by Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink
Chris Sorek, the embattled executive director of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), has resigned after serving for less than a year as the organizations operational leader.
Sorek was chosen after a yearlong search for a new executive director started when former executive director Julie Freeman announced her resignation.
The IABC Board of Directors, led by then Chair Adrian Cropley, ABC, settled on Sorek after the Boards first choice withdrew from consideration at the last moment.
According to Cropley, “When Chris stepped forward in the second round of the search, the board unanimously agreed that he is the right choice.”
In an email release to members, current IABC Chair Kerby Meyers wrote “Chris will continue to work with the Board on a number of special projects over the next two months.”
Before taking the leadership reigns at IABC, Sorek was the former CEO of Britian’s Drinkaware Trust, an independent UK alcohol awareness charity providing consumers with information about how alcohol affects lives and lifestyles.
Sorek’s demanding leadership style and his lack of face-to-face connection with members caused immediate friction within the organization, as well as with its permanent staff.
In the position less than three months, the handling of staff layoffs at the San Francisco headquarters and the resulting public relations boondoggle brought into question his leadership abilities.
The former CEO of Drinkaware Trust was sought after because of his ability to bring IABC into the digital era.
IABC announced publically Sorek’s departure via Facebook and Linkedin because according to Claire Watson, ABC, APR, who handles IABC’s external relations, the organization did not have the digital capabilities to post the release on their own website.
Before IABC could tell its members the story broke on Writing Boots, a Chicago-based communication blog by David Murray.
As the Board looks for an interim director and starts a search for a permanent replacement, Sorek leaves the organization a month before its annual conference being held in New York City. His departure, and how it has been handled, is already bringing comments across social media platforms.
“IABC’s technology “wouldn’t allow” them to post a major announcement on its own website??? Sadly, that assertion is emblematic of just what a mess IABC has become,” commented communicator Robert J. Holland from Mechanicsville, Va. on Writing Boots.
Canadian Brian Kilgore brought to light a memo from Meyers who will temporarily assume Sorek’s role, instructing members “not of offer their own ideas but stick to the party line”.
Meyers message to key IABC members includes:
We anticipate significant conversation among our members and the trade media. As part of the IABC global management team, you play a key role in representing the Association at the chapter level, and we will need your help to ensure that the organization speaks with a common voice. To this end, I am providing you with talking points and ask that do not offer comment or conjecture beyond our approved key messages. Any media inquires should be referred to Aaron Heinrich at [email protected].
Your key messages are:
1. Chris Sorek has resigned from IABC to return to the corporate world. We thank him for his contributions over the past 11 months.
2. Between now and World Conference at the end of June, IEB Chair Kerby Meyers will lead day-to-day operations at IABC headquarters. After that time an interim Executive Director will be appointed by the Board and will continue to manage the business of IABC until a new Executive Director is found.
3. IABC’s strategic direction remains on track. We are dedicated to delivering exceptional service to our members and growing the Association. We have an ambitious agenda and will continue to implement innovative products and services that raise the bar within the communication profession worldwide.
During the past 11-months. Sorek, Meyers and the IABC staff and board have been questioned on their ability to successfully communicate with members, especially online.
Recently Mark Ragan of the Ragan Report and Ragan.com, managed to hijack the IABC Linkedin group with a self-serving survey of the organization. Ragan, who regular uses the discussion to promote his business, managed to accomplish something IABC has failed in their online efforts - creating a discussion that enlisted comments from members around the world including Meyers and Robin McCasland, the organization’s chairman elect.
In his first interview with Newsroom Ink at last year’s Chicago annual conference, Sorek said: “We need to share best practice as much as we can so people can see what we are able to do, see what our members are doing. To be brutally frank, we need to tell the story in bigger ways across a wider spectrum of media channels; using social media, using the Internet, but also getting increased exposure in traditional media.”
To be brutally frank, in 11-months Chris Sorek and IABC has not been able to tell any story except that of an organization on the brink of implosion.
Newsroom Ink’s previous interviews with Chris Sorek, Kerby Meyers and Robin McCasland: