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September 14, 2009


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So without IABC Dallas, these lovely people would be alone, voiceless and unable to move forward in life? I'm not an IABC member, and clearly I have really been missing out...

(Reminds me of that old Al Franken SNL bit Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley - "I'm a strategist, a writer, and gosh darn it people like me.")

Well, Rueben, you're a pretty good networker; you speak at conferences, you comment on blogs. A lot of communicators don't have a point of view as strong as yours, or the confidence to get it across.

To them, IABC is a huge help--their Rolodex, their school and their support group all rolled into one.

It's a useful organization, as evidenced by its survival for a half century (it was once called the International Council of Industrial Editors).

But when a big IABC chapter goes to show the kind of communication that IABCers can do--and it produces hackneyed horseshit like this--it's embarrassing.

It oughtn't be the weakest IABCers at the controls in a situation like this, but the strongest.

And let's hope the most talented IABC Dallas members could produce something more creative, compelling, hip, honest, communicative, interesting and human than this.

Exactly. I have no problem with IABC. Like most professional associations, I have no doubt it is really valuable for its members. It's just that this kind of presentation doesn't demonstrate that to people outside the organization, and it also doesn't do a whole lot to prove the value of communications to "non-believers" outside the profession.

(For the record, I'm a horrible networker. And what you describe as the "confidence" to voice my point of view is really just me sometimes being too stupid to keep it zipped. But your version sounds better.)

Since I don't live, and have never been to Dallas, I can't credibly comment on how their IABC chapter does things.

MY chapter, here in Toronto, has been very helpful for me in the eight years I've been a member. They have a locally-maintained website which includes career opportunity postings that have more than once gotten me a job.

They also do excellent skills development seminars at very reasonable costs, and host larger local conferences that include people like Ron Shewchuk and Steve Crescenzo as speakers.

Of course, they also do strictly social "munch-and-mingle" events, which don't interest me, but, I'm sure the younger communicators enjoy them, so that's okay too.

I might also note, that any IABC chapter is only as good as the participation of local communicators can make it. These local chapters don't usually have the kind of financial wherewithal the national organization can access, and the need for local communicators to get involved and volunteer is critical to making the chapter something valuable and useful.

It would be interesting to hear the opinion of any of your readers who live in, or are members of IABC Dallas about this video. After all - it IS their chapter.

Kristen, Dallas and Toronto are, and have been for some time, two of the very most active, well-run chapters in IABC.

I can vouch personally for IABC Dallas, because I've spoken at its annual awards luncheon and known many of its members well and I actually KNOW they can produce better stuff than this.

Which wouldn't be hard. (Defending it, on the other hand .....)

OK, grouchy, what does *your* video do? Skydiving? Parkours? Tattoos? An indie soundtrack? Hip-hop and gang signs?

I'll grant you, no video should contain more than one "empower," and zero isn't too few. But that video sums up a lot of the things that IABC did for me when I was starting out. They can't come right out and say, "Your colleagues provide the peer support you can't get at your workplace."

If they just dropped all the "empowers" the remaining message is pretty good.


As they say in Dallas, this video is all platitudes and no ponies.

Who's going to sit still for a video that "sums up" experiences that members have had?

You want to grab new members? (Which is the stated goal of IABC's Film Festival .....)

You've got to use video to tell real, dramatic stories about how IABC got communicators out of hot water, saved their jobs, helped find them jobs, introduced them to mentors who changed their lives ... or showed them the difference between a corporate thumb-sucker and a video that really communicates!

That's what video is for—dramatic, emotional storytelling.

But if you're going to read straight out of the brochure, I can do that myself, on my own time.


Oscar the Grouch

I'm with you on this one, David. The video is mediocre at best. It's possible to take the seemingly driest subject and turn it into something compelling. A video our friend Steve Crescenzo shows in his Creative Communications workshop is a good example -- the one in which nurses at a hospital talk about what makes their jobs so special. It was moving and compelling because it was real.

We communicators have never been good at talking about our profession or our professional associations.

But I wouldn't lay all the blame at the feet of IABC/Dallas. They're just following the lead of the parent association, which plays it safe more often than taking too many creative risks.

Hey, Tim, I'm here. Waiting to be convinced. Been taking a look at what IABC chapters have to offer for the past year-plus, and walk away every time uninspired. Please make a video that might inspire me. I'll let you know if does. I'm always hungry for good opportunity, knowledge and comraderie. Thanks.


The Cookie Monster

I do not defend IABC Dallas, its video, or IABC overall. However, this points to a larger issue for me: Talking about what we do is hard. You can boil it down, but when you do, it starts to sound condescending and arrogant. In other words, how do you politely say,

"I tell execs what to say so people will listen to them and do what the company needs them to do" ??


"I tell companies what to say and how to say it when they're increasing the rates on healthcare coverage while not giving raises in the hopes that the stock price will improve" ??


"I help keep companies credible to their employees by helping them put out information and materials that are easy to read, to the point, and if not visually appealing, clean and readable"??

It's easy to jump to platitudes like "grow your career" (ugh - hate the use of "grow" that way) when you have to avoid giving examples of what we really do.

We shold avoid those platitudes, of course, but it it's not easy to walk that fine line between telling the truth of what we do and insulting those for whom we do it.

The IABC video wasn't trying to explain what we do, it was trying to show what IABC does for communicators. The only way to do that is by having communicators offer one story or one heartfelt expression at a time about how IABC has helped them be more effective, more secure in their careers or happier. Shouldn't be hard.

As for explaining what communicators do, I've never had a hard time:

They're a small band of people who help get management's point of view across to employees, and employees' perspective across to management. They're the only people in the organization dedicated to that, and they're particularly good at it, because they know how to communicate.

Nothing condescending about that, is there? In fact, it's hard to imagine an organization dumb enough to try to get along without this crew.

You assume that you insult your employers when you describe how you succesfully advise them on communication.

They were smart enough to hire us. They are smart enough to listen to our(sometimes naive) advice. They are smart enough to take our advice (when they do, which is what we should talk about).

Why would it be insulting to your employer for you to state that you benefit the organization?

David, I love your definition of what employee communicators do. I'm going to steal it. Like, this weekend when I'm telling a friend of mine what I do because she hasn't the foggiest.

There. Your writing has had an effect on someone somewhere.

It's Miller Time.

Proving again that you're smarter than I am, DaMurr.

Nonsense, Amy. You do it. I only talk about doing it. When I've tried to do it, I have fucking failed. More on that very soon.

I'm fascinated. Don't keep me waiting.

See the Sept. 18 entry, goof!

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