Recollections of IABC's Early Days

By Bachrach, Hank | Communication World, May-June 1990 | Go to article overview

Recollections of IABC's Early Days


Bachrach, Hank, Communication World


It's the 20th birthday year for IABC. But don't think IABC was born full-grown at a communication conference in Pittsburgh, PA. in June 1970. Far from it. The structure, the services, the values, the membership resulted from the work and effort of people working in pioneering communication organizations 10, 20 and even 30 years before 1970. During those pre-IABC years they put down the solid foundation on which IABC could build.

And those early efforts were not made by top management in several companies, as well as several management organizations, who saw the growing value of communication and put their support behind communicators and those early communication organizations.

The chronology of those early communication organizations appears on other pages in this issue. What follows are the recollections of one of those who took part in the creation and development of values, services and strategies of those early organizations, who lent support in the joining together that resulted in IABC, and helped adapt and improve what had been done earlier.

First, from what seeds did IABC's invaluable services grow? The awards programs? The structure of chapters and districts? The publications? The surveys that provide profiles of organization communicators, their status, their earnings, their education? The number of males and females? How did the library and information service grow? How did the research that zeroed in on business communication-and what was and wasn't effective-get started? When did the relationship with management organizations begin?

Here's a brief look at how some of those projects were initiated and developed so that they were ready for IABC to cultivate and improve for members.

The structure? You'll read elsewhere of the growth in the 40s of the American Association of Industrial Editors (AAIE), made up of individuals as well as of local groups in the cities and regions ... of the split resulting from the desire of local associations for an association of associations, as opposed to an association of individuals ... of how the splinter group became the National Council of Industrial Editors-much larger than the remaining AAIE group because the local networking, or association, groups went with NCIE ... and how NCIE soon became the International Council of Industrial Editors with the affiliation of the Canadian association and others.

Although professional associations treaded water during WWII, communication became more important. Many government agencies required that suppliers initiate publications to motivate employees in the support of the war effort. Major manufacturers organized all-out-war-production committees made up of employee and management representatives with communicators playing key roles.

Then with the war's end, and a booming competitive marketplace, communicators retained their importance-and their professional associations could now do much more in serving members.

Both ICIE and AAIE developed publications to serve members. AAIE provided members with a large magazine-Editors Notebook; ICIE, with many chapters, each developing new ideas, reported on the activities and ideas of chapters in news-style stories that were combined in a magazine format called Reporting.

In the late '40s ICIE, with growing chapters and rose-colored glasses, set up the first US national headquarters of a professional communication association with a paid director.

But costs of that New York City office outran income. Headquarters returned to the offices of ICIE volunteers. A heavy debt-for those days-faced the organization. Facing bankruptcy, it was saved when a charter member whose management believed in the association and its importance took over responsibility for Reporting magazine until the red ink faded ... the company was National Cash Register.

With the beginning '50s and continuing growth in internal and external publications by business, ICIE carefully developed new and needed projects and services. …

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