Jack O'Dwyer reports today on a 10-day-old proposal to change IABC's Accredited Business Communicator credential (ABC) to a Certified Communications Professional "certification" (CCP).
Unlike the ABCs, holders of the CCP would have to renew their certification every three years by undergoing a process "that will emphasize professional development activities, including formal continuing education and other options, such as teaching, writing, research and acceptable volunteer activities. There will be either an annual maintenance fee or a single, multi-year renewal fee."
The CCP test itself will be less labor-intensive for IABC staffers than the ABC process, whose portfolios and in-person exams reportedly cost many person-hours. The new test will be online.
Conversants on IABC's LinkedIn group are pretty upset. People who have earned their ABC accreditation naturally doubt the association's assurances that their designation will continue to be honored long after the process has been mothballed. They also doubt its rigor. "A Multiple. Choice. Test. Online. Sweet biscuits, is this a joke?" wrote Tim Hicks, a "lapsed ABC." "This in place of a portfolio review and a grueling 4.5-hour exam with an oral component? ... They might as well print the certifications on soft, perforated paper so they will at least be good for something."
Michael Sponhour, the ABC who originally shared an email that ABC holders received with broader readership at the LinkedIn group, objects in the strongest terms: "I am strongly opposed to this entire direction which looks like a way for IABC to make money and goad people into attending events and working for chapters. I already pay my hefty annual dues out of my own pocket and there is absolutely no way I am going to pay more money to obtain a certification that certainly looks less rigorous than what we have today."
And finally, Shawn Cass, ABC, objected to the timing of accreditation chair Gloria Walker's Friday-afternoon announcement. Why, she asked, "must all important IABC communication come at the close of the work week?"
Walker responded on LinkedIn that the program is up for discussion. She says the old one isn't sustainable, mainly because there aren't enough volunteers to run it the old way, "which is griding a halt due to the increase in candidates and the amount of time it takes for them to complete it and the number of volunteer hours required."
I'll keep an ear on the conversation, but it'll be a casual ear. Accreditation was always a way for communicators who feel the need for official legitimacy—a tin badge, a notarization seal, or as O'Dwyer pointed out in an email to me, Scarecrow's diplomas—and, ABC or CCP, it always will be.
While accredited communicators did bond over having mutually passed what most of them considered to be a rigorous test—and their war stories about studying and exam-taking were part of IABC's culture—nobody who wasn't accredited ever seemed too terribly impressed with the ABC initials.
Communicator and humorist Dan Danbom got his ABC long ago. The only difference it made in his career, he said years later, was that sometimes farsighted conference attendees would squint at the accreditation designation on his nametag and call him "Mr. Abick."
Good to meet you, Mr. Chips.