Thanks! And cheers for a new decade of IABC

Don’t look now, but here come the ‘20s. It’s shaping up to be a roaring decade for IABC Orange County.

Cara Raffele, this year’s IABC/OC president elect and ManifestSeven‘s VP of marketing, is in the wings, ready to take over as president in January. Laura Perdew, senior director of communications at the Greater Irvine Chamber, is on the ballot to be IABC/OC’s 2020 VP of communications and president-elect. And Elaine Marshall, president of Empowered Public Relations, is stepping up to lead our IndyComm program. Elaine succeeds IABC/OC legend and IndyComm founding mother Claudia Miller, who is retiring after 30 years on our board (wow!).

Cara, Laura and Elaine have been superstars in 2019, so I know they will propel us to the next level in the new year and beyond.

Before we leave the 20-teens, though, I want to say thank you to you. As I wrote back in May, you are the IABC/OC brand.

Thanks for being with us for a year of innovative events — as we broke a few eggs. We experimented with new topics, new venues, new formats, and a range of price tags to meet the changing needs, desires, and schedules of 21st-century Orange County communicators.

Highlights for me included cycling on a July afternoon with you and Don DiCostanzo, CEO and co-founder of Pedego Electric Bikes, after picking his brain in an enlightening panel discussion about marketing, branding, and publications. A month earlier, a large crowd of you turned out for IABC/OC’s first ever breakfast event, as we explored what communications professional can learn from O.C.’s emerging cannabis industry. And last month, at our annual Communications Forecast, you showed that classic lunch events are still convenient and engaging for many working professionals.

When we started 2019, I asked the board, “Why do we do this?” What makes IABC so important to us?

A big part of the answer was this: We belong to IABC for the opportunities to learn. But even more important, we’re here for the opportunities to support one another in our careers and lives.

So I’m most proud of the events that tackled that mission head-on:

  • In May, we held our Midyear Career Reboot networking event at the Center Club, and collaborated with local career-transition organizations to make sure the event was accessible to communicators in search of new jobs.
  • Then we ended the year by turning our annual holiday celebration into a party with a purpose. Thanks to all of you who attended, we raised more than $700 for the Laura’s House Spirit of Empowerment program.

So thank you to my brilliant friends on the IABC/OC board and committees! Special thanks to Claudia, for her relentless passion, creativity and dedication to our organization.

And thank you for being the heart to IABC/OC. It has been a pleasure serving as your president, and I look forward to serving next year as your senior delegate to IABC International.

Happy New Year! We’ll see you in the ‘20s.

It will be the bee’s knees, and the cat’s pajamas. And how!

John Fabris
President, IABC Orange County

Meet the new, where monthly events come first


I’m pleased to present the new, improved — official website of IABC’s Orange County chapter. Click around and take a look.

The first thing you’ll see is a bold link to draw you into our Events page. That’s on purpose, because we have a diverse lineup of fun, informative events planned, and we want you to join us for as many as you can. The website makes it easier. Starting at, you can register now for our July 9 event, and also see what’s coming up, so you can mark your calendar for the rest of the year.

IABC/OC has traditionally taken a break from events in busy July. But this year we will keep on rolling — on a Pedego Electric Bike. (Really.) You’ll meet the CEO and communications pros who created the Pedego brand and marketing sensation. You’ll have informative fun in the sun. The details, of course, are on the new

The new website is the work of our sponsors at Taylor Digital. Thank you to CEO Randy Taylor, Managing Director Lisa Thomas and the Taylor Digital team for supporting our chapter so brilliantly!

The site is more than just events. Click around and you’ll learn how to get involved and become a member or sponsor here in O.C. We also link to the vast resources available to communicators at IABC International. To give you a feel for our chapter, the site features bold photos from real IABC/OC events (many by O.C.’s best photojournalist, Mindy Schauer).

Like every website I’ve ever worked on, will be a constant work in progress. So if you have any feedback, please send me a note at

See you this summer!

John Fabris
IABC/OC president, 2019

IABC/OC’s brand is you — and people who inspire you

If you have visited at all these past few years, you know I’m a true believer in IABC — particularly the Orange County chapter.

