Why I joined the ISTC

In their own words, the ISTC is:

the largest UK body representing professional communicators and information designers

I joined the ISTC a couple of years ago. They’ve been on my radar for a while now, but to be honest I’ve never been sure of what the benefits have been, nor have I found much need to be a member of a professional body. So what does the ISTC offer members? Well the ISTC website states that:

the ISTC offers opportunities to exchange views and information with other professional communicators. Members enjoy discounts, news, training events, networking and recognition of professional status including the use of FISTC or MISTC (for suitably qualified people).

OK, so you can now refer to me as Gordon McLean MISTC.

Yes, that’s much better than “Oi, twit!”.

I’ve been a member of various committees and charities in my time so there is one thing that I know holds true. When it comes to any organisation you get out what you put in, which would explain why I’ve recently been struggling to justify my ISTC membership.

It’s not that I don’t put in, I write a monthly column for the newsletter and happily volunteered to be on the newly formed members panel which is in the midst, thanks to the outstanding efforts of Rachel Potts reviewing those very same benefits that the ISTC offer.

And it’s not that I don’t get value back out, the ISTC mailing list has proven useful and I’m sure when I attend the conference this year, my first, I will learn a lot and benefit from speaking to my peers

So the question is, am I getting value for money?

Ultimately I believe I am, but I do feel I could be getting more. When I joined the ISTC I was already following some technical writing blogs and already had the beginnings of a network of people who were offering some good advice and interesting thoughts about this profession of ours. Some of those were discovered through the TechWR-L mailing list, others by chance encounters or links from other blogs. It’s the one thing that, as yet, the ISTC hasn’t really managed to grasp hold of, the idea that what they are facilitating is a community of like minded souls.

In a way an organisation such as the ISTC has the advantage over ad-hoc groups, given that all of the members have paid to be part of the organisation. It’ll be interesting to see the outcome of the review of member benefits, to see where the community aspect of being a member rates with everyone else. Perhaps it’s just me but I truly believe the ISTC would benefit from increasing the networking/community aspect of membership.


  1. Hey Gordon,

    I’m actually running for our chapter’s president position, and I’m going to be looking for ways to help the members get more out of membership. But “you get out what you put in” has been on my mind as well. I found it was true in my college education, and it’s definitely true in this context.

    Maybe we’ll run into each other at the conference.

  2. I’ve only recently joined, but whilst the magazine is good, I find the website and associated Yahoo newsgroup very disappointing in terms of content, usability, and presentation, i.e. poor examples of technical communication.

    I can’t be the only member to think this, but why is it not addressed? And if I raise it, will I be deemed to have volunteered to improve things?

  3. Cecily, I agree and have stated so to both the webmaster (the current design and information architecture could be improved in my opinion) and various other members. There is a separate initiative looking at the benefits of the ISTC, and for me the website COULD be a benefit.

    And no, raising it doesn’t mean you are volunteering to improve things, although you’d probably need to be prepared to provide some thoughts to the topic I’d imagine.

  4. Hi

    I am an Individual Tech writer working for IT Infrastructure management Company(UCB). I liked the article. Thanks for the information.


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