icandiCQ strategist, Tracy Kirchhoffer is in Chicago attending the IABC 2012 World Conference. Follow her on twitter @icandiCQ and stay connected with daily posts on strategic communication, research and ‘all that jazz’…

Day 2
Day Two at IABC in Chicago ended with the Golden Quill Awards, which recognises excellence in corporate communication. The Awards were interspersed with … the usual ol‘ ‘dancing girls’ performing songs like All That Jazz and Roxy from the hit-show, Chicago. Fun! Well done to the Gautrain, which also received a reward at the event.

The morning started off with an award to a CEO who demonstrates an understanding and commitment to communication in reaching business goals. The winner, Irene Lewis, President of SAIT a world leader in technical education, makes for a great case study.

Some of the top learnings from the day’s sessions:

Irene Lewis spoke of her need for a communication team that gives leadership ‘peace of mind’. They need to be relentless about protecting the brand reputation. They must also accurately reflect the voice of leaders. They must make the ‘best of the moment ‘ and put ‘heart’ into communication. She was passionate about constantly communicating on strategy and acknowledging hard work. She retires in December after a 50-year career!

The theme of building a brand from the inside out – the fact that branding internally is as important as branding externally – is coming through over and over again. A study of 1,000 companies shows that the high performing companies have good staff engagement, committed leadership, enough qualified skills to get the job done and a sound strategy.

Website building needs a group of people doing the job well. Remember your next customer is more likely to meet you digitally. You will be rated by how original your content is and how much it changes. Keywords really don’t matter anymore as Google is not really supporting this any longer. You must be ‘Catalogued‘ according to what you do, not your name per say. And best quick tip of the day, do you have a favicon? You know what that is right? If you don’t, then it means you need one. It’s simple, easy to do and profound in its own way. Remember, you face professional competition 24/7, so if your site costs less than your salesperson’s salary, it may not perform the way you need it to.

Curation is the next most important skill for all to learn. It’s to help deal with the information fire-hose. Clay Shirky of New York University says ‘it is not information overload, it’s filter failure’. So curation is finding, selecting, organising and sorting – the best of relevant material. It requires human input. Aggregation is done by software or digital content collection.  All of this will help you be a thought leader and boost the concept of content marketing.

I was inspired by the critical issues evolving in business in the regulatory requirement of the Integrated report (IR). All to do with the King III report and requiring companies to report on finances, social, environmental and governance issues. The report stipulates that the communication onion is key to good governance, so the board is now becoming responsible for communication in the company…. And it has to be measured. The Integrated Report is a game changer in business and it will be a big opportunity for communicators. For business it means that they will have to work for integrated management and they will have to speak with one voice! Communicators, it’s time to pull up your socks and stop complaining about not being taken seriously by the business. To really fulfil the coming role of a strategist communicator worthy of sitting in the C suite, you better get to grips with the language of the financial and sustainability departments. Get ready to ride the wave.

Daniel Munslow, a fellow South African, and his company has conducted research this year with 100 or so top corporate communications professionals and execs to establish capabilities. 30% of Head of Communications had a direct link to Exco. Only 30% measure and 40% have documented communications plan. He has developed a comprehensive model for internal communications. The model is a workable way of having the right structures, processes and procedures in place to consistently deliver good strategic communication and be a center of communication excellence.

Exciting CQ. Now for the … implementation!