The 2017 IABC World Conference is set for June 11 to June 14 at the Washington Hilton in D.C.  More than 1,000 business communication professionals are expected to gather for four days of networking, informative sessions and keynotes.

IABC provided Capitol Communicator with the following interview with IABC DC Metro chapter president Tom Sommers.  Sommers has more than 25 years of consulting experience with Fortune 500, startup, association, and advertising/PR agency clients whose initiatives relate to branding, repositioning, new-product development, sales and messaging. After two decades in corporate America, Sommers started his own business in 2009, Explorations and Insights, LLC, a custom marketing research and communication firm based in D.C. This January, he became the president of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) DC Metro chapter.

Tom, when did you first become involved with IABC?

I first started with IABC in 1995–1996 with the Yankee chapter in Boston and was there until 1999 before moving to Cincinnati. After volunteering for ad-hoc roles in Boston, I was VP of programming and later president of the Yankee chapter from 1998 to 1999. I engaged with IABC’s DC Metro chapter in 2012 and coordinated programming efforts. Then in 2014, I joined the board as VP of membership for two years, before becoming president-elect in 2016 and then president in January 2017.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time as president of the DC Metro chapter?

With the help of our enthusiastic board, make IABC DC Metro the preeminent international communication association in D.C.; increase our already growing chapter membership by 10 percent over 2016; reposition our program line-up to have a more international tone for 2017 and beyond; and leave a solid legacy for the next president.

What are the biggest challenges you see in your industry today around the National Capital Region?

Selling the idea that communicators must be consultants, not order-takers, who need to push back and collaborate on clients’ requests to deliver X message via Y channel. Messaging without strategic thought or intended outcomes is just a mess. Communicators can only add value and have a “seat at the table” when we demonstrate how pushback equals value and more successful communication results.

What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s IABC World Conference in D.C.?

We’re thrilled to show the world D.C.’s many facets that are unrelated to politics. It’s an exciting, international city with an ever-present array of cultures and opportunities to experience multiple colors and languages—even in the grocery store and on a subway train. The World Conference will be an exciting, energizing event for all to experience and to leave with lasting insights.

Why should someone working in business communication consider coming to one of your events and joining the organization?

Access. Our D.C. events and volunteering opportunities offer access to the international community and its decision-makers, and to a range of both corporate and independent practitioners in the private and government sectors. We’re the largest IABC chapter in the U.S. and we incorporate both the D.C. and Baltimore markets, encompassing more than 9 million people, including leaders of corporations and federal and state government.

 

For more information on the IABC DC Metro chapter, please visit www.iabcdcmetro.org. You can reach Tom Sommers at president@iabcdcmetro.org. For details on the IABC World Conference, including full conference registration or day-pass availability, visit wc.iabc.com.

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