In a speech entitled The Battleground is Trust delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, global PR leader Richard Edelman notes that the codes of ethics and conduct of professional membership organizations like IABC and others are worthwhile. However, in the wake of the recent Bell Pottinger scandal, Edelman believes current standards do not go far enough to enforce ethical behavior and we must do better as an industry to regulate our practice.
Edelman states, “We need a set of principles that are universal, consistent, and well understood across the industry. The time has come to adhere to a single set of strong standards, and to hold all of our people accountable to them.” Edelman called for a PR Compact encompassing four principles of a global standard to regulate and enforce ethical practices that may serve to rebuild public trust in our institutions. He then called on like-minded groups globally to partner for ensuring the standard is followed around the world.
As the only global association for professional communicators, IABC applauds this initiative. We firmly stand by our Code of Ethics to guide the personal conduct of our member practitioners and we look forward to participating in this critical conversation about industry regulation on a global scale.
We have always believed professional communicators are at the heart of building trust, advising and holding executives accountable to authentic leadership, and driving business results through ethical practice within their organizations. In fact, the thrust of our #IABC1720 strategy to advance the profession is underpinned by our IABC Global Standard encompassing six core principles of professional practice where ethics stands at the top.
The second Leadership Forum for the new board year brought out another great turnout for our monthly online conversation. The Forum provides an opportunity to connect and collaborate with the IABC leadership community from around the world.
Highlights from our August session include important updates from our Acting Executive Director, Stephanie Doute, and a comprehensive update on certification from the chair of the Global Communication Certification Council, Terry Cerisoles. We have many exciting and valuable initiatives being advanced across our organization.
Check it all out here:
Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s a link to the first Leadership Forum of 2016-17, held in July with a view of the priorities for the year ahead along with updates on initiatives since World Conference.
I hope you’ll save the dates below for the upcoming Forums and join in our monthly exchanges aimed at building greater connections and engagement to advance the success of our IABC!
28 September, 10 a.m. PDT
26 October 26, 2 p.m. PDT
16 November, 10 a.m. PST
14 December, 2 p.m. PST
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any input, comments, questions and insights.
Thank you so much for your dedication, leadership and support.
Some time has passed since IABC first embarked on the journey towards a new global credential for communication professionals: the CMP (or Communication Management Professional, for those who are ‘acronymed out’!).
The program is in full swing, with graduates around the globe now able to include these all-important letters after their name. IABC has of course been dedicated to setting a standard for professional communication for decades, most notably with the development of the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation that is still held by hundreds of professionals worldwide. This commitment to setting a global standard for professional communication practice paved the way for the association to enter into the development of the new CMP credential.
So, why is certification the right choice for IABC?
This is a question that came up back in 2013 and people are still asking us. For me this was the result of a number of threads that all became intertwined at the same time. If we cast our minds back to the 2011-14 strategic plan, the IEB sought to align all IABC’s programs in support of communication professionals’ careers. At the same time, the Accreditation Committee had highlighted several key issues for the long-term sustainability of the ABC program. In looking at the various options open to IABC in response to this, certification emerged as an avenue that could meet the association’s needs in many ways:
Assessment for certification depends on a body of knowledge for the profession – this could also be a basis for other programs for professional development, awards, etc. and for the association’s content strategy. (This body of knowledge is developed by and with the profession to make sure it represents what we should know and the skills we should have.)
Assessment is based on an exam and evaluation is in no way subjective
The volunteer commitment to run the program is much less intensive
The process around certification (as opposed to accreditation or other similar programs) reduces liability for the association, as it is related only to the body of knowledge
The ISO 17024 standard for professional certification programs provides a framework for building the program; meeting this standard sets our program apart from any other in the world
Why does ISO matter?
