Tapping the International Communication Community: New IABC Chair Barbara Gibson and Research Foundation Chair Irene Monley Share Their Goals for the Coming Year
IABC Chair Barbara Gibson, ABC
IABC's 2008-2009 executive board chair, Barbara Gibson, ABC, heads the London-based independent consultancy SpokesComm, providing both strategic communication planning and media-spokesperson development. An American transplant to the U.K. with more than 20 years of experience in corporate public relations and internal communication, she has worked with leading companies worldwide. Gibson has been an active IABC member since 1989, serving in volunteer leadership roles at every level of the association. She is a past president of both the Central Florida and U.K. chapters, past regional chair for IABC/Europe and Middle East, and has served on the international executive board for the past three years.
Q: What do you want to accomplish during your year as chair, and what are your primary objectives for the IABC executive board?
A: In my remarks at the International Conference in New York, I summarized my focus for the coming year: strengthening the four I's of IABC-international, influence, inspiration and individual. That is, expanding our membership outside North America to become truly global; increasing our influence on the profession, the media, the business world, governments and the public; inspiring our fellow members as mentors and role models and being inspired by them; and taking individual responsibility to make the association and the profession what you want it to be. For anyone who wasn't there, I have posted the full text on my blog, http://barbgibson.x.iabc.com.
Q: What is IABC's biggest challenge today and how can it be overcome? If IABC has untapped potential, how would you describe it?
A: I think our two biggest challenges are those first two I's. Our greatest potential for growth is international, and we will only be able to achieve real influence on and for our profession when IABC is truly global and recognized worldwide.
Q: What about our members in the U.S. and Canada, some of whom may not see the value of that global growth? Does that present challenges to serving their needs?
A: Absolutely. The challenge is about bringing the full value home to each member, no matter where home is. I think CW has already been leading on this front. The magazine has gone from treating international as an exotic token to include in one column per issue, to being a rich source of information and ideas from around the world. I think as we find more ways to bring the value home, IABC will reach new heights in North America as well.
Q: If IABC is to lead by example, what else can it do?
A: It's funny, many IABC members are experts in supporting change through communication, but as an organization, we have been very slow to change. I don't think we can afford to continue that way. The models and processes and strategies of the past simply won't work in today's world. We all know that in our organizations, but within the association, we hold on to tradition.
Q: When you describe IABC to potential members, how do you convey the value of belonging to this association?
A: It's easy for me to describe the value from a personal viewpoint--I owe my career to IABC. Everything I am as a communicator and strategist, every opportunity I've had, I can trace back to IABC, from the skills I gained in volunteer roles, to mentors who helped guide my career, to job leads, to resources and friends all over the world. …