Scrolling across the top of the homepage, with a mugshot of me, is this years-old quotation: “IABC/OC provides the education, inspiration, opportunities and connections to transform your career. As I set out in 2014 to launch a career in communications (after decades in journalism), I joined IABC and immediately got the support of the most generous communications professionals in Orange County.”

When I see that now, my first thought is, Oy, let’s finish our website makeover and get my giant face off of the homepage. (That’s happening soon, I promise.)

My second thought is this: I stand behind those words even more as time has passed.

IABC/OC is special because of the education we provide through our monthly Networking and Knowledge series, usually on the second Tuesday of each month, and our IndyComm gatherings for independent communicators — topical meetings every other month on a Wednesday evening. (Keep up with those events by following our LinkedIn page.)

Mostly, though, IABC/OC is special because of the people. Whether the crowd is small or large, I would describe our events and meetings as intimate. Supportive. And not too serious. The laughs alone are worth the trip.

You might call that our brand. But it’s really just who we are. It builds naturally because people who like that atmosphere come back for more.

That spirit of IABC/OC was never more evident than on May 14, at our Mixer and Structured Networking Event at the Center Club near South Coast Plaza. Participants ranged from students to high-ranking communications veterans. We got to know one another as creators, bosses, moms, dads, recent grads, and recovering workaholics. Half the people were in transition, seeking new jobs. We love to make career connections, and because networking is particularly important for job hunters watching their expenses, we offered a discount price for communicators in transition. (We’ll continue to do that.)

That evening, we were supposed to break up at 8 p.m., but nobody wanted to leave. Before I nudged the event to a close at about 8:30, a first-time participant shared a last piece of advice:

“Never stop networking — even if you’re in your dream job,” he said. “And when you network, remember it’s not about you. It’s about how you can help the other person.”

I think that guy just might fit in.

John Fabris
IABC/OC president, 2019

Something is new on the IABC event menu this year

IABC Orange County has an event coming up that you’re not going to like. Even if the topic interests you (and it might not), you won’t be able to make it, because it’s scheduled at a time of day when you’re simply not available. And the venue will be … well … different.

But that’s a good thing.

Because the flipside is we have other events planned that will make you say, “Wow. That’s different. I’m going!”

We’re making a conscious effort this year to mix things up. To break a few eggs. We’re experimenting with new topics, new venues, new formats, a range of price tags, and new event times — all to meet the changing needs, desires and schedules of 21st century Orange County communicators.

Not long ago, almost all of our events were in one restaurant, at a similar price, with similar food from the same menu, with a speaker or panel, at lunch time.

Not so this year. In January we went for beauty and affordability (delicious buffet and plenty of wine included!), with an evening panel discussion at the Hilbert Museum. In February we experimented with a “super-event,” joining forces with the American Marketing Association. In March our venue was the futuristic EON Reality, where we played hands-on with Virtual Reality technology.

Next up – on May 14 – is an evening mixer with structured networking to spark your career. This event will feature dinner, wine and free valet parking at one of O.C.’s most exclusive business social venues, the Center Club. So sign up now. This will be an upscale affair, but because networking is particularly urgent for job hunters with no paycheck coming in, we’re offering a discount price for communicators in career transition.

Some of our most egg-breaking events come right after that:

  • June 11 is our first-ever BREAKFAST gathering. The venue: GigaSavvy. The speakers: Orange County cannabis communicators. (Think you’ve got a tough message to convey?)
  • July 9 is our first AFTERNOON event, 4-7 p.m. We’ll ride bikes, picnic and discover “the Magic of the Pedego” (Don’t believe the rumors that William Shatner might drop by.)

And yes, we’ll still have some luncheons.

Keep track of all of our upcoming events on If the website looks a little haggard, you have something else to look forward to: a redesign by our amazing tech sponsor, Taylor Digital. So watch this space.

We’re changing because we’re listening. And we’d love to hear from you — whether or not you’re a member. Email me at Or better yet, take our survey.

Check out any or all of our events. If the lead of this column is correct and one or two events don’t interest you or fall at a bad time, please pass the invitation along to a friend. Or throw caution to the wind and come anyway. Maybe we’ll surprise you.

That’s the plan.

John Fabris
IABC/OC president, 2019