IABC Lehigh Valley flying high after one-year re-launch
By Pete Waldron
President, IABC Lehigh Valley
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the re-launch of IABC Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) chapter, pausing to quietly reflect on what we have achieved during the past 12 months would be out of character for our chapter. This milestone deserved a more energetic celebration that aligned with our No. 1 re-launch goal: present “kick-ass” professional development programs that keep people engaged and interested in more.
Our chapter hosted a two-part event called “Come Fly With Us”—the evolution of video and aerial communication. Part one featured a panel discussion of video communication experts featuring helicopters, drones and GoPros. Part two will feature fall foliage helicopters rides and drone demonstrations as part of a cool membership recruitment effort punctuating the “high-flying” year IABC Lehigh Valley has experienced.
Check out Part 1: IABC LV Flying High
As we look back, our No. 1 goal of presenting “kick-ass” programming matches up nicely with the three pillars featured in the #IABC1720 Strategic Framework. As we strategized about our re-launch, many of the seasoned professionals realized how much the communication industry has changed. Many professionals are either sole practitioners or work in departments of one to three people. And they have limited time. So developing interesting and worthwhile learning and meeting opportunities with a unique twist was paramount to capturing the attention of busy professionals.
And once we got the communication professionals in the room, it was important to facilitate an atmosphere of interaction and engagement both with the program as well as with the networking opportunities.
And what better way to build relationships with other professionals than sharing a morning cup of coffee? IABC Lehigh Valley’s recent Coffee & Conversation was a great success.
As Susan Gottshall, our vice president for programming, shared in the Coffee & Conversations video, “In so many things, relationships is what it is all about.”
Susan’s sentiment aptly sums up what IABC is all about. Bringing people together to learn and connect advances the communication profession. I am very grateful to my fellow communication professionals in the Lehigh Valley who have helped to make our chapter’s re-launch a success. A year ago we started out with three members. By leveraging relationships, we have been able to grow the chapter to 36 members. Our goal is to get to 50 members.
Here are the five take-aways we have learned this year about re-launching our chapter, which I feel build off the #IABC1720 Strategic Framework:
1. Leverage relationships.
Three of us reached out to former IABC members and officers and shared our vision for the chapter. Three soon became six, then 12, and so on. Most people agreed that in a region our size and with the changing communication industry, there was a definite need for an IABC chapter.
2. Mix it up
. It is important to recruit a good mix of seasoned and young professionals to serve on the executive committee. Both learn from each other and both offer different perspectives on the industry. Think about establishing an advisory council consisting of seasoned professionals who are “centers of influence” in the industry and the community. They may not have time to serve on the executive committee, but they have program ideas and connections to bring members on board.
3. Define roles.
The cliché “many hands make light work” is very true. Split up the duties to share the workload to avoid burn-out. We created committee co-chairs by pairing a seasoned professional and a young professional. It creates a mentoring-type scenario and it also plants the seeds for succession. Encourage the committees to meet outside the executive committee meetings.
Don’t try to do it all. We focused on three areas: programs, membership and marketing. We created a future project/program list to capture ideas of initiatives we may want to tackle when we are more established.
5. Camaraderie and food
. Everyone has to eat. We organized our executive committee meetings around dinner and drinks. Because many of us have never worked together, we thought it was important to make it relaxing and conversational before diving into organizational issues. It has been wonderful getting to know my talented colleagues on the executive committee, both personally and professionally.
It’s important to point out that the process is ongoing and you will experience a few bumps along the way. But having a strong and engaged executive committee and working committees makes the bumps less jarring (see points 1, 2 and 5). IABC Lehigh Valley is lucky to have a great group of volunteer leaders. A big shout-out to my fellow IABC LV executive committee members and volunteers who have helped make this year a big success: Suzanne Stianche, Bret Ludlow, Susan Gottshall, Karen Kelly, Emily Massaro, Lynn Gerlach, Melissa Eisenhart, Mike Drabenstott, Valerie Peters and John Dodds.
Well, there is our plan. Hopefully, this helps any IABC chapter undergoing a downturn. Remember to build off the #IABC1720 Strategic Framework. Please contact me (
) if you have any questions or need someone to bounce an idea off in your re-launch. IABC Lehigh Valley is here to help