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June 10, 2014

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Why is it that communication organizations can be so brain dead when it comes to communications?

It's inexplicable, Glynn. But not inevitable.

Re >You know: reporting.<

Good for you.

A couple of years ago I let BAK's Report go silent, after more than a decade of covering IABC activities, decisions, events, and more, usually but not always with no response from the PR people of the day, nor the'elected' people of the day, when I asked questions.

I actually believe in the power of public relations.

And IABC is, in large part, an organization of PR people. (Terrible IABC management makes it unclear just how many are PR people and how many are newsletter editors and how many do something else for a living. They seem to self-define with no guidance.)

I'm going to go walk my dog, but before we head out, one last thought.

IABC has turned into an association dedicated to selling courses and training, financed by members' money.

I take issue with that when I write as a commentator.

Can anyone find anything I ever wrote about IABC that was not accurate?

BAK

David nails it.

Well guys, we had our IABC Annual General Meeting yesterday, where we confirmed what had been posted previously : that we had a $529k deficit for the year, but that we remain financially stable.

We have over $1.5m in savings and investments still intact after
money drawn down to cover the deficit.

Despite efficiency savings achieved at the Association’s headquarters of $277k during 2013, the deficit arose primarily due to the significant expenses incurred in renewing IT infrastructure, which includes website upgrading and new membership database software.

This investment follows a period of seven years in which almost no investment was made in the Association’s IT assets.

(IABC has been working on a new website for several months and yes, work has been delayed due to switching to a new vendor earlier this year, but we reported yesterday our new website should be up and kicking later in the year.)

One time staff severance costs also contributed to the deficit in 2013, along with legal expenses related to staff changes and other issues.

The single greatest ongoing expense for IABC remains its lease of offices in San Francisco, which is $430k annually.

The lease was signed in the last decade and is locked in until 2016, however IABC is investigating options in order to reduce this expense.

IABC’s two main sources of revenue are membership dues and fees which were $2.9M in 2013, and its conferences and awards programmes which generated $2.4M.

These two sources, plus other income, provided total revenue of $5.7M.

Revenue was down, however, from 2012 by $680k. This follows a global trend for associations, which has seen membership and attendance at conferences declining overall – driven partly by generational differences and advances in technology.

The AGM – and the World Conference more broadly – also reported on the progress of several key initiatives we're running.

IABC’s Certification Program is now wellunder way. When complete, certification will offer communication professionals the opportunity to achieve a professional standard based on global communication principles.

In addition, IABC is pursuing certification through the International Standards Organization (ISO). The first offering, expected early next year, will be CMP: Communication Management Professional.

The Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), an autonomous body sponsored by IABC that will oversee the certification program, has met and completed a number of tasks related to establishing the CMP and creating the study and examination process.

The IABC Academy has been established as the Association’s new training and development initiative. Offerings from the Academy will start shortly.

The IABC Brand Task Force met with a group of volunteers drawn from members and chapter leaders to further progress the work on developing a new brand for IABC, with the aim of creating a brand that feels more current, more intentionally global, strategic and forward-thinking.

IABC’s strategy for 2014-17 also progressed (tweets were posted during the session using the hashtag #iabc1417). The strategy session, which was attended by regional leaders and members of the International Executive Board, looked at the burning issues facing the organization and what
actions can be taken over the next year, quarter-by-quarter. Short-term priorities for 2014-17 are

- financial sustainability along with continuing efforts to develop value for members and leaders, and

- consolidating gains from the 2011-14 strategy.

Further discussion about the strategy will be held with members over the coming weeks.

The Association is also looking at aligning its awards programs offered at chapter, region and international level. The awards alignment program is in the midst of a pilot with a handful of chapters, and at the conclusion of the pilot, an offering for chapters and regions will be developed.

On Monday night at the World Conference, IABC presented 278 Gold Quill Awards to winners from across the globe.

In total, more than 1300 communication professionals from around the world attended the World Conference in Toronto, making it one of,if not the, largest conference of its type in the world.

The Conference has been roundly praised for its innovative content and attendees have been very complimentary of the sessions and the networking.

Russell, thanks for offering this thorough summary, unbidden.

Of course I have a few questions about it--e.g., what's happened to the Career Road Maps? What's your plan to make the ABCs feel other than like they're wearing a Bobcat Badge at an Eagle Scout convention? And what's your vision for how IABC might look in terms of membership in five years, in light of the trends of which you speak?

My readers may have more questions too.

But it may be too soon to answer some of those questions, and we may all be too tired to read the rest.

So here's what I propose: To use the above as a guide for a conversation between me and you (and Carlos too, preferably) ... so I can make a kind of interim report, say in January, on where the association is, and where it hopes to be by next June ... in San Francisco, momentously enough!

Again, very much appreciate your reaching out; I'm obviously happy to talk anytime, and look forward to a better year, for all of us.

Sincerely,

David Murray

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Writing Boots readers will enjoy David Murray's memoir of his parents, who were real-life advertising Mad Men. Learn who these people really were, and how they raised us all.