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March 2013 President’s Message

…A word from your President: overdue!

Boy, time flies when you’re having fun. And de-cluttering, spring cleaning, walking the dog and being president and Programs Lead and chief whippersnapper and, oh yes – working for a living.

Here’s what’s going on in your chapter:
The Employer Outreach team is currently restructuring the employer database. In order to make it a valuable resource, we’re trying to create a list of companies in B.C that hire us or should hire us.

You can help us immensely if you could suggest two to four (or more!) companies to be included in our database. If you have a contact name of a hiring manager or technical writer in that company, please send us their name and contact information as we want to send out information relevant to them.

Please send the following information to Autumn Jonssen at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address):
-      Company Name
-      Contact Person (Phone and/or email address)
-      Website Address

Thanks for your contributions!  The Employer Outreach team is being assisted by two young men, Paul Hansen and Jordan Cripps. Paul came to us via SFU Continuing Education, Technical Communications program and Jordan is, like David Cumming before him, a graduating tech comm student from BCIT who is doing his 80-hour final practicum with us.

There are two items of serious business I need to address with you. I would like to talk about them before I lose you in the longer notes below. The first is twofold, and concerns elections.

Right now, if you’re a paid up member of the STC, it’s time to exercise the privilege and your responsibility to vote for a Vice President, Treasurer, Director, and Nominating Committee Member. There will be one winner for Vice President and Treasurer, and two winners for both Director and Nominating Committee member.

On Monday, March 11 you should have received an email from the Society for Technical Communication

entitled Your STC Election Link, Username, and Password.  Please find and open the email, click the link and vote!

And be advised, please, that we will be having our own elections at the Annual General Meeting on April 16, just before the regular Program presentation.  It’s a very exciting time for us this year because we need to elect three new people to the executive:  a sea change, if you will.  The positions of Secretary, Treasurer and Vice President are open for nominations.  (I want to devote an appropriate amount of space to acknowledge the contributions our current Secretary (Rob Hughes), Treasurer (Mary Metzger) and outgoing Past President (Pam Drucker) have made to the chapter. I plan to publish something before the end of my term to express how important these people have been to our community.)

Some of you reading this plea have been in the chapter for a while and can bring your insight, awareness of “how we do things” and even a bit of gravitas to the position.  Please consider letting your name stand – or, if you think you know the perfect candidate: check with him or her first and then let me know.

Now is the time to step up and contribute to your chapter and assist us as we continue our efforts to reach out to students, new people just starting out in our profession, those in mid-career, and employers.  We are going to bring these audiences a new awareness of our profession and offer value for membership dollars by continuing to build a climate of personal development, continued growth, teamwork, and serious fun. Perhaps you’re not ready to commit to an executive position but by coming forward, you might free up another person who has been volunteering in another role and is ready to move on up!

You there! Yes, you!  You’re reading this and thinking well, I would volunteer, but I can’t:  I live on the Island, or up North, or in the Valley, so I can’t go to all these meetings and play a role here.  Yes, you can!  Even the Treasurer could potentially be located out of the GVRD… there’s this nifty new invention called the internet and most banking can be done online. Records are kept online – either in Dropbox, Yammer or Google Drive (to name a few options). Skype lets us chat online… yes, we’d have to work out the cheque signing bit but it’s not insurmountable.  I can see a Secretary being located elsewhere too… he or she could attend the meetings via conference call (we just held a very successful exec meeting using Go To Meeting).  And no video, please: we’re Canadian!

So that’s one serious bit.  The other is: we need to diversify our income base.  And a bake sale isn’t going to cut it.

The vision is to create a sponsorship package (or a series of packages of different levels) that gives one or more benefits to a corporation that sponsors the chapter in some form. We need to put on our thinking caps and come up with some creative benefits and write a whiz-bang letter marketing our value proposition without using too many clichés (such as the ones in this sentence).  Think about this, which is Aaron Fultz’s initial proposal:  a sponsorship package (level “A”) that, for funding us $100 (for example), gives the corporation two free job postings on our job bank and their logo posted on our [new] website’s Sponsors page for 6 months.  Or sponsor the meeting room for a Program night at the Y (value $125) and receive credit on the website’s Sponsors page, a logo on our home page for the month in which they sponsor us, and a free pass for one employee to the program night.  These are not polished ideas (oh, you could tell?  Then get in here and volunteer, for heaven’s sake!) – but, they’re a start in the right direction.

You don’t have to be original:  what other company’s promotional idea has ‘hooked’ you? What worked on you may work on another.  OR… get in touch with me. I will work with you to create a proposal customized for your employer and you can be instrumental in helping the chapter to be financially sound by just supplying a few key details about your work such as to whom in the Finance department the proposal should be addressed.

Okay – all seriousness aside – back to what’s going on:
I’m sure you heard the news by now, but thanks to the hard work of your executive team, other volunteers and you, the members, we won! Our chapter is being recognized as a Community of Excellence and we will receive a certificate at the Awards Banquet at the Summit being held in Atlanta, Georgia, May 5 through 8. The outgoing and incoming presidents, Mellissa Ruryk and Aaron Fultz (and, we hope, others from the chapter) will be on stage at the Summit to accept this honour gratefully.

Our bank account is healthy, in part because STC head office sent us our membership passthrough amounts.  Doesn’t mean we can all go to Mexico for Christmas, but we’re going ahead with offering a scholarship!

Anyone have a flair for graphics? We have the wording for the student brochure and a draft layout but we think it could be improved upon. Two hours of your design time would really be appreciated.  We would like to have the brochure ready for distribution for the summer and fall sessions at SFU, BCIT, Douglas College and VCC… and anywhere else in BC that offers tech comm programs and courses.

Did you catch my passing reference to a scholarship that Canada West Coast awards to a deserving student or students? The application deadline of March 31 is coming up fast – read more at http://archive.stcwestcoast.ca/index.php/site/scholarships/ and publicize it to anyone you know who is a tech comm student or knows a tech comm student.

If you didn’t make it to the February Program night with Melissa Mewdell speaking on Search Engine Optimization, you missed a heckuva success. This program night made a profit! You’ll be getting an email blast from PR about the March webinar that’s coming up on the 19th – with the chapter’s friend, Neil Perlin, speaking about different Help Authoring Tools but especially RoboHelp and Madcap Flare. If you are one of our chapter members who does not live in the lower rainland and cannot usually attend a chapter meeting, this is your chance to participate. Yes, some of us will get together and watch the webinar together at the YWCA; but anyone can watch the webinar from wherever they are. Read more and sign up here: http://archive.stcwestcoast.ca/index.php/site/events/march_19_-_h.a.t._trick_webinar_with_neil_perlin/

Jacob DeCamillis is the lead volunteer on staffing our table at the Word Vancouver festival that happens in September (this used to be called Word On The Street, or WOTS).  If you are interested in helping with this initiative that will showcase all the different areas of technical communication, please get in touch.

Check out PLAIN2013.org – the 20th Anniversary of the Plain Language Association International conference is being held in Vancouver on the October Thanksgiving weekend. They need volunteers in many different roles – I’ve invited Cheryl Stephens, the organizer, to give a very brief presentation before the March and May program nights. It’s a reasonably priced conference as well and specializing in Plain Language writing has been known to fuel a career or two!

I’ve blathered your ear off, haven’t I?  I won’t wait so long between updates next time… I promise. ‘Til then – keep on communicating, technically!

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