'Good communication is Good Business'. Doing business without communication is like solitary confinement or winking at a young girl in the dark. Research has shown that about 80 percent of our effective hours is being spent on communication -- speaking, listening, reading and writing. In fact, communication is the lifeblood of human society and every organization.
India has been practising communication from the time-immemorial. Bharata Muni, the Father of Indian Dance during the third century BC in his treatise ' Natya Shastra' not only dealt with dance drama but also spelt out the Indian communication system. Therefore, our communication practice is as old as of our 5000 years civilization.
If Lord Buddha is recognized as the Light of Asia by spreading Buddhisim in the East, If Swami Vivekananda is regarded as the symbol of Indian culture and spirituality by promoting our culture in the West and, If Mahatma Gandhi became the Father of the Nation and Man of the 20th Century by liberating India from the British,
Their secret of success was in their respective philosophies and communication methods that they adopted.
They preached only what they practiced. Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi said 'An Ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching'. This is relevant even today to make our communication system more purposeful and effective.
Although communication has always been essential for business, it has become more important today because of global competitive marketing environment on the one side and the media explosion on the other. Communication is now a 24 hour industry. As a result, the need for corporate communication has increased manifold to meet the emerging global challenges. There has been an upswing in business and organizational communication activities of corporate India- thanks to Economic Liberalization, Globalization and Privatization.
What is the state - of - the -art the Indian communication? It is a mixed legacy containing highly qualified professionals second to none in the world on the one side and many non-professionals without any professional education and training in the discipline. The distinguishing trait is the 'quantity of communication personnel' rather than the 'quality of the profession'. The need of the hour is professional excellence in business communication/corporate communications.
There is a close linkage between benchmarking and accreditation. Benchmarking is a continuous systematic process of evaluating companies recognized as industry leaders, to determine business and work processes that represent best practice and establish rational performance goal. Benchmarking is also looking for the best practice associated with the way companies operate. It is a means of assessing company and departmental performance. The purpose of benchmarking is to identify areas for improvement and to stimulate change. Benchmarking can be applied not only to companies but also to individual managers to evaluate their performance and prove their professional competence.
Accreditation is therefore the benchmark by which a communication professional can exhibit one's professional competence and quality. It is also a mark of distinction of demonstrating professional commitment and ethical practice. But accreditation is not an easy process. The professionals for accreditation all over the world are selected based on their broad knowledge, professional education, skills, strategic perspective and sound professional judgement. Their professional knowledge is tested through an examination designed by the professional association. Accredited member is not only regarded in high esteem in the profession but also preferred in recruitment rather than a non-accredited candidate.
Similar to other professions such as the Bar Examination for Lawyers, competency examination for Chartered Accountants, and proficiency test for Company Secretaries, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Headquarters in San Francisco has introduced accreditation programme for its members as Accredited Business Communicator (ABC). Earning an accreditation in business communication through IABC is a challenging process in which a communicator has to prove his professional competence with an outline of the objectives of a campaign, campaign samples, and presentation of overall communication strategy and evaluation of the results accomplished by a member. Members with a minimum of five years communication experience and a Bachelors' Degree are eligible to go through the process of accreditation. The final phase of the accreditation process consists of four hours of written examination and 30 minutes of oral interview. Having passed this examination, a member is certified as the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC).
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), has started accreditation in 1965 and restructured in 2003 to better reflect the growing body of knowledge and diversity in the filed of public relations. Members with five years professional experience are now required to take a preview course (available on line) complete a 'readiness questionnaire' and show a portfolio of work experience to a panel of professionals before taking the written examination, which is available at various examination centers throughout the United States of America. The two and half hour's written examination tests the candidate's knowledge in the field of communication and public relations. Candidates who pass this examination are certified as Accredited in Public Relations (APR).
Both IABC and PRSA have sought to promote communication and public relations as a profession through the establishment of voluntary accreditation programmes. Practitioners must gain a certain level of experience and demonstrate a certain degree of knowledge before receiving accreditation. ABC by IABC and APR by PRSA.
Likewise other professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London, the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Institute of Public Relations, Australia, the Public Relations Institute of South Africa to quote a few also have introduced accreditation scheme for their members. However, the Indian PR professional bodies are yet to launch such scheme for recognising proficiency of their members.
