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What SIOP is Doing to Increase the Visibility of I-O Psychology

Gary W. Carter
Personnel Decisions Research Institutes, Inc.

In the SIOP Membership Survey conducted in 2000, two of the three lowest-rated areas of membership satisfaction concerned the visibility of SIOP. One of those areas was Promoting I-O to business and the other was Promoting I-O to other areas of psychology (Waclawski & Church, 2000). The lowest-rated area of membership satisfaction was with hotel room availability at the conference. As incoming chair of the Ad Hoc SIOP Public Policy and Visibility Committee at the time the 2000 survey results were released, I was not pleased that satisfaction with SIOP visibility was nearly as low as satisfaction with conference hotel room availability.

Since the time that survey was conducted in early 2000, SIOP has worked actively to improve the visibility of I-O psychology. In this article, I discuss the role of the SIOP Visibility Committee, and I describe some of the visibility-related activities that SIOP has undertaken over the past 2 years.

Role of Visibility Committee

In 2000, a decision was made to focus the efforts of the Public Policy and Visibility Committee on visibility-related issues rather than on public policy issues over the near term. There was a clear need for concrete steps to be taken in this arena, and there were many concrete steps that it was feasible for SIOP to take. In light of this sharpened focus, the name of the committee was changed to the Visibility Committee. The purpose of the Visibility Committee is to increase the visibility of the research and activities of SIOP members, and of SIOP as an organization, to business leaders, public policy officials, and the general public. The committees efforts over the past 2 years have focused on initiating activities that enhance the visibility of SIOP and of SIOP members in a positive way and on establishing processes to ensure that visibility-related activities initiated by the committee or by the SIOP Administrative Office are conducted on an ongoing basis.

SIOPs Visibility-Related Activities

A number of visibility-related activities have been undertaken by the committee and by the Administrative Office over the past 2 years. Some of these activities are described below. While this list of activities is not exhaustive (there are other visibility-related activities being conducted that are not mentioned in this article), it does provide a flavor for the kinds of activities and initiatives being undertaken to increase the visibility of I-O psychology.

  • The Administrative Office established an online Media Resources Service that allows media representatives to directly access contact information regarding SIOP members who have expressed interest in serving as resource persons for the press. SIOP members complete an online form providing information about their areas of expertise, and this information is made available to the press. If you would like to serve as a resource person to the media, please complete the Media Resources Form that is on the SIOP Web site.
  • The Administrative Office and SIOP Media Consultant Clif Boutelle have developed a press contact list including contact information on over 200 media representatives with an interest in workplace issues. This list is being continuously updated and is used frequently in getting the word out about I-O psychology.
  • Press releases regarding the work of SIOP members are being prepared and distributed to the press on an ongoing basis. These press releases are prepared by committee member Rob Ployhart, students at George Mason University and the University of Maryland, and Clif Boutelle. These press releases are distributed to the persons on the press contact list and are also available on the SIOP Web site.
  • SIOP Conference presentations and papers that are likely to be of interest to the press are identified by the Visibility Committee, and information about these presentations and papers is provided to media representatives through press releases and telephone contacts made by Clif Boutelle. Special attention is given to attracting the attention of local media in the city in which the conference is being held.
  • SIOP subscribes to Profnet, a service used by media representatives to identify experts in specific areas as they are preparing stories. Consultant Gardner McLean scans Profnet on a regular basis, and responds to inquiries that are relevant to areas of expertise of SIOP members.
  • Committee member Elizabeth Kolmstetter is coordinating with APA Monitor representatives to ensure that the I-O voice is heard in Monitor stories on psychology in the workplace. The July/August 2001 issue of the Monitor described the work of several SIOP members. This was due in large part to Elizabeths efforts.
  • Committee member Chris Rotolo is leading a task force on branding. This task force is examining issues such as the SIOP brand image, strengths and weaknesses of that image, whether the current SIOP brand image reflects SIOPs mission, goals, and values, and whether there are gaps between SIOPs current brand image and brand intent. This effort is expected to help ensure that a coherent message that is in line with SIOPs mission, goals, and values is communicated to the public.
  • A SIOP Members in the News column appears in each issue of TIP. This column, prepared by committee members Anne Marie Carlisi and Bev Dugan, provides information about stories that have appeared in the media in which SIOP members are quoted, or the work of SIOP members is discussed. With each issue of TIP, this column seems to get longer. We attribute this, at least in part, to SIOPs success in building relationships with media contacts and actively working with the media. If you see stories in news outlets that describe the work of SIOP members, please contact the Administrative Office to let them know about these stories.

If You Are Contacted

If you are contacted by the press or by a SIOP representative who is preparing a press release, we urge you to do two things. First, respond promptly. Reporters work against extremely tight deadlines. The vast majority of media representatives simply cant wait 3 days for a return call. Second, articulate the practical relevance of your work in language that is compelling and comprehensible to the public. I suggest that you think through how to do this now, so that you will be ready if you are contacted by the media.

Closing Thoughts

It takes time to build relationships with media representatives and to become widely known as an organization that can be counted upon to provide timely and relevant information to the media on workplace issues. Over the past 2 years, we have made significant progress, but we still have far to go. The persistence of SIOP members, and of SIOP as an organization, in demonstrating the relevance of our work and in building long-term relationships with the media will drive our success in this arena over the long run.

As my term as chair of the Ad Hoc Visibility Committee comes to an end, I would like to thank SIOP Administrative Office Director Lee Hakel and SIOP Media Consultant Clif Boutelle for the critical role they have played in SIOPs visibility-related efforts. I appreciate their work, the work of Visibility Committee members Anne Marie Carlisi, Jose Cortina, Bev Dugan, Sandy Fisher, Elizabeth Kolmstetter, David Oliver, Rob Ployhart and Chris Rotolo, and the work of consultant Gardner McLean. Finally, a special word of thanks to the students from George Mason University and the University of Maryland who prepared many excellent press releases over the past 2 years.


    Waclawski, J. W., & Church, A. H. (2000). The 2000 member survey results are in! The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 38(1), 5968.


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