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ATA in the News-Archives

ATA and the National Media: Association Delivers Message to 40 Million in U.S.

By Kevin Hendzel

I am pleased to report that the American Translators Association is now in the media big leagues. Our key message-that translators and interpreters exist, that translation requires skilled and trained practitioners, and that ATA can help in delivering that expertise to government, industry, and media-has spread out to the general public, translation users, and government policy makers in the U.S. and the world. Since November 2003 in Atlanta, we estimate from Arbitron ratings for TV interviews, national radio coverage, press circulation, and syndication of interviews with members of ATA's Public Relations Committee that the association's message has reached over 40 million people in the U.S. and abroad. That's right, 40 million, with a special focus on key decision makers. We sit in the same national TV interviews with the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Medical Association, and the American Bar Association. We are carried on the National Public Radio national network. We are considered the authority on translation in national security, healthcare, education, standards, and government relations.

Why is public visibility important?

Public relations is the very lifeblood of the translation and interpreting industry. Our profession, our viability, and our very earning power as translators and interpreters are intimately related to our perception among the public and among translation and interpretation users. First, we want the public to know we exist. No, professional translation is not done by software for free on the Internet. Yes, translators and interpreters are highly skilled professionals with college and graduate degrees who are, and should continue to be, fairly compensated-in fact, better compensated and recognized. Yes, translators and interpreters play key roles in business, law, public health, and national security. In fact, translators and interpreters are the gatekeepers in the war on terror. We save lives in hospitals, allow attorneys to communicate with clients, keep banking transactions running smoothly, and make it possible for the UN to operate. And ATA and its website should be the first stop for every translation user looking for translators and interpreters.

If we were to buy media time or print ads for this international coverage over the course of a year, it would cost roughly $4 million-twice the entire ATA budget. We would have to raise dues to over $1,000 a person. Thankfully, this has not been necessary. We have been successful in convincing the media to cover us as experts, to provide input and guidance in the national debate, and thereby increase our visibility among the audience that counts.

National Political Visibility

Other benefits include a role in the national policy debate at the highest level. Senator Dianne Feinstein, in questioning Thomas Abell of the Pentagon before the Senate Judiciary Committee in early October of last year, demanded to know why people were being pulled out of cabs to act as translators and interpreters and why the Pentagon had no appreciation for professional translators and interpreters. Who did she quote on this? She quoted ATA, of course. She cited the press reports and interviews mentioned earlier, she mentioned Tom West by name, and she cited ATA as the authority. This was broadcast all afternoon on C-Span TV nationwide.

How Coverage is Achieved

So we just send out press releases and the media beats a path to our door, right? Well, no. There are 27,000 associations in the U.S. and about 17,000 headquartered in or near Washington, DC. They all fight for media recognition every day. The media game is a competition-we compete with associations 20 times our size, as well as large corporations, lobbyists, and think tanks. ATA is tiny by comparison to these organizations-some companies have more lobbyists and staff than we have members. Our secret weapon is our relationship with our media advisors, Wendy Greenwald and Mike Casey, two of the most talented, hard-working, and influential media people in Washington, DC. They have trained all the members of ATA's PR Committee on how to give interviews on TV, radio, and print. They have helped us develop and deliver ATA's message. When we speak to reporters, we do not just say what happens to pop into our head at the moment-we convey a well-crafted message that is in the best interests of ATA and its members. We are advocates for the ATA, the Board, and the membership. We are essentially advocates for each and every one of you.

Conference Events

The PR Committee has organized several events over the last year and provided media outreach, promotion, and support for others. Major events and seminars include:

1. Translation and Terrorism: A Town Hall Meeting (Atlanta).
2. Language and Healthcare in Crisis: A National Forum Event (Phoenix)
3. Media relations for Everette Jordan's keynote speech (Phoenix).
4. Grassroots PR sessions in Atlanta and Phoenix (Friday, Saturday).

Final Comments

This revolutionary approach to raising the visibility of the association and the profession has the wholehearted support of your Board, particularly Tom West and ATA President Scott Brennan, our liaison to the Board. We could not have made these inroads without their encouragement and leadership. In addition, I have the pleasure of serving with a committee of extraordinarily dedicated and talented translators and interpreters with an unparalleled commitment to the association and the profession, starting with my Co-Chair, Gode medallist, writer, commentator, and columnist, Chris Durban, together with Lillian Clementi, Alexandra Russell-Bitting, Marian Greenfield, Neil Inglis, Amanda Ennis, Rudy Heller, and Rina Ne'eman. Please give these extraordinary individuals a hand for their tireless work on behalf of the association and the membership all year long.

Summary of ATA National Media Coverage: 2003-2004

In the period since the November conference in Phoenix, PR Committee members have been interviewed and quoted on:

1. CBS TV network interview at CBS studios in Washington on 12/4, aired 12/20 in the early evening on West Coast affiliates and later in the evening on East Coast and other national affiliates (Kevin Hendzel).

