IABC, reflecting declines in corporate PR employment, showed a drop in net assets from $1M in 2012 to $222K in 2016 after a dip to $14K in 2015.

Membership has fallen from the 14,000 level, where it held for many years, to 10,000. Revenues in 2016 were $3,927,641 vs. $5,452,845 in 2013, a drop of 28%.

Most members are in corporate and organizational jobs, concentrating on internal communications.

Stephanie DouteStephanie Doute

Executive director Stephanie Doute has been asked for an explanation of decline and has promised an answer.

Queries have also been sent to chair Sharon Hunter, strategic communicator and facilitator, Concordia University, Montreal, and Mike Holden, senior marketing manager.

IABC’s decline, even though it has had “Communicators” in its title for more than 40 years, sounds a cautionary note to PR Society of America which is planning to insert “communications” in many places in its bylaws. It considers the term “more inclusive” than PR.

The 2017 PRSA Assembly voted on such changes Oct. 7 but the Society has yet to reveal the wording that was passed.

IABC abandoned its “Accredited Business Communicator” program several years ago because of low participation.

PR Shifts to Agencies

Also a victim of the shrinkage of corporate PR is the PR trade press, which has seen the demise of nine printed publications although some of them survive as websites.

PR Week/US, which came to the U.S. in 1998, switched to monthly publication in 2009 and now publishes ten times a year.

Printed directories of PRSA, IABC, National Investor Relations Institute, Publicity Clubs and other organizations ceased publishing many years ago.

The one remaining printed directory in PR is O’Dwyer’s Directory of PR Firms, which has followed the PR industry into the agencies. The Directory and O’Dwyer’s magazine have tracked the growth of 12 PR specialties in both printed publications and in digital editions 

IABC Drew 1,000 to D.C. Conference

Jon Iwata, SVP/marketing and communications, gave the keynote address to 1,000 registrants at annual conference at the Washington Hilton Hotel June 14, 2017.

He urged attendees to embrace rather than fear the development and spread of artificial intelligence.

As an example of the “friendship” that can exist between humans and AI, he cited the robot RD2D that played a big role in the “Star Wars” film series.

He described “victories” of AI over humans including its defeat of a pair of “Jeopardy” winners several years ago. IBM’s “Watson” was also able to defeat chess champions.

Iwata told how IBM’s supercomputer was programmed to handle the questions on Jeopardy, showing a video of company scientists at work on the programming for the show.