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’d like to nominate yourself or a standout colleague to be featured in a spotlight, email the Catalyst editors at email@example.com for more information.
Meet IABC member Ben Borne, CMP, based in the IABC Saskatoon chapter. With nine years of experience in the field, Ben is the co-founder of SymmetryPR, the publisher/managing partner at Eagle Feather News and a sessional lecturer at First Nations University of Canada.
Here, Ben reflects on a time when he felt most valued as a communication professional, how he stays connected in the industry and why it’s necessary for other departments to partner with a communicator. Read more and connect with Ben on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
The most exciting aspect of being a communicator is seeing the intangible aspects of projects coming to life. I can deliver a project with measurables, but some of those intangible aspects — like new relationships being forged — are most meaningful to me. As a communicator, I believe I am a connector and relationship builder. When I see organizations and people coming together to work together on a project that benefits all, that gives me life. In some ways, it gives me hope for the future.
Tell us about situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a former employer on what I called an “Imagination Day.” They called me back because when I was employed with them, I facilitated a day-long strategic planning session that set the course for the year. They remembered this being a valuable session and brought me back to consult.
What made me feel valued was how they understood that as a communicator, I build relationships and connect people to each other and big ideas. If the communicator is truly at the heart of the organization, they should know the intricacies of the organizational culture and the relationships formed inside. I felt that in this situation, this team knew I had that ability, honored it and leveraged it for their and my success.
“If the communicator is truly at the heart of the organization, they should know the intricacies of the organizational culture and the relationships formed inside.”
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?
There are too many times now I’ve seen departments communicate internally or externally without a communicator, and their attempt falls flat. This could be for many reasons — the channel wasn’t right, the target public wasn’t right, the message wasn’t right. A communicator is there to methodically work through communications planning in coordination with other departments or groups. They are there for you to work through the channels, publics and message.
Earlier in my career, one project that was very successful was the implementation of a new work safety program. In this case, our communications team joined the project early where we set the course with a variety of communication planning tools. We were able to develop messaging, clearly define our publics which, in turn, helped formulate strategies and tactics that had high impact, and ultimately started to develop a work safety culture that hadn’t really existed before.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it?
I remember the very first mistake I made in my career. I was fresh out of university and high on my horse about my abilities. I made an interpersonal error that got me off on the wrong foot with an executive. I had an excellent director who reminded me to stay humble and always stay learning. This eventually led me to being connected to IABC, which turned me into a life-long learner as a communications professional. There is a lot to be learned about being a communications professional — both in working and in academia — and I don’t ever foresee myself stopping.
Tell us about a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
The best resource that has helped me stay connected to and informed about the industry is my network. Connecting with other communicators at IABC events and conferences has been critical to my growth. That being said, other great resources are often shared through LinkedIn groups. I spend a good amount of time reading articles shared by my connections on LinkedIn, and I think you should too!
IABC Staff, Featuring Ben Borne, CMP