August 28, 2013
Media academic Marshall McLuhan said “The medium is the message” and in a society communicating by text messages and 140 character tweets his statement is truer than ever. But messages still need to be understood and abbreviations and acronyms can result in communication mishaps.
Kellen Company provides association management, among other professional services such as public relations, digital media and meetings management. The association world is awash in acronyms and so too, is Kellen Company. It may seem at times that we use more acronyms in our office than the U.S. Government. And while these little letter jumbles make our daily lives easier, even an Orphan Annie Decoder Badge won’t help those new to association management crack the code.
For example, just for fun I Googled associations with the initials AAP. The search returned pages and pages of listings — American Association of…just pick a profession that begins with the letter “p” — pediatrician, publisher, physician, paralegal, psychologist, psychiatrist…you get the idea.
From a marketing communications perspective I love that acronyms fit more easily into a tweet or a website address but I know that it can take a lot of time, effort and money for a professional society or trade association to become readily recognizable to outsiders by its acronym. Not every organization has the resources or history of a group such as ASPCA or AAA.
Organizations that want their names to be remembered and to be associated with a specific mission or industry may be doing themselves a disservice through overutilization of their acronym. In turn, we may do other individuals and organizations a disservice by taking the shortcut when speaking or writing about them. One of Dale Carnegie’s Golden Rules is: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
So, unless your organization is IBM, remember to let people know what those letters mean.