2. Associated Press Wire Service interviews and stories run on the national AP wire that were picked up by newspapers nationwide (December 5-12), resulting in a new sound byte, "It's easier to learn to fly an F-14 than it is to learn Arabic." CBS also used the same quote (Kevin Hendzel).

3. Voice of America interview on translator shortage, broadcast internationally on several language services (air date: 12/12/03). Transcript available (Kevin Hendzel).

4. National Public Radio (Michigan) interview on commercial translation and school/institutional issues, size, and composition of national market (Lillian Clementi).

5. Metro Network Radio News, syndicated on national radio (12/23, Kevin Hendzel).

6. Viewpoints, national radio syndicate, aired the week of January 18 (Kevin Hendzel).

7. Washington Post feature story on ATA corporate member's new greeting card translation business, quoting Kevin Hendzel on Thursday, November 20.

8. Detroit Metro Times feature story on local literary translators; excellent quote from Cliff Landers, who was referred by PR Committee (Cliff Landers).

9. Detroit News feature story on language and translation in public schools (Lillian Clementi).

10. La Prensa (New Orleans) story on translation market, professional translation, skills required, etc. (Kevin Hendzel).

National TV and Radio (2003):

1. Fox News Live (national), two times.
2. MSNBC live TV.
3. Morning Edition, National Public Radio.
4. National radio interviews on CBS, ABC, and CNN radio (3,000 affiliates each).
5. CNN Headline News and international distribution on CNN.
6. ABC, Fox, NBC, and CBS local TV in Atlanta and distribution to 28 cities in the U.S.
7. NewsChannel 8, Washington DC.
8. Univision, national Spanish-language TV network.
9. C-Span national network.

Newspapers and Syndicates (2003)

1. Associated Press
2. The New York Times
3. The Washington Post (four times)
4. USA Today
5. The Atlanta Journal Constitution
6. The Washington Times (twice in two front-page stories with national implications)
7. Christian Science Monitor
8. New York Times Syndicate and Hearst Syndicate (600 newspapers)
9. The Wall Street Journal
10. Sourcing for editorials in USA Today and Newsweek

Magazines, Local Radio, Trade Publications (2003)

1. Inc. Magazine -full page, with special focus on ATA and mention of the association's website
2. WTOP radio, Washington (twice)
3. Tulsa Business Journal
4. Air Force Times
5. Stars and Stripes
6. Mother Jones
7. La Opinion
8. Technology Review
9. Virginia radio (Lillian Clementi)

Coverage of 44th Annual Conference of ATA, Phoenix (November, 2003)

ATA's 44th Annual Conference in Phoenix, November 5-8, 2003, was covered extensively by national and local media. ATA's Public Relations Committee arranged for TV, radio, and print media coverage both in advance and during the conference itself. These activities included TV, radio, newspaper, and wire interviews conducted during the conference, briefings with reporters on conference events, as well as TV interviews conducted at NBC and CNN studios in Phoenix.

The launch of the federal government's new National Virtual Translation Center (NVTC) was announced at the conference by Everette Jordan, director of the NVTC, in his keynote address Thursday morning, and this event was the principal focus of media coverage. This allowed ATA to get the word out on the importance of professional translation to national security and the critical role of translators in government, business, and industry.

Description of Television Coverage:

1. TV interview with ATA President Tom West on Fox News TV (national), Wednesday, November 5.

2. TV interview with ATA PR Committee Co-Chair Kevin Hendzel, NBC TV (Phoenix), Thursday, November 6.

3. TV coverage with short comments by Kevin Hendzel and Everette Jordan, including conference shots, ABC and CBS TV (Phoenix).

4. TV interview with Everette Jordan, CNN Live, Sunday morning, November 8 (Phoenix).

5. TV coverage with short comments by Kevin Hendzel and Everette Jordan, CNN Headline News, national and international (rebroadcast all Sunday evening).

6. TV coverage on local CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox affiliates in 21 national markets taken from CNN coverage.

Description of Radio Coverage:

1. Radio interview on NPR Radio Marketplace (national) on Friday, November 7 with Kevin Hendzel.

2. Radio interview on Radio America (national) on Saturday, November 8 with Kevin Hendzel.

3. Radio coverage of conference, quotes by Everette Jordan on KFNN, KFYI, and KTAR radio (Phoenix).

Description of Print Coverage:

1. Wire story on the NVTC and ATA conference on the Associated Press Wire Service, Thursday, November 6.

2. Wire story on the NVTC and ATA conference on the Reuters wire service, Thursday, November 6.

3. Feature articles on the NVTC and ATA conference in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Washington Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Arizona Republic, Newsday, and the National Journal.