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Stuck in the eighties ... (the 1880s): how the communication profession evolved from the house organ.

It is difficult to pin down the exact origin of industrial publications. Some authorities say the first recognizable industrial or business publication was published in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries by a German firm known as the House of Fugger. Some say the term "house organ" originated with this company. This term, incidentally made sense in early times because companies referred to themselves as houses.

In the United States, it is believed the Lowell Offering, was one of the first industrial publications. It was written, edited and published in the 1840s by women of the Lowell, Mass. cotton mills.

The oldest employee publication, generally accepted as the first internal in the US, was that founded by the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio in 1807.

Other publications began to appear by the end of the century-not only for employees but for dealers and customers. The Independent Order of Foresters in Canada, a fraternal benefit (insurance) society, began publishing The Independent Forester in 1880 for members and employees. Following 1910, there was a spurt of industrial publications, especially in the sales promotion field.

In 1931, the Collins Industrial Council of Philadelphia published the first known study on industrial publications. It covered 334 internal publications, 90 percent of which originated in the 1917-1920 period. During World War I internals received great impetus.

In 1922, the National Association of Corporation Training, predecessor to the American Management Association, surveyed employee publications. Of 85 company replies, 56 percent indicated existence of successful internals. Two years later, the American Management Association published the proceedings of a Personnel Publications Editors Conference held that year.

Early Stages of Organization

At the 1915 convention of the Advertising Clubs of the World, held in Chicago, the Association of House Organ Editors (AHOE) was formed. This group of 50 members merged into the Direct Mail Advertising Association (DMAA) in 1917. AHOE continued as a separate department for 10 years before being completely absorbed into DMAA. Other associations were formed but were limited geographically or by the nature of the businesses served by the editors.

In the 1920s, other associations formed. The first meeting of the original Industrial Editors Association of New England was held in Boston in 1920 and dissolved three years later.

The oldest association still in existence is the American Railway Magazine Editors Association. It was organized in 1922. The Industrial Editors Association of Chicago was formed in 1925 and continues as the second oldest group. And, there were others.

When a small group of editors turned up at the National Safety Council's 1937 annual congress to discuss their roles in promoting on-the-job safety, they agreed that safety was fine, but felt they had other common objectives. By the time the next NSC congress met at the Hotel Stevens in Chicago in 1938, organizational plans were on paper. Thus was born the American Association of Industrial Editors (AAIE).

Efforts were made to attract other editors, and within a few months members from 17 states, representing 16 firms, had joined. With goals of increasing professionalism among editors, improving quality of publications and serving management, AAIE began offering a variety of services. By june, 1939, AAIE bulletins had evolved into Editor's Notebook, the first US national magazine for house magazine editors.

In 1940, the first US national conference was held in Cleveland. L.O. Cheever of John Morrell & Co., Ottumwa, Iowa, was president. From the second conference, held in Philadelphia, President Kenneth Ede and Vice President A.E. Greco of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company went directly to Washington to persuade government officials to pool defense information to be distributed to industrial editors.

World War II gave company communication programs new topics-and lasting growth and importance.

Activity in Canada

With the British entry into World War II in September 1939, Canadian industry began switching to a war production economy. Company publications quickly assumed an important morale-building role in this effort.

Although a few Canadian editors had been quick to take out individual memberships in AAIE, a number of them in the Toronto area began talking of a Canadian association to serve their special needs.

The idea led to the formation, in early 1942, of the Canadian Association of Personnel Publications Editors (CAPPE). The first CAPPE president was George A. Fletcher, editor of Canadian General Motors, G.M. War Craftsman.

A year later, a Quebec chapter of editors from the Montreal area joined the association and CAPPE became a bilingual organization.

Chapters were formed in other areas of Canada and, in 1946, in recognition of the rapidly changing status of both company publications and editors, the organization changed its name to the Canadian Industrial Editors' Association-L'Association Canadienne des redacteurs de journaux d'entreprise (CIEA).

Along Comes ICIE

The first major attempt to create a national voice for US editors was made in 1941. Robert B. Newcomb called together representatives of six associations of industrial editors to form the National Council of Industrial Editors Association (NCIEA). Its purpose was to unite all groups, whether large or small, into one cooperative body to work together for the common good of the profession. Local groups were not to lose identity.

Associations forming the original group and ratifying the constitution were the American Association of Industrial Editors, Industrial Editors Association of Chicago, Industrial Editors Association of Detroit, Southwestern Association of Industrial Editors, Pacific Coast Association of Industrial Editors, House Magazine Institute (New York), Industrial Editors Association of St. Louis, Industrial Editors Association of Massachusetts and Syndicate of House Magazine Editors. Joining later were the American Railway Magazine Editors Association, Publications Section of the National Safety Council and Southern California Chapter (Los Angeles group) of the Pacific Coast Association of Industrial Editors. Garth Bentley of The Seng Company, Chicago, was first president.

