IABC

The Global Standard of the Communication Profession

About the Global Standard

The Global Standard is defined by communication professionals around the world embracing a shared career purpose and six core Principles as the building blocks of their work. Informed by a passion for engaging audiences with strategic communication, the purpose and Principles focus our work and form a global standard. Applying that standard enables us to cross all borders, align with diverse cultures and effectively serve organizations of all types and sizes. IABC’s programs and initiatives are aligned to the Global Standard, ensuring consistency and credibility throughout all efforts.

The career purpose of a communication professional

Communication  professionals represent the voice of an organization as it interacts with customers, clients, employees, partners, shareholders, competitors and the community. The communication professional brings the organization to life with a brand voice that aligns its verbal, visual and digital messages and activities with its mission and vision. By clarifying the brand, communication professionals also help ensure the organization runs efficiently and effectively.

Communication professionals build a strategic communication plan based on thorough research, they communicate with a variety of audiences in a range of styles, they develop and edit content, and they assess where and how to communicate and how to evaluate the results of their work. They act as the organization’s conscience and strive for its financial, social and environmental  sustainability.

The six core principles of the communication profession


Principle Definition Competencies
Ethics Communication  professionals adopt the highest standards of professional behavior. They always:

  • Communicate with sensitivity to cultural values and beliefs.
  • Act without deception and in accordance with the law.
  • Represent the organization truthfully, fairly and accurately.
  • Enable mutual understanding  and respect.
  • Adhere to the IABC Code of Ethics for Professional Communicators.”

  • Communicate cultural values
  • Communicate in accordance with law
  • Represent organization truthfully, fairly and accurately
  • Enable mutual understanding and respect

Consistency Acting  as the organization’s voice, a communication  professional expresses a single, consistent story for internal and external audiences. This narrative is clear and compelling, it reflects the input and perspectives of diverse stakeholders, and it furthers the organization’s mission. A communication  professional integrates information and inspiration for this narrative from people with diverse perspectives and ensures that communications are culturally appropriate to each audience.

  • Using single, consistent voice for internal and external stakeholders
  • Establishing clear and compelling  narrative
  • Recognizing diverse stakeholders
  • Integrating information from diverse perspectives
  • Ensuring culturally appropriate information for each audience

Context The communication professional is sophisticated about the organization’s internal culture and external environment. Deep familiarity with the organization’s vision and goals and how its elements function together from accounting to production to human resources – is crucial to interacting successfully with other leaders of the organization and communicating effectively about the organization. Advocating successfully for the organization also depends on a thorough understanding of its political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal context — and of how to interact with representatives of other organizations.

  • Understanding internal cultures
  • Understanding external environments
  • Understanding organization’s vision and goals and how operations function together
  • Advocating for the organization
  • Understanding  political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal context
  • Interacting with representatives of other organizations

Analysis Communication professionals research and evaluate how to serve and promote the organization most effectively and then offer recommendations supported by direct and secondary evidence. They develop and implement communication plans and gauge their results using clear qualitative and quantitative measures that can be duplicated.

  • Understanding research
  • Understanding evaluation
  • Developing communication plans
  • Implementing communication plans
  • Using qualitative measures
  • Using quantitative measures

Strategy With rigor and discipline, a communication professional identifies opportunities and challenges both inside and outside of the organization. Addressing communication challenges and opportunities with a thoughtful strategy allows the organization to achieve its mission and goals. The communication professional systematically manages communication  activities, making decisions based on research, analysis, planning and evaluation. The professional also has the flexibility and creativity to adjust to change inside and outside of the organization.

  • Understanding communication challenges
  • Managing communication activities
  • Making decisions based on research
  • Making decisions based on analysis
  • Planning communication strategies
  • Conducting evaluation

Engagement A communication professional identifies and communicates with employees, customers, shareholders, regulators, government agencies and other groups with an interest in the organization’s activities. All these groups have the potential to change the organization’s results. So the communication professional fosters and nourishes relationships with them that will support the organization’s mission and goals. The communication professional uses dialogue to tell the organization’s story and garner support.

  • Identifying with various stakeholders
  • Fostering and nourishing relationships to support organization’s mission and goals
  • Using dialogue to tell the organization’s story and garner support

The IABC Career Roadmap

While the four career milestones may be viewed as a progression, this is not always the case. Communication professionals may choose to focus their career goals on one, or more, of these milestones, as the descriptions below note.

Foundation

  • When launching their professional career, the communication professional develops initial knowledge, skills, and behaviors, across the Global Standard purpose and principles.
  • The professional contributes under relatively close supervision and direction from a senior person, exercising initiative and creativity within a well-defined area.
  • The professional masters basic tasks and demonstrates competence within a communication strategy or campaign.

Generalist/Specialist

  • At this milestone, the communication professional branches into a role with a specific focus (Specialist) or a broad multi-disciplinary focus (Generalist) that provides opportunities for a more strategic approach, applying a deeper understanding of the Global Standard purpose and principles.
  • The Generalist/Specialist leads projects or client engagements independently, developing credibility with stakeholders while building relationships related to areas of interest.
  • Many professionals choose to work in either Generalist or Specialist roles in the same or several organizations throughout their career.

Strategic Adviser

  • Through the consistent application of the principles, the Strategic Advisor assumes increased stakeholder responsibilities, project and business management roles, and financial administration. The Strategic Advisor provides strategic communication advice to the organization’s leadership.
  • The work of the Strategic Advisor becomes interdependent, taking responsibility for assignments other than their own and developing other leaders with communications responsibilities within the organization.
  • These professionals have strong leadership skills, broad business perspectives, and diverse expertise, exploring diverse communication techniques within various disciplines.

Business Leader

  • A Business Leader plays a crucial role in shaping the organization’s future by advocating for promising people, programs, and ideas that align with the organization’s direction. They lead the application of the principles within their organization and hold the leadership to account.
  • They have developed competence in several areas and are well-regarded in the profession, often operating in a global, national, or regional role. They effectively represent the organization on critical strategic issues and contribute counsel, coaching and function at a peer level with other senior executives.
  • The Business Leader is adept at identifying new business opportunities, motivating buy-in and gaining resources through a well-articulated and clear strategy. They effectively represent the organization on critical strategic issues.