Laura Perdew
Laura Perdew, IOM
President, IABC Orange County
VP, Marketing & Communications
Greater Irvine Chamber

The relief and excitement are tangible as we recover from the social impact the pandemic imposed upon us and we resume gathering with each other. We can, at last, have the opportunity to see each other in person!

As daunting as it was, one silver lining has come out of our collective experience over the past 15 months. We’ve discovered the benefits of digital programming. The connections we’ve kept intact and those we’ve established anew through virtual platforms have kept us grounded, inspired us, enlightened us, and helped us to continue growing in our profession. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people that I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to meet. I’m sure you have, too. It was good to have this digital lifeline.

Over the past year, IABC Orange County and the other four California chapters collaborated on webinars and digital networking events, delivering relevant learning opportunities and bringing together diverse communications professionals. It’s been inspirational to collaborate and learn from such a deep network of experts that are a part of IABC, from those located right here in Orange County to as far away as Australia. The California chapters, collectively and individually, will continue to offer outstanding digital programming.

For now, we can turn our attention to nurturing our local communications community. I invite you to join us for our in-person events whenever you are able. To that end, the IABC Orange County Board of Directors is pleased to our chapter’s first in-person social event of 2021 to take place at the Center Club on Aug. 31 at 5:30 p.m. Details for our long-awaited networking mixer are available on our event page. We are looking forward to seeing you in person again.

Connect with me or any IABC Orange County Board member to learn how to strengthen your presence in our impressive and diverse communications community.

We have a bright future, together.


President, IABC Orange County
VP, Marketing & Communications, Greater Irvine Chamber
Sarah Willis
Sarah Willis
VP, Finance,
IABC Orange County

As communicators, most of us are drawn to words over numbers. But how do you know if your words are making a difference? You’ll have to look at the numbers. The well-known phrase, you can only manage what you measure may seem cliché, but it is a valid assertion. Sound strategy requires objective measurement and analytics. Data will tell you where you need to focus, improve, and adjust.

There is power in analytics. When you can prove something works, your influence is more compelling, and requests for additional budget and support for initiatives are more likely. You can demonstrate how communications goes beyond creating pretty flyers, product sheets, and well-written content to a department that generates engagement and revenue, contributing to your organization’s bottom line. Stories data tell have the power to transform the perception of your role as a communicator in your organization from merely a creative tactician to a strategic leader.

In addition to the key performance indicators (KPI) I’ve established and track for individual campaign performance, I track more than 50 KPIs to evaluate my department’s impact on the company where I work. Examples include leads generated, web forms completed, time on site, number of site pages, number of quotes generated, quote dollar value in aggregate, average quote value, press release views and clicks, social media followers, views, shares, pay per clicks, and the list goes on.

Tracking numerous KPIs may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to start with 50. You can start by identifying 3-5 key performance metrics your company cares about. How do you or your department support those objectives? Identify that and determine how to measure it. Once you have data, report it publicly—tell others in the company about what you’re doing and the impact your activity has on the business. I only report on five KPIs to my company’s executive leadership. Those 5 KPI’s are the things they care about – when they want more detail I can supply it

You don’t need fancy or costly reporting tools, applications, or software to get started. Create a spreadsheet, Word document, or something simple that works for you, and track information, month over month. Are things improving or getting worse? Analyze and make changes for improvement. If you wait to find the perfect reporting tools, you’ll lose valuable time for making impactful adjustments. The important thing is to get started –  Once you start tracking, you’ll better understand the ideal tool for your needs.

The next step is to determine how to improve performance, create plans around that, and execute your strategy.

In review: measure, analyze, report, adjust, repeat.

Sarah Willis
VP, Finance, IABC Orange County
VP Marketing & Customer Experience, NTS-National Technical Systems

Elaine Marshall
Elaine Marshall
VP, IndyComm

Many carefully crafted communication strategies were upended or at least severely tested over the past year as communicators tried to get ahead of mounting disruptions, continuing to deliver key messaging on behalf of their clients and decision-makers. Organizations that began with a strong communications plan in place prior to the tumultuous year were better positioned to respond and pivot accordingly. Many that didn’t have a concrete path forward found themselves making missteps as they let the shifting landscaping carry them adrift. One only needs to look to the news and social media for examples.

