Cara Raffele, President, IABC/OC 2020
Cara Raffele, President, IABC/OC

2020: A New Decade with Renewed Influence

As we begin 2020 with renewed energy and set our sights on achieving new heights, we can all benefit from continuing education to help us advance professionally and personally. More than ever before, information is the key to achieving and maintaining influence in an ever-changing and rapidly evolving communications landscape.

In addition, it’s no longer sufficient to simply own our own areas of expertise. We also must evolve as integrated communications professionals who drive digital transformation throughout organizations, and commit to mastering a broad spectrum of disciplines, from video content to global communications and everything in between­ — whether or not we are personally responsible for execution.

As I step into the role of president this year, I’m proud to say that the IABC/OC board of directors is planning exceptional opportunities for mid- to senior-level communication professionals to learn from their peers and experts leading local and global companies. In addition to covering video as a storytelling tool earlier this month, this year our programming includes a deep dive into the science of communications, executive communications, a case study in corporate social responsibility, as well as a look at successful tactics for local through global communications, and much more.

IABC members have access to many additional resources from online learning and conferences to highly regarded industry certifications. There’s also an online community, The Hub, where members can connect and ask questions to help them find solutions to challenges small and large.

In a world of digital connection, our interpersonal relationships take on a deeper meaning and have become even more critical in our personal lives and professional success. IABC/OC provides opportunities for communications professionals to connect face-to-face and deepen meaningful bonds, and not only with those in the same discipline but also in the others in complementary fields. So reach out and learn this year!

I encourage you to attend our events and connect with the incredible pool of talented people in our industry. And if you have any questions or would like an introduction, don’t hesitate to contact me at

Here’s to a year of influence!

Cara Raffele
President, IABC Orange County


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

Want a boost in 2020? Join the inner circle

I’m staring at a stack of business cards that I picked up from interesting people this year. Scrawled on the back are the dates and topics of the IABC/OC events where I met each person.

You’ve probably collected a stack of your own. And one of those IABC connections might pay off big someday, right? Because in addition to learning from speakers at events, we learn from one another and share referrals and job leads.

So, yes, register for our November panel luncheon and IndyComm and our holiday party. But do one more thing this week: Click on our Volunteer page and consider how you can really link in.

Fact is, among all of the people I have met at IABC, a few stand out from the pack: the ones listed here on the IABC/OC Board of Directors, and the handful of others who serve on our committees.

Since I first joined the board in 2015, my board colleagues and I have toasted our successes, risen to challenges in the organization and in our personal lives, and helped each other out when one of us got in a pinch.

We have gotten to know one another.

On the board, I have met people with the imagination to think big, the brainpower to lead strategically, and the organizational skills to get things done. I have met people who combine authority with kindness to lead effectively — in ways that make volunteers choose to follow.

So when some of my board friends have been in the job hunt, it has been a joy to recommend them to prospective employers without reservation and to watch their efforts pay off.

As 2019 draws to a close, I want to say thank you to the amazing people I have met on the board. (Thank you!) Looking ahead, we soon will be putting together the ballot for the 2020 board. So I want to invite you to volunteer. If you’re interested — or curious — send me an email at We have big roles and small roles. Let’s talk.

People join professional organizations like IABC because they want to learn. Or because they want to meet people who can help them in their career. Or because they want to help others.

Wherever you fall on that scale, there’s no better way to reach that goal than by joining the inner circle as part of the IABC/OC board.

John Fabris
IABC/OC president, 2019

Join IABC in October: It’s an investment in your career, with a sweetener

[UPDATE: Membership Month deals have been extended through 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 7.]

Happy anniversary to me. Five years ago this month I clicked this link for the first time and never looked back. It’s the link to join IABC. Every October since then, I have not hesitated to renew.

Regardless of when you joined or last renewed, this month is the smartest (cheapest!) time to take the plunge. Just click the RENEW link on the top right of the homepage.

I confess I paused as I enrolled the first time — on the page where you have to pull out a credit card and invest some money. But there are two reasons I pressed ahead, and continue to renew my membership at this time every year:

1. Because IABC membership pays off for your career better than any organization I have found.

2. Because October is Membership Month, the time when IABC International discounts memberships. And this year our local chapter, IABC/OC, is offering a free event as a special sweetener. (More on that below.)

Why join IABC?

When I compare IABC to other organizations, the first thing that stands out is how our members look out for one another. As I wrote in a previous President’s Letter, whether the crowd is small or large, I would describe our events as intimate. Supportive. With lots of laughs.

The other thing that stands out is the variety of communication disciplines we serve and draw from. We are communication strategists, writers, graphic designers, marketers, social media experts, journalists, photographers, editors and more. We draw professionals representing everything from public affairs, public relations, media relations and video production to corporate communications, human resources, employee communications and investor relations. We work for corporations, PR agencies, educational institutions and nonprofits. Many of us work independently.

