All posts by Kerry Burke

2022 Holiday Networking Mixer

IABC Nashville Presents: Holiday Mixer | Communications + Marketing Mixer

IABC Nashville invites you to our last networking mixer of the year from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. CST on Thursday, Dec. 8. We’ll meet at REED Public Relations, located at 517 Hagan St, Suite 102.
Light appetizers and beverages will be provided. Let’s toast to the holidays and the end of the year together! 


Thursday, December 8, 2022
5:00 – 7:00 p.m. CST


REED Public Relations
517 Hagan Street, Suite 102
Nashville, TN 37203


$5 for members
$10 for non-members
$15 at the door
A HUGE thank you to our event sponsor, REED Public Relations and our food and beverage sponsor, Goldner Associates!

Note: We kindly ask that all attendees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the event. If you aren’t feeling well, please adhere to CDC guidance and stay at home.

A look back: IABC Nashville in 2020

An edited and abridged version of this article “IABC World Tour of IABC Chapters: Nashville” was published in the December 22, 2020 issue of The Bulletin, IABC’s weekly newsletter. 

Based in the heart of “Music City,” IABC Nashville is a small – but mighty – chapter that has been accomplishing impressive things, despite the global pandemic this year. Our chapter has showcased that we can accomplish anything, irrespective of our size or circumstances. Our members are diverse, representing an array of industries and backgrounds – from health care companies, public relations agencies, marketing firms, public and private corporations, government, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

Before we entered the “new normal” of Zoom meetings and virtual events, communications professionals could attend our in-person IABC Nashville events and experience true southern hospitality at its finest – something in which IABC Nashville takes great pride. Whether attending in-person or virtual, communicators can continue to make authentic and genuine connections at IABC Nashville events (and you never know, you may even meet a talented musician or songwriter there!)

Our chapter – like many others – had to shift to all virtual events in the early spring of this year, but that didn’t stop us from continuing to offer valuable networking and professional development events just like we normally would. In fact, we embraced the opportunity that virtual events provide to collaborate with others, and reach and support more people in the communications industry.

Here’s a brief recap of some of the remarkable work that IABC Nashville has accomplished this year:

Making the most of virtual reality:

  • We made a seemingly seamless pivot from 100% in-person to 100% virtual meetings and events, overcoming the challenges that accompany a change of this magnitude – like setting up a Zoom account and learning how to use it! Following two successful in-person events in January and February, our chapter hosted twelve successful online-only events this year.
  • Our July professional development workshop, “Write to Win: Mastering the Art of Award Submission Writing,” featured regional IABC awards program leaders as guest presenters, with over 130 attendees from all over the world who learned about award entry best practices. A special thanks to the IABC Southern RegionIABC AtlantaKansas City IABC, and IABC South Carolina for their collaboration and support in making this event happen.
  • In November, we broadcasted our 2020 Music City Gold Pen Awards on Facebook Live. A total of 36 awards were presented during the broadcast which was hosted by emcee Danielle Breezy, Chief Meteorologist from WKRN-TV Nashville News 2, and featured special guest singer-songwriter and American Idol semi-finalist Sarah Lake (because #MusicCity). In addition to the communications award entries, we also recognized individuals contributing to our chapter and the communications profession with our 2020 IABC Nashville Leadership Awards. This was our chapter’s first ever virtual awards program, and it was a huge success!