As an independent contractor, I look to a client’s strategic communications plan for direction on how to stay on course with messaging to best help my clients achieve their goals, even as circumstances evolve. Whether or not the plan holds up to various challenges is one thing; not having one to begin with leaves organizations vulnerable and leaders scrambling to find their way during a time when they should be out in front furthering their mission.
Whether I’m tasked with creating a strategic communications plan for a client or following it, understanding their mission is the first step. Understanding their stakeholders, organizational culture, and their place in their industry and community provide equally critical information to help shape the execution of communications.
For communicators, thinking strategically has never been more critical. A clear roadmap ensures our clients and leaders are achieving their organizational goals. Within that framework, communicators have the foundation to be agile to respond to disruptions and new opportunities.
Join us to learn more about creating a sound communication strategy at the second installment of the Pro Management Series on Feb. 18. Communication Strategy: Up Your Game is ideal for those interested in becoming certified through IABC or looking to gain insights into strategic planning.
Elaine Marshall
VP, IndyComm, IABC Orange County
Chief Strategist, Empowered Public Relations
Laura Perdew
Laura Perdew, IOM
President, IABC Orange County

Over the past year and into 2021, we have had our work cut out for us. As communications professionals, we’ve provided counsel to C-suite executives and have been on the frontlines of strategic messaging. Our pictures and words have informed, comforted, and undoubtedly caused anxiety and provided hope as we told the stories of health and economic crises, racial strife, political upheaval, and what our clients are doing to support the greater good. With the tenets of accuracy and forthrightness, we are purveyors of credibility, trustworthiness, influence, and engagement on behalf of the organizations we serve.

The stakes for getting the tone just right and doing the right thing may have never been higher. This is the time to be on one’s A-game. Five California IABC chapters have collaborated to offer workshops to help you do just that. Our four-part 2021 Communication Management Pro series kicks off Jan. 21 with a timely topic, Ethical and Unethical Crisis Management.
The series is designed to help you hone your skills and prepare mid- to senior-level communications professionals for certification offered through IABC’s global initiative. The series focuses on areas covered in certification exams.

Why consider certification? Becoming CMP® or SCMP® certified will distinguish you as the expert professional you are. And you may be closer to qualifying than you think. Through participation in IABC chapter meetings, conferences, workshops, and completion of Learning Center modules, and classes offered by academic institutions and commercial entities, you may already have earned experience hours eligible for examination requirements.

I hope you’ll join IABC Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley chapters for this series, as well as the certification exam in Irvine on May 1.

For more information on the Communication Management Pro and certification, see details below and visit

Stay well.

Laura Perdew
President, IABC Orange County
Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Greater Irvine Chamber

Writer’s block… stuck and frustrated. As writers, we’ve all been there.

You sit down to write only to be greeted by a blank, white screen that’s metaphorically mocking you. You’ve had a story swirling around in your head for the past month or year, and you just want to translate it through your fingers onto the page so you can share it with the world. But you’re stuck! You’re stuck in the minutia; you’re filled with angst and your feeling frustrated because the words just won’t come.

Writer’s block is an affliction that can happen at any point in your writing process; either when you’re in your flow, churning out content, or when you’ve taken a necessary break from your writing without any intention of returning. The STUCK is an evil place. Your brain feels overwhelmed, your body feels tired, and you just want to push the whole project aside erasing it from your brain. It feels crippling.

Don’t get discouraged. Writer’s block is a rite of passage. It happens to every writer, seasoned or aspiring. And, while it’s maddening, utilizing some tools can help you overcome the overwhelm to find your way back to writing confidently.

  1. Step Away – Take a walk or read something unrelated to your project. Give yourself space to gain a new perspective, to explore something creative and thoughtful, and to think about something other than writing.
  1. Limit Time – Limit the time you write. Give yourself 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing time without distractions. Allow yourself to write uninhibited, detaching from the results to write freely.
  1. Mix it Up – Use a pen and paper to write. Studies show that writing with a pen to paper slows down your thinking, activating a different part of your brain to focus more intently and to brainstorm spontaneously.

