Becoming an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC)

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Q: What is ABC?

A: Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) is a designation I received from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) after:

  • Submitting a portfolio of previous work samples
  • Providing analyses of several campaigns I’d conducted in the past, including what my measurable objectives and measurable results were (similar to write-ups submitted for awards competitions)
  • Taking a written exam that included both multiple choice and essay questions
  • Taking an oral exam based on reviewing a series of communications being received by a hypothetical communicator and describing to a team of judges how I would approach the situation, including adaptations as the judges continue to provide more information about the changing situation.

All in all, it was a pretty rigorous process to be able to demonstrate to non-communication bosses who have no way of judging our professional expertise (other than liking the way we write) that we are competent to be in charge of both internal and external communication for an organization. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) still follows a similar process in awarding its APR designation. Due to the enormous amount of volunteer resources needed to administer the ABC accreditation program, IABC in the last several years has moved to a certification process instead that simply involves an online test made of only multiple-choice questions. There is one certification for earlier-career communicators and one for more experienced ones.

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