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Membership News


By: Helen Powers

IABC International is making substantial changes to their website so that members can easily connect with each other. A new online members-only network will enable messaging and posting at possibly as soon as February.

Wouldn’t it be great if more corporations covered the cost of our memberships? A task force set up by IABC International is exploring new ways to increase the number of companies who support professional association fees for their employees. Stay tuned in the new year for more information about this initiative.

And speaking of membership costs, did you know that the Golden Horseshoe chapter receives $20 from your IABC annual fee? The majority of the membership costs support International’s many programs so be sure to take advantage of these resources:

– Articles and videos
– IABC Academy online workshops and webinars
– Job Centre postings
– Monthly Communication World magazine
– and much more…

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Taking a Bite Out of the “Big Apple” International Style

new-york-skyline-manhattan-hudson-40142 (1)

By: Marie K. Fitzpatrick, ABC

When I headed to New York City this summer on vacation, I thought about IABC and its international make up. Why not see about connecting with some Manhattan colleagues? What a great idea that was! A quick LinkedIn search came up with this:

“New York IABC Member Summer Social – Join your fellow New York communicators for drinks, apps, door prizes and more… compliments of New York IABC! We look forward to catching up with old friends and introducing new ones to the great community you’ve helped us create.”

Well, that was an invitation to be taken! The event took place at The Australian NYC, a cool pub filled with sports décor and staff who were all clearly from ‘down under.’ A quick email connected me to the event organizer and then the current President of the chapter. So off I went to experience an New York IABC event.

“It was terrific to meet with a fellow IABCer from Canada albeit completely unexpected. It certainly made for some interesting conversations about the ever challenging quest for new ideas for professional development events, how to attract new members like me and maybe some politics throw into the mix,” said Shelley McKay, a new IABC NY member and originally from South Africa.

My Learning? Next time I plan my vacation, I’m definitely going to put attending an IABC event in the city I’m in on my radar much earlier. But sometimes luck is in a “New York minute” like my luck on LinkedIn that day.

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Let’s start at the beginning…

By Marie K. Fitzpatrick, ABC

Here’s a refreshing statement from an unlikely source. According to a Canadian medical sciences society, “this is only the beginning.” It’s all part of a recent innovative marketing and communications strategy that delivers “hands-on” learning at the click of a mouse. Got a lab test? We’ve got a follow-up story for that. Want to know how you might be diagnosed? We’ve got a follow-up story for that. This customer-friendly website gives you the power of information at your fingertips.

And that’s why this cool and interactive website recently won an International Association of Business Communicators’ (IABC) Gold Quill Merit Award. The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS), located in Hamilton, Ontario, is the national certifying body and professional association for medical laboratory professionals and took home the international honours.

Raising Awareness during National Medical Laboratory Week

How did this communications opportunity come about? Every year, CSMLS sponsors the “National Medical Laboratory Week.” This week is hosted to raise awareness about the important work in the laboratory (lab) as part of ongoing patient care.

The marketing and communications team set out to educate the public on the science happening “behind the scenes” in the laboratory. The business objective was to provide the public with a better understanding of how the lab is closely connected to their health care.

“We created a website,, as a hub of information throughout the Lab Week campaign,” says Michael Grant, Director of Marketing and Communications.

“The messaging and images on the site were designed to tie together the patient experience with their lab work.”

Anatomy Graphic makes it Real

“Most people are only familiar with the lab from the standpoint of giving a sample to be tested,” says Cathy Bouwers, Project Lead and IABC Golden Horseshoe member.  “To change this, we used images of empty sample containers with the line “This is only beginning” on the webpage to help reinforce the message that lab testing goes well beyond giving a sample.”

The website featured an interactive component showing how lab tests are performed on different parts of the body. This was done to help remove the stigma that the lab only deals with blood tests.

