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 Paula Batho, based in the New South Wales (NSW) chapter. Paula is a senior communications specialist for Primary Connect (part of the Woolworths Group). Here, she discusses two cross-collaborative project experiences where she played a key role. Plus, she shares the inspiring advice she learned from her current manager.
Get to know Paula, and connect with her on LinkedIn.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
The most exciting part of my role is coming up with interesting and creative ways to communicate and engage our teams. Seeing those plans brought to life across the business and country is something I'll never get bored of. From an initial idea on paper and weeks, months or even years of planning, to seeing team members actively sharing posts, pictures or using language we've helped to embed … that's exciting!
Tell us about a situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
The first few months in a new role or organization provides a unique opportunity to see things as an "outsider.” During the first few weeks into a new role, I noticed the internal communications team had no tools to measure what they were doing. Working with the team, we came up with a simple, temporary solution (hello, business case for an electronic direct mail project!) that enabled us to track, measure and report what we were communicating. This included when, how, to whom and how many people were engaging with the content. The feeling of value came to fruition a few months later when a key stakeholder asked, "What's the best time and day to share comms in our business?" And just like that, we could provide advice based on real data — not just what we thought.
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?
I recently played a key role in developing and implementing a new intranet. Anyone who's been involved in an intranet project understands how challenging yet rewarding this work is.
For this particular project, we had many stakeholders who needed to collaborate with us, including external partners, internal IT, risk professionals, and over 20 content owners from every area of the business. It took perseverance, determination and teamwork to get it over the line (and launched during a pandemic, of course). I think the key to its success was listening to our employees. Every decision we made was based on what our employees told us they needed and the impact on our end user. Sometimes this meant doing things the long way, like copying and pasting thousands of pages of content into the new system and manually fixing broken links; however, seeing the impact and high adoption rates by our frontline team members who relied on the intranet to support our customers made it worthwhile.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it?
I've had lots of great advice over my career, but I'd like to share a recent example from my manager Will Summers, acting head of communication and brand at Primary Connect. He said we need to be brave, let go of perfection and just go for it!
Sometimes we waste time thinking of things we'd like to try but never implement because the scope is so big. Instead, we should use employee feedback to solve a problem, deliver a minimally viable solution and spend time tweaking based on user feedback. This is great advice that's already resulted in trialing and implementing new ideas and solutions quickly.
Tell us about a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
Besides the fantastic resources and connections IABC has given me, my go-to include Gartner, Engage for Success, Poppulo and Qualtrics. These are fantastic for research papers, industry insights, webinars, events, resources and podcasts. Love them all!
Interested in joining the IABC community to collaborate with professionals like Paula? Become a member of our global network today.
IABC Staff, Featuring Paula Batho