Welcome to the Catalyst Member Spotlight series. Catalyst prioritizes sharing members’ stories to showcase the breadth of the IABC community, connect communicators across the globe and elevate personal stories to inspire fellow members. If you’re a chapter leader who would like to spotlight a stand-out member of your chapter, email the Catalyst editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meet IABC member Karen Mericsko! With 15 years of experience in the profession, Karen is the associate director of communications and strategy for KPMG LLP. She recently joined the Philadelphia chapter of IABC. Here, Karen shares the most thrilling aspect of her career and recommends the benefits of forming her own “personal board of directors.”
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
It’s exciting to add value to key messages that senior leaders utilize to connect with their teams. I enjoy sharing input about how to engage and maintain an intended audience and how to call attention to important points within the messages. Communicators are up against many competing messages. It’s thrilling to be able to strategize how to make a particular message stand out and be memorable.
Share a situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
Like numerous communicators, our value is shown in so many ways and is reaffirmed when senior leaders approve a draft with few changes. That’s truly the “yes” moment! Personally, I’ve felt valued when I’ve served as a ghostwriter for firm partners. When I’ve been commended for hitting the desired tone and carrying the message concisely, my value is felt.
Think back on a time when you, as a communicator, collaborated with another department to bring a project to life. What made this process successful?
Thinking back to when I was behind a website refresh, the process was successful because all contributors were engaged in our plan and had an opportunity to share unique perspectives. The project was successful because we held a kickoff meeting to incorporate innovative and creative ideas and discuss what might work best early on. Effective cross-teaming brought the project to life.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it?
A former manager once told me to have a personal “board of directors.” Having a few special friends and business contacts that you can trust and go to when important issues or opportunities arise is beneficial in many ways. You may have a work dilemma, a new opportunity, an obstacle or a setback along your career journey. Knowing you can go to someone who has your best interests in mind is reassuring. Keep in mind, these connections can be from different industries or professions. The diversity in your network increases its value.
Share a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
I like following Ragan Communications and the Forbes Communications Council for insights on the future of the industry.
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IABC Staff, Featuring Karen Mericsko