Speaking out on IABC advocacy

In last Thursday’s FIR #436 podcast, I reported on a call to action by current IABC Chair, Barbara Gibson, concerning moves by the New Zealand government to reduce the number of communications staff in government as part of its efforts to better manage budgets, among other things.

IABC issued an open letter from Barb to Tony Ryall, the NZ government minister, protesting the proposed staffing cuts, arguing that “professional, effective organizational communication is not about ‘spin,’ it is about ensuring the organization achieves its objectives.”

[…] It ensures that key stakeholders, whether employees or customers or citizens or investors are informed and engaged and listened to. It includes two-way communication channels, providing insight for leaders to make sound decisions. It increases awareness and understanding, gains buy-in and cooperation, educates, explains and motivates.

Now more than ever, citizens need to understand their leaders’ goals and the rationale for their decisions to be motivated and committed to achieving those goals. Open and clear lines of two-way communication in government are even more important today, with public speculation and fear about how the economy will affect them as individuals and their country.

In her post on Thursday about this issue, Barb acknowledges that IABC’s letter alone may not get the attention of the government minister and urges IABC members to support the call.

[…] Join me in advocating for the communication profession. Let’s employ all the tools in our collective communication arsenal.  Let’s take this opportunity to educate the world about the critical role communication plays in organizational success.  Send a letter, blog about it, tweet, send a press release, conduct a poll, discuss it on a podcast. Let your voice be heard.

I’ve been an active IABC member for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve seen IABC adopt a strong advocacy position on an issue like this. It’s great to see a public stand by the Chair of the association, which I believe is wholly in line with IABC’s plans for advocacy.

As an aside: does everyone clearly understand the term ‘advocacy’? Wikipedia’s definition of advocacy is a good one, in particular this clear descriptor:

[…] advocacy can be seen as a deliberate process of speaking out on issues of concern in order to exert some influence on behalf of ideas or persons.

That undoubtedly fits.

Regarding Barb’s specific advocacy call, I think it’s a highly appropriate issue to address, whether its happening in New Zealand or anywhere else.

As Barb notes:

The job you save (and the organization you save) could be your own.

Other than a handful of re-tweets of Barb’s original tweet on April 2 and the FIR report, the only commentary I’ve seen about Barb’s call to action is a post from my podcasting partner Shel Holtz on Friday, plus the conversation developing in the comments to Barb’s post.

Come on, IABC members (and communicators everywhere), you can do better than this!

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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