Corporate Member Spotlight: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

We sat down with Iris Cumberbatch, Vice President of Public Affairs for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to learn more about this long-standing corporate member and the team we often see attending IABC events.

Q: How is the corporate communications department organized to serve both internal employees and external customers.  How many communications professionals are located in NE Ohio headquarters? Where else are other team members working? Does the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland also have outside contractors, agencies, freelancers, etc. also involved in communications projects?

A: Corporate communications at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (FRBC) is handled by the Public Affairs Department, which oversees media relations, external communications/publications, social and digital media, internal communications, graphic design, video, web services, executive outreach, conference and event management, editorial and project consulting, and content creation. The majority of communications professionals in the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Public Affairs Department work at the Cleveland headquarters; Public Affairs team members also are based in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Virginia. Most of our projects are managed in-house.

Q: What are some current key marketing communications initiatives for 2015 and beyond?

A:  The Public Affairs department focuses on continuously enhancing the way that our content appears on our communications channels so that our audiences are well-informed about the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

In terms of content and communications channels, a key initiative for 2015 involves transitioning our website into more of a news hub; this initiative entails regularly creating new content that gives our stakeholders timely and useful information, and then “syndicating” that content across multiple online, social and digital media platforms so that the content is easily accessible for our stakeholders.

In terms of audiences, another related initiative for 2015 involves targeting and broadening our relationships with traditional and social media contacts. We seek to match our content, such as economic updates on a specific city in our Federal Reserve District like Pittsburgh or on a specific topic like small business lending trends, to the traditional and social media reporters and outlets who are most interested in those topics. Our goal is to broaden the reach of our content while simultaneously targeting the media more precisely, so that our information has the best chance of being seen by the people who are most interested.  

The Public Affairs department measures whether our initiatives to enhance our content and our communications channels are having the desired result of making our audiences better informed about the Cleveland Fed, so another initiative we are focusing on in 2015 is standardizing our measurement and analytics to assess and report on success across communications channels (e.g. publications, web, media, social media, speeches, presentations, etc.).

Q: How does the communications department interact with other departments?

A: Public Affairs works closely with a variety of colleagues inside the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to create and disseminate information internally to senior leaders and employees, as well as externally to stakeholders including business and community leaders, policymakers, bankers, economic researchers, and the general public.

The Public Affairs team holds a communications planning session each year in which departments in the Bank share their high-priority business initiatives for the year. The team then develops the communications plan for the year to support the business initiatives, and shares the plan with colleagues Bankwide to ensure every department has visibility into the Bank’s comprehensive annual communications and outreach plan.

Q: What kinds of technology are involved in communications? 

A: The Public Affairs team uses a wide range of technological tools to manage our communications and relationships with internal and external audiences, including web content management and organization tools; web design and development tools; video recording, production and livestreaming tools; media relations monitoring and analysis programs; social media tracking technology; graphic design and digital media tools; and customer relationship management software.

Q: What social media channels are being implemented and what strategies with them are being employed?

A: Social media has become an integral part of Bank communications. Our strategy is to utilize social and digital media to expand the reach of our content and enhance our ability to reach our stakeholders. Public Affairs uses Twitter to promote news and publications, reach educators and community development practitioners, engage with followers, and share media coverage of the bank. Ustream is used to broadcast live events, such as our president’s speeches and Bank conferences. YouTube is used to post and archive Bank videos. Facebook is used primarily to promote news, events, and publications, as well as current job openings. LinkedIn is used to recruit new employees to the Bank. Pinterest is used to share and promote visual content, and Pinterest boards are created for large bank events such as the annual Policy Summit conference or for bank publications such as the annual report. Public Affairs encourages internal and external stakeholders to “follow”/”like” the Bank wherever we have a social media presence. Measurement and analytics help us understand our social activity and impact, as well as strategies for improving communication. One of the innovative approaches we have taken with social media is to hold “Tweet Camp” in conjunction with our large conferences and events; Tweet Camp is a short Twitter basic training program that we invite conference participants to attend; we provide a brief hands-on Twitter tutorial and then we enlist those conference attendees to Tweet throughout the conference. Tweet Camp has allowed us to extend the reach of our events to the followers of our stakeholders who are attending our events, including followers of organizations that are involved and interested in issues and topics we address.

Q: How many communications team members are members of IABC? Why is the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland an ongoing corporate member? What has been beneficial about membership with IABC?

A: Many staff members in Public Affairs, including Public Affairs Vice President Iris Cumberbatch, are current IABC members. IABC provides professional development opportunities and networking events that help Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Public Affairs employees stay abreast of the latest trends in the communications field. 

Meet the Public Affairs team:

Iris Cumberbatch, Vice President of Public Affairs

Iris Cumberbatch is Vice President of Public Affairs at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Iris has held this position since 2012, leading a team of communications professionals responsible for:

• Media relations

• External communications

• Executive outreach and communications

• Internal communications

• Web services

• Graphic design

• Social and digital media

• Writing/editorial services/publication management

• Conference and event management

Prior to joining the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Iris was senior vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo Eastern Commercial Banking and Government & Institutional Banking from 2009 to 2012. Iris joined Wachovia in 2005 prior to the Wells Fargo/Wachovia merger and led corporate communications for all Wachovia General Bank segments including Retail, Small Business, Mortgage, Card & Payment Services, Distribution/Wachovia Direct Access, Commercial Banking, Business Banking, and Community Banking. Before joining Wachovia, she led communications and marketing for numerous banking, investment, and online businesses at a variety of financial institutions including Bank of America, Citibank, National Securities Clearing Corporation, Shearson Lehman Hutton/American Express, and Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. Iris began her career as a news writer with NBC News in New York and the BBC World Service in London.

Iris earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism/communications from Pennsylvania State University and her MBA from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. She also received an advanced certificate in mass communications from the University of Manchester in Manchester, UK, and is currently a PhD candidate in leadership and change at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Anne O'Shaughnessy, Communications Project Manager

Anne O'Shaughnessy is a project manager for the Community Development Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. In this role, she has strategic oversight of the department’s publications, website, and social media tools and serves as managing editor of the team’s print and electronic communiques. She also directs the development of marketing materials to support Community Development-sponsored events, including outreach events, webinars, and the Cleveland Fed’s Policy Summit on Housing, Human Capital, and Inequality.

Ms. O'Shaughnessy joined the Bank in 2006. Prior to that, she spent 17 years as a freelance business writer, serving primarily corporate and small-business clients in the financial services industry. Ms. O'Shaughnessy, who holds a B.A. degree in English from Northwestern University, was awarded a Klingenstein Fellowship at Columbia University and is working toward a Master of Arts in English at Cleveland State University.