A conversation with Ned Lundquist on IABC accreditation

For business communicators, IABC accreditation is an effective way to benchmark yourself against a set of proven standards. I wrote a commentary in this blog a few weeks ago on my own beliefs in the value of this excellent professional development programme.

My blog post is just one particular message, though. What do you really know about the IABC accreditation programme? What are the requirements? What help can you get to prepare? And how do we get the story out to more communicators?

Ned Lundquist is the man who can answer such questions. So we sat down in cyberspace and had a chat…

Ned, I understand you are the marketing director for IABC’s International Accreditation Board. Is that right.

That’s correct, Neville.

Does that mean that you are selling accreditation?

I’m not selling accreditation, but I am promoting the value of becoming accredited, and the value of the process through which one becomes accredited.

You are an American. Is the IABC accreditation program geared towards Americans?

Neville, you and I speak the same language, and our ancestors received spiritual guidance at Stonehenge, or plundered some villages near there. But you drink your beer warm and drive on the wrong side of the road. Does that mean you are not a good communicator?

[Ned pauses for virtual dramatic effect. Neville is virtually stumped.]

Accreditation through IABC means that you have met a global standard. Not a Washington, D.C. standard (actually Washington has no standards), or a North American standard, but a universal standard. We agree on the basic fundamentals of good business communications are universal truths. That’s the standard we use. Undergoing the scrutiny and passing the portfolio and the exam means you have met that global standard. Even more, it’s a personal statement about yourself.

You don’t like warm beer?

I have an MGB, Neville, and I’ll never forgive the UK for that damn electrical system, but when it comes to understanding our messages, key constituencies, having some useful research and analysis and basing our measurable objectives upon that research, and creating a sensible plan and executing it in a professional manner, and evaluating our results against the measurable objectives, well, that’s something we do, or should do everywhere.

You mentioned measurable objectives, do you have measurable objectives for the IABC accreditation program?

I sure do. I want to double the number of ABCs [accredited business communicators] in 2005. Then I want to double that number again in 2006. That means each ABC needs to be personally responsible for bringing in one new ABC next year, and just one more the year after. My goal is 2006 by 2006.

Ned, does direct marketing figure into your plans?

Absolutely. Each ABC needs to reach out and touch someone they know and believe is a good communicator and encourage them to undertake this process. That’s pretty direct.

Do you think a lot of our fellow communicators can pass the test?

I most certainly do. Beyond the fact that the test is a very fair assessment of one’s experience, knowledge and expertise, I feel strongly that most communicators with at least five years in the business have already accomplished the kind of work needed for a portfolio and could pass the test if we administered it right here and now.

But there are all kinds of resources to help you, like mentors, workshops and funshops to guide your way, and some helpful publications. But the test isn’t based on some body of knowledge. It’s based on what you should already know. You are the body of knowledge.

That’s quite a stirring image, Ned, that body of knowledge.

Your body, not mine. But take it from me, a guy who isn’t the brightest bulb in the marquis. If I can do it, so can you, and your fellow communicators. I should mention that passing your ABC doesn’t require that you demonstrate that you are the best communicator, you just have to show that you are a good, solid communicator.

Thanks, Ned. Care for an ice-cold Heineken?

More information about IABC accreditation:

Ned Lundquist, ABC, is Director of Corporate Communications for the Center for Security Strategies and Operations at Anteon Corporation of Fairfax, Virginia, USA. In addition to his wide-ranging IABC volunteersim activities, Ned is creator of JOTW, the email newsletter community for communicators who are seeking jobs and/or have jobs to offer. Written about in the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company (see my post in August), JOTW now has over 7,500 subscribers.