Association Spotlight

Association Spotlight: Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI)

By Association Adviser staff • November 5, 2012

Since 1968, the Houston, Texas-based Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) has been a global leader in establishing industry-wide safe standards for commercial diving. ADCI boasts more than 600 member companies, furnishing services and support for the conduct of safe underwater operations in 41 countries. Members include contractors, manufacturers, engineers, consultants, suppliers and distributors. While the organization’s safety and advocacy efforts are well known, many may not know that below the surface, ADCI is the brains behind the widely recognized Underwater media brand.

ADCI boasts a diversified portfolio of member communication vehicles, including the 15,000 circulation flagship bi-monthly magazine Underwater Magazine, the only trade publication to cover all inland and offshore contracting industry segments. The magazine has a robust companion website with additional content, safety standards and other resources. The magazine is also a widely distributed fixture at most industry trade shows including Underwater Intervention (UI), which also sends the UI Show Program digitally to more than 3,000 attendees.

That’s not all. ADCI’s monthly Underwater Today e-newsletter keeps members up to date on issues, trends and regulatory news that affect underwater diving operations in the U.S. and abroad. Finally, ADCI’s Blue Pages member directory makes it easy for members to connect with each other locally, nationally and internationally, and ADCI’s UnderWater Buyers’ Guide enables users to search for products or services by name, location, product category or keyword.

Since partnering with Naylor in 2008, ADCI has enhanced the quality of each of its communication vehicles, grown advertising and circulation in each and made it a much more seamless process for sponsors to reach ADCI members across all communication channels.

When more than one-third of members are outside of the U.S., the cost-savings, combined with quality improvement on the digital has particularly resonated with the organization, according to ADCI executive director, Phil Newsum. Members have reacted favorably as well.

For many years, ADCI members have been “screaming for digital editions of our publications,” related Newsum, because in print, by the time they finally got their editions, the next one had already published. “Things change too fast in our industry,” he added. “As the world shrinks, we’re going to be relying more and more on electronic communication. It’s been especially effective for getting the word out about matters that are urgent to our members and constituents.”

At the end of the day, “it’s all about education of our end user and clients,” said Newsum, a former public education administrator and commercial diver before taking over the helm of ADCI in 2005. Clients need to do a better job of vetting who’s doing the diving work for them. Just because they have a truck and some scuba gear, doesn’t mean they’re qualified to handle a difficult and dangerous underwater project.

“There’s a lot of misinformation floating out there, especially in this digital age,” said Newsum. “We need companies and municipalities to realize the importance of having an ADCI-certified diver doing the work for you.” In addition to its media vehicles, ADCI takes great pride in our International Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving & Underwater Operations. “It’s by far the most profitable and comprehensive document we’ve ever put out. Both members and non-members can obtain a copy of the standards, but only members are required to adhere strictly to those standards,” Newsum added.

“Misinformation is the most frustrating thing we have to deal with at ADCI,” said Newsum. “Electronic media has been a great tool for us considering how mobile and how global our membership is. But it’s a double-edged sword. E-media is also very dangerous as it makes it very quick and easy for pretenders to get misinformation out to the marketplace about standards and regulations.”

The world has become a more litigious society, noted Newsum. “We’re going to continue to make sure members know what their liability exposure is and make sure clients are hiring ADCI accredited people.”

Before partnering with Naylor, ADCI was exclusively focused on diving, noted Newsum. “Were very naïve about marketing and branding, how it affects readership, revenue and membership growth. Naylor really helped us understand the need for
a more professional and cohesive branding communications strategy for both members and the advertiser community.”

So how does a relatively modest-sized organization keep its broad communication portfolio, widely cited standards, multiple brands and a global membership all bubbling along? “I like to offer lots of options to our people, but still keep it simple,” related Newsum. “No matter how many initiatives you have, you’ve got to stick to simple branding, simple messaging and a simple point of contact.”

That kind of clarity keeps ADCI humming along above and below the surface.