Profession's new grassroots image enhancement campaign focuses on individual CPAs.
Capitalizing on the profession's measurable image improvement in the past year, the AICPA in cooperation with the state CPA societies has launched two new programs designed to re-introduce the CPA profession to the American public. Both the CPA Ambassador Program and the state society pilot programs highlight the CPA's expertise, integrity and contributions to clients, employers and their communities.
CPA Ambassador Program
Begun in Nov. 2003 with the Washington Society of CPAs, the CPA Ambassador program mobilizes CPAs as highly trained and influential spokespeople. The program offers members access to top-quality spokesperson training and provides extensive background tools, including speeches, talking points, media and audience questions and answers, and briefings on related issues dominating current headlines.
Each CPA who participates in the program is trained on four critical message quadrants: financial literacy, recruitment, small business success and restoring confidence in the profession. After completing training, CPAs who put their learning into practice and take on two spokesperson opportunities or media interviews earn a special CPA Ambassador pin and will have their names and appearances cited on a new section of www.aicpa.org, which is currently under development.
Fifteen WSCPA members participated in the first training held in Seattle. Members learned how to speak in front of an audience or on camera as well as how to handle media questions.
The Ambassador program is intended to bring greater recognition and appreciation of the enduring value of the CPA to communities, business leaders, employers, legislators and others across the country. Through community outreach, CPA Ambassadors can promote the profession's depth of financial knowledge, underscore the AICPA's and state societies' effectiveness as advocates for the public interest, and refocus the spotlight on the profession so that it shines on the value and values of the CPA.
To find out more information about the program, contact Janice Maiman (jmaiman @aicpa.org, 212/596-6095) or Louise DeSina (firstname.lastname@example.org, 212/596-6107).
State Society Pilot Programs
The AICPA has joined forces with several state societies to highlight the experience, knowledge and versatility of CPAs as well as emphasize their role as supporters of the public interest.
"Accounting for Fun" with the Society of Louisiana CPAs
The AICPA cosponsored "All on Account of Fun," a new calendar featuring 13 diverse and dynamic LCPA members, including a hydroplane champion, body builder, pilot of experimental airplanes, Harley rider, mystery writer and an arachnophile with a pet tarantula. The high-gloss, full-color calendar was introduced at the AICPA's fall Council meeting in New Orleans and has since appeared in national news media, such as CNN's American Morning, Reuters, NPR, BBC, USAToday.com, CNN.com, Forbes.com, Wired.com and Yahoo News. The calendar also includes important tax filing dates and other dates relevant to businesses and the accounting profession. To order a copy of the 2004 calendar, "All on Account of Fun," call 800/288-5272 or 504/464-1040 or visit www.lcpa.org/calendar.html. Proceeds support the LCPA Scholarship Foundation.
Investment management with the Illinois CPA Society
The ICPAS and AICPA recently joined forces to spotlight the importance of sound investment and risk management strategies and the CPA's role in this capacity. The effort included outreach to ICPAS members with an e-mail on essential investment management practices and highlighted a new guide for people who have the legal responsibility for managing another person's money--Prudent Investment Practices, written by the Foundation for Fiduciary Studies and technically reviewed by the AICPA. The AICPA along with ICPAS Chief Staff Officer Elaine Weiss and AICPA/ICPAS member Dennis Kroner also reached out to the media, resulting in an appearance on WCUI-TV Chicago Channel 26 and articles forthcoming in Pensions and Investments magazine.
Reaching out to wildfire victims with the California Society of CPAs
With the AICPA's support, the CalCPA moved quickly to help victims of the wildfires that were ravaging Southern California. CalCPA established a database of members willing to provide pro bono financial counseling while the AICPA provided materials including Disaster Recovery: A Guide to Financial Issues, created for the American Red Cross by the AICPA, the National Endowment for Financial Education and the AICPA Foundation, as well as the PFP Library Series CD-ROM to aid in training volunteer CPAs on counseling fire victims. The joint CalCPA/AICPA media efforts resulted in media appearances on the NBC Early Morning Show, CNBC and many local stations.
Maryland Association of CPAs targets the business community
In an effort to communicate the distinct value of CPAs to Baltimore's local businesses, the AICPA provided MACPA with articles for the Baltimore Business Journal and the Washington Business Journal, which published a supplement centering on the CPA profession. The supplement reached an audience of approximately 213,000 men and women in business in the Washington, D.C., region. One article focused on the difference between a CPA and an accountant and why those differences are important for businesses. The other articles described, in layman's terms, an audit, a compilation and a review and how these services relate to small- and mid-sized businesses.
Programs with other state societies are in development. See future issues of The CPA Letter for more on these innovative grassroots programs.