IABC celebrates Strategic Communications Management Professional Cam Zimmer
In anticipation of IABC Saskatoon’s upcoming GCCC® Certification Exam in May, we wanted to hear from a few locals who recently received their SCMP designation. Today we’ll hear about Cam Zimmer’s experience in getting certified and his advice for communicators who are still on the fence about applying!
Q: What’s your story?
A: I’m the Communications and Public Relations Manager for Federated Co-operatives Limited, which is basically a Co-op that serves Co-ops.
I have the privilege of leading a team that helps the communications needs of FCL as well as 170 local Co-ops across Western Canada.
We work on a wide range of communications, from external communications (press conferences, news releases, crisis communications, events, sponsorships) to internal communications (running an intranet for 25,000 team members) to supporting marketing (writing articles for content marketing and copy for print, television and digital).
Career-wise, it hasn’t been linear. I started out as a local newspaper reporter while still in university. I continued writing as a freelancer for about a decade on the side of my day job, interviewing everyone from professional athletes, to authors to U.S. presidential candidates. Those conversations really encouraged my love of storytelling. Before joining FCL, I started by working with the federal government on news conferences and speech writing, then moved to the university followed by the Saskatchewan Research Council where I helped share research. I also had roles in policy, business development and corporate social responsibility along the way. And, of course, I’ve been part of IABC all along.
Like I said, my career hasn’t been linear.
Q: Why did you want to get your SCMP?
A: A few reasons:
- I always wanted to be accredited, but I just missed the ABC process before IABC went the new direction with the Global Communications Certification Council.
- It had been about a decade since I finished my masters in communications, so I thought it would be good to refresh and challenge myself. Never stop learning, right?
- I was always telling my team to look into accreditation through IABC, so I figured I should lead by example and go through the SCMP process.
Q: What was a highlight of getting your SCMP?
A: I enjoyed the process of challenging my knowledge of communications and addressing some of my gaps.
Q: What was involved with getting your SCMP?
A: You start with your application. In the SCMP case, you have to show that you’ve spent a certain amount of time in the communications field and also talk to references that can vouch for you and your experience.
There’s a set of online courses you can take through the IABC Academy to prepare, and I found them to be hugely helpful.
I took the SCMP exam at the IABC International Conference in Montreal last year just before the conference started. It was stressful, but once I finished I joined my colleague and we had a great conference. When I came home I found out that I’d passed the exam and was ecstatic—I shared a really bad photo of my certificate almost immediately.
Q: Were there any surprises in getting your SCMP?
A: For the SCMP, I was somewhat surprised how many questions were really scenario-based judgement calls. I’d say the majority of questions were of that variety. In hindsight, it makes sense—at this point in your career you’re expected to know the basics and they’re really evaluating how you use judgement and ethics to make solid decisions.
Q: What tips do you have for others considering SCMP?
A: Go for it! And do it for the right reasons.
I say the same thing to people who are applying for IABC awards. If you go into it to learn and grow from the process, you’ll never be disappointed with the results. If you’re only in it for the letters, you may not get what you were hoping for.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the communication profession?
A: I love storytelling, and most of communications boils down to storytelling—even a strategic communications plan is its own story.
Q: How long have you been an IABC member?
A: I’ve lost track, to be honest. Between 10 and 15 years. Man that makes me feel old.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Cam! We hope you enjoyed our interview with Cam as much as we did. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your GCCC Certification story!
Don’t forget, you still have time to register to take the GCCC Certification exam on May 11 in Saskatoon. Click here to learn more.