I had an email last week from my professional association, IABC (International Association of Business Communicators), with an update on what’s happening with the association’s accreditation programme. A great deal, actually, which has given me cause to reflect on what a superb professional development opportunity accreditation is.
The formal description of the programme says accreditation offers communicators a way of demonstrating to employers, fellow communicators and themselves their ability to successfully manage and perform those tasks essential to effective organizational communication. When I took the accreditation examination 10 years ago, I saw it as a perfect way to benchmark myself against a set of proven standards.
When you pass the exam, you are then known as an accredited business communicator and can use the designator ‘ABC.’ And re this, one of the news item in last week’s email announced that, for the first time, IABC has introduced a special logo that accredited members are entitled to use on business cards, brochures, websites and other materials. I’ve now proudly got mine on my profile page.
I’ve never regretted taking part in the accreditation process. And process is probably a good word – accreditation is no simple undertaking, involving as it does the preparation of a portfolio to demonstrate how well you understand the principles and practice of communication planning, execution and measurement, followed by a written and oral examination, all of which is judged by your peers. I’ve also been an accreditation examiner myself.
To get an idea of what the written and oral exams entail, take a look at the sample exams.
I believe IABC’s accreditation programme for communicators is unmatched by any other professional association. And there are other programmes, of course, that are tailored to specific disciplines. So, in the US, you have the APR qualification if you’re a member of the PRSA. In the UK, there are programmes run by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Institute of Public Relations, for example. Associations in other countries have their own professional development programmes.
The difference with IABC’s programme is that it enables you to secure a recognized professional qualification that isn’t limited to demonstrating your knowledge and abilities in purely one or just a few areas of organizational communication. It’s ideal if your career has embraced the wide spectrum of organizational communication – PR, employee communication, corporate communication, investor relations, and so forth. Indeed, if you have had lots of experience but focused in only one or perhaps two areas, it’s unlikely you would be able to meet the requirements for taking accreditation.
I give a call to every IABC member who hasn’t yet taken the route to accreditation to consider it, either for the first time or again. You will never regret it. And here’s your opportunity to find out more about becoming an ABC – participate in Getting Accredited in 2005: Developing Your Portfolio, IABC’s first teleseminar on accreditation taking place on 19 January 2005.
So, in sum, accreditation helps you judge whether you really do know what you think you do, and how effective you are at doing what you do. That’s it’s true value.