What's going on with the International Association of Business Communicators?
In the last week, I've seen two communications from these folks that have disturbed me.
Last Friday I got an email from Neil Griffiths, chair of IABC's annual World Conference. This conference was long a sought-after, prestigious platform for industry speakers. From the sounds of it, the platform is desperately seeking speakers. (Even this speaker, who is disliked by a number of IABC muckety-mucks for my journalistic coverage of the association over the years.)
"With a few days to go before the deadline for submissions for IABC's World Conference in Montréal next year, I want to encourage you to consider sharing your perspective with communication professionals from around the world," Griffiths wrote. And continued:
If you're thinking about doing this (even only slightly!) I hope this message will motivate you to submit. There is still time.
I have been where you possibly are now—contemplating whether what I have to say is worthy of the event. But, I overcame that in 2015, submitting a proposal to speak about how to thrive when working in an unsupportive environment. I was shocked to have even been selected, and even more so to then be rated in the top 10 breakout sessions that year. I think my experience shows what can happen, and there's no reason this can't happen to you too—but only if you apply! …
Of course, there are many other reasons to go for it: the recognition you'll get being on the program, the connections you'll make at conference, generous registration benefits and, of course, being in our amazing host city of Montréal. But mostly, it's about sharing what you have to say with like-minded people from all parts of the globe. And honestly, the online submission system couldn't be easier to use.
I can't wait to review your proposal and to get the opportunity to deliver a world-class event next year together with you.
I missed the deadline on purpose—I've got too much going on at the moment to think of this now, or speak at the conference next year—but I've gotta say, Griffiths' email didn't make me think twice.
Then this week, IABC promoted a membership drive on Facebook. See if you agree that its tone lacks the gravitas of an association whose tradition goes back to 1970, when it was formed by the merger of the American Association of Industrial Editors and the International Council of Industrial Editors.
We’re psyched to announce Röcktober—a month-long, mind-blowing awesome membership drive.
Amp up you career, connect with a network of industry rock star colleagues, and attain perfectly tuned insights to drive business results.
Are you with us?
Learn more and join our band at rockit.iabc.com
BTW … when you join during Röcktober (1 October – 31 October) you’ll get a 10% discount on dues!
I run a professional association, too. I also need to get people's attention. I walk up to the hairy edge of hyperbole and breathlessness in order to do it. ALL-CAPS or no all-caps? Exclamation points or no exclamation points!? What keeps me careful not to step over that edge is the knowledge that the dignity of the institution is an important part of its value.
People wanted to speak at IABC's World Conference because it was seen as prestigious to do so. Whereas conference companies would call you and ask you to appear at their events, you had to apply to speak at IABC. And no one was cajoling you to do so.
As for "Röcktober," Groucho Marx joked long ago that he didn't want to belong to any club that would accept him as a member. Surely people don't want to belong to a club that is begging them to be a member.
Is IABC as desperate for conference speakers and members as it sounds?
I don't know.
But if it keeps communicating like this, it will be, soon enough.