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Special Interest Groups: Starting, maintaining and growing your Chapter with SIG's


Introduction to Special Interest Groups

In July of 1987 then President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the IICS, Robert Steel started the first Special Interest Group (SIG) within the IICS. It was for government contracting. By 1989 there was a total of six SIGs in Los Angeles. Today the Chapter has fifteen with a proposal for one more "Future Media" to start the first part of 1996.


SIGs are formed for several reasons:

As a focus group to provide in depth information and looks at a particular subject or technology.
A way to attract prospects and encourage recruitment of new members and especially member renewals since SIGs are highly discounted or free to paid up members. Also the reasoning is that if a member gets involved in a particular SIG then he/she would renew IICS membership to keep up those contacts and associations.
As a way to keep highly specialized members more active in the organization so they will not drift away.
As a way to attract industry support especially specialized software and hardware product manufacturers who can provide product and financial assistance.
As a way to offer additional meeting opportunities to members who can not attend regular Chapter meetings.
As a way to attract professionals in associated fields that have come under the umbrella of multimedia.
As a way to keep on top of new industry developments and directions with rapidly developing technologies.



FAQs about SIGs

How do you pick a SIG subject?

Most of the SIGs came from member suggestions and willingness to lead a SIG. Some of the early Los Angeles SIGs were formed at the suggestion of the LA leadership.


How do you get someone to lead a SIG?
All SIG leaders must be current IICS members. Some members volunteer to lead a SIG. Otherwise select a couple of the top people in your Chapter who have shown an interest in the particular area you have decided to form a SIG around and send them a letter. Ask them to become part of a formation team to draft a charter (proposal) for that subject group within your Chapter.


How do you attract SIG members?
All SIGs must be open and promoted to the entire Chapter membership. Each monthly issue of your Chapter newsletter should report on SIG activity and include a schedule of upcoming events. If possible send out press releases, and meeting announcements. Each SIG should maintain it's own list of members who are mailed these announcements. Also don't forget to announce the SIGs at every general meeting and cross announce at other SIGs. (note: large Chapters with members in multiple SIGs may not find individual mailings financially prudent)


How do you Charge for SIG membership?
SIGs are part of the privilege of chapter membership and should be promoted as such. That being said it is up to the SIG leadership to determine individual meeting cost. It is generally accepted that Chapter members should receive a substantial break in the admission price. SIG leader have flexibility to hold meetings in any space that meets their needs, but a SIG must strive to be fiscally self sufficient and cover meeting costs such as room and equipment. In Los Angeles many of the SIGs are free to Chapter members but charge non-members, others with higher attendance and meeting costs charge members $5 and non-members $10 or $15. One SIG in Los Angeles held a fund raiser that covered their meeting cost for the entire year and do not charge at the door but are open only to paid up members of the Chapter.


How do you administer and handle logistics for so many organizations?
Each SIG leader is responsible for setting up meetings, booking speakers and organizing activities. She/he checks and coordinates the date with the Chapter's secretary or whoever sets the Chapter calendar. The Chapter calendar should list Chapter activities by date, time and location and should be coordinated at least a month in advance. In addition if a different person is producing the newsletter or hotline those people should also be notified with the same information.


How are Monies handled?
All Monies collected by each SIG minus the costs of the meeting and other expenses, are turned into the Chapter treasury. This is done by the use of SIG reporting form that is submitted monthly. Each SIG leader is encouraged to keep expenses to a minimum.


Is there much synergy between SIGs?
Yes. SIG leaders are encouraged to contact one another to see if there are ways to hold joint meetings. The Chapter may want to consider theme months from time to time (i.e. music, the internet, training and education etc.) so that in addition to the Chapter meeting there will also be SIG meetings that give a more in depth analysis of a particular side of that technology or subject.


How often do SIGs meet?
It varies. Some are monthly, some bi-monthly, some quarterly. In Los Angeles active SIGs are required to have a meeting at least quarterly.
Does SIG attendance cut into or reduce attendance at general Chapter meetings?
There is no significant evidence so far that SIGs cut into regular meeting attendance. It appears that those who attend SIG meetings also attend Chapter events. Most people consider SIG meetings as an extra event, one that is added to their regular schedule of commitments.
How are SIGs organized within the Chapter?
SIGs fall under the office of the Chapter President. Another Chapter may put them under the responsibility of the Chapter Past President. Also each SIG leader is a member of the Chapter Council that meets monthly or bi-monthly with the Chapter Officers to communicate and coordinate. It is also suggested that a semi annual Chapter SIG summit be held to handle matters specific to SIGs.
Have the SIGs fulfilled their Promise?
There is no question that SIGs do attract members and encourage membership renewals. SIGs are one of the major reasons why the Los Angeles Chapter has continued to grow. SIGs have attracted industry support and participation. Also SIGs have opened up new segment of allied industries to IICS members, such as music/audio, motion picture/video, media distribution and various design specialties.


Currently the Los Angeles SIGs are:


Interactive Finance

Jess Foster

Larry Langs 818.304.4600



Kathy Kozel 310.370.3733



Dan Culbertson 310.315.2367


Web Spinners

Pete Benjamine 818.367.8532


User Interface Design

Dr. Jill Strawbridge


Childrens Interactive

Eileen McMahon 310.450.3775


Educational Software

Sue Marrone 818.985.8231


Macintosh Multimedia

David Watkinson 310.396.4084



Elaine Spooner 818-777-1917

Jerry Jackson 310.761.0474


Virtual Reality

Dave Blackburn 310.545.0369



Bill Fisher 714.474.2150


MM Audio Technologies

Chris Palmer 818.364.2577


MM Law

Limor Schafman 213.850.1623



George Kopp 818.883.0651


Integrated Digital and

Expressive Arts (I.D.E.A.)

Sherrie Niedleman


IICS Los Angeles

In an effort to establish a system of tracking on a monthly basis all funds collected and spent by each Special Interest Groups (SIG) within the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Interactive Communications Society each SIG Leader will be required to fill out and return a report. This report is the basis for tax reporting and other fiduciary responsibilities required of the LA Chapter and International Organization by the Internal Revenue Service.


Various other contriuost this article include:

Robert Steel, past LA president

Jerry Hamby, past LA president

Lynda Keeler, past LA vice president


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