How to Effectively Use Social Media During a Crisis

Thursday October 23, 2014
11:30 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
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Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel St. Louis
7730 Bonhomme Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63144

We’ve all seen brands and organizations go up in flames online – whether the fault of an errant tweet, a product recall or a single bad customer experience. With the emergence of new communications channels, how do you manage a negative situation that’s unfolding live in the digital space?

Lauren Melcher and Laura Garner from Weber Shandwick will share insights and case studies on how companies can best prepare for managing a reputation crisis. They will showcase key insights from training clients for crisis situations as they unfold on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media channels.

The speakers will share:

  • How organizations of any size or industry can use social media to develop a speedy, effective response to a crisis
  • Key mistakes to avoid when responding to issues online
  • Crisis and issues management changes over the last five years

Register Now!*

Meeting fees:
$30 – Members
$40 – Non-members
$20 – Volunteers

*No-shows will be billed their registration fee to reflect the per-person meeting cost unless contacting IABC St. Louis to cancel prior to 48 hours before the event.

About the speakers:

Lauren Melcher
Senior Digital Manager
Weber Shandwick

Lauren Melcher is a digital strategist and social crisis preparedness lead for Weber Shandwick. She is the global product manager for Firebell, the agency’s proprietary multimedia crisis simulator, and has produced more than 30 crisis readiness simulations for dozens of international companies in the food, cosmetics, travel, insurance, government, healthcare and banking industries. Melcher is also a lead global resource for drafting issues/crisis response plans, specializing in the integration of digital media best practices with overall strategy and processes.

Melcher spent two years as managing editor of an online magazine startup funded by a Minneapolis nonprofit, and is an active member of the Twin Cities tech startup community. She has written for TECHdotMN, a local startup media outlet, and was the first female anchor for TECHdotMN TV.

She serves on the board of the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association and speaks nationally about digital strategy, corporate communications team organization and issues/crisis readiness.

Laura Garner
Vice President, Corporate Communications Practice
Weber Shandwick

Laura Garner is vice president, corporate communications at Weber Shandwick’s office in St. Louis, where she works with Anheuser-Busch on corporate communications, including corporate social responsibility and corporate storytelling that highlights the company’s longstanding commitment to its local communities.

Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Garner:

  • Oversaw marketing and communications for Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Served as director of corporate communications at Anheuser-Busch
  • Worked at FleishmanHillard, where her clients included AT&T and Visa.

Member Spotlight: Alice Telios-Dunlap

aliceEmployer: BJC HealthCare

Title: Communications Specialist

Years in the profession: 2 years

Favorite quote:

Your time is precious, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”– Steve Jobs

How have you benefited from being an IABC St. Louis member?

Meeting communications professionals from across the St. Louis area has been an amazing networking opportunity for me, especially as a younger member of our industry. IABC has also given me the chance to volunteer for different programs and events. This will be a great addition to my resume, and I have fun doing it.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in communication?

One piece of advice I always give to others interested in a communications profession , especially students I have worked with, is learn what you are good at, whether it is writing, research, event planning, etc., and learn even more skills that will make you a well-rounded asset to your work team. You are never going to know when having certain knowledge, like how to edit photos or direct a video production team, is going to come in handy. Having a full tool belt will make you stand out and can bring value to any team.

What do you like most about your job?
I thrive on being connected to a mission that serves the St. Louis community. My daily routines may not include providing direct care to patients and families, but I try to stay connected to how my organization influences people every day. This helps motivate me, and I believe it positively influences my ability to communicate to my organization’s diverse employee population.

One of my mentors once told me that our work “brings the party.” I feel like you have to be excited about your role in serving your overall mission so that others see you live what you help preach. Hopefully they can catch your enthusiasm too!

When not working, you could find me…

in the kitchen testing out a new concoction with my husband or enjoying the city while walking my doxie-pin, Artemis.