Staying stuck in your writing only leads to more stuck and more frustration. Know that you are a writer! Give yourself permission to write bravely and fearlessly, without self-judgment or criticism, allowing the words to flow easily through your fingers.

By Rhonda Salvestrini

Rhonda Salvestrini
Rhonda Salvestrini
Writing Coach

About Rhonda Salestrini:
As a communications expert and writing coach, Rhonda Salvestrini is on a mission to help writers overcome the overwhelm that writing creates, find confidence in their voice as an authority, be inspired to write bravely and fearlessly, and connect with their audience through authenticity. With 25 years’ experience as a professional writer, she’s helped aspiring writers publish their story, longtime authors complete their memoir, entrepreneurs reach new clients, and TEDx speakers bring the audience to its feet. Through one-on-one coaching, she guides writers through the stuck, frustration, and self-doubt, transforming their messy and disorganized content into beautifully written stories that resonate with audiences.


Cara RaffeleA good percentage of industry articles, webinars, and professional development programs for communicators that I receive through promotions are directly or indirectly centered on leadership. And for good reason. Leadership is everything. Well, okay, as we were critically reminded this year, our health is everything, along with family and some other important things. But leadership is a biggie in our work lives.

Leadership is tied to growth and success. It’s connected to integrity and work ethic. It drives the trajectory of our careers, the work we do, the teams we supervise, and those we mentor. In other words, leadership is ownership. Ownership of our future.

To be a good leader takes effort and a fair amount of self-awareness. And it’s a moving target. Good leaders never stop looking for ways to be better leaders. Through IABC, I’ve been fortunate to develop a network of talented colleagues who are leaders in the companies they own or serve. I’ve been able to expand my leadership skills by collaborating with them, whether through professional development opportunities or serving with them in leadership roles, such as on the IABC Orange County Board of Directors.

As we face challenges and empathize with others as they experience disruption due to the Coronavirus crisis, opportunities to strengthen our network and expand our knowledge and skills have taken on a particular urgency and importance. Being resilient is a group effort.

I invite you to join colleagues and develop your leadership skills by becoming involved in IABC OC. Whether you want to give back to your industry, lead side-by-side with industry peers, grow skills in a safe space, or add to your skills resume, serving on an IABC OC committee or Board may turn out to be a career-changing action.

Below is the 2021 Board of Directors slate. Please let any board member now if you are interested in participating in any of the areas listed below or would like to be considered for one of the open positions.

Thank you!

Cara Raffele

President, IABC Orange County


2021 IABC Orange County Board of Directors Slate:

President: Laura Perdew

President-Elect: OPEN POSITION

Senior Delegate: Cara Raffele

Vice President, Administration: Lisa Thomas

Vice President, Professional Development: Bridget Soden Mills

Vice President, Communications: Laura Perdew

Vice President, Finance: Sarah Willis

Vice President, Membership: Kim Evans

Vice President, IndyComm: Elaine Marshall

Director, Professional Development: OPEN POSITION

Director, Sponsorship: OPEN POSITION

Director, Social Media: OPEN POSITION



Sia Papageorgiou FRSA, SCMP

See our events page for a schedule of the preparatory 2021 Communication Management Pro Workshop Series.

Each September, IABC celebrates the spirit of volunteerism with programming on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). To make an impact on our community as so many nonprofits are facing challenges, IABC/OC partnered with OneOC, which connects nonprofits with companies and organizations just like ours.

Among the many amazing programs OneOC manages is the Community Cup Charity Challenge, presented virtually on Sept. 21. Through the challenge, members of the IABC/OC Board were among 39 organizations that provided pro bono marketing and communications guidance to help 37 local nonprofits. IABC/OC supported Arts & Learning Conservatory, Thomas House Family Shelter, and Southern California Hospice Foundation. It’s IABC/OC’s privilege to partner with each of these groups that are addressing critical needs in our community.

