Community first and always—welcome to the 2021/22 IABC/BC program year!

Back to Blogs By José Vargas, IABC/BC President Posted: September 21, 2021

Great to have you with us again!

The final days of a long, hot summer (the new long, cold winter) are with us, marking a transition period for many. Shorter days, falling leaves, new school supplies, voting ballots and sleek, new webcam covers join the final days of summer in marking the start of something new within our new normal.

For our vibrant community, these signals (minus the voting ballots and webcam covers) traditionally mark the start of a new program year. For all of you—our valued and resilient members, volunteers and sponsors—this means fresh programming and new opportunities to start or evolve your career alongside a community of like-minded professionals.

I am so excited to share a glimpse of what we have in store for you this year. With a legacy of great leadership propelling us and a very driven, creative and diverse group of volunteers supporting every area of what we do, it’s shaping up to be another transformative year for our west-coast strong Chapter.

So, what will this year look like? When are we going to get to see each other face-to-face again? I wonder if my dress pants still fit me…

I was thinking out loud during that last question, admittedly. And while I may not be able to—or even want to—answer it, I can provide a snapshot of what our talented board of directors has been building this past summer. For starters, our board has recognized that, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is a reality in our society, we will have to continue to approach our programming in a very safety-conscious and nimble manner.

2021-22 programming, grounded on a safe post-pandemic transition

Priority number one for us this year: to safely and thoughtfully transition our Chapter through British Columbia’s restart plan. Our board has made the decision to focus our strategic plan on a transitionary 2021-22 chapter year.

Thank you for the invaluable and insightful feedback you provided in our 2021 member survey. In response to the question, “what communication challenges are you currently facing that you feel IABC/BC could help you solve?” the following key themes emerged from your responses:

  • Pandemic and Recovery
  • Strategic Communications
  • Internal Communications
  • Digital Communications
  • Connections/ Networking
  • Professional Development
  • Educational Resources/ Tools

Our 2021-22 Chapter strategy and programming highlights

Activated by your voice (either through the annual member survey or ongoing programming feedback channels, like post-event surveys), informed by a year of virtual lessons and data, empowered by the #IABC2025 4-year International strategic plan (“Stronger Together”) and driven by the desire to do good by our members, volunteers and sponsors, our 2021-22 Chapter strategy and programming centres around three key pillars:

  1. Community first and always
    Being back together, face-to-face will require a thoughtful transition. We will continue to build upon the innovative, virtual means that kept us together while being apart over the past 18+ months. In doing so, we will expand the criteria for chapter events with the aim of continuing to grow through virtual means while embracing what we know best from a pre-pandemic, analog world.
    Highlights for this coming year include:

    • Experimenting with hybrid social events that build upon the virtual ground broken last year as our events welcomed new and existing members from parts of the province outside of the Lower Mainland
      • This includes our in-person-turned-virtual Fall Social, which is set to take place this coming Thursday, September 23—if you haven’t already, purchase your tickets today!
    • Connecting organizations looking for talented communications professionals seeking new opportunities through our Jobline postings.
    • Creating opportunities to connect through virtual socials, professional development, special interest group events, and our annual Wave Awards.
    • Hosting our next certification exam on November 16, 2021…stay tuned for more details!
    • Ongoing opportunities to gain skills, give back and expand your network by volunteering with our chapter. Connect with volunteers[at]iabc.bc.ca to find out more.
    • Continue to share highlights and opportunities to contribute to our 40th-anniversary legacy project—our story: the IABC/BC Historical Timeline.
    • In this extended virtual world, continue to promote events hosted by IABC chapters around the world that may be of interest to our members.
  2. Communicators driving narrative and change
    Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (or ED&I) are at the forefront of our volunteer and member experience. Our members—all of you—have spoken. You want more programming and content that supports conscious communicators looking to drive change individually and through the organizations you’re part of.
    Highlights for this coming year include:

    • Creation of an ED&I committee with the objective of building a framework around ED&I Chapter policies, events and safe spaces for us to continue this important conversation with a focus on the role of our profession as part of it.
    • Like last year, build upon work with our regional and international counterparts to deliver ED&I themed professional development events.
  3. Build our analytical capacity in order to remain nimble
    Our Membership team has been hard at work this summer, accessing new IABC International data platforms, analyzing the data available to us at the local level and thinking of new, innovative ways to capture and understand your feedback so we can turn it into valuable programming, quickly.
    Highlights for this coming year include:

    • Ongoing opportunities for our members to write articles for the IABC/BC blog.
    • Hosting virtual Get Connected events with a new emphasis on organizing smaller, regional events to allow our members to connect with local communications professionals in their community. If you’re interested in being involved in planning a virtual membership social in your area, please email members[at]iabc.bc.ca.
    • Finding opportunities to learn about the story behind the data, like our upcoming Big BC Book Club event on October 6!
    • Reviewing our post-event surveys and identifying other opportunities to collect valuable feedback from you.

A one-of-a-kind community

This Fall will continue to be uncertain and frustrating to many. One of the things I have found comfort in since the start of the pandemic is my professional—and more often personal—support network at IABC/BC.

We are part of a great, inclusive and supportive community. Yes, it’s a professional association and, yes, we’re here to help grow and nurture our careers in one way or another. If you’re here for that, you’ll find a vast network of contacts and resources to support you. But, as the old adage says, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The camaraderie and support from people who know exactly what you’ve experienced as a communicator is something I never intend to take for granted. My peers have been with me during incredible highs and unforgettable, lesson-packed lows.

So, as we gear up for the start of another year, allow me to remind you that we are here for you. And getting involved starts with attending your first event and experiencing it all for yourself.

Should you have any questions, feedback or concerns about anything you read above, please send me a note. I really want to hear from you! You can reach me at president[at]iabc.bc.ca or  @JoseVargasToGo.

Thank you for choosing IABC/BC as your community!

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