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From the Board

John Henshell humorous marketing communications sample

I confess. Iíve been through the five-step program, but itís no help: Iím hooked on phonics, or more accurately, phonetics. As you can tell, an obsession with diction is the crux of my addiction. The other half of my ďdiseaseĒ is the controlling use of syntax. Recognition and acceptance of the problem is the first step, and I readily admit I love to manipulate words.

The fifth step is channeling the addiction into a productive purpose (that doesnít necessarily mean a nymphomaniac should become a prostitute): I used to be a ďpungentĒ (a guy who makes acrid puns), now Iím a business communicator. I make no apologies; I began this column by telling you I wasnít cured. 

Maybe you donít enjoy words at play, but surely a love of words at work was part of your motivation to enter this profession. The desire to capitalize on our communication skills is probably the common bond that brought us into the field and subsequently, IABC. If you attended the right college for the right reasons, you felt at home because your classmates had much in common with you. In a similar way, I feel a bond with other IABC members, because I know that you are ďword people,Ē too. Youíve also dealt with many of the same challenges and problems as I have in my jobs. You also have pet peeves about abuses of grammar. 

Of the half-dozen associations with Portland-area chapters that serve professionals engaged in persuasive communication, IABC is the only one with members who primarily do similar work to what Iíve done and what I want to do. My dues are due this month. Having the comfortable fit Iíve described doesnít alone justify the expenditure when I have to dip into my own finances. To make my dues pay, Iíve got to use my membership. In that sense, professional association membership is somewhat analogous to AAA, medical insurance, and service contracts: itís extremely valuable when you need it, but taking advantage of the included services makes it profitable.

Board members, Tami Boardman and Paul Nickell, extolled the benefits of IABC membership in the past two issues of Ampersand. I know theyíre right, because I read Communication World (often within months of publication), attend meetings, judge awards, network with other members, and apply for jobs listed on our web site. Much of the personal and professional growth I gain from being a member comes from my contributions to the chapter. We all benefit from the participation and volunteerism of every member. I have to, because IABC doesnít offer a cure for phonetics addiction. So, if youíll excuse me, I think the sixth step in the treatment program must be to stop writing. 


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