Mission to Mars: Siemans’ Out-of-this-World Communications Campaign

Mission to Mars: Siemans’ Out-of-this-World Communications Campaign

Thursday September 25, 2014 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
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Jim Phelan, Director of Global PR for Siemens’ largest software business, will outline the various elements and challenges associated with managing an award-winning global communications campaign. Jim led a team of communicators in more than 30 countries on five continents to execute a multi-faceted communications program that showcased how Siemens technology helped NASA land the Mars Rover Curiosity on the Red Planet in 2012.Integrating advertising, Web-based external/internal communications, media relations and other elements, the Siemens team worked closely with NASA on the Mars Rover campaign, which earned an IABC Gold Quill Award of Excellence in 2013.Join us on Sept. 25 to learn more about:

  • Communicating successfully to a global audience
  • Launching successful multi-channel communication campaigns
  • Leading international teams
Jim has extensive communications experience, including media relations, internal communications and websites. His background includes positions at EDS Unigraphics, IBM and Boeing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia.Where:
BJC Learning Institute
8300 Eager Road
Second Floor
Brentwood, MO 63144 Meeting fees:
$20 – Members
$40 – Non-members
$20 – Volunteers

Register Now!


High on Communications

COPLet me preface this post by saying I am not aware of any illegal substances being used or shared at the world conference (nor is that the reason for the picture of me with the police officer – more on that later). But the IABC World Conference caused quite a high by providing a rush of synergy and a wealth of information which sparked more ideas than I could ever accomplish before the IABC Conference next year.

While I would love to share my twelve pages of notes with you, I will try to provide you with some of the ideas and presentation highlights.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers: Sure it sounds simple, but it’s not. After hearing a presentation about how only 33% of the US work force is truly engaged at work at any given time, it’s no wonder how we (communicators) are struggling with brand management overall. A positive experience for a customer does more for your brand than any other form of marketing. Likewise a negative experience can damage your brand beyond repair. Internal communications and employee engagement is the front line – all other brand communications is support. Extra training and creating a brand culture will help your employees believe in your brand, and it will show when they engage your customers.

Be Conversational and Clear: Guess what? Customers hate jargon as much as we do! In fact, research has shown that the more jargon and complex terms used the less trust the customers have in you. Customers wonder “why don’t they just explain it to me so I can understand it? What are they hiding?” Customers want to be talked with, to have a conversation, not to be lectured or bombarded. If they don’t understand what you are saying, you are wasting money and time. They won’t feel comfortable asking questions or trying to learn more. They will assume that the material (or product) is relevant to them. Always remember, while certain language and terms may be part of your daily vocabulary, to your customers they are foreign. You need to explain the topic in everyday language and do so in small digestible chunks.

Looks Do Matter: Thanks to the digital age and the iphone, we are becoming more and more visual than ever before. So just as important as what we say, is the way we present it. Photos should be clearly tied in with your content, headline, or theme. If you have to explain why the picture is being used, don’t use it. Concentrate on a single thought or theme that ties the pictures to your content, because you might only have your customer’s attention for a short time. While images are increasingly important, so is the volume of images used and the quality of what you use. You’ve heard it said that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” well maybe today we might say “the right picture or design might get your customer to read a thousand or more words.”

I Like Big “But’s”: I attended a very good session that highlighted different case studies on successful communications strategies. The one item that most of these case studies had in common were big “but’s.” When you are told you can’t do something say, “but… what can we do?” Never look at a “no” as a dead end – review your options, find what can be done, and go from there.

And those are just a few of the highlights! While the conference is a little pricy, I would highly recommend it for professional development. Plus, after the conference, you have access to most of the presentations and contact information to follow up with presenters and to provide an additional communications fix long after the conference high has ended.

I also attended the business meeting for IABC International, representing the IABC St. Louis Chapter. Many changes are taking place at the international level, including the development of a certification program, a new website, and e-book resources. Be sure to watch for news and information on these topics!

So, I’d like to take a minute to thank Concordia Plan Services (my employer) for sending me to the conference, and IABC St. Louis Chapter for sponsoring me to attend additional professional development sessions. There were many great vendors at the convention, and I’ve included a picture of my favorite give away from Igloo.

As promised – an explanation of the picture with the Toronto police officer. They were filming the new Adam Sandler movie near the hotel where the convention was held, and several streets were transformed to resemble New York City. On our way back from the dinner one night, roads had been blocked off for filming, and this friendly officer helped direct me back to the hotel. He also recommended a place to get a good cup of coffee (the topic of illegal substances never came up).

IABC1Christina Knott

IABC St. Louis Chapter Secretary

Communications Specialist – Retirement/Disability, Concordia Plan Services


Interested in joining IABC? Find out about all the benefits and resources our fantastic chapter offers, volunteer on one of our fabulous committees and/or join today!

Member Spotlight: Mandy Manley

Mandy_ManlyOur July Member of the Month is Mandy Manley.

