How far has the AVMA Communications Division come in the past three years?
J.B. Hancock, director of the AVMA Communications Division, responds:
When I accepted this position in November 2004, there were four full-time people and a need for more effective AVMA communications efforts. Today we are 15 people strong and recruiting for a communications manager at the Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C. The Communications Division has evolved into an integrator that touches many other divisions, organizations, and stakeholders.
I thought it was imperative very early on to achieve some successes—one of which was AVMA News Bytes, a compendium of news stories of interest to the profession, including any mentions of the AVMA or AVMA members. We originally distributed News Bytes to AVMA leaders, many of whom forwarded it to peers around the world. Because it's proved to be so popular, we've made News Bytes available via an RSS feed so anyone in the world can download it every workday.
Another early success in Communications was the establishment of the State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department. The department was the culmination of an effort by state VMAs to secure the help of the AVMA in dealing with state issues that directly affect our members. The staff of that department has done a magnificent job of making the initiative into a reality that I think exceeds expectations.
What's new with the Communication Division?
We've been working all year on a system that will allow people to order brochures and other publications online. We recently introduced an online calculator that allows members to compare their salaries with the salaries of veterinarians in similar situations (see page).
Within Media Relations, we've launched AVMA Health News Bytes, which we distribute monthly to human-health reporters. This short compendium gives reporters story ideas from veterinary research with implications for human health. I did not expect to see results for nine months to a year, but we've already had reporters pick up stories.
Now we're launching AVMA@Work, an electronic newsletter that will go out to members who opt in through our Web site. The goal of AVMA@Work is to let our members know about some of the fascinating things that are going on at headquarters and at the Governmental Relations Division. We think our members will be pleasantly surprised to discover all the ways that the AVMA is working on their behalf.
Several AVMA divisions have been working collaboratively on Web pages that will provide information relevant to the lack of veterinarians in food supply medicine and public health. Perhaps the biggest contribution from the Communications Division is an effort by the Marketing Department. The department compiled huge amounts of data and created maps for every state that pinpoint, county by county, the locations with shortages of food supply veterinarians.
Also, we just finished a new version of the AVMA's career DVD. This is the first time it's been in the DVD format, the first time it has been in both English and Spanish, and the first time it has been closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. The video now has the look and feel of a fast-paced, hard-hitting detective show for an audience from middle school through high school. All the kids we've shown it to love it. The video is being duplicated and will be available by Oct. 1 (see page).
Any other thoughts about the division?
Only that we've just begun. We've accomplished a lot in the past three years, but the staff members haven't slowed down at all and are constantly coming up with new ideas. We are exploring online social networking, 3-D Internet possibilities, podcasting, local-access television, more tools for state VMAs, more statistical analyses, and many other initiatives—each of which, we hope, will reach out and benefit all our members and constituent groups.
Correction: An earlier version of this article gave an inaccurate time frame for the establishment of the AVMA Communications Division. The AVMA created the division in 2001.