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Featured Article from The ATA Chronicle (May 2015)

Progress in Public Relations
By Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, ATA Public Relations Committee Chair

ATA is one of the largest professional groups in the world for translators and interpreters. Members include freelance and staff translators and interpreters, teachers and students, project managers, technology developers, language companies and language company owners, hospitals, universities, government agencies, and even a First Nations tribe. The challenge for ATA’s PR Committee is to unite these voices to promote the translation and interpreting professions.

Those of us who volunteered to serve on the committee have been working hard over the past few months on several projects related to external public relations, laying the groundwork to continue expanding ATA’s efforts to promote professional translation and interpreting to the general public.

ATA Messaging and Spokespeople
We interviewed several PR consultants, finally hiring Jan Fox in September 2014. Locals in Washington, DC may recognize Jan as a former news anchor and reporter for WUSA TV 9. Jan’s 30 years in television, as well as her track record with her business Fox Talks, LLC, made it quite clear that she was the perfect fit for ATA and the PR goals we plan to achieve.1

We began working with Jan immediately to refine the Association’s PR message. That message now appears on ATA’s website: “The expertise ATA members offer can help you save money, avoid mistakes, and grow your business. Put the power of quality translation and interpreting on your side.” It was decided that the most visible place for the message--the place where many clients will start their search for information--would be in the “frequently asked questions” page on ATA’s website.2 The message will also be seen by journalists seeking information on ATA’s position regarding specific topics within the translation and interpreting professions.

To spread our message even further, all ATA members can take advantage of these FAQs and use them as talking points when discussing their professions and educating potential clients. We’ve placed many references with links to the ATA directories within the list of FAQs. (As such, it is equally important for you to update your directory profile so that potential clients can find and contact you easily.) Links are also available to the Getting It Right publications (for both translators and interpreters), as well as other resources that contribute to the conversation about hiring professional translators and interpreters.

A new set of guidelines and proposal forms for external PR events is available to members who wish to receive support for trade shows, specialized conferences, book fairs, etc. The PR Committee will review proposals and assist members by providing resources and speaker support, as needed.

ATA Spokespeople
In April, Jan Fox led a full-day training session for spokespeople for the Association. Participants included Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner, Judy Jenner, Corinne McKay, Jiri Stejskal, Jost Zetzsche, as well as PR Committee Chair Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, ATA President Caitilin Walsh, and President-Elect David Rumsey. These individuals were selected to represent different fields of interest within the professions, and for their speaking abilities and congenial manner. As journalists contact ATA Headquarters for responses to issues in translation and interpreting--and as we move to actively pitching stories to the media--we can draw on a pool of well-trained and dynamic speakers to represent the Association.

A second day of training will follow for these speakers this year. In addition, a team is updating the Press Room landing page of ATA’s website with more recent and accessible information for journalists and current and potential members in anticipation of increased traffic.

ATA Speakers Bureau
Jan Fox will be providing additional training to those involved in ATA’s new Speakers Bureau. This group of volunteers will consist of members trained to speak at events, trade shows, conferences, chambers of commerce, etc. It is expected that these speakers will touch on a few of ATA’s talking points during their presentations. Their training will also allow them to be comfortable with answering questions about ATA. One or two trainings for the bureau are expected to take place this year. The team of volunteers helping to set up the Speakers Bureau is currently working to identify speakers. The goal is to begin speaker training at ATA’s Annual Conference in Miami. The team is making progress in the following areas:

• Drafting a Speakers Bureau policy based on a survey of similar programs.

• Highlighting the types of events and audiences speakers should address on behalf of the Association.

• Determining the most effective mechanism for promoting the bureau and ATA in other fields and specializations.

Careful planning in each of these three areas will make for a more effective and sustainable Speakers Bureau. The PR Committee will support members of the bureau and ATA spokespeople by providing resources, assistance in preparing speeches, as well as lining up interviews and continued media training. Our next big push will include contracting with a professional PR firm that will provide contacts to media outlets and pitch stories on behalf of ATA.

ATA School Outreach
ATA’s School Outreach team continues to support our members in reaching out to students interested in foreign languages, as they are potential future members of our Association--or potential future clients! This year, ATA will celebrate 10 years of the School Outreach Program and Contest. Members of the PR Committee are busy planning a special celebration for the 56th Annual Conference in Miami in recognition of this special milestone. Stay tuned!

The School Outreach team, led by Meghan McCallum and Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer, dedicates many hours to school outreach. As members of ATA visit classrooms and
spread the word to teachers and students about possible careers in translation and interpreting, these individuals help shape the public image of translators and interpreters, inform others about ATA’s presence and purpose, as well as provide information about pathways to becoming a translation or interpreting professional.

In recent months, the PR Committee has also restructured the School Outreach page on ATA’s website.3 Members report consistently that doing school outreach is incredibly satisfying, so consider visiting this page to find information on how to get involved (e.g., getting your foot in the door, presentation resource material, etc.). In addition, there will be a presentation about the School Outreach Program at this year’s Annual Conference in Miami for those who wish to have more information and get involved.

The Future
The PR Committee and its various teams continue to dedicate many volunteer hours to these projects in order to promote our membership and to spread the word to our members’ potential clients about hiring and working with professional translators and interpreters. In addition, the committee is refreshing the online material for the Client Outreach Kit page on ATA’s website so that members can use it to help promote their own businesses to clients more effectively. Be sure to look for more information in a forthcoming article in The ATA Chronicle.

The Board of Directors is extremely supportive of the PR Committee’s efforts, and we expect increased funding for our PR initiatives in light of the strides we’ve made in just one year. We’re confident that our efforts in PR, both now and going forward, will bring positive attention to the translation and interpreting professions while serving the interests of all ATA members.

As chair of ATA’s PR Committee, I welcome any questions regarding the progress of our efforts. Please don’t hesitate to contact me:

1. You can find out more about Jan Fox’s credentials at

2. ATA Press Room: FAQ about ATA,

3. ATA School Outreach,

Check out the links to these ATA PR Outreach Initiatives!

ATA Client Outreach Kit
ATA School Outreach

Interpreting: Getting It Right

Translation: Getting It Right