David S. Jones, ABC
35th Anniversary Q&A
“Today, I enjoy learning from the new generation of communicators who are creating and using tools we could never have imagined when I started as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1966.” –David S. Jones
Question: IABC.com states that the organization was founded in 1970, but your member anniversary is from 1968. Were you a member of a previous organization that merged with others to form the new IABC in 1970? If so, which one and how did you come to join that organization?
Answer: Before IABC, I was a member of the International Council of Industrial Editors (ICIE). They merged with the American Association of Industrial Editors to form IABC in 1970. I joined ICIE for professional development. At the time, I was editor of the worldwide employee newspaper for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Dallas. I was one of the first people to be an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC)—that was in 1974.
Q: My research indicates that the Brazos Valley chapter started in 1981. Were you involved in the founding of our chapter? Were you the first president?
A: Yes and no. I was involved in the founding but not the first president. John Suddath of the Texas Forest Service was the first president.
Q: What can you tell us about the early days of our chapter? What was the catalyst for forming an IABC chapter locally? Who were some of the other earliest members?
A: I was active in the Dallas/IABC (Past President, Editor of the Year, etc.). When I moved to College Station in 1975, there was no local professional development available. Suddath, too, was an ICIE member. He and Tom Sneed (from Texas A&M Ag Communications) joined Houston/IABC to get their professional development ﬁx. But, driving to Houston every month for dinner meetings got old, and they investigated interest in forming an IABC chapter here. We got a boost when several of us attended the International Conference in Dallas in 1980. Ten local communicators met in Suddath’s living room and got the ball rolling. The IABC district director and board were supportive and paid their way to College Station to meet with us. As far people involved in the early years, they are listed among the Past Presidents. Back then everyone took a leadership role.
Q: Are you a member of other professional organizations, and if so, do you mind sharing which ones?
A: No, I am not currently a member of any other professional organizations. In the past, I was a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the now defunct Texas Public Relations Society. I still work full time (received my 40-year pin from Texas A&M University in November). I produce a weekly newsletter for the area’s largest civic organization, the College Station Noon Lions Club. That takes a lot of my volunteer time but allows me to use my communication skills to help the community.
Q: Why IABC? What is it about IABC that has kept you a member?
A: When starting my career, IABC taught valuable skills that made me a better writer, editor, photographer, and designer. Before the internet, if you wanted to pick someone’s brain, the best way was face to face. IABC provided invaluable networking opportunities. I learned a lot by entering various IABC awards programs at the local, district, and international levels. Today, I enjoy learning from the new generation of communicators who are creating and using tools we could never have imagined when I started as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1966.
Q: What’s the one thing you’d change about IABC if you could?
A: I would like to see international and the region more active on the local level. In the early days of the chapter, we had regular visits (programs) from district leadership.
Q: Would you share what your job is and why you love what you do? What draws you to communication as a profession?
A: I am the senior editor for the Real Estate Center at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. I work with a staff of extremely talented and dedicated communicators. We produce a quarterly magazine for 50,000 Texas real estate licensees; a weekly podcast; a daily newsfeed of statewide real estate happenings; a twice-weekly e-newsletter for 24,000 subscribers; and all the usual social media endeavors. We edit three monthly economic reports and other technical manuscripts. Our core contribution is to translate economic concepts from PhDs into meaningful, timely messages for real estate agents and the public. Our biggest recent project was the revamping of our website. I enjoy what I do because our boss listens to our advice, gives us the latitude to be creative, and provides resources we need to explore our ideas. I come to work because of the people I work with daily. I was attracted to communications because it opens a door to creativity. I like the challenge of conveying ideas to an audience, especially in new, creative, and professional ways. That’s why I have stuck with it for more than 50 years.
Q: What is one thing that you wish you’d known when you were starting out in your career?
A: I wish I had realized how much real-world experience plays in your education. I worked a summer on a weekly newspaper in Alice, Texas, and gained invaluable knowledge before I took my first college journalism course. I believe you hone your skills through practice, experimentation, and failure.