Building out your communications toolbox
Professional development courses can be expensive and hard to commit to with a busy schedule. That’s why IABC Ottawa hosts our signature event – Networking in the New Year, every January to help communications professionals learn from leading experts in an intimate setting. This year we welcomed Chris Hofley, Kelly Kubrick, Jocelyn Lubczek, Cate Murray, and Melanie Rushworth to talk about crisis communications, measurement, climate change, political communications, and ethics. Here are the main takeaways from each of their presentations.

Crisis Communications
As the Manager of Communications at Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, Chris spends a lot of his time protecting the image of the corporation. He works closely with the players on the Red Blacks, helping them prepare for media scrums and longer interviews. Chris said that a lot of the new players have little to no experience working with the media so he trains them on how to develop their personalities in front of the camera and how to know when to tow the party line. For example, he encourages the players to stick to the cliches in the media scrums after a game because there’s comfort in talking about what you know.

Measurement
Kelly Kubrick, President of Online Authority, has built her career on delivering training in digital  analytics/advertising and writing for digital. She encouraged participants to consider media buying strategies for their organizations because organic growth is drying up, which makes it harder to get positive results. Where to start? Try determining how much it costs each of your organization’s platforms to generate a click by throwing some money behind one initiative and measuring its results. Google analytics is a great way to measure success, but there are so many secrets hidden in the platforms that you’ll only know what you’re looking for once you run the campaign.

Climate Change
As the Senior Advisor, Communications, at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Jocelyn Lubczek’s main focus is educating Canadians on the effect climate change has and on what the government is doing to fight it. For example, one of the big wins for her was the carbon reduction plan and explaining the benefits of the plan in a way that was clear and relevant to Canadians. She also develops partnerships with environmental organizations and taps into their toolbox to help increase the reach of key messages to Canadians.

Political Communications
Cate Murray, Executive Director & COO, at Stem Cell Network knows the ins and outs of political communications. Her main takeaway to participants? You need to make politicians’ issues your issues in order to succeed. This includes researching your audience’s interests online in advance (e.g. through speeches and their mandate letters) and using language that is often sprinkled throughout their messaging in yours. Then when you plan to go in for your budget ask, you’ll know how to phrase what you need.

Ethics
As the Director of Communications, Outreach and Planning, at the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Melaine Rushworth’s main goal is figure out how to explain a complicated set of rules… simply and clearly. She does this by working closely with the legal team to determine how to communicate key messages to the public and media about the work of the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. For example, when the media calls her for information that is not available online she explains that she can’t give that out and tries to point out what information is publically accessible.