As a professional communicator and a member of the International Association of Business Communicators, I’m growing increasingly frustrated by a lack of communication from IABC leadership on two subjects.

The first subject is the IABC’s own international conference, set to open in just about a month (June 24-27, 2007 in New Orleans, LA, USA). I’d think that the association would have been promoting the conference for some time now, but with just weeks to go before the event starts, we’ve heard barely a word.

The last mention of the conference on IABC’s official blog, the IABC Cafe, was one I wrote related to a planned crisis communications preconference workshop. That post was on April 18. It was followed by two weeks of silence from the rest of the Cafe bloggers, until 2006-07 Chair Glenda Holmes, ABC, wrote a brief post on May 4 on an unrelated topic. No one has posted on the Cafe since then about…well, about anything.

No update either on In Session, the “official blog of the IABC International Conference.”   IABC staffer Chris Grossgart told us in a May 4 post to expect weekly podcasts, insider information and more from two well-known podcasters and a team of bloggers. Chris did state that the blogging wouldn’t begin until the start of the conference. My question is: Why wait? Don’t we want to generate interest in the conference in the weeks leading up to the opening sessions?

The second subject that has remained undiscussed online by IABC is the emergence of  opportunities and challenges created by social networking sites and ad hoc event planning. Professional organizations including the IABC historically have provided their members with a package of services and benefits that have added value to memberships. Join and receive networking opportunities with other members, proprietary research and opinion relevent to the member’s profession, and the opportunity to attend events developed and managed by the member organization.

As proven by MyRagan, the social networking site for communicators that recently was launched by Ragan Communications, Inc., people are willing to look elsewhere for the products and services that used to be tied to professional associations. When you toss in the fact that these social networking sites don’t charge for membership and basic services, you beg the question that has remained unaddressed by IABC and other associations: What is the business case for professional associations in this new world?

I can think of some answers, but like I said, it’s time for IABC and other associations to join the conversation.