International Association of Business Communicators
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The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communications professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communications. With approximately 14,000 members and 100 chapters IABC enables members in diverse industries and disciplines to identify, share, and apply the world's best communication practices. The association was founded in 1970 by merging the American Association of Industrial Editors (AAIE) with the International Council of Industrial Editors (ICIE). The IABC Foundation was created as part of IABC in 1982.
IABC provides professional development, career growth opportunities and networking for people around the globe who work in a wide variety of industries including healthcare, technology, energy, retail, government and banking. IABC members typically hold roles in marketing, human resources, public relations and internal communications; many are independent consultants and strategists. IABC offers professional, corporate, student and retired memberships. The IABC job board connects employers with job seekers in the communications field.
Each summer, IABC hosts World Conference, a three-day event with professional development seminars and activities, as well as talks by industry leaders. Conference speakers in the 2013 and 2014 included Richard Edelman, Shelly Lazarus,Peter Cuneo, Lesley Jane Seymour of More Magazine, Cindy Gallop of MakeLoveNotPorn and a panel of CEOs from Undercover Boss Canada talking about insights into employee engagement.
IABC's Gold Quill Awards is one of the only international program recognizing the projects in a marketing, communications, public relations, design and journalism.
IABC supports several awards programs, professional development conferences and webinars, as well as networking events. It also publishes a monthly digital magazine called Communication World (CW), as well as studies on communications. IABC partnered with Human 1.0, Society for New Communications Research and Great Place to Work on a Social Workplace Trust Study released in late 2013. It found that when employees are allowed to post on social media about their organization, they're happier at work and feel more trust in their leadership.
Decisions within the organization are made by a two-thirds vote of the executive board, which is elected by members. IABC members agree to follow a professional code of ethics, which encourages members to do what is legal, ethical and in good taste.
IABC's predecessor was the American Association of Industrial Editors (AAIE), which was founded in 1938. AAIE became a member of the International Council of Industrial Editors (ICIE) in 1941. It withdrew from ICIE in 1946 over policy differences, but formed IABC when it merged again in 1970. In IABC's first year of operation, the association had 2,280 members and was focused on internal communications. IABC's research showed its members were moving into positions with broader public relations responsibilities and the association expanded its scope. In 1974 it merged with Corporate Communicators Canada.
In 1982 the association formed the IABC Research Foundation, which funded a study of 323 organizations in the 1980s to determine what made some public relations teams more effective than others. The study found that executive involvement in communications was the best predictor of effectiveness. The Research Foundation also looked into the status and pay of women in the public relations field, in a pioneering study called The Velvet Ghetto.
IABC had financial troubles in 2000 after losing $1 million in an e-business initiative called TalkingBusinessNow. In 2001 a grass-roots initiative was started within IABC's membership that eventually developed into the Gift of Communication program, whereby members donated their professional services to local charities. Membership grew 7–9 percent each year in the 2000s due to an increasing number of practitioners in the field of internal communications. IABC hosted its first annual world conference in 2005 and grew to more than 16,000 members by 2008. That same year, IABC accredited Chinese citizens for the first time in the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) program.
In 2009 the IABC Research Foundation conducted a survey that found 79 percent of respondents frequently use social media to communicate with employees. It also co-authored a study the following year that found email and intranet were the most common internal communications tools among respondents.
For 40 years, the association offered an accreditation program called Accreditation for Business Communications (ABC). By the time the program ended in 2013, a total of 1,003 people had earned ABC status. Though the program stopped accepting new applicants in September 2012, ABCs will be recognized as long as they maintain their membership in IABC. A new professional certification program to replace accreditation with a more affordable, computer-based process was proposed in January 2013. The goal is to set an international standard for all communications professionals that will be recognized by an organization such as ISO17024. The autonomous international group to oversee the creation of the new certification program — the Global Communication Certification Council — was appointed in February 2014. For more information, see Certification.
IABC offers professional, corporate, student and retired memberships. Corporate members include The William K. Kellogg Foundation, Wells Fargo, KPMG Canada and Cisco. Representatives from different chapters and regions, as well as professional members, vote at the Annual General Meeting to elect members to the international executive board. The board can change dues, establish new chapters, create workgroups and remove members with a two-thirds vote. IABC also has various committees focused on ethics, research, finance, auditing and others. All positions within IABC are filled by volunteers. The International Board Chair for 2013–14 is Robin McCasland of Texas, USA. She will be succeeded in June 2014 by Russell Grossman ABC of London, United Kingdom. The Immediate Past Chair is Kerby Myers of Colorado, USA.
IABC hosts networking events and mentoring programs to help recent graduates connect with working public relations, marketing and corporate communications professionals. Most professional members join IABC to further their career advancement, professional development and to grow their professional network. IABC is no longer accepting new applicants for its Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) program, but a new certification program has been initiated that would involve computerized testing and renewals every three years. The new certification program will have two levels; the first level being developed is for Communications Generalists.
IABC publishes a code of ethics, which has three principles: that professional communications be legal, ethical and in good taste. It says members should be sensitive to cultural values, as well as be truthful, accurate and respectful. Before 1995, the code said "Communicators should encourage frequent communication and messages that are honest in their content, candid, accurate and appropriate to the needs of the organization and its audiences."
IABC hosts the Gold Quill Awards, which are bestowed at three levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze. The Gold Quill is an international awards program that's open to both members and non- members. The Silver and Bronze Quills are conducted at a local chapter level and open to both members and non-members. The awards are bestowed for "creatively and effectively communicating" in measurable ways that contribute to the local community. In 2014 the Gold Quill has four divisions and more than 40 categories. Both the Gold Quill and some of the regional chapters offer special awards for college students.
- Brent D. Ruben and Stacy M. Smulowitz (August 15, 2007). Core Communication: A Guide to Organizational Assessment, Planning and Improvement. International Association of Business Communicators. ISBN 1888015543.
- International Association of Business Communicators (January 1982). Without bias: a guidebook for nondiscriminatory communication. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-08561-4.
- Tamara Gillis; IABC (21 March 2011). The IABC Handbook of Organizational Communication: A Guide to Internal Communication, Public Relations, Marketing, and Leadership. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-01635-0.
IABC also publishes a monthly digital magazine Communication World. Recent issues have shared researched and first-person, expert articles on connecting with Millennials, social intranets and crisis communications.
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- Communication World (CW)