How to Structure Communication: Circle of Fellows #38

How do you know if you’re using the best structural model for communication? Can hybrid models co-exist successfully? On 18 October 2018, four IABC Fellows explored the latest thinking on department structures, including how to work with agencies and freelancers (on goal-setting, budgeting, etc.). The panel also talked about whether departments should be consolidated or employ an agency model (with staff embedded in parts of the organization), as well as whether all communication departments should be grouped together, and where they should report.

The panel, moderated by IABC Fellow Brad Whitworth, includes Mary Ann McCauley, George McGrath, Barbara Puffer, and Jennifer Wah.



About the panel

Mary Ann McCauley is committed to ensuring people communicate more effectively about their organizations’ products and services. With a specialty practice in crisis management, Mary Ann addresses sensitive issues with timeliness, dignity, and minimal backlash. “Managing communication during a crisis requires common sense folded into a structured process,” she says.




George McGrath is founder and managing principal of McGrath Business Communications, which helps clients build winning corporate reputations, promote their products and services, and advance their views on key issues. George brings more than 25 years in PR and public affairs to his firm. Over the course of his career, he has held senior management positions at leading strategic communications and integrated marketing agencies including Hill and Knowlton, Carl Byoir & Associates, and Brouillard Communications.


Barbara Puffer owns Puffer Public Relations Strategies, where she has served clients for nearly 20 years. Previously, she was Corporate Communications Manager at Barnes Group for 13 years; her communications management career spans 40 years, including work in banking, insurance, and telecommunications organizations. She taught communication studies for 13 years.



Jennifer Wah, MC, ABC, has worked with clients to deliver ideas, plans, words and results since she founded her storytelling and communications firm, Forwords Communication Inc., in 1997. The company operates as a strategic alliance of hand-picked professionals; all renowned for work in their areas of specialization. This approach means the right team is assembled for each project; no more, no less.   With more than two dozen awards for strategic communications, writing and consulting, Jennifer is recognized as a storyteller and strategist. She has worked in industries from healthcare to financial services to academia, and is passionate about the opportunity for stories to inspire actions and reactions within organizations.In 2013, Jennifer was named Associate Faculty of Royal Roads University, and in this capacity, continues to teach, coach and mentor others with an interest in business communication.

Brad Whitworth, the moderator of the panel, is a communication manager at Hitachi Vantara.  A communication coach at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Brad was most recently an executive communication manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Before that, he was senior communication manager at Cisco Systems. Before Cisco, Brad led communication programs at HP, PeopleSoft, and AAA. He earned undergraduate degrees in both journalism and speech at the University of Missouri and an MBA at Santa Clara University. A former broadcaster, Brad has made more than 300 presentations to executives, communicators, and university classes around the world. Brad has a long history with IABC, including serving as chairman of the international board and president of two local chapters. He is one of the authors of The IABC Handbook of Organizational Communication.

Jessica Burnette-Lemon

Jessica Burnette-Lemon is the senior content manager for IABC.

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