In an ironic twist, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is now getting its own crash course in disaster PR.
When venomous emails penned by Cleveland Job Bank newsletter manager Kelly Blazek went viral on social media earlier this week, it also came to light that IABC’s Cleveland chapter had coincidentally bestowed Blazek with its Communicator of the Year award in 2013.
“I want my subscribers to feel like everyone is my little sister or brother, and I’m looking out for them,” Blazek had said while accepting the award at a Cleveland area cocktail reception this past December.
But this is a starkly different picture than the one revealed by leaked emails from Blazek in response to prospective applicants for her locally-renowned, 7,300-person job newsletter.
“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky,” she fumed in one instance. “Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26 year old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections.”
Now, in the face of Blazek’s seething missives, IABC is weighing its options.
In an interview with Entrepreneur.com, the organization’s director of communications and member services, Melissa Dark, expressed “concern” regarding Blazek’s actions. While each of the organization’s chapters operates somewhat autonomously, she said, “the IABC does not condone that kind of behavior in communication.”
An ethics committee is looking into the matter, added Dark -- though no decisions have been made about whether Blazek’s award might be rescinded.
"We’re not going to be acting straight off of what people have said on social media,” said Dark, clarifying that the ultimate ruling won’t be made with the same “speed” with which Blazek’s tirades -- three and counting -- have spread across the internet like wildfire.
The president of IABC Cleveland, Betsy DuWaldt, explained that Blazek’s nomination for Communicator of the Year had seemed apt at the time given her invaluable service in a particularly bleak career climate.
Members and non-members can propose candidates for the Communicator of the Year award on IABC’s website, noted DuWaldt -- of which Blazek received several nominations, she said. The organization’s board and other senior level members then ultimately selected her as the winning candidate.