“I can’t thank you and your team enough for your incredible support and it was so wonderful meeting with you today! Thank you again for your amazing support,” Michelle Wulfestieg, executive director, Southern California Hospice Foundation.

This will be a rapid-response strategic initiative is aimed at helping participating Orange County nonprofit organizations advance their fundraising initiatives and increase their visibility.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today and provide such a detailed list of ideas for Arts & Learning to move forward! I look forward to sharing this information with my organization,” Morgan Holcomb, social media and communications specialist, Arts & Learning Conservatory.

The IABC/OC volunteer team for the Community Cup Charity Challenge, led by Lisa Thomas, vice president of administration, and Kim Evans, vice president of membership, also included Elaine Marshall, president of IndyComm, Laura Perdew, president-elect, and Cara Raffele, president. With more than 60 hours of professional consulting time, the team provided services valued at roughly $10,000. Overall, the Community Cup Charity Challenge provided nearly $400,000 in products and services to the local nonprofits.

“Thank you so much for volunteering your services and time. We look forward to this partnership,” Ria Martinson, development manager, Thomas House Family Shelter.

If you are interested in participating in IABC Orange County activities, such as participation in the Community Cup Charity Challenge, contact Kim Evans.

Lisa Thomas
Lisa Thomas
VP, Administration

Each September, IABC celebrates the spirit of volunteerism with a program about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This year, when so many businesses are facing challenges, IABC/OC is partnering with OneOC, an organization that connects companies and nonprofits together to make a greater impact on our community.

Among the many amazing programs they manage is the Community Cup Charity Challenge, which will be done virtually this year. One area of need that IABC has been asked to participate in is providing marketing and communications expertise to help nonprofits navigate through the current climate.
I am excited to announce that we will be providing a team of marketing experts to consult with some wonderful organizations. This is a rapid response strategic initiative to guide them on their way.
Given IABC’s commitment to CSR, I can’t think of a better group than ours to step up and help our community. This is a need that will continue beyond this competition. If you would like to be paired with a nonprofit as an ongoing service, please let us know. We’ll be happy to connect you with OneOC.
Thank you!
VP of Administration, IABC Orange County
Laura Perdew
Laura Perdew, VP-Communications; President-Elect

Dear fellow communicators, I hope that you, your loved ones, and colleagues are all healthy and safe.

As the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the rhythm and productivity of business and daily life, we’re experiencing not just the effects of this global health and economic crisis but also a crisis in confidence. The amount and discordance of information can, at times, be unsettling. Even as we begin to reopen the economy, uncertainty creeps in. What will reemergence look like? Will there be dire consequences for missteps? Will the organization I represent survive? How can I best help to keep my community safe? As communicators, it is our responsibility to provide clarity, give voice to those we serve, and help keep them and their stakeholders informed. Keeping the lines of forthcoming, accurate, and timely communication open has never been so critical.

Whether your specialty is in corporate communications, external communications, technical writing, graphics, government relations, or one of the myriad other skills in the field of communications, you help to keep your community, and by extension, the world informed.

As members of IABC, we are bolstered by a 50-years-strong global network of industry professionals and resources. I encourage you to continue to tap into the vast network and educational opportunities available to you through IABC International and your Orange County chapter. Check out the COVID-19 resources, and access The Hub, IABC’s online community, to ask questions and get help from colleagues from the next county over and across the globe. Get answers, get help.

I encourage you to connect with fellow IABC Orange County members and chapter board members, and attend our virtual events, and hopefully again not too far in the future, face-to-face events. To provide increased access during this crisis, we are offering our webinars at no cost. Join us for a timely webinar on Wednesday, May 27, as we hear author and crisis communications expert Doug Levy discuss what comes after COVID-19 for communications. See our Events section to learn more.

Although we may be adhering to social distancing measures, no one is facing this challenge alone. Communication professionals help bind society together. We are called upon to craft messages that promote unity, courage, and hope as we fight the fight of our lives and approach our new normal.

Thank you all for practicing with such integrity on a different kind of front line.

Laura Perdew
VP, Communications; President-Elect
IABC Orange County