ATA at the International Association of Business Communicators

Masaka Fujiware and ATA Past President David Rumsey at the ATA table.

With chapters in over 100 countries, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)1 is one of the largest professional associations dedicated to corporate communications in the world. Officially created in 1970, IABC has roots in the original American Association of Industrial Editors founded in 1938.

IABC attracts writers and communicators who work within the fields of human resources, training, public relations, marketing, advertising, government relations, and investor relations. As the field has become more international, and as companies and corporations expand their operations around the globe, translation and interpreting has become increasingly important to the world of corporate communications. IABC has published articles from ATA’s Public Relations Writers Group2 in their trade magazine that is distributed worldwide.

The challenges involved with managing communications for multilingual workforces and audiences was the topic on the minds of the thousands of IABC members who gathered in Vancouver, British Columbia in June 2019 for the World Conference of IABC. ATA was there to help answer their questions. With the help of three other local ATA members—Ana-Maria Zuniga, Masaka Fujiware, and Olivia Ocana-Quintana—ATA hosted a table at the conference that provided both fun gift items (beer coasters!) and advice.

As opposed to providing an explicit session on translation and/or interpreting with a limited audience, this time ATA decided to reinforce its relationship with IABC by hosting a table. This approach allowed us to provide more direct and specific advice to the thousands of attendees at the conference. It was fascinating to learn of the various scenarios that these direct clients face in terms of translation and interpreting.

Many of the people involved in human resources deal with multilingual staff in overseas operations that require not just translation for multilingual training manuals, but also voice talent for videos that will be played to staff worldwide. Human resource departments are often also tasked with finding interpreters for visitors to their company. Advertisers and marketers have very specific needs in terms of translation that are often best suited to transcreation and multilingual copywriting. Conversely, speed is the most important factor for clients working in the fields of public relations and investor relations, and many of them are looking to machine translation to help solve their issues—often with disappointing results.

Our ATA member volunteers staffing the table were able to provide solutions for attendees in terms of explaining how to best use machine translation, the growing field of transcreation, and the ABC’s of translation and interpreting in general. Although there were a few ATA members among the attendees (thanks for saying hi!), the vast majority of attendees had very little understanding of foreign languages and translation/interpreting in general. They were all deeply appreciative of the materials we were able to provide, including Translation: Getting it Right! and Interpreting: Getting It Right!.3

Being able to connect with the actual users/buyers of translation/interpreting services has been the strategic approach of ATA’s Public Relations Committee for several years. Helping these people understand the keys to successful translation/interpreting projects benefits not only the buyers, but also us as translators and interpreters.

Ana-Maria Zuniga and ATA Past President David Rumsey at the ATA table.

Although the cost of hosting an information table at a professional trade conference may be prohibitive for individuals, it can be something for corporate members within ATA to consider. Individual members can always attend the conference as speakers or regular participants and use their networking skills to make direct connections with the end users of translation/interpreting services. Here are a few tips to keep in mind in that case:

1. Rehearse an elevator speech. You don’t need to start with the speech. It’s often easier to break the ice by asking someone a question or providing a comment. Then explain who you are.

2. Take advantage of the breaks. If you’re there as an attendee, you really will not have much of a chance to communicate during the sessions. But the coffee breaks provide an ideal time with which to approach people. It can also be advantageous to skip some sessions and hang out in the lounge area where other people are taking a break and tend to be in a more receptive mood.

3. Take advantage of social media. Find out if there is an app for the conference and be sure to download it and start using it before you arrive. Make use of any conference hashtags as well or create your own.

4. Sit in the front row. If you’re going to attend any sessions, make sure you sit in the front row where it will be easy for you to ask questions and perhaps add your own perspective on the session. If you found a speaker particularly helpful, contact them directly afterwards and consider collaborating.

5. Eat in the hotel. It may feel a little lonely, but you are at this conference to make connections. There are guaranteed to be other conference attendees who are also faced with the prospect of eating alone at the hotel. You can provide good company and good information.

  1. International Association of Business Communicators,
  2. ATA’s print and digital outreach campaign began in January 2016. To date, 22 articles have appeared in more than 140 professional and trade publications. Take a minute now to find out more:
  3. Translation: Getting it Right! and Interpreting: Getting It Right! can be found at

David Rumsey is a past president of ATA (2015–2017). In that position, he was in contact with several key players within government and industry and has provided sessions on translation and interpreting at the International Association of Business Communicators, Society for Technical Communication, the Globalization and Localization Association, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and U.S. Interagency Language Roundtable. He has been featured on CNBC and PBS’ Nightly Business Hour. Since entering the profession in 1990, he has worked on all sides of the industry, including as a project manager at two U.S.-based agencies, a project manager for localization efforts at a large software firm, and as a freelance translator since 2004 from his home near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Contact:

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