Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is your association using video news releases within its video platform?

Last Saturday night I was watching the 10 pm news and caught two “filler stories.”

One was about the value of using single ingredient medicines rather than multiple ingredient pills. The other was on personal exercise.

A friend was watching with me and I said “Those stories both appear to be video news releases.” He asked, “What do you mean?

Well, a video news release is a company or an association produced “news story” provided to TV stations in hopes of informing consumers and benefitting the organization.

I told him that narrator was not seen on camera (thus not a local news person); the “experts” answering questions had small logos or other evidence of a company and in the exercise story two blatant references to Curves (a company sign and a closing quote from the Curves company president).”

As I explained this to my friend, I realized it had been a long time since I’ve thought of video news releases as a tool for associations. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are Gen Xers the Prince Charles of Association Leaders?

Prince Charles (left) is in waiting for the Queen Mum while Prince William looks on
For decades, the 80 million Boomers (those born from the mid 1940s to the early 1960s) have been the core of association leadership (both staff and volunteers).

For the last decade, most authors have been focusing on the huge incoming Generation Y, the 77 million millenials (those born in the 1980s and 1990s).

Stuck in the middle are the 50 million Gen Xers (those born in the 1960s and 1970s).

The plight of the Gen Xers is similar to that of Britain’s Prince Charles who is caught in the middle between his aging mother, Queen Elizabeth, and Prince William, his popular son and future King.


Boomers Holding On


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Solving association problems may mean stepping back.

The screen makes the "up close" view fuzzy; stepping back clears your view.
Have you ever faced a major issue in your association and realized that the more you focus on it the less focused it becomes?

I thought about this the other day when I was looking through the lanai (a screened-in cage) to see the golf balls across the lake.

I stepped forward to try to get a better view of the balls ... and realized that the closer I got to the screen, the less I could see. This photo shows a bit of the dilemma of the closer I got the fuzzier the view.

Monday, February 25, 2013

8 great reads for Association Executives


The world, she is a changing: Trends associations should be watching 
By Greg Melia, CAE, via Capacity to Change blog
The value provided by associations is under fire because the world in which associations operate is changing. So what are some of those changes in the external world that may be making association participation less necessary?
• The Internet and mobile technology give unprecedented access to knowledge.
• The nature of employment has changed. 
• The commercial landscape has changed. 
• Competition for resources has increased.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

5 Super Questions for Associations and Association Publications

With stats like these, what is the future of association print publications?
Super Bowl results combined with three articles on media trends caught my eye over the last weeks. 

All related to the big issue: what is the future of printed publications.

And, the Super Bowl helped showcase the continuing engagement power of Social Media platforms, especially Twitter.


#1  Rem Rieder of USA Today wrote a column “Reduced newspaper delivery: Smart or death knell?”  This piece highlights the dilemma many associations face: when – if ever – you convert your magazine or newsletter to digital and stop sending printed editions. 
               Key Elements:
    • The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y., will become the latest daily newspaper to go less-than-daily when it reduces its home delivery schedule to three days a week. It will hardly be the last.
    • Randy Siegel, president for local digital strategy for Newhouse’s Advance Publications:
      • "If you just ride out a decline, that's not a path to survival. Perpetuating the status quo was not an option." Do you publish daily newspapers that bleed cash three or four or five days a week when you need capital to invest in digital?
      •  Media analyst and American Journalism Review columnist John Morton gives Advance props for making a bold move. "What Newhouse is doing is a very brave effort to embrace the future," he says. "Whether it's smart remains to be seen."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Get Caught Doing Good: 3 Ways Associations Can Build Awareness Among Members

When I worked in a large national association, I used to get frustrated that few members and leaders were aware of the great work we were doing for the association and its industry.

It was then that I realized that the we needed to do PR for the PR department

And, on a broader scale, implement PR (some call it “sell back”) to members about what the association is doing.

Like it or not, members don’t really to spend time reading, watching or viewing “news” about what the association is doing. They want news that interests them and appeals to their selfish interests.

