In-house Issues: The Power of the Purse and the Pulpit

I often hear in-house designers lament the lack of in-house programming and content being generated by leading design focused for-profit and not-for-profit entities. While there is some truth to this concern, there has been, over the past five years, an encouraging trend towards an increased focus by those same organizations on servicing the in-house community. Witness, the in-house seminar tracks at the HOW conference, the InHOWse conference, the formation of InSource, the most recent AIGA Make/Think conference, AIGA’s recently launched INitiative and, of course, this blog.

That being said, I’ve seen first-hand how groups with the best of intentions can inadvertently slip back into old habits of forgetting about our needs. There are three ways that we can, as a group, ensure that the forward momentum of in-house support initiatives continues.

The most obvious tact is to volunteer for groups such as AIGA and InSource. Why should we expect our agency and design firm peers to do the heavy lifting as volunteers of these groups to help us if we’re not willing to pitch in as well.

The second, and equally obvious, action you can take, is to make your expectations known by writing to the appropriate leaders of these organizations. With the ease of communication that email provides, there’s no excuse to not make your opinions and needs known. All of the biggest players in the design community have robust websites that list their leaders and primary points of contact. Write the local and national leadership and staff. Thank them for the programming and content they’ve provided to date and let them know you’re looking forward to more of the same.

Finally, and most importantly, we can, as a group, wield the power of the purse. Look for publications, organizations and events that demonstrate a commitment to our community by their inclusion of content and programming devoted to the practice of in-house design and buy or register for them.

There is nothing we can do that will be more effective in engaging these organizations in serving the in-house community than these three actions. That responsibility lies with all of us.