By Natasha Qereshniku, President, IABC/Calgary

As a city and a communications community, we’ve been through a lot of ups and downs this year. The multitude of colourful 2020 memes demonstrates this well. With “unprecedented times” the leading phrase in 2020, I’ll be honest in saying I’m both glad, and a tad relieved that I made it through my president year in a positive way.

The early days of COVID hit us hard as a volunteer board and we had to take some time to cope and adjust. I truly appreciated the compassion of our members during that time and it was that support which enabled our board to bounce back quickly.

Reflecting on 2019/2020, I feel proud that we have maintained our membership, remained in a strong financial position, and were able to execute some great initiatives to support members, and give back to our communications community.

Moving forward, I’m excited to support our incoming President for 2020/2021, Tim Shaw in his vision for our chapter (which you’ll be hearing more about), and our new board as we kick-off strategic planning for the year to come.

An input into this planning will be our recent member survey results. A big thank you to those of you who completed this survey. Some themes we heard from respondents this year during the pandemic included:

  • Many join IABC to network and for professional development.
  • The majority were very satisfied or satisfied with their memberships.
  • Most respondents were corporate professionals, with consultants a close second.
  • We provide strong value for new communicators and mid-year professionals but could improve the value for senior communicators (15+ years).
  • To help navigate the “new normal”, respondents identified a need for timely online resources, presentations and events, as opportunities to learn the latest trends as well as network and learn from fellow communicators.
  • There is a need for support on how to keep employees engaged virtually, tips on getting employment in a challenging economy, crisis communications best practices and how to modify a business plan as a consultant.
  • Our newsletter and website were ranked as the most important communication channels, with Instagram and Facebook being ranked as least important.
  • A significant number of respondents prefer virtual live events, or once social distancing restrictions are lifted, in-person events in Downtown Calgary during evenings or weekends.

While we plan, we will continue to support members as they navigate the challenges of Alberta’s reopening. Our bi-weekly newsletters continue, as well as some virtual events to support connections and learning. Additionally, we have work underway to refresh our website and will continue to engage members on our social media channels.

It’s been my pleasure and honour to serve as President this year. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues and from all of you, and I am so proud to be part of this organization.

IABC is changing, but this brings many exciting opportunities and I look forward to where our chapter is headed next.

Thank you, and don’t be afraid to reach out!

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