NCIEA later changed its name to NCIE, the National Council of Industrial Editors. The society became the International Council of Industrial Editors (ICIE) in 1946 when the Canadian Industrial Editors Association became an affiliate.

ICIE rejected the dues structure for individual members and insisted upon membership through affiliated associations to truly become an association of associations.

As a result of the rejection of individual memberships and other policy differences, AAIE-a charter member of the Council-withdrew in 1946. Essentially, AAIE was an association of individual members.

Because of the tremendous growth of the business communication field, both groups prospered and grew, with ICIE ultimately becoming the larger.

In 1949, ICIE's first international convention was held outside the US. Hosted by CIEA, it was held at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. ICIE's weak financial structure prevented establishing a permanent headquarters until 1956. A long active ICIE member volunteered to serve at least two years as full-time secretary without compensation. Mrs. Ludel Sauvageot, public relations manager for Akron General Hospital, took over as full-time secretary for ICIE with headquarters in Akron, Ohio. Mrs. Sauvageot's assistant was Mrs. Geraldine Keating, who became executive secretary in 1960. In 1969 she was named executive director.

Establishment of a permanent headquarters in Akron enabled ICIE to broaden its range of activities. Among these were: seminars on economic education for editors (co-sponsored with the US Chamber of Commerce), communication research reports in 1966 by Charles Redding, Ph.D., of Purdue University, Ind., creation of an industrial press and research center at Northern Illinois University in 1970 by Albert Walker, Ph.D., public affairs seminars in 1963, a special visit and interview with the then US vice president, Hubert Humphrey in 1965 and a briefing in 1966 in the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

In 1958 ICIE sponsored a 22-day tour to Russia and tours to Europe were sponsored in 1964, 1966, 1970 and 1973.

Education Services Begun

In 1953, ICIE began to compile an extensive bibliography of the literature on industrial journalism. The bibliography (covering the years 1913-1954) was completed and 500 copies jointly published by ICIE and the University of Maryland. Since 1957 the bibliography has been updated at the University of Texas.

ICIE established a records and reference library in 1952 at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) under the supervision of the late Clement E. Trout, who came to be known as the "father of industrial journalism."

Enter IABC

In the late 1960s, thoughtful members of two organizations-AAIE and ICIE-began exploring amalgamation into one strong, unified worldwide association for all organizational and industrial communicators.

The CIEA was involved in these early merger discussions and, although there was considerable support for joining the unified organization, CIEA eventually decided to remain as an affiliate member only.

In June 1970, a joint conference of ICIE, AAIE and CIEA was held in Pittsburgh. The boards of directors and members of ICIE and AAIE agreed to an amalgamation.

The new society was christened the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Its first president was William G. Irby of Avondale Mills, Sylacauga, Alabama.

In 1971, recognizing the changing concerns of members, the Canadian organization changed its name from CIEA to Corporate Communicators Canada-Corporation des Communicateurs Canadiens (CCC).

Along with the name change, discussions began again among CCC members about the possibility of full amalgamation with the new IABC organization.

In September, 1974, at a CCC National Conference in Kitchener, Ont., the final issues were resolved and CCC became IABC Canada District One. This made IABC truly an international organization.

I recently had the opportunity of reviewing a year's worth of one particular employee magazine from the mid-'80s. The company is a large multinational manufacturer headquartered in Toronto. Ont.

I think the contents of its internal publication will sound familiar, too.

There are the usual personal items-births and, unfortunately, deaths. There are stories about company social events and sports groups and how the company band brings joy to its community engagements. There are reports about company performance-new offices opening up, promotions, awards won at trade fairs. There are employee profiles, mixing, as profiles are wont to do, little insights into a worker's off-the-job activities with motivational messages about how the worker got to where he is today through hard work and loyalty to the firm. There are safety messages. There are details about how external conditions will likely affect corporate performance. There are explanations of company policies, such as a ban on smoking in the work place. There's even a story about a recent strike-a story which dares to say that if management had handled things better, the strike might not have happened.

As I said, most of this probably summarizes Your newsletter. That's especially noteworthy because, as I pointed out, the magazine was put out in Toronto in the mids-'80... the mid-1880s. The publisher was the Massey Manufacturing Company, the farm implements firm that continues today as the Varity Corporation. Its employee publication is called The Trip Hammer.
COPYRIGHT 1990 International Association of Business Communicators
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Title Annotation:International Association of Business Communicators: 1970 - 1990: Section 1: Vision to Reality; includes related article on Massey Manufacturing Company employee newsletter dated mid-1880s
Author:Abshier, Ann
Publication:Communication World
Date:May 1, 1990
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