by Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink
Three months ago when Kerby Meyers received the gavel as the new Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), he should have also received a complimentary copy of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changing”.
During the first three months as leader of the more than 14,000 member organization, he has overseen the suspension of new applications for IABC’s accreditation program in anticipation of the 2013 introductions of a revamped program; started implementing proposals from a comprehensive review of the Gold Quill Awards program that include the elimination of Tier I judging, a geographically diverse approach to Blue Ribbon Panel judging, further efforts to considerably improve judging and the expansion of the application period; and ended IABC’s online strategic communication planning tool MyComm, developed by Cisco Systems for IABC.
“Come writers and critics, Who prophesize with your pen” – Bob Dylan.
A consultant for more than 12 years, Meyers currently operates business from his Denver, CO headquarters
“I focus on messaging for companies,” said the soft-spoken Meyers. “What they say, how they say it, who they say it to, and maybe if they say it as well as they might think.”
Prior to moving to Denver he lived in Minnesota where “I worked for the Blue Cross Plan -that’s how I got into corporate communications.”
A journalist by nature, upon moving to Denver he spent time at a division of Standard and Poor’s before starting his own business.
“And keep your eyes wide, The chance won’t come again” – Bob Dylan
A member of the IABC/Colorado Chapter, Meyers has been involved with the organization for approximately ten years. He has held number of leadership roles both at the chapter level – including chapter president – and on the international board
“I joined the international finance committee in 2009,” he said. “Since then I have served on the board as treasurer and last year as the vice-chair. It has been a very interesting, fun, great, rewarding and very challenging ride – it has just been a great experience.”
When the international board’s nominating committee asked why Meyers he wanted to hold the chairman position “I immediately frankly answered right off the bat – ‘obviously I’m insane’.”
Meyers is obviously “not insane”. A father of three small children and a wife whom he calls “a willing and exceptional partner in realizing this is a valuable opportunity.”
The new position will call for sacrifices not only at home, but also in his business.
“On the business side it definitely will be interesting,” explained Meyers on justifying time away from clients. “I look at this as a business development year, but not a business growth year. It will be great to meet people, build up my network, but at the same time it is not going to be a time for a lot of work.”
“I am not saying it is going to be easy, but I have taken steps to ensure that the insanity is kept to a minimum.”
“And don’t speak too soon, For the wheel’s still in spin” – Bob Dylan
It is an interesting time around the world economically and also for associations like IABC. Meyers sees the need to examine closely overall business objectives and put in place a plan that will situate the organization as a leader in the field.
“IABC needs to keep ensuring that value is developed and provided to the members,” he said. “That is what they deserve, and that is what they want.”
“To that end we are looking at this year as a ‘Year of Review’. We are looking at what the organization is doing, what it is doing well, what is not doing so well, things that may need fixing, or in some cases some things just might need to go away.”
Following the lead from of last year’s board, Meyers has been instrumental in implementing the changes both boards deemed necessary to survive. The board’s progress has been slow, but on a steady course.
“It would be a shame if we went off in one direction, and it turned out to be a trend that may not last; or we offered a service members found of little value,” he said.
As part of the review of the business of IABC, he feels “we now know our business. We know what we can do to really respond to marketplace demand, as well as foster that demand to not only retain members, but to also build up membership so as to make the organization stronger.”
“And there’s no tellin’ who, That it’s namin’” – Bob Dylan
Student memberships are a critical piece of the business puzzle according to Meyers. The organization is investigating, through its Global Growth Task Force; a couple of student pilots programs to be run internationally.
One program under investigation is offering IABC content to the universities.
According to the chair, “Student membership is kind of tricky. The bulk of our student membership is inside of North America. We are looking at addressing the issue of fees for students – including lowering the fees. We are also exploring a “institutional membership” where a university pays for all of their students to access the IABC content.
The programs being studied by the board are designed to build-up student awareness of IABC, as well as a professional reliance upon IABC as a valuable resource when students start careers.
“One way is to be the organization where students can go to obtain information, or be a place where they seek information,” said Meyers. “If they are studying corporate communications they can turn to IABC for information, that builds on the brand and the reputation of the organization.”
“Students are a valuable group because ideally as they learn about, and benefit from, the organization as a student, when they become practitioners they also become members and support the organization.
“For the loser now, Will be later to win” – Bob Dylan
Part of IABC’s new three-year plan is built on three pillars for success – Career, Content and The Business of IABC.
Meyers explains the organization is “in the process of developing a ‘career roadmap” defining what a communication professional’s career might looks like. From the early stages of student, the first day as a practitioner to the day before retirement – that forty or fifty year spectrum.”
Part of the “career roadmap” is to inform professionals where they are on the map. To show them where they are and what tools they need to progress along the spectrum – if they so desire.
“The flip side of the “roadmap” is to take that spectrum and inform the industry what it means and the value that practitioners can add to a business,” Meyers explained. “It will help those who are stuck in the position of too much experience for a low level job, by showing where they can build up their experience to expand into a different role – not in communications, but a more senior position.
The Denver communicator sees IABC entering an interesting phase “that will most like involve a lot of change, but when the organization emerges we will have positioned ourselves as the lead resource for communication professionals around the world.”
“For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan