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Wanted: modem users.

Here's a phrase you'll see in the pages of this magazine for months to come, with good reason: Excellence Factor.

Definition: A cluster of identifiable characteristics that set excellent communicators and their programs apart from mediocre ones. The IABC Research Foundation uses the phrase in its "Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management" study.

What started as an effort to determine the value of communication to the organization has grown into much more and it's of much more value to us in our careers. "We need new tools and new concepts," said Foundation Chairman Fred Halperin, ABC. "But they're not really new, just unused."

Want to find out more? You can't read the book, because it's not due out until next year. Besides, you'll have questions you want answered. You could go to a lecture, but that might involve travel and added expenses, plus a day away from the office.

There's another way to research the qualities of excellent communicators. Go online.

IABC will hold an Electronic Seminar on Excellence beginning November 8. Those of you who access CompuServe can participate -- you know who you are. The rest of you can read about it (after the fact --sorry) in this magazine or other IABC media. If you are a CompuServe user but don't participate, you can read the transcript within a few days in the electronic seminars online library.

Here's how it will work: Halperin will be the "speaker," uploading short lessons every few days to the electronic seminars section (#6) of the Public Relations and Marketing Forum. (Enter GO PRSIG at the CompuServe prompt.) You can read each session at your convenience, then make comments or ask questions. Halperin and other participants will respond. Your questions and those of other participants will be answered online. You'll be able to read all the reactions and interactions -- again at your convenience from your own desk (at home or work, on one side of the ocean or the other).

Over the course of about two weeks, several aspects of the Foundation study will be addressed, including the three factors that make excellence possible, and what CEOs want from communicators.

"Some of our most active members (on the forum) are people who've hung out their own shingles as PR consultants or are starting their own small agencies. Fred Halperin thinks there's a lot in the study that would be relevant to this audience," said Bill Lutholtz, ABC, who heads IABC's Technojocks committee.

Technojocks aren't the only people who can benefit from this, though. "At first I thought that such a seminar would be technology for technology's sake," said Brian White, ABC, the member of IABC's board of directors who is charged with technology education. "Now I'm convinced that this project will demonstrate what you can do online. So the net benefit will come after it's all over."

The time factor appeals most to White. "Participants will have time to conemplate the material, and several days to digest what is being said and feed their questions back."

Don't be scared away by the perceived high cost of online conferncing. Skilled users of online research will be able to download lessons to read offline. They will compose their responses offline, and then upload them for all to read. It might take a few minutes for each session. Let's say you sign on 10 times during the course of the seminar for six minutes each time. That's one hour total, and CompuServe's hourly rate is about U.S. $6 to $12, depending on your modem speed.

Now, of course, not everyone who wants to participate is an online sprinter. Nonetheless, even reading "lectures" and writing responses online will probably cost less than $10 each time, and you can choose the number of times you sign on. You'll probably fumble and stumble onto some other section of the Public Relations and Marketing Forum that intrigues you just as much as the electronic classroom. That's a small price to pay for serendipity.

Who knows what you might find in the quest for excellent communication.
COPYRIGHT 1991 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Computer Sense; electronic seminar offered by the International Association of Business Communicators
Author:Rosen, Sheri
Publication:Communication World
Article Type:Column
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:676
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