IABC Ottawa rang in 2019 with the highly anticipated event, “Networking in the New Year: Building Your Communications Toolbox”. In speed-dating style, four industry professionals made their way around the room (table-to-table) giving insights on their area of expertise. Attendees gathered tips and tricks about budgeting, influencer marketing, social media analytics and knowledge mobilization thanks to the following experts:

1. Sherrilynne Starkie, Strategic Digital Communications Consultant
2. Samantha Rae Ayoub, President IABC Ottawa, former Communications and Publishing Director, Council of Canadian Academies
3. Laura St-Cyr, Sales Manager, Sun Life Financial
4. Andrea Tomkins, Veteran blogger, Freelance Writer and Community Newspaper Editor

Many amazing conversations happened over the course of the evening. Below, we recap three questions that came up and our experts’ responses.

How do you get influential bloggers to engage with, and promote your products/services?

Tailor your pitch! Andrea Tomkins, Veteran blogger, Freelance Writer and Community Newspaper Editor, reminded us that bloggers are human, not robots. They have likes and dislikes and work hard to uphold their own personal brand. Connect your product or service to that brand. Get to know their likes and dislikes and ask yourself, why would they want to write about my product? What would they like most about this product? You also want to make sure you build a relationship with that blogger before diving into what it is you want them to do for you. Romance them a bit, build rapport, then talk business.

How do you create buy-in for your ideas and ensure you get the funds needed to execute them?

Laura St-Cyr, Sales Manager, Sun Life Financial told us the most effective way to secure funds for your communication ideas is to tie everything back to your business objectives. At the heart of every organization there should be a business strategy. This strategy is top of mind for C-level executives. If you can convince your boss that your ideas will ultimately support the business objectives, you’re more likely to get the cash needed to implement your ideas.

How can we, as communicators, ensure we’re reaching the right audience?

“Use the PESO media model,” said Sherrilynne Starkie, Strategic Digital Communications Consultant. By using the PESO model, which stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media, we’re able to identify opportunities where our media channels can support one another and amplify our reach. These channels can work to complement each other. For instance, once you’ve developed content for your owned channels (e.g. website), you can leverage shared media to distribute it, paid media to boost its reach, and earned media give it credibility.

How do you communicate complex information effectively and authoritatively without researchers feeling like you are “dumbing down” their work?

“Honestly, it’s pretty straightforward – read their work and ask them questions,” said Samantha Rae Ayoub, President IABC Ottawa, former Communications and Publishing Director, Council of Canadian Academies. As a communicator you should never attempt to put together a strategy to communicate a piece of research that you don’t understand yourself at a basic level. So, talk to the researcher! Together, you can craft the appropriate message and decide how to best share the information. Alone you can only get so far, but when you pair the mind of a researcher with the mind of a communicator, great things can happen.

Did you enjoy “Networking in the New Year”? Keep an eye on our events page and social media channels to learn about upcoming events like it.

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