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New Moniker for a New Era

Communications has never been more important for the success and future of the multichannel-video industry and the cable companies at its core.

Testimony before a local, state or federal regulatory body will directly affect how services are delivered, what programming is permitted, how it is packaged and more. White papers educate not just legislators, but the industry's advocates and even its customers. Online, print and televised messages to those customers let them know of a new channel, product or service. Well-crafted speeches and presentations let investors and Wall Street institutions know why the industry is worth their attention — and capital. When competition forces change, the right framing of the situation helps employees adjust and fight the good fight. And in times of crisis, good communications calms emotion and finds the way to turn trouble into a lasting gain.

Who crafts these communications? In this industry, it's the job of the members of the Cable Television Public Affairs Association.

Yet, as the CTPAA embarks on its 22nd year, it's clear the nomenclature used to define the professionals in this business is becoming too narrow. Members working for cable operators no longer focus just on government affairs. Members working for programmers do much more than show and event publicity. It's no longer possible to just describe their roles in terms of the three “P's”: public relations, public affairs and publicity.

They now help manage messaging around competitive strategy, employee expectations, technical understanding and the financial underpinnings of the industry as a whole. Communication is their tool.

To build these skills, many of these professionals this week will be heading to the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., to attend Forum 2007, CTPAA's annual educational conference.

This year's theme: “Cable to the Extreme: Communicating the Possibilities.” And that really is what this business is all about: Explaining how existing and cutting-edge products and services will fill consumer needs or wants.

There will be 10 panels on important industry topics and four general sessions featuring industry CEOs, as well as recognized leaders in communications, public policy and new media. Outside of the sessions, the forum is an ideal venue for personal communication, or networking. And great work will be recognized by the Beacon, Individual Achievement, Bridges and President's awards.

As an organization, CTPAA has taken a thorough look at our programs, our mission, the future that lies ahead — and we have embarked on some changes. We will broaden the scope of our professional development program beyond the “three P's,” to include executives and managers in other functions whose success also depends on expert communications skills. This includes professionals in public affairs, marketing communications, media relations, publicity, employee communications, government relations, community relations and investor relations.

Towards that end, we are adopting a new name: The Association of Cable Communicators.

The CTPAA acronym was a mouthful. It served us well for the past two decades. But this clear, straightforward, but more-encompassing name should better serve our industry as we embark on the next decade.