Senior Professional as "Fellow"
Several national professional bodies including PRSA and IABC have established ' Fellow Award' programme that recognize senior professionals' as Fellows based on their career achievements and their contribution to the cause of public relations and communication professions. PRSA for example, has a 'College of Fellows" under which the outstanding professional with 20 years of experience is designated as 'Fellow', who is regarded as an expert in the field of public relations.
ABCI Accreditation: Guidelines
The Association of Business Communicators of India as a measure to promote high professional standards in the practice of business and corporate communications and to facilitate the recognition and understanding of the role and value of corporate communication as a management function introduces voluntary accreditation programme for its members. The ABCI in collaboration with Accreditation Council will offer a sound educational and knowledge base for communication and public relations practitioners through a system of both written and oral examination. Accreditation of a member will be subject to the passing of prescribed examination which is based on certain academic standards and approved syllabus. Such an examination will be conducted by the 'Accreditation Council 'constituted for the purpose by ABCI.
Students of Mass Media and Communications are eligible to appear for Students accreditation on their completing successfully 3 semesters. Students need to take a permission from their college and should be certified by the college having cleared third semester successfully. The fees for an online test will Rs. 1,000/-
- A member, with a minimum eight years of experience in business communication/public relations/corporate communications and a bachelor's degree or equivalent, who has devoted a major portion of time to the paid professional practice of business or corporate communication, shall be eligible to take the examination for accreditation.
- Certificate of professional experience should be produced along with the application from a competent authority.
- Members who possess professional qualifications in communication, journalism or public relations will be given preference.
- A member shall apply in the prescribed proforma with the required fee of Rs. 2000/- demand draft drawn in favour of ABCI to appear for the online examination followed by an oral test by a panel of experts in communication. The online examination will have 100 marks followed by oral interview on the project report submitted by the candidate which carries 40 marks leaving 60 marks for the Project Report. Dates of examination and oral interview will be announced by Accreditation Council
- The candidate has to furnish a brief profile with minimum qualification, and portfolio of professional experience for eligibility.
- Candidates can be sponsored by the Corporations or in individual capacity.
- The Accreditation Council based on the portfolio of professional work submitted by the member will permit the candidate to appear for the examination. Intending members for accreditation will be provided with a copy of syllabus and a list of recommended books for study at home.
- Online examination can be given at any point of time and interviews will be conducted in English language at Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore..
- The candidate for accreditation should prepare a Project Report of about 2000 words on a topic opted or on his/her Professional experience in the organization which among Others should cover identified problem, objective of the programme, target audience, action plans, media strategy, results accomplished. Such a report should reveal candidate's analytical ability and competence in implementing communication campaigns. The Project Report should be submitted to the Accreditation Council one month before the scheduled examination for evaluation which will have 60% marks.
- Successful candidates 60% or more marks will be certified as "Accredited Business Communicator" (ABC) who will also receive an insignia 'ABC' along with an Accreditation Identity Card of the member.
The procedure will remain same for the Accreditation of Senior Associate of ABCI. The eligibility to appear for the examination will be after getting 15years work experience.
Brains Trust Fellows:
The ABCI constitutes within the Association a group of 'Brains Trust-Fellows' to recognize and honour senior practitioners with 20 years of professional experience. Their outstanding career achievements and contribution to the growth of the professional bodies will be taken into consideration.
- An applicant must have practiced 20 years or more, with superior capability and qualities as a communication/public relations practitioner, that serve as a role model for others.
- The candidate nominated has to submit his/her detailed CV enlisting work experience, the authorship, as a mark of proof for consideration..
- The criteria for selection of Fellow shall be based on (i) experience in the communication field based on unique achievements by way of implementing communication campaigns. (ii) Professional qualifications (iii) academic experience - teaching, writing books; (IV) outstanding contribution to the professional bodies to promote communication as a strategic management function.
- Admission to this Brain Trust Fellows shall be open to all members/non members who meet the criteria prescribed and are approved by the Management of ABCI along with two co-opted experts - one academician and another a CEO of a major company.
- Senior professionals selected for the purpose shall be designated as "Fellow ABCI". The Fellow will also be presented with a certificate of honour and an insignia of Fellow ABCI". He/she is then admitted as a member of the "Brain Trust Fellows" of ABCI.
The Brain Trust is encouraged to develop programmes for the benefit of the members of ABCI and to advise Association in promoting professionalism in business communications with support of scholarly research and through the enforcement of code of ethics. The Brain Trust Fellow is expected to design a mentoring programme that will play a significant role in counseling communication professionals in all areas of practice and earn management recognition for the profession.