Saturday, March 7, 2015

Body of Knowledge, Terms and the Global Standard

(Blog 2 in a series of 3 on the Global Standard)

Communication or communications?  Professional communicator vs. communication professional? And, where does practitioner and practice fit in?  Not quite the issue of consistency surrounding the English word tomatoe but we can only guess as to the countless hours spent by communication professionals around the world who have debated labels/terms in our profession.  (FYI - Tomatoe can be spelled tomatoe or tomato, pronounced tomātoe or tomăto and is categorized both as a fruit and a vegetable.)

In 2012, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) put discussions on communication(s) and professional before or after communication to rest by releasing the terms to be used by communication professionals.  Here is a great way to put it in context:

We are communication professionals who work in the field of communication (science) often using communications systems to deliver communication messages.
The plural of communication – communications -- refers to technical things like systems, infrastructures, smartphones or cables.*  A communication practitioner (someone actively engaged in a profession) can support, or not support, this practice (the actual application or use of an idea, belief or method as opposed to theories about such application or use) as they chose.

Of all the terms associated with the Global Standard, “body of knowledge” is probably the one that builds and expands our thinking on the communication profession more than any other.  Wikipedia** defines a body of knowledge as

the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional domain, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association.

Through the last 40 years, as the field of organizational communication evolved from individual disciplines into today’s organizational communication industry, practices grew into reliable processes and procedures that inform the development of a communication practice. We identified processes to use when building plans, programs or campaigns.  Procedures, specific instructions for performing the tasks or activities in the processes, were captured from best practices in getting tasks/activities done effectively and efficiently.  Based on this body of knowledge, communication policies rose in companies, businesses and organizations throughout the world that stated rules and guidelines to ensure consistency and compliance in communication within the organization’s context. 

Using results from a global survey of communication professionals, the Global Standard of the Communication Profession isolates six areas – termed principles – that make up the core body of knowledge as the foundation for organizational communication.  Ethics, context, analysis, strategy, consistency, and engagement guide us in developing a practice. The Career Purpose guides our constituencies and us as to the role of a communication professional. 

*Whalen, Patricia. (2005). Corporate Communication from A to Z: An Encyclopedia for Public Relations and Marketing Professionals. P.32.
**While Wikipedia is not recognized as a credible root source, its role as a launch point to root sources is useful here.

Blog 1 – The Global Standard Grows UP! can be read here.

Next - Bringing the Global Standard into Your Practice

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