All Eyes Are on IEEE

Public Visibility Initiative raises awareness with articles in major news outlets and taps tech icons to promote the profession

5 December 2008

PVCUSA Today, Newsweek, The Economist, Kuwait Times, RedOrbit.com, and NBC's "The Today Show" are just some of the news outlets that have interviewed IEEE members during the past few months. The wave of publicity was launched by the organization's Public Visibility Initiative, a communications program that seeks to raise
IEEE's global visibility and improve the image of the engineering profession [see "Boosting IEEE's Visibility and Prestige," September 2008, p. 8]. IEEE Corporate Communications, which oversees the initiative, estimates that the 70 articles and interviews that have run since June reached about 29 million people, based on circulation and TV audience. That's equivalent to more than US $1.5 million in free advertising.

For example, in August, an article dealing with the use of alternative energy technologies at Anheuser-Busch breweries and other companies quoted IEEE Fellow Saifur Rahman, vice president of the IEEE Power & Energy Society. He noted that many organizations were looking at hybrid systems involving landfill gas plus wind and solar power to gain higher levels of energy efficiency. That article appeared in 17 news outlets, including USA Today's Web site and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Karen Panetta, an IEEE Fellow and chair of the IEEE Women in Engineering Committee, appeared on NBC's "The Today Show" in July to talk about the Nerd Girls program she created at Tufts University, in Medford, Mass., which tries to boost the retention rate of female engineering students by employing hands-on projects [see "Bringing Geek Chic Into Style," p. 18]. The show's Web site, as well as Newsweek, ran articles about the program and interviewed the students, who tackled projects involving green energy, environmental cleanup, and assistive technology for the disabled.

SPEAKERS ON TAP In addition to Rahman and Panetta, more than 80 people are part of a newly created speakers' bureau—a worldwide community of IEEE members who have volunteered to speak with reporters on hot topics. The 10 topics include education, health care, security, nanotechnology, and communications.

The Public Visibility Ad Hoc Committee, the group charged with overseeing the program and led by 2007 IEEE President Leah Jamieson, has also developed an "elevator speech," a summary of IEEE's goals that takes about a minute to describe [see "IEEE's Message in a Minute," below].

In addition, a so-called Ambassadors Program bureau is being formed, made up of IEEE members who are icons in the corporate, research, and academic worlds, and passionate in support of the organization. When called upon to deliver speeches, these leaders will be ready to promote the engineering profession as well as the benefits of belonging to IEEE.

Due later this month is a six-minute video that explains what IEEE is, what it does, and how it does it. The video is expected to be shown at IEEE conferences, section and chapter meetings, and at next year's IEEE 125th anniversary celebrations. The organization's volunteer and staff leaders can show it when they speak at public events, and the video, available at the IEEE Newsroom and IEEE.tv, will be sent to members of the media who cover technology topics.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the Public Visibility Initiative, visit http://www.ieee.org/go/newsroom.

IEEE'S MESSAGE IN A MINUTE

Suppose someone notices the IEEE pin on your jacket and asks you to explain what the organization is all about. Here are some suggested points you can make in a minute or less.

  • IEEE has 375 000 members, which makes it the largest technical professional association in the world.
  • It is a trusted source of technical information for the engineering, computing, and technology professions.
  • It is the voice of the profession, with a worldwide leadership.
  • IEEE fosters technological innovation for the benefit of humanity.

 

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