Why is that span of expertise a good thing? In today’s world, successful communicators often wear multiple hats. A graphic designer might also do social media. A writer might do technical writing, script writing and journalism. So our Network & Knowledge series of monthly events provides education that serves a broad base rather than a tight vertical. As a side effect, we introduce you to a network of people in a variety of fields that need your talents.

Your membership includes free participation in IABC/OC IndyComm meetings, and an endless supply of materials at little or no cost via IABC International’s website (workshops, first dibs on jobs, award opportunities, articles, webinars, videos, a Hub for conversations and advice from members worldwide, and much more).

Your membership also makes you eligible to join the IABC/OC Board — where you learn the most, help the most, and make the best connections. We’ll soon be putting together the ballot for the 2020 board. So click that join link or renew before Oct. 31. And email me if you’d like to be on the board.

Why now?

I’m telling you all this now because October is Membership Month, and this year’s version is even better than years past:

• IABC International is offering its Membership Month discount — 10% off your International dues. Just type in the discount code “OCTOBER 10”.

• Plus our local chapter has a special sweetener: a Join & Go Offer. If you join or renew during October 2019, you will receive free admission to one upcoming IABC Orange County event.

When you join or renew by Oct. 31 and select Orange County as your chapter, you will receive an email from IABC Orange County with instructions on how to redeem your free event.
What if your membership doesn’t expire in October? It’s still smart to renew now. Your renewal will take effect for a full year starting when your current membership expires.

Get unglitched

This year, Membership Month is also an opportunity for people who were caught up in IABC International’s computer glitch.

Victoria Dew, IABC’s International Executive Board Chair, sent an email to all IABC members on Sept. 20 announcing the arrival of new IABC Interim Executive Director Erin McClain to “resolve some of the challenges we’ve faced this year.” Chief among those challenges were bugs in a technology rollout, which blocked people from registering and renewing. Also, some members might not have received their annual renewal notice.

If you’re not sure whether your membership is up to date, log on to, click the “My IABC” button, then click “My Membership.” You’ll see your status.

The site is up and running now. So whatever your status, now’s a great time to join or renew.

If you have questions, please send an email to me or IABC/OC Vice President of Membership Tammy Nienaber.

We’re pleased to have you as a member.

John Fabris
IABC/OC president, 2019

“No greater time to be a member.” Conference in KC this fall.

In this month’s President’s Letter, you get three presidents for the price of one. I’m sharing the keyboard with Cathi Douglas, our chapter’s immediate past president, and Michael Shepherd, our 2017 chapter president, who now are helping increase the value of your IABC membership on a regional and international scale. Take it away, Cathi and Michael! John Fabris, IABC/OC president, 2019

New technology and communications efforts characterize World Conference in Vancouver
By CATHI DOUGLAS, Senior Delegate and Immediate Past President, IABC/OC

I was honored to represent the Orange County chapter at this year’s IABC World Conference in Vancouver, B.C., in June.

Along with about 1,500 committed IABC members who traveled to Canada from throughout the world, I took home newfound knowledge that will assist in my professional life and benefit our chapter.

I’m happy to report that IABC is financially strong. Notably the organization is committed to diversity and inclusion in all its key initiatives and has launched a new global communications effort with emphasis on online learning tools and a new print magazine.

As IABC’s outgoing chair, Ginger Homan, ABC, SCMP, remarked, “There is no greater time to be a member of IABC,” thanks to the organization’s improved technology; a new website that’s both user-friendly and full of best practices and information for communications professionals; and its commitment to “new communications for a new era.”

We can be proud that IABC joined 43 other professional organizations in condemning the murder of Saudi Arabian dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi and remains committed to supporting worldwide freedom of the press.

The organization is improving its well-recognized certification programs and offers scholarships to financially challenged communicators who want to pursue accreditation.

Keynote speakers and nationally known journalists Celeste Headley and Soledad O’Brien challenged professional communicators to become better listeners and to offer quality journalism to our companies and clients via internal and external content, both print and electronic.

IABC/OC member Angela Sinickas presented a breakout session on creative ways to use research tools to show ROI on communications efforts.

The next IABC World Conference takes place June 14-17 in Chicago.

First-ever IABC Super Regional Conference announced for fall 2019 in Kansas City
By MICHAEL SHEPHERD, Vice Chair, IABC Pacific Plains Region

Like the catchy advertising jingle for a popular chewing gum brand once reminded us, it’s time to “double your pleasure, double your fun!” That’s what leadership in two IABC regions decided to do when they opted to join forces and stage the first ever “Super Regional” Conference this fall in Kansas City, Missouri. And if you haven’t heard about it, consider this your invitation to attend!

Communications professionals from 39 chapters across the Pacific Plains and Southern regions of IABC will travel to the Midwest Oct. 16-18. The three-day event, themed “Connect2Comms,” features leadership development programming for IABC board members, skills training for all practitioner levels — including keynotes and educational breakouts — as well as an opportunity to earn formal GCCC accreditation, the global standard for communications excellence. (IABC Orange County is part of the Pacific Plains Region.)