Employer: Reliv International

Title: Marketing Communications Specialist

Years in the profession: 10 years

Favorite quote: You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What made you choose a career in communications? Inquisitive by nature, I have always loved to ask questions and hear the stories of others. There are so many wonderful stories that have yet to be told! From the day I started on my middle school newspaper, I knew I wanted to write and share stories.

How have you benefited from being an IABC St. Louis member?
I’m not from St. Louis and this can be a tough town for outsiders. Through IABC, I’ve met some really great folks and carved out a little niche for myself in this town. I look forward to the monthly meetings because I love to meet new people and enjoy walking away with new contacts. You never know when you’ll be able to help someone in the future!

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in communication?
Hone your craft by learning to be a fantastic listener (with your two ears and one mouth). Be curious and ask questions. Don’t assume you know the reasons for something even if it seems obvious. Seek out people who have made careers in communications and ask them to share their mistakes and triumphs, and then learn from both. Carry a journal and jot down these lessons and ideas everywhere you go.

What do you like most about your job?
I’m a highly creative person and creativity and fresh ideas are highly encouraged at Reliv. Thinking big and trying new things are not only allowed, but also encouraged! Working with a group of people who are also imaginative and full of great ideas keeps me energized!

When not working, you could find me:

Cycling in Madison County IL, Grants Trail or Katy Trail. My husband and I love to pedal around this beautiful city and enjoy all the wonderful food, festivals and scenery.

Does Social Media Really Work? 5 Take-Aways from our June Luncheon

IABC St. Louis’ June luncheon drew professionals from a wide variety of industries and experience levels. One thing everyone had in common was the desire to understand whether Social Media really can make a difference. We’ve been inundated with articles lately proclaiming that social is broken. With titles like “There is no ROI” and “One in five companies say they’re losing money in social,” it’s no wonder people are starting to question its true merit.

But as our guest speaker, Brian Cross, explained, it’s understandable. Brian is managing partner and co-founder of Elasticity, a digital communications firm here in St. Louis. He’s also Executive Director and co-founder of Rally St. Louis. It goes without saying that we were all tuned in for what he had to say about social media.

The truth is there are issues with social: The Community Manager role has changed, there have been reach and engagement issues, ROI is hard to define, and it’s difficult to tie social directly to sales, among other things.  Brian had a great deal of info to share with us in just an hour’s time, so here are the top 5 take aways from our June luncheon:

1. The sales funnel is no longer linear, because the purchase process is no longer a linear one! Rather than an upside down triangle (awareness – familiarity – consideration – purchase – loyalty), social media has changed the look of the funnel. The new sales funnel is filled with twists and turns. The two most important pieces being purchase consideration (word of mouth, peer comments/recommendations and online social behavior) and post-purchase experience (complaint or delight, giving feedback and advocating for a brand or product to those in the consideration phase).

2. The “True” value of a social media community is underestimated. 

If you were to measure these things:

  • Number of customers
  • Number of customers that can be converted
  • Number that can be moved to higher tiers (additional products, more expensive products, higher tiers of service)
  • Length of relationship
  • Typical sale total

You would learn the true LTV, or Lifetime Value.

3. It’s time to challenge the old adage “It’s cheaper to keep current customers than get new ones.” Given a finite budget, most people would split the pie approximately like this:

  • Acquisition     20%
  • Retention       50%
  • Development 30%

But… research shows that Retention numbers are set – there is very little room to move the needle. And while           Development does move the needle, it’s only at small increments. Development efforts are actually more expensive. So Acquisition is the best chance to move the needle. It doesn’t matter what costs more! Would you ask for the cheapest lawyer? The cheapest employees? No. You want the best… The Best VALUE. And that’s Acquisition.

4. Those who think Social doesn’t work are measuring the wrong stuff.  That’s right. Go ahead, read it again… They’re measuring the wrong stuff. What we need to measure is:

  • CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) of social customers
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score) of social customers.  Your NPS = % promoters – % of detractors. The average social media follower has a HIGHER NPS than your average customer. So stop trying to convert the non-believers (ugly ducklings). Just buy more swans!
  • Development opportunities of existing audience
  • Share of SERP (search engine results page) for unbranded buying search strings

5. Utilize the toolsets available:

  • Engagement
  • Reach
  • Sentiment

*And Remember… we’re ultimately measuring the VALUE of the community!