Using social media as a powerful tool:

  • IABC Nashville saw impressive social media growth this year, which allowed us to maintain an online connection with our members during this time of social distancing. Overall, we saw a 14% increase in Facebook followers, a 21% increase in LinkedIn followers, and a 10% increase in Twitter followers. Additionally, we reached almost 4,000 people on a single post: our virtual 2020 Music City Gold Pen Awards ceremony! We also saw increased engagement on Twitter when we started live tweeting during our professional development events. If you aren’t already, follow IABC Nashville on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter

Retaining a commitment to diversity and inclusion:

  • After the unjust murders and social injustices that have been taking place in our world, IABC Nashville reaffirmed our commitment to supporting and encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion in the regional and global communication community. Our chapter promptly developed a statement that was used by the global IABC community as well. Read the chapter’s full statement.
  • Our chapter hosted discussions with experts on critical topics such as gender identity/parity and diversity and inclusion strategy. In August, we facilitated a panel discussion titled “Talk the Talk AND Walk the Walk” where local experts shared their insights on strategic ways to create a corporate culture of diversity and inclusion – whether you’re a small business or large company. 

Seeing steady and increasing growth:

  • Despite the difficult economic situation of 2020, IABC Nashville was still able to see growth this year by recruiting new members. In fact, we were proud to be awarded with the Small Chapter Growth and Small Chapter Retention awards as part of the international October Member Month campaign.

IABC Nashville is rightly proud of what we have achieved this year and are looking forward to the future ahead. We look to continue to grow our chapter membership in 2021, and we are excited to continue engaging members, partnering with our IABC colleagues, and trying new things.

As a famous Nashvillian herself, Dolly Parton once said, “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try!”

On behalf of the IABC Nashville executive board of directors, we wish you a safe and happy new year. See you in 2021! 

A message from IABC Nashville: COVID-19

As many of you are aware, President Trump declared a national state of emergency over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak last week, and the CDC issued guidance on in-person gatherings, including a recommendation of social distancing of groups of 10 or more. The number of people affected is rising fast and has begun to impact those in our region. The IABC Nashville Board of Directors is actively monitoring the situation with the health and safety of our communications tribe as our top priority. As a result, the following actions are being taken:

  • Effective immediately, all in-person IABC Nashville networking events, professional development luncheons, and the 2020 Music City Gold Pen Awards will be postponed until further notice. The threat of COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation and one that we must take seriously. Our Board of Directors will continue to monitor the situation and will rely on guidance from federal, state, local governments, and the CDC.
  • We live in a digital age and now is the time to embrace the technology that we utilize in our day-to-day lives. Our Board of Directors will be strategizing on ways we can potentially offer professional development opportunities to our members digitally. For the latest updates on these developments, be sure to check our website and social media channels, including Facebook and LinkedIn. In the meantime, we recommend visiting the IABC Academy website offering excellent online training programs and courses on various topics.
  • Several of you have already registered for events in March and April. As previously stated, all proceeds from our networking mixer that was to be held on March 12 will be donated to the Community Foundation of Middle TN to help with Nashville tornado relief efforts. IABC Nashville will provide a full refund or a credit toward any other IABC Nashville event that you may have already registered for. We understand the importance of in-person meetings, but we must be vigilant in doing everything we can to mitigate the risk associated with COVID-19 – and that means keeping our community safe.

This is a challenging time for our city, our nation, and our world but we are #NashvilleStrong and will get through this together. Please continue to take care of yourselves and take care of each other. We look forward to networking with you in person soon. If you have any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email

Warmest Regards,

Mollye Dietrich
2020 IABC Nashville President

“Let Me Get This Straight”: When Identity Politics Becomes Identity Language

Plenty of articles have been written about achieving gender parity in the PR profession. But what nobody’s talking about is the collision course we’re heading for as communicators when gender parity meets gender neutrality. Can we—should we—be gender-agnostic in the workplace? What are the issues? How can communicators influence the conversatio

On January 22,  Michael Deas, ABC, SCMP, took us on a deep-dive into this topic, comparing current AP style guidelines with practical workplace realities. 

Our presenter:
Michael Deas, ABC, SCMP
Director of Communications and Public Relations, Volkert, Inc.

