limited to, Twitter account take overs (by various members/players of the organization), email insider blasts & internal news reports that can be consumed by the user at their leisure.


IABC would like to thank all of the fantastic experts and attendees for making this year’s event yet another success!