Click. See the Test. Understand the How…

By clicking on different buttons on the body, the website user learns about a test and possible diagnosis done on that body part/area. For example, fluid samples taken from the lungs are shown stained under a microscope to depict abnormalities in the cells and how a lab professional detects them.

The website also included information about the different lab professions and specialty areas to help highlight the complexity and education involved in this life services industry.

Have a look yourself!  To view the website, go to

Marie K. Fitzpatrick, ABC

Marie is an award-winning, accredited business communicator with 25+ years of experience implementing strategic communications. She holds Bachelor of Arts from Ryerson University in Journalism, a certificate in Public Relations and an executive education certificate in Risk and Crisis Communications from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business. Marie is an avid community builder with more than two decades of volunteering on numerous boards.

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My first IABC event…and why I’m coming back for more

By Cindy Csordas, Communications Officer, City of Hamilton

New Kid in the “Communications” Town

Last year, I switched careers in a major way. It was a massive change that has helped me grow as a communicator and as a person. Insert being “new” to the field of public relations and communications after a lengthy career in journalism. I’ve jumped to the “other side of the fence” so to speak and the position has been more than rewarding.

As a Communication Officer, there’s no doubt I’ve faced challenges when trying to communicate to an organization with nearly 8,000 employees and a city with half a million residents.

When You’re a Newbie

When I was invited to my very first International Association Business Communicators event, (IABC) event by a colleague, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But within the first few minutes of being there I felt welcomed and intrigued by the people who attended the event.

Authors, communicators and entrepreneurs alike enlightened our conversations. There were communicators from so many fields – from business, technology, life sciences, hospitals and government. I felt as though communications knows no boundaries, no matter what organization you hail from.

Stepping up to the Communications Challenge

That evening we discussed, in depth, different communication challenges and work scenarios. We all enjoyed a complimentary taco bar before we rolled up our sleeves and got down to work. The IABC Golden Horseshoe Board of Directors worked very hard over the past few years to launch this first ever free event.

I was a little nervous walking in, thinking that it’s going to be so obvious I’m new to the industry. I made a mistake thinking that because it took no time to feel like an equal contributor to the conversations. I felt that everyone warmly embraced my ideas and thoughts as I did theirs. I saw and experienced mutual respect. Overall, I walked away feeling more aware, more educated and more prepared to move forward in the new path I’ve taken thanks to the IABC experience.

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Six free tools every communicator needs right now

By Rachel Shuttleworth

Looking to do more with less and further enhance your communications work? There are several free online tools that can help you do that. Here are some of the top picks for communications professionals.

  1. Canva ( With this simple graphic design software, create banners, social media images, reports, posters, brochures and more. Some images are free and others are low cost. Design, download and enjoy.
  2. Hemingway ( Improve your writing with this free web app. It uses colours to identify grammatical errors and long complex sentences. The tool also assigns a readability grade.
  3. Pexels ( Get free stock photos for personal and commercial use. No attribution is needed for the images you use. Browse through popular photos or use the key word search to find what you need. The site also offers some free stock video footage.
  4. Hootsuite ( A free limited plan is available for one user. Manage three social media profiles and access basic scheduling functions. Plus, hone your skills with free social marketing courses at the Hootsuite Academy. Courses are 30-minutes and cover topics like social media strategy, growing your online community and social advertising.
  5. Piktochart ( With this graphic design software, create professional looking infographics. The free account lets you access a wide range of functions and images. You can then share your work through social media or download it as a JPG or PNG file.
  6. HubSpot ( HubSpot offers several free versions of their marketing and sales tools. HubSpot Marketing Free helps you capture leads, track their activity on your website and convert them into customers. HubSpot Sales Free provides basic inbound sales features like email integration and scheduling. With HubSpot CRM, you can organize up to 1,000,000 contacts for free. Track customer interactions through email, social media and calls with this CRM.

Some of these tools give you the option of paying to access more features or functions. However, the free versions are valuable for communicators and may be just what you need.

