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Much Ado at ISA

New events abound within the sign industry’s most prominent association.

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You may have noticed a new look to a 16-page section of ST 's July issue. In the midst of our fourth year of publishing the International Sign Assn.'s (ISA) bi-monthly ISA Report, the arrangements have changed. To the casual observer, the primary distinction may be visual, but there is also a discernible change in content as well.

When we first agreed to publish the ISA Report, we edited the content ISA provided to meet our editorial standards, as we would any submitted work.

As the ST staff's time demands have changed, we are no longer able to provide this service. Consequently, everything you saw in the July ISA Report was provided by ISA, the content as well as the layout and artwork. Going forward, subsequent ISA Reports will be similarly unedited.

So read the ISA Report as you would any communication that any group would provide about its own activities. And, of course, the views reflected in the ISA Report don't necessarily reflect the views of ST. The most recent ISA Report included some good information, portions of which I'd like to revisit.

Some regular columns provide extremely practical information. Heck, we'd pay Lee Hewitt to continue with his "Ask Underwriters Laboratories" column. (Uh, there's no need to tell him that.) It's 100% informational, yet it's indirectly promotional. Because Lee Hewitt is impressive, UL and ISA are impressive by association.

I often implore outside writers: "Show me; don't just tell me." Adjectives such as "in-depth," "extensive," "innovative," etc. are just fluff unless subsequent documentation adds specifics.

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That's one reason I really liked Tom Cummings' "Chairman's Message." It represents how any column should be in the ISA Report. It gives ISA credibility by specifically outlining what ISA has done over the past few years: the SBA website, six books, two DVDs, six major legal cases and six lobbying actions.

And as I read through the rest of the ISA Report, I was pleased by the significant number of tangible developments. Tom addressed the new U.S. Chamber of Commerce website section, "Signage: Your Voice on the Street," which has approximately 150,000 unique monthly visitors. That's documentation.

As for the recap of the Sign Expo, all that's needed is the impressive numbers to tell the story. A record 566 exhibitors took a record 1,715 booths; 37 Discovery seminars attracted 1628 participants (an average of 44 per seminar); the H.O.T. (hands-on training) Zone premiered. These facts don't need hype. They suffice at face value.

On the page facing the DPXtreme recap, ISA lists seven educational opportunities that will occur within a 50-day period. Three are repeated, but that's still four different educational sessions. Elaboration on the contents of those events would've been a great addition.

The words of Rep. Steve King (D-IA), which appear in the Congressional Record (and, appropriately, are republished in ISA's website, www.signs.org), are included in a column. That development merited a headline.

The ISA Report includes more pro-active announcements. It has now published a book on welding. Additionally, ISA will now advertise in Franchising World, which sounds excellent, because it should put signage information in front of end users.

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Much of the ISA Report's information would deserve serious editorial attention even without our agreement, as with Lee Hewitt's UL column. Ideally, any magazine should serve as a forum. Any industry benefits from multiple views.

Consequently, please let both ISA and ST know what you think about the new ISA Report. It's more important to let ISA know, because it creates the report, but, as the publisher/editor, I want to know as well, so that the ISA Report coincides with our core purpose, serving the sign industry.

Next month, I'll discuss ISA's September Signage and Identity Symposium in this column.

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