by Tony Baisley, Director of Communication

I’m not usually a baseball fan. Sure, I jump on the bandwagon every 10-20 years when the Twins produce a successful season. (I confess, as a high schooler I joined the ecstatic fans around me – even waving a ‘Homer Hanky’ – as players paraded through downtown St. Paul celebrating their second World Series victory.) Yet here I was in Toronto recently for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) World Conference attending a Blue Jays vs. Twins’ game. It was pure chance that the Twins were in town. And I only went to be with my new friends: three Americans, a Canadian even an exotic Aussie.

IABC Twins vs Blue Jays game

I attended the conference to learn; to keep inspiring myself to bring my very best to my role as Director of Communication at Hammer. As the field of communication continues to evolve at breakneck pace, it is vital to keep current with best practices, and to keep learning. The world conference allows communicators in diverse fields (and different cultures) to come together and learn from the best. And sometimes that learning took place introducing yourself to someone new between sessions or while enjoying Canadian micro brews – after hours, of course. It was also interesting to reconvene each evening to exchange “headlines” from the day’s learnings. We would share what we liked, what we considered effective strategies and whose message we thought inauthentic. (Ask me about the time I was too-loudly criticizing one mega brand CEO’s use of a corporate video and he was right behind me!) Oftentimes, I was introduced to a perspective I hadn’t considered or I came around to see the presentation in a different light.

NYCHOne morning, I took part in seminar called “The Gift of Communication.” It was an elective track that allowed global communicators to “give back” to Toronto area charities and nonprofits. They shared their organizations’ particular communication challenges, and we tried to help. I chose the North York Community House, who works primarily with newcomers to Canada to help build skills and experience so that individuals can succeed and thrive. (Sound familiar?) North York also works with “residents of underserved neighborhoods to build their leadership skills…” In light of shrinking federal support, the agency wanted to raise its profile to increase their donor base. They had identified media coverage and an increased social media presence as tactics to pursue. Two fellow colleagues and I engaged North York’s representatives in an on-the-spot brainstorm that dove a bit deeper. We helped them question the structure of the communication role they want to hire as well as making the case to also consider hiring a seasoned fundraiser with proven relationship-building skills. Thankfully, while they came hoping for ideas to implement their new brand, they were open to more fundamental observations, even a perceived lack of diversity in their newly finished logo. Gratitude abounded – on both sides – and we promised to help fine-tune job descriptions and to stay in touch to offer further counsel and support. In truth, I’m excited to read their stories of success and support their important work!

TWP_5Year_Top100_Minneapolis_2014_VAs often happens when I travel, I fell in love…with the city and all that it offered during my brief stay. I left a bit weary and in need of my regular routine, but so much richer for the people, the experiences, and the validation that we indeed do so much right and well at Hammer. Just this week, it was announced that for the fifth year running, we have been named by the Star Tribune as a “Top 100 Workplace” in Minnesota. It’s important to note that this honor was voted on by us, by the community of people who come into work every day energized and inspired to make a difference. Just more validation that I am where I should be, happy to be a strategic communicator, contributing to something greater than myself at Hammer Residences.

By the way, the baseball game was fun; in fact, it was probably the only time I have ever stayed for a full game! And the Twins won 4-0! 🙂