What free tools do you use and love? We want to know! Email us at

Rachel Shuttleworth

Rachel Shuttleworth has 15 years of experience in communications, marketing and management. She is the Executive Director of the Downtown Milton Business Improvement Area and volunteers with the Board of Directors of the IABC Golden Horseshoe chapter as the co-Vice President of Communications.

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Win a free IABC World Conference 2017 Registration! Contest deadline May 5

The IABC Canada East Region has available for use by its members two (2) IABC World Conference 2017 Registrations. Each of these has an approximate value of $1,540 USD, and is for “standard conference registration” on June 11 – 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Please note, it does not include: transportation/airfare; accommodation; pre-conference sessions; Excellence Awards (Gold Quill) Gala.

To be eligible, the candidate must be a CER member in good standing and complete the following submission requirements: Craft a brief paragraph to finish the following statement: The three reasons I’d like to be part of World Conference . . .

  • Your statement should be no longer than 100 words
  • Email your completed statement to, using subject line “My three reasons”
  • Include your name and the name of the chapter you belong to
  • All entries must be submitted by end of day Friday, May 5 (no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT)

A panel will review all the submissions and do a random draw from the five most compelling statement submissions. Only the members whose submissions are selected will be contacted; winners will be notified via email on Monday, May 8.

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Be a leader! Join the Board of Directors of IABC Golden Horseshoe

Are you ready for a new area of professional experience? We have four openings on our Board of Directors for 2017-2018!

An IABC membership gives you access to resources, knowledge and networking – on local and global levels. Having a leadership role on the Golden Horseshoe board brings the additional opportunity to:

  • Build your skill set and hone your craft from a different strategic perspective
  • Network with a diverse group of skilled professional communicators on a regular basis
  • Influence the type of events and services your professional association offers its members

We are recruiting people with a broad range of experiences and skill sets in the Golden Horseshoe area. The board term begins in July 2017 and lasts for 12 months. Self-nominations are not only accepted but encouraged!

Want more information about the Board? Read more about the current members of the Board of Directors, Plus, check out our board accountabilities and by-laws.

Nominating yourself or someone else for the IABC Golden Horseshoe Board of Directors is easy! Simply complete the 2017-2018 IABC GH Board Nomination Form and send it to

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact the current President, Rob Jeanveau:

Board positions will be finalized at our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, May 30 at the Royal Botanical Gardens. Don’t miss this event!

Our guest speaker is Paula Barrett, a public relations professor from Conestoga College. She has been teaching for over 12 years and before that she had 15 years of corporate communications experience. Paula recently completed a year-long professional development leave to update her skills through a series of PR internships with her grads.

Paula will share her #myturntointern adventure with us at this presentation designed for lifelong learners and change seekers. She’ll challenge you to think about how you can approach your life and career with a fresh perspective – through the eyes of an intern.

Your event ticket includes a bbq dinner, free access to all the gardens and your parking fee. Spring is a beautiful season at RBG so plan to come out early and enjoy a walk through the gardens.

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Save the date! IABC GH’s AGM & Professor Paula Barrett discussing how she ‘learned like an intern’

The IABC Golden Horseshoe chapter’s annual general meeting is on Tuesday, May 30 at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. Your ticket will include access to the meeting proceedings, a guest speaker presentation, bbq dinner, free access to all the gardens and your parking fee. Spring is a beautiful season at RBG so plan to come out early and enjoy a walk through the gardens.

Our guest speaker is Paula Barrett, a public relations professor from Conestoga College. She has been teaching for over 12 years and before that she had 15 years of corporate communications experience. Paula recently completed a year-long professional development leave to update her skills through a series of PR internships with her grads.

Paula will share her #myturntointern adventure with us at this presentation designed for lifelong learners and change seekers. She’ll challenge you to think about how you can approach your life and career with a fresh perspective – through the eyes of an intern.

Registration opens soon – stay tuned for details!