A big Thank You to Brian Cross at Elasticity for these top five – and an entire hour filled with relevant, insightful information. You can follow Brian on Twitter @vanceopel and @goelastic.

Don’t miss another IABC St. Louis luncheon or event! Follow us on Twitter @IABCstl and check our website often for the latest, greatest industry news and events!



Member Spotlight: Gwen Lanzer

Gwen LanzerGwen Lanzer is an internal communications consultant for SunEdison, Inc., a global leader in solar technology and energy distribution. In addition to her current role, Gwen’s career spans work in news media, public relations, corporate communications, and association management. She presently serves on the IABC St. Louis Chapter Board of Directors as VP of Membership. Gwen also is affiliated with the Washington University Skandalarius Center for Entrepreneurial Studies where she mentors student teams developing strategic marketing programs.


What made you choose a career in communications?

In high school, I wanted to be a journalist. I was smitten by the excitement and frenzy of breaking news coverage, of meeting new people, and staying abreast of local, national, and international affairs. I’m a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and still love of the mix of hard news reporting and feature writing. In short, I’m a news junky. I worked for a time as a newspaper reporter, where I found that feature writing is my forte. I later transitioned my communication talents into business and corporate marketing.

The most significant experience that shaped your career?

I’m a very resilient person today, which I attribute to rejection early on in my career. The job market was abysmal when I graduated with my B.J. degree. It took me three months to find a job and less than two months to lose it. Management said I had no writing talent – something I could not, and would not, accept. I made it my mission to study compelling and varied writing styles, and to take on diverse assignments where I could continually learn something new. Today, I have a vast range of writing and creative abilities, which have opened numerous doors. I’m a master storyteller who can craft and produce virtually anything – from documentaries to executive speeches to comprehensive corporate marketing plans.

How have you benefited from being an IABC St. Louis member?

Three things – camaraderie, contacts, and communication resources. I’ve found that IABC members are genuine; they share your interests and confront similar professional issues. By volunteering, you can build life-long relationships – contacts that can truly help advance your career. Last year through IABC networking, I helped land my son his first professional job. The inside information and knowledge you gain is indispensable. Plus, the international resources are simply outstanding. IABC’s global network lets you connect with a vast array of experts on virtually any communication issue.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in communication?

Follow your passion, but be open to taking a different path if presented the opportunity. Do everything you can to secure an internship with a reputable company. It’s the only way to learn whether your chosen field is a good fit. And, find a mentor. The insight, knowledge, and connections you’ll gain will help lay the foundation for future success.

A Letter From IABC St. Louis President, Shelley Lester

IABC President Shelley LesterHello IABC!

I cannot believe it’s already June!  I look back to the start of my year as IABC President and am amazed how quickly time has flown. This year’s board has done an absolutely fantastic job creating meaningful opportunities for our members and communications professionals in our region. Your time is valuable so we want to make sure the time you spend with IABC outside of your offices is helpful. It’s hard to find the kind of professional development and networking with seasoned professionals all in one place that our chapter has created. Some of the highlights from the past year have been:

  • A rocking Jail House Rock Quill Awards Ceremony recognizing some of the greatest communications work in St. Louis
  • A full-day seminar filled with engaging dialogue and many great takeaways to incorporate in day-to-day corporate communications
  • Learning from experts in their respective fields from companies including Mallinckrodt, Washington University, Weber Shandwick, Monsanto, Arch Coal Inc., The Doe Run Company, Lindenwood University, The Survey Institute, Mercy, St. Louis Area Foodbank, Standing Partnership, Obata Design, Webster University, Missouri Botanical Garden, Buck Consultants, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the author of “The Social Media Strategist.”

Wow, that’s some serious brainpower from which we’ve had a chance to benefit! And not only have I taken away concrete lessons learned from each presentation, I’ve had an opportunity to get to know more about many of your organizations and your work. It’s the connections that I’ve made that have made this year so meaningful to me.

As the board gears up for another year of engaging events, we welcome your feedback on topics you’d like to see.  If you have a topic and/or presenter you feel would be a great addition to our calendar, the Professional Development committee wants to hear from you!

If you’ve been thinking about becoming or rejoining as a member or, if you’ve been craving other membership resources (webinars, special interest groups, learning materials, mentoring), please share those with us as well. It’s the perfect time to start connecting with other communicators and accessing an international network of 13,000+ IABC members and a wealth of articles and research.