Michael Deas, ABC, SCMP, is at his heart a teacher and a writer but professionally, he has never been either of those. Instead, he has poured his ability into a variety of roles over his 34-year career: editor, missionary, translator, marketing manager, corporate communications manager, and communications director. Currently, Mike leads all internal and external communication at Volkert, Inc., an infrastructure engineering firm based in Franklin, Tennessee. Prior to this position, Mike was an independent consultant with Ideas Abound, LLC, a marketing communications agency that he and his wife Colleen owned and operated.

Mike has been a member of IABC for 23 years, a past president of IABC South Carolina, an Accredited Business Communicator since 2004, and a Strategic Communication Management Professional since October 2018. Mike is also a fluent German speaker and certified translator and interpreter.

His wide range of experience in communication roles–for companies large and small, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, on both sides of the Atlantic, in two languages–equips him with insight on the challenges facing today’s communicators.

Why are social media posts like the cobbler’s children?

Finding good writing on social media can be like finding the proverbial unicorn.

A guest blog by Joe Diorio

The end of 2019 represents not only the end of another year, but the end of a decade.

That’s prompting no shortage of #grateful type posts on social media. Sadly, there is more than a bit of repetition to all of them, since the posts all start out the same way.

“So grateful for …”
“So happy to see …”
“What a year this has been …”

The problem with this is that if everything reads the same, then nothing may be read at all. The scan and skip nature of reading online material makes it way too easy to gloss over these posts.

It’s not just end-of-year messages, either. After IABC Nashville presented its annual Music City Gold Pen Awards, the avalanche of social media messages about the awards mentioned a lot except what was done to win the awards. Here’s a sample of what showed up in my various social media news feeds:

“Congrats to all of today’s award recipients!”
“We are thrilled to announce …”
“Wow, we are in awe …”
“So proud of you …”

At the risk of making everyone hate me, we are communicators, right? Then why are our social media posts so – what’s the word? – dull? Repetitive? Uncreative?

OK, everyone put down the torches and blunt objects and please read on before sending me a variation of a “WELL, YOU TRY IT” email. Don’t kill the messenger (a variation of that phrase can be traced all the way back to Sophocles in 442 B.C., but I digress). We all know the demand for quick and up-to-the-nanosecond communications is leaving good writing in its wake.

Dull writing is the proverbial kiss of death for marketing communication professionals. A decade after Nicholas Carr asked in The Atlantic asking “Is Google making us stupid?” we seem to be forgetting that the single most important job for us is to communicate.

We get it that you are proud, happy, and thrilled to have won, but go a step further and tell us why. Rather than saying “we are thrilled to announce” how about:

  • “Teamwork and a dedication to the goal of increasing widget sales by 10 percent resulted in our being recognized with a Music City Gold Pen Award.”
  • “A team from our agency and our client who believed we could pull off an event that
    heretofore never took place in Nashville was honored…”
  • “We taught consumers something they never knew before …”

In other words, use social media to tell your followers what you did, how you did it, and why you did it. We all have scores of social media accounts we follow. Identify those nuggets of wisdom that made your communication effort an award winner and lead with that. And along the way omit the needless and, sadly, self-serving words. Everyone should plan their social media posts about their awards as carefully as they plan the communication activities that garnered them said awards.

In 2009 I had the privilege of meeting Ted Sorensen, who wrote so eloquently while chronicling the presidency of John F. Kennedy. He explained the need to communicate clearly and effectively with a brilliant shaggy dog story.

He said a salesman was setting up shop to sell seafood. First pass at a sign: “Fresh Seafood, Fish for Sale.” Well, he thought, who would sell stale fish? So he shortened the sign: “Seafood, Fish for Sale.” Heck, fish ARE seafood, so the word “fish” was dropped. But if he’s selling seafood in a store, then why say it’s “for sale”? The final sign, eloquently and to the point, read, simply, “Seafood.”

And, by the way, I’m confident he was proud, excited, and humbled by the chance to open his store.

Happy new year, and let’s write carefully out there, people. 

Joe Diorio is a Nashville IABC member and a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader. You can sign up for his newsletter, “A Few Words About Words,” by visiting his website

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