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Conversations at Work

By Helen Powers

It has been scientifically proven that IMG_0417humans are hard-wired for feedback and that our brains constantly scan for threats. These survival instincts might not seem relevant in a work environment but in fact they are. In a recent presentation to IABC members and guests in Hamilton, Janet Hueglin Hartwick of Conversations@Work provided insights about how the brain works and ways that communicators can use this knowledge to help managers strengthen employee engagement.

Our emotions play a significant role in making decisions about our behaviours. During interactions, our emotions act as gate keepers and filter possible responses while our thinking is catching up to the situation. During that emotional scanning there are four common ‘sparks of success’ that we look for to decide whether we are succeeding or failing.

By getting to know an individual’s sparks, Janet says that managers can ‘speaIMG_0420k to the gate keeper’ and give employees the feedback necessary to keep them engaged. The four sparks include feeling like part of the team, feeling personally valued, being supported to take risks, and having efforts recognized.

For example, when looking for help with a difficult team member, an employee needs more than an opportunity to discuss the facts. They need to be asked how they’re doing and be reminded of their value. By not connecting with the employee’s emotive side, managers risk having employees lose their commitment. “When you feel like a failure it is hard to perform better,” Janet says. A lack of feedback can erode the social trust we need to feel secure. To the brain, social pain – from exclusion of connections and activities – feels the same as physical pain.

IMG_0428Annual reviews can be helpful but it leaves a lot of time to wonder whether you’re on the right track. If managers don’t offer feedback regularly, Janet suggests asking them.  “How do you think I did?” is a simple way to start a conversation after a presentation or meeting. “Real time, all the time,” is best she says. “Feedback from colleagues can be powerful but not as much as from a manager.”

As communication advisors, we can emphasize to managers that organizations also benefit from giving employees meaningful feedback. When they feel recognized and appreciated, staff will respond with increased cooperation, performance, motivation and passion for their jobs. It is an important part of providing a work environment that supports strong mental health and resilience.

Helen Powers

Helen Powers is a writer and communications specialist from Hamilton and also the Vice President of Administration with IABC Golden Horseshoe. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @HelenEPowers.

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Break Through Conference Conference Recap

By Delia Loveless

On March 29, 2017, IABC Waterloo hosted its first annual Break Through Communications Conference. Held at the Walper Hotel in Kitchener’s historic downtown, the sold-out conference struck the perfect balance of speakers from across industries, experience levels and expertise.

Below are our key take-aways from the day.

Cyrus Mavalwala, Breaking Through with Compelling Content

Producing digital content is now considered a basic practice. But with virality as the new industry standard and increasing amounts of content being published across social channels, communicators are left with declining engagements and plateaued followings.

So, how can communicators re-engage their followers and breathe life back into their pages?

  1. Start with strategy: Be the owner of your audience and take control of your content. Analyze everything, digital = data!
  2. Know your audience: Take the time to research your audience. Know them inside out, from what platforms they are using, to their devices and primary activity.
  3. Quality over Quantity: Invest in professional photography or stock images. Beautiful, clear images do significantly better than content without pictures or that have poor quality images.
  4. Provide value: Are you giving anything to your audience? Are they learning from you or gaining experience from you?
  5. Deliver an experience: Get on board with the trends. People crave authentic and unpolished content and content in which they can immerse themselves (think virtual reality and 360 camera).

Caitlin MacGregor, Employee Engagement and Culture

When you create a job posting, does it sell your company as the BEST company to work for? Does it look for great talent AND advertise your company’s brand and culture? Do your ideas of your culture align to the values of your employees?

Culture is about what matters to non-management. It’s what keeps your employees satisfied in their roles and knowing it can be your company’s greatest strength. Figuring out your company culture is great, but what’s more important is discovering what you want your company culture to become and working towards it to add value to your organization.

