Scores of members of the International Assn. of Business Communicators, posting tens of thousands of words in three separate LinkedIn websites, including a “closed thread” by ABC chair Gloria Walker, have denounced the proposal to grant “certificates” to members in place of Accredited Business Communicator (ABC).

Sam Berrisford, a U.K.-based consultant, saying he was “dismayed” by what is a “spectacular failure of communication,” posted, “Certification is a matter for academic institutions, not professional associations.”

He urged Walker to consult again with credentialing specialist Michael Hamm of Albuquerque, N.M., who has made that recommendation.

Berrisford, interim head of policy and communications at Legal Ombudsman, Derby, U.K., and a former consultant with Hill+Knowlton Strategies and senior staff member of the Royal Mail Group and BBC, quoted the Oxford English Dictionary as saying that accredit is to “set forth as credible” and accreditation as “the act of accrediting or being accredited.”

In other words, he added, “to be an ABC is to be a credible individual whom an association of professionals and peers may vouch for.”

Certification, he continued, is “not about peer recognition but about the ability to pass a test. It is hard to see how any test could reflect the nuanced complexity of communications challenges that we face daily as senior communicators.”

The proposal unveiled Jan. 4 by Walker was for Certified Communications Professional (CCP) for those with eight years of experience and Certified Strategic Communications Professional (CSCP) for 15 years of experience.

Unlike ABC, holders of the new designations would have to show ongoing education and pay a fee every three years.

Walker, posting on a LinkeIn site that had drawn 275 entries by last week, had requested that the discussion be moved to a site accessible only to ABCs. This was denounced as a “sham” by member Alan Jenkins.

Details Sought of Hamm, Extractable Contracts

Aaron Heinrich, outside contractor who is serving as spokesperson for IABC, including posting remarks on the LinkedIn websites, has been asked for details of the Hamm and Extractable contracts.

The following e-mail has been sent to him:

“Please supply the cost of the year-contract with Extractable. What is the monthly cost plus expenses? What do you estimate the year will cost? When can we expect to see any of the work of the firm? We have already seen Michael Hamm recommend certificates instead of ABC which has caused tens of thousands of words on three LinkedIn websites including one where ABC chair Gloria Walker wants to block non-APRs from seeing the discussion. This has been denounced by leading members of IABC.

“We need the year when IABC cancelled its House of Delegates and why. The Int’l PR Assn. did that to its 60-member “Council” two years ago causing nearly half the board to quit. All three major PR associations are beset with governance problems including too much power at h.q. PRSA last year threatened to cancel its in-person Assembly unless a $30 dues hike was passed. The Assembly that did take place had virtually nothing to do and was denounced by veteran members.”