We Asked. You Told Us What You Need. We Listened

Article excerpt

We asked. You told us what you need. We listened.

|We asked members what they wanted most from IABC," says IABC Chairman LEs Potter, ABC. "They said they wanted more low-cost, quick information resources to help them stay ahead of communication trends and topics, and more opportunites for networking with colleagues."

What emerged, in record time, was IABC's newest service - Strategic Interest Groups - initially 13 of them, devoted to helping IABC members achieve enriched professional interaction with colleagues from around the world; and low-cost, highly developed information resources - easily accessible and immediately available.

Tapping IABC's people-power

"What we are developing is a very efficient system for delivering information as well as new networking opportunities," says Marcia Vaughan, ABC, the executive board member in charge of the Networking portfolio. "We were looking for a way for our members to tap into the people-power of IABC," she adds.

IABC's 13 Strategic Interest Groups target clusters of members under the IABC umbrella. They are designed to provide networking and timely information delivered through a variety of convenient, fast routes including facte-to-face meetings, reports, handbooks and databases.

The genesis for Strategic Interest Groups occurred in a major research study conducted last year. From the results of that study, and a follow-up study, it was clear that IABC members wanted more intensive and targeted networking opportunities. They wanted to be able to call upon colleagues both professionally and personally - not just colleagues in thier own vicinity, but elsewhere, so there would be less chance of talking with competitors in their own industry of locality.

They also wanted more information. They wanted it to be easily accessible, at low cost. And, they wanted it targeted to their specific needs, sometimes related to the industry in which they work, for example healthcare or financial services; sometimes related to the practice or discipline in which they work, such as employee communication or media relations.

When the IABC executive board analyzed the results of this extensive survey last March, it immediately created several task forces to act upon the requests IABC members had articulated. Brad Whitworth, ABC, past chairman, headed one on Networking. IABC's marketing consultant Helen Little worked with him in developing the initial Strategic Interest Group concept.

Using the member responses as guideposts, Whitworth's task force cobbled together a plan and presented the group's findings and recommendations at the IABC board meeting at the International Conference last June in Washington, D.C.

Industry gropus and practice

areas represented

"Brad's team envisioned Strategic Interest Groups as being industry-specific," Vaughan adds, "but the initial MSI research didn't really provide enough information to make that determination. So, in early August we went back to the members with another survey - this time to determine exactly what they wanted."

Vaughan's task force found that members wanted groups that not only were industry-specific, but also discipline-specific. As a result, they proposed 13 such groups. The 13 groups below are being launched in response to initial demand. Others will probably be introduced later as new interests are identified. The groups are :

- Employee Communication

- Publishing/Publications

- Marketing Communication

- Communication Reseach: Measurement and Issues

Tracking

- Consultants/Communication Services

- Media Relations

- Community Relations

- Utilities Industry

- Communication Executives

- Financial Services Industry

- Nonprofits/Associations

- Healthcare Industry

- Educators

"Also, in that second round of research we asked what services members felt would be most beneficial," says Vaughan. …

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