I will soon be turning over the reigns but I hope to see each of you at future events that promise to be as rewarding as those in years past. If you haven’t already done so, please consider registering and attending our June event: Does Social Media Work Anymore? Register today!


Does Social Media Work Anymore?

final Facebook-June-event

Social Media was the darling starlet of the marketing world, but as time and technology move on, people have begun to wonder if the luster has worn off.  CMOs have questioned its role in the marketing mix, ROI calculations still prove to be elusive, audiences continue to shift and the direct connection to incremental sales is just not there in many cases.

Which leads us to ponder…has Social Media lost its way?

Brian Cross from Elasticity and Rally Saint Louis will discuss new ways of looking at Social Media as part of the communications landscape and reset expectations of the medium as a valuable communications tool.  He will also go over new ways of collecting and analyzing data to help provide quantitative results to know that the time and energy put into Social Media are paying off.


Thursday June 26, 2014
11:30 AM - 1:15 PM

Meeting fees:
$30 – Members

$40 – Non-members
$20 – Students

** No-shows will be billed their registration fee to reflect the per-person meeting costs.

Maggiano’s Little Italy#2 The Boulevard Saint Louis

Richmond Heights, MO 63117-1122

11:30 a.m. – Registration and Networking

12-1:30 p.m. – Program

About the Presenter

Brian CrossBrian Cross: Brian is the Co-Founder, Managing Partner and Director of Rocket Science at Elasticity, a modern communications company based in Saint Louis.  Brian is also the co-founder of Rally Saint Louis—a non-profit focused on citizen-led crowdfunding and social sourcing of ideas for a better region.

Prior to his role at Elasticity, Brian was Senior Vice President and Global Practice Group Leader of Fleishman-Hillard’s digital communications practice.  Brian has more than 18 years of experience leading online marketing and outreach strategy, mobile programs and Social Media campaigns for Fortune 500, government, NGO, and NFP organizations.  Projects ranged from being on the team to launch the first iPhone for AT&T to launching the first text messaging campaign on a mobile platform for the United States Department of the Treasury.

He is frequently called upon by the media or conference planners to speak on emerging communications topics, crowdfunding and entrepreneurial development as he is actively engaged in startup factors including market feasibility testing, capital sourcing, vetting of business models as well as creative development of business ideas to help jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in St. Louis.

Mr. Cross holds board positions with EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) and is on the board of trustees for Marketing EDGE–the only national nonprofit of its kind solely committed to acquaint professors and college students with – and to engage and involve them in – the thriving business of marketing.

Member Spotlight: Mackenzie McNamara

MM Employer: BJC HealthCare

 Title: Coordinator for BJC School Outreach and Youth Development

 Years in the profession: 2

 Favorite quote: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten” – Anthony      Robbins

 What I (want to) get out of IABC: Although I have only worked in the professional world for about two years, I have learned so much by simply networking and listening to others. I have met some very influential people over the past couple of years and have gained valuable knowledge that I may not have ever received if I didn’t put myself out there and ask questions. Through IABC, I am hoping to network and learn from others, and also to develop professional skills in order to become more valuable for my department and for my organization.

What do you like most about your job? I love working for School Outreach and Youth Development because we teach K-12 youth how to live healthy lifestyles and how to prevent high-risk behaviors by educating them at a young age. We have come up with fun, interactive ways to educate students about their health, so they are learning, while also having fun. The testimonies that we receive from the students prove that our department really makes a difference in their lives.

What does life’s next chapter hold for you? My fiancé and I got engaged in March, so the next step is a wedding! We are looking into a destination wedding, which means a vacation with family and friends, too! I will also be starting the MBA program through Webster University in June, so I am looking forward to being challenged professionally and also learning more about the business world, more specifically marketing, which will build upon and also enhance the knowledge gained in undergrad (Healthcare Management with an emphasis in Communication).

When not working, you could find me: At the gym — my fiancé and I are into fitness and healthy lifestyles. At school, I will always strive to be a life-long learner. At church and with family and friends, it’s very important to make time for loved ones.

Significant professional lesson learned: Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t necessarily want to do in order to get where you want to be. My first full-time job out of college was a Phlebotomist. I had never had experience working with patients before and never dealt with bodily specimens, but I took the job in order to get my foot in the door with BJC HealthCare. I learned a great deal about health care, I met some amazing people and also became really good at drawing blood! I eventually applied internally through our organization to find the job I have now, which I am very happy with for the time being.