Caitlin MacGregor, Founder and CEO of Plum, offered insight as to how her software helps organizations find the discrepancy between perceived and true culture. It also helps employers find the best suited candidates for jobs based on their soft-skills and ability to succeed, versus their experience.

Caralee Ayora, Core Elements of Effective Communication

Everything you know, and everything you apply in the workplace today can be attributed to the things you learned when you were young.

In Kindergarten, you learned to be nice to everyone. As a professional, you should be making connections and getting to know as many people as possible on a personal level. You can never have too many friends.

If you don’t have anything nice to say… don’t tweet it at all. In a landscape of easy connection and communication, taking back messages is next to impossible. Ensure your messages align with your brand before posting anything.

Homework doesn’t end at graduation. Own your research and get the details down.

Connect the dots as an adult. Your strategy should always aim to achieve the broader picture.

Sam Trieu, How to Become a Marketing Octopus

Did you know that octopuses can be found in every major salt water body? They’ve managed to survive and thrive in every ocean. What people tend to forget is that everyone once started out sucking at their job, but through diversity of experience, they molded their future roles. For anyone starting out, the most important thing you can do to gain experience is say ‘yes’. Say ‘yes’ to volunteering, to learning. Know your industry inside and out.

Did you know there are over 300 octopus species around?

Just like there are 300 species of octopus, there are 300 different ways to market. While it’s impossible to do them all, what you can do is identify the practices that will best meet your company’s needs now.

The majority of their neural activities occurs outside of their brain and head, and ⅔ of their neurons are in their arms. Own your marketing role at your organization. Volunteer, and pursue online, offsite and day-to-day learning that will help you do your job, and know your industry is a good idea.

Octopuses are the first invertebrates observed to adeptly utilize tools. Everyone has limited resources – money, staff, time. Use what you have to conquer business goals. Better yet, use your people resources and network.

Females lay 200,000 to 400,000 eggs. After the eggs hatch, her body goes through cellular suicide until she dies. Build the next generation. Be generous with knowledge, mentorship and opportunities.

Lanny Cardow, Opinion Polling and Messaging Position

C8HHGf1XUAALTvFWhat words best describe your business and product? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors and make sure you come out on top?

Qualitative research, specifically using focus groups who have been mined down to your exact audience are one of the best options for really digging into what your customers are thinking.

By refining and testing your messages, you can hone in on your brand’s image and use that knowledge to easily embed your messages.

Dr. Terry Flynn, The Role of the Chief Communications Officer

Today’s CCO is the driver of change. They wear the hat of the traditional CCO while also finding balance as the integrator and the builder of digital engagement. As we work towards our next career aspirations as communicators, the roles we will be taking on will continue to diversify.

There is no longer a clear line between the marketer and the communicator. Rather, they have become two sides of the same coin, blending and blurring the lines of what was traditionally a more divided and individual purpose.


Today’s communicator, especially the CCO, works with leadership, the CEO and collaborates to define and activate corporate character. They use data to understand individuals, create channels to engage individuals directly and equip employees to engage. They are the juggler of many roles and the leaders of modern communications and marketing.


From the morning keynote speaker to the closing remarks with IABC Waterloo President Paula Barret*, the conference went beyond educational. Fresh, contemporary, inspiring and thought provoking, Break Through delved into the obstacles and limitations communicators face. Seven speakers and a career panel later, conference attendees left with a tool box of solutions for success.

*Paula Barrett will be the keynote speaker at the IABC Golden Horseshoe chapter’s Annual General Meeting in May. She will deliver insights and anecdotes gained through her experience working as a Senior Intern. Stay tuned for details on that great event.

Delia Loveless

Delia is a communications professional with an honours certification in Public Relations from Mohawk College. She has led communications for start-ups and is currently a Co-Vice President of Communications for IABC Golden Horseshoe. When she’s not scheduling a tweet or reading up on the latest digital trends, she’s researching her next backpacking destination and trying out Pinterest recipes.