This year’s event also marks the return of the IABC Silver Quills competition, recognizing outstanding performance across a range of disciplines and categories. Let’s make sure Orange County is well represented, both in terms of the nominations we submit as well as the number of practitioners who attend. To learn more or submit your work for consideration, follow the link here.

Stay tuned for more details — and let’s make plans for the OC to meet up in KC!

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

In gratitude for your support

The beginning of the new year prompts us to review the past year’s achievements, milestones, and challenges, and to look ahead to a new year full of possibilities.

For the IABC Orange County chapter, 2018 was full of stimulating programs on cutting-edge communications issues. We discussed hacking dangers and safeguarding clients’ privacy; cultivated advice from a top communications recruiter; offered professional advice at an innovative drop-in coffee session for recent college graduates; received valuable advice on communications measurement and the neuroscience of marketing; and enjoyed an evening game with the Anaheim Ducks, including a presentation on sports marketing from a Ducks marketing executive.

Our December holiday party was a highlight as well. This caliber of the year’s outstanding monthly programs is thanks to Cara Raffele, our diligent Vice President for Professional Development, and her committee, comprised of Events Director Jennifer Mower, Professional Development Director Lisa Thomas, and Bridget Soden Mills.

New chapter President John Fabris has proven to be an invaluable asset for our chapter as Vice President for Administration and President Elect. John has attracted an equally stellar board of directors and officers slate for 2019, and we can look forward to many more compelling programs in the months to come.

I’d like to thank all of you for helping make this year a successful one for IABC Orange County. Without the enthusiasm and involvement of our members we would never be able to achieve these milestones.

We have a robust and engaged membership, thanks to outgoing Vice President for Membership Judy Iannaccone and Director of Membership Ciara O’Keeffe. And we stay in touch through the many efforts of Vice President for Communications Stephanie Stiles and her committee.

Thanks to Vice President for Special Interest Groups Claudia Miller, we hosted several compelling 2018 programs for members of two groups, IndyComm for independent communications consultants and the Mastermind Group, which is studying the how-to marketing book, “The Brand Called You.” Our most recent IndyComm meeting in November featured Cara offering a stimulating presentation on personal branding, brand archetypes, and cultivating a persona that opens doors.

Past President Michael Shepherd was our senior delegate to IABC International and sustained our sponsorship efforts, and Sarah Willis keeps an eagle eye on our budget as Vice President for Finance.

I am so honored to have served as IABC OC president this year. I’ve treasured the opportunity to develop friendships and cultivate professional relationships, and the leadership experience has been invaluable. Thank you for letting me serve this fine organization – I look forward to continuing to see IABC OC progress and thrive in 2019.

Cathi Douglas, APR
IABC/OC president, 2018

IABC Orange County: A value proposition for prospects and members?

Ad hoc committee heads efforts to regain relevance in 2018 and beyond

This week I had the opportunity to hear a presentation by Anthony D’Angelo, chair of the Public Relations Society of America and a professor of public relations practice at Syracuse University.

D’Angelo sounded the warning that in a very short time 70 percent of the American workforce will be made up of millennials. Millennials – who treasure data-driven, socially responsible actions by prospective employers and spend little time traditionally networking – are a new breed.

Seasoned pros like me and many of our IABC Orange County board members are sitting up and taking notice of these new professionals in communications fields. As D’Angelo says, millennials and Gen Zers consider activities such as our organization’s backbone, the monthly Knowledge & Networking lunch, out-of-touch or unengaging.

So, how does IABC remain relevant in this new communications environment? That is the question we are wrestling with, and we would like your help to solve it.

Judy Iannaccone, VP for Membership, is heading up a new effort to listen to what prospective and current members of IABC want in terms of programming, networking, and education in the coming years. Judy has formed an ad hoc committee to study this issue, and we would love your input, as well.

We want to mold IABC Orange County into a responsive organization that provides critical know-how when members need it most. With that in mind, we’re asking these kinds of questions:

  • Are lunch programs viable ways to reach our members with cutting-edge insights?
  • What kinds of presenters, speakers and panels can generate attendance at IABC events?
  • Do younger potential members and members prefer drop-in events with casual speakers?
  • Are there ways the Orange County chapter can provide education and insights online rather than in person?
  • What are some of the burning questions that young people in communications are asking? How can we provide answers?

If you have thoughts about these and other topics that relate to IABC’s ongoing relevance in our ever-changing and developing communications fields, please let us know. You can seek any board member out at our events, volunteer to assist with the ad hoc committee, or email Judy at, or me at We welcome your opinions – they are critical to growing IABC Orange County into the kind of organization you want and need to belong to in 2018 and beyond.

Cathi Douglas
IABC/OC president, 2018