David Imber, Corporate Affairs Consultant and IABC Victoria Treasurer, shares a bit about himself and his thoughts on the value communicators can bring to empowering leaders to authentically communicate.
Tell us what you do?
I’m a corporate affairs consultant. I have a particular passion for helping organisations navigate challenges, tough stakeholders or in their engagement with Government. My background is in policy one, I moved into communications through advocacy and Government Relations roles earlier in my career.
A recent example of what I do in practice. A membership organisation woke up one Saturday morning to find a drop in the Australian Financial Review from the Federal Treasurer announcing a consultation clearly targeted at them. By Wednesday, I was hired and sitting with their communications manager and CEO working through their initial campaign plan to tackle this existential threat.
Over two months, I worked with them build out the plan and turn around the issue using all the assets they had. We, brought together and educated their stakeholders, helped ensure their policy response was clear, engaged with and provided messaging to political stakeholders, reframed the issue in the media-all the while increasing the public profile on their existing work. This all served to highlight their inherent value, which reduced the logic of the policy proposal.
This sort of crisis work energises me and brings together all of my skills as I work at pace, to help turn around an issue for a client. I am currently advising a range of Government, corporate and NGO clients, helping them enhance their profile and communicate what matters to them.
When did you join IABC Victoria and why?
I first became a member in 2013 when I joined Telstra who had a corporate membership. We hosted some IABC events at Telstra’s offices and I got to meet a whole bunch of excellent communicators as a result. Life happened and I didn’t stay a member after leaving Telstra. However, in 2019 when I was back consulting, I realised I was missing something.
I missed having a network, a group of people who “got” the work I did and were just as passionate about their craft. I re-joined and think I went to every event in the second half of 2019. I suspect I became such a groupie that I was asked to join the Board!
What is your role as IABC Victoria Treasurer?
I’m responsible for all aspects of our finances. From budgeting and reporting to actually making payments. We receive a portion of IABC Vic memberships and renewals though IABC Global once a quarter, as well as receiving money from events and professional development. We make investments (spend!) in our members through mingles and professional development events. As a member of the Board, I also contribute to our overall strategy and decision making.
I am passionate about us being a beacon for our industry and delivering value to our members. So, I’m not just there to say no to spending as the stereotypical money guy! I’m committed to ensuring we invest in our members and grow our chapter!
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing communication professionals right now, and in the future?
The search for truth and clarity, in a world where the noise and spin has only grown. Leaders and organisations who can deliver that, and especially do so with authenticity and be genuinely client/ stakeholder centric, are benefiting. Yet our industry has been asked, and so helped, scaffold leaders from being themselves over many years and so not every organisation is well set up to deliver this kind of communications. Building the capacity internally to ensure leaders can be themselves- with meaningful things to say and interesting ways to say them across platforms is the challenge we’ve faced for a while but will only grow.
I also think we’re seeing the consequences of people who never knew how news was produced seeing how the sausage is made, so to speak, with daily stand-up press conferences dominating our lives but also the leaks and speculation that surround them. It isn’t helping the image of the news media and increasing cynicism around our profession so that’s a challenge I’m very conscious of with my clients too.
How do you think IABC can help communication professionals overcome these challenges and stay ahead of the game?
IABC Victoria and globally do the job in our profession that we often do in organisations and with clients. Communicators connect people and we bring to the attention of leaders the issues around the corner and over the horizon. Whether it’s big external issues like climate change and gender equality or internal issues like engagement and alignment we’re trusted to deliver. IABC can help our members increase their skills but also be a safe place for discussion and engagement. Building a network is especially important if you’re the only communications resource in your organisation or working freelance.