Once certification was determined to be the right way of moving ahead, IABC had a decision to make: figure this out on our own or follow the international standard for the management of professional certification programs. It chose the latter for a number of reasons:
No other communication association has an ISO-standard certification program; this differentiates us from the competition by having a built-in level of credibility
As an international association, IABC wanted a truly global credential, not one that only met the standards of one country
The ISO guidelines apply to the management of the program and provide quality assurance for the administration and development of the credential. This is critical in showing people, particularly those outside our profession, that all aspects of the program conform to international standards of best practice
It provided guidance as to how to establish the program (we didn’t need to figure this out on our own) and would avoid having to retrofit the program later on and make (potentially costly) changes to how the program is administered
Recognition of ISO standards in industries and markets across the globe is very high, which would give visibility to our certification program. Many organizations have to meet ISO standards (for compliance with health & safety, for example) and there is increasing interest in setting standards for professions at the ISO level
The pursuit of the ISO standard is voluntary and shows IABC’s commitment to meeting the highest possible standards for its certification program
Given that IABC is seeking to establish the value and impact of this important new program, I think that its focus on making it the best it can be from the outset is admirable. It will help build credibility amongst anyone who is trying to learn more about it, not least of which the hiring managers around the world who are going to be curious to know what is behind the new set of letters they are seeing after communication professionals’ names in years to come.
I am honestly thrilled to see the progress that has been made with the certification program and I am impressed with how much it is being embraced by our organization worldwide. This is all thanks to the commitment of the series of IEB members since the journey began, as well as the hundreds of people who have been involved in bringing certification to life. I have been lucky to witness this from the inside, from my time on the Career Roadmap Committee where I saw all the various streams begin to align, and then as part of the inaugural Global Communication Certification Council (where I co-chaired the exam committee). The current GCCC is in the process of developing the next level of exam to bring the designation to an even broader group of professionals. It’s incredible just how far things have come in such a short space of time. Learn more about Certification.
I can vouch for the passion and drive that has been a huge part of realizing IABC’s vision for certification and I am still massively confident in what it will do for IABC, for communication professionals around the world and for raising awareness of what we do to people who are far less familiar than we are. The journey is far from over, but I hope you’ll join us all on it.
Neil is Past Chair of IABC EMENA and has served on numerous IABC committees, notably the inaugural Global Communication Certification Council. Neil is a Regional Leader of the Year and in 2015 received the Rae Hamlin Award for services to professional certification. He is currently Vice Chair of the Program Advisory Committee and will chair the 2018 World Conference in Montreal.
This is the first World Conference where professional development credits can be collected this way. It is an essential part of our strategic commitment to certification—and to lifelong learning opportunities.
If the financial crisis didn’t teach us anything else, then it hopefully taught us that it is not just commercial firms that need to operate professionally and with a solid business model.
Non-profits need to do that too, and increasingly we see expectations like this put on government departments as well. What is common across all of these? These organisations need solid professional communicators to support them. Don’t take my word for it. Take SAP’s CEO – our keynote speaker earlier [at #IABC15] – take his word for it.
What can you expect from me? I will follow the path Russell has forged for visible leadership at IABC. At the time Russell took over we needed a strong central figure to continue to hold things together. Looking at this room, and reflecting on the progress we have made – as challenging as it has been – I would like to venture to say that we now need a thousand leaders to stand up and be counted.
We have a thousand leaders in this association.
You’re a highly engaged bunch. You’re kind. You’re hard working. And you’re demanding.
So what will I do to help you? I will do my utmost to live what we want the tone around here to be:
Accessible Open Lighter Contemporary Professional
To that end, and accompanying the now once-again regular quarterly reports I am instituting a quarterly progress call – the corporates amongst you will know it as an earnings call – but we of course have no shareholders. We do however have stakeholders and we need to continue to have regular exchanges, as piloted this year as ‘open mics’. Look out for an invite to a Google Hangout where you can hold me, and the board, to account, ask questions and get straight answers.
I will also kick off a new conversation once a month – aligned with the IABC editorial calendar – and I encourage you to participate, or indeed, kick off your own.
What do I hope to review with you when I stand here next year?