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Hello everyone.

Over the past months I’ve been really fortunate to connect and engage with people who are inspiring and have a strong sense of self and purpose. These have included elite athletes, entrepreneurs, business people, and thought leaders. I’ve been afforded these opportunities through my profession as a communications practitioner as well as a member of the IABC. To me, this underscores one of the benefits of building a strong network.

To paraphrase one of our local thought leaders, Trevor Young, a brand must be connected to be a “winner’. It has a sense of purpose, passion and strategic intent. It needs to connect to people who matter most to the brand; to contribute in ways that are meaningful and respectful; to cultivate relationships with those who like it; to collaborate with those who are like-minded; and to build a community. I strongly believe that IABC is a connected brand.

Trevor was just one of the highlights of the recent SocialBiz14 conference held in Melbourne. Other highlights included Brian Solis (Altimeter Group), Todd Sampson (Leo Burnett), Pete Williams (Deloitte), Lauren Anderson (Collaborative Lab), Jamie White (Pod Legal), Dionne Lew (The Social Executive), Brett Cooper (Telstra Digital), and Gerry McCusker (Engage ORM).

Todd Sampson spoke about creativity being one of the last remaining ways for a business to stand out and attain competitive advantage. However fear is the stumbling block for many. He seemed to strike a chord based on the twitter stream. This prompts me to ask: What is the risk appetite within the organization? If we dare will it succeed? There are no guarantees of success, but if you don’t dare then are you prepared to accept vanilla? This is certainly not the attitude of the elite athletes or the successful entrepreneurs that I have connected with or the successful brands that many admire.

In terms of inspiration, there are two more major conferences on the calendar that you should consider attending. The IABC World Conference is being held in Toronto 8-11 June and is a showcase of world-class speakers and thought leaders. There are seven streams including: leadership, personal brand, strategic implementation, brand and marketing, reputation, employee engagement and IABC Talks (modeled on TED talks). Registrations are now open and you can find out more at The other is the Corporate Affairs Summit being held in Sydney 27-28 May. Find out more about our special discount offer within this edition of the newsletter.

Earlier this month, IABC held its Leadership Institute in New Orleans, where chapter leaders shared their learning and the Chapter Management Awards were awarded. In addition, the leaders made progress in two areas that would be of interest locally – the development of the IABC strategy 2014-17 and the revamp of the accreditation towards a globally recognised ISO certification program for the communication profession.

As you will no doubt be aware one of the IABC's global leaders will be in Melbourne late next week – Thursday 6 March. Russell Grossman is the IABC International Executive Board Vice-Chair and is leading the development of the association’s strategy for 2014-17. In addition to his IABC role, Russell is the Director of Communications for the UK’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills.  He has been a member of the Employee Engagement Task Force “Engage for Success” since its inception and is now also a director of the Movement. Over a 30-year career in communications, Russell has worked with many organisations and industry leaders on high profile corporate issues and campaigns across external, media and organisational communication.

He will be delivering a practical and impactful session on the groundbreaking work on employee engagement from the UK. It will look at the advances made over the last three years to the theory and practice of employee engagement and its application for competitive advantage and growth to small, medium and large companies.

I look forward to engaging and connecting with you on the 6th of March and future events throughout 2014.