Institute of Business Advisers (IBA)

| June 8, 2009 | 0 Comments

Background

The Institute of Business Advisers was founded in 1989 in response to the closure of the Small Firms Service and the need to introduce a professional body for the wide network of advisers, councilors, mentors and trainers. The membership grew to 1750 by the time it merged with the Institute of Management Consultants in 2008. IBA developed a Branch network, developed training and CPD for Members and Fellows and held an annual conference and dinner. The Institute was held in high regard in government circles, frequently called to advise the then DTI and Treasury on small firms’ policy.

In 2002, the organization launched Business Adviser journal, a 40 page full-colour quarterly publication developed and edited by Integra Director Louise Third until its close in 2008.

Why PR?

By 1995, the IBA had grown to a membership of just over 1000 and needed to grow faster. The lack of a need  to hold  professional credentials as a business adviser was holding back the growth of the organization, yet small firms were saying they wanted credible advisers.

The membership of the IBA provided a perfect base for solid PR work around expert articles and commentary. Several members were already well-known and respected by the media and provided the first ‘media spokesmen’. The target was national small business pages read by potential members, as well as publications read by Whitehall officials.

Being a Member of the IBA, with TV and radio experience and an understanding of enterprise and development issues, Louise Third was appointed to handle the national PR work.

The Brief

Despite a small budget, Louise was asked to gain national recognition for the IBA in the target publications. She was also expected to plan and deliver the programme for the annual conference, often inviting Government Ministers or celebrities. Having identified a gap in the market for a national magazine for advisers, Louise raised a budget and launched the Business Adviser journal.

The Campaign

Strategic Plan

To grow the Institute year-on-year by 10% through a combination of positive media coverage, successful income-generating conferences and the provision of the quarterly journal.

Tactics

Press Releases

A monthly press release pick-up up on news or events from within the organization, and although not of great news value, gradually got the IBA noticed by journalists. These writers were looking for a reliable source of expert commentators and found in the IBA a rich seam of experienced business men and women.

Louise was regularly called by The Times, Daily Express, Sunday Times and the Financial Times to help with articles. The IBA members were quoted most weeks in the Daily Express ‘Your Business’ column, and companies helped by IBA members also benefitted from coverage.

Articles

IBA members helped to write regular pieces for business magazines, and contributed to articles in the likes of Management Today, Director magazine, Business Moneyfacts, Start Your Business, Real Business, Growing Business, Better Business and sector specific titles.

Annual Conference and Dinner

Held in October to coincide with the IBA AGM, the event ran from Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime. Main conference on Saturday attracted over 350 delegates to hear national and international speakers, including government Ministers. With input from Louise, the event developed to include carousel workshops and an expanded exhibition. The black-tie dinner was a celebration of the year’s successes and provided an ideal networking opportunity.

Business Adviser journal.

Edited by Louise Third, the journal ran from 2002 – 2007, with a circulation of 7000 regularly attracting advertising and high-quality articles. This significantly increased the profile and credibility of the Institute, especially in Whitehall. When the IBA merged to become the IBC, the journal was dropped and has not been replaced.

Results

The IBA membership grew significantly in the period covered by the PR contact held by Louise Third (1997 – 2006). By then membership stood at 2500 and growing.

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