So, the challenge becomes finding engaging ways to let members know what you are doing without them knowing you are sharing what great stuff you’ve been doing for them!

Here are three examples of what I’ve implemented at various organizations:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Road to Relevance Provides valued insight for Association Execs

Next month, ASAE will release Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations. It is a follow-up to the best selling book Race for Relevance.

Earlier this week, I visited with authors Harrison Coerver (HC) and Mary Byers (MB), CAE about the book and what they are sharing

SCDdaily: Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes opened up lots of questions and dialogue … why come back with a sequel?

MB: The first book was really about making sure your structure and systems are right. This is about making sure your strategies (assuming you have them!) are well thought out.

HC: We’ve had conversations with hundreds of execs and leaders since the first book. Associations face unprecedented competition from members, publishers, companies and the internet. Most associations don’t seem to recognize this competition or, if they do, are not able to act on it. Associations need to create strategies to compete in this environment.

SCDdaily: What’s the “big picture” behind R2R: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations?

MB: Be intentional and deliberate. Know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Don’t be afraid to stop doing some things. We think a “To Don’t” list is as important as a “To Do” list.

HC: Tradition—not strategy – is the master of most associations. In today’s competitive environment, many associations are trying to do too much while facing single-minded competitors. And on top of that, a lot of resources are wasted and under-utilized in associations, making them overweight and out of shape while vying with lean competitors. In Road to Relevance, we outline five strategies that lead a relevant association to successfully compete in the new normal. 

SCDdaily: What are the 3 main points a reader will uncover in the new R2R?

HC: #1: Wake up and smell the competition! #2: Apply the tools – which are not new – to meet your competitors. #3: Reduce waste and redundance in your systems and processes. Most associations seem to suffer from ADD. They can’t stick with something for more than five minutes before wondering off to a “new and improved” program or service.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What’s in a name? Be Careful What Your Association Asks For

In February, RIM officially changed its corporate name to BlackBerry
In his Associations Now post about the changes coming at Blackberry and Office, Ernie Smith said:

“And what about that name change? Slate’s Brian Palmer says BlackBerry has a tough road ahead, pointing out that many companies, including Nissan, Exxon, and Unisys, have spent tens of millions of dollars paying for name changes, with mixed results. ‘When an established company changes names, it’s usually to break out of a slump—and it rarely works,’ Palmer argues.

Here are a couple of more quotes from Palmer’s Slate post titled Do Corporate Name Changes Ever Work? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

5-10-30 & Other Great Reads for Association Executives

5 Unexpected Factors That Change How We Forecast The Future  
By Jamais Cascio via FastCompany

We see the future in terms of technology, but if you actually want to do a better job guessing what will happen, it’s better to look at social, cultural, and environmental inputs.
1: Climate
2: Demographics
3: Changing Social Patterns
4: Power and Wealth
5: Art

10 Brain-Based Learning Laws That Trump Traditional Education
By Jeff Hurt via Velvet Chainsaw’s MidCourse Corrections
How can speakers expect their audience to remember what they say if they don’t know how people learn? These learning laws are powerful strategies that align with how our brains naturally operate and learn.
1. Brain science trumps traditional education.
2. Emotions trump facts.
3. Talking trumps listening.
Read the full story to get the other 7 laws.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

5 Steps to Protect Associations from Embezzlers



Why is it embezzlement doesn't go away?

I wrote this original blog back in May ... when my golfing partner learned I formerly managed associations, he said his wife – a co-founder of a nonprofit for women – had just received an email saying that the organization’s financial manager had embezzled about $150,000 from the organization. Then, he said, “You just can’t trust anyone can you?” 

Now another local story embezzlement story surfaced and one of the cases (below) has ended in jail time.

Claims Adjuster Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Association 101: A picture is worth a thousand words!

My friend John Decker collects fountain pens.

At an outdoor event the other night, he was wearing a logoed shirt pictured above.
We were standing in a food line.

I couldn’t believe the number of people who came up to John and asked about the logo and wanted to know why he was wearing it. Whether he made pens or was he a writer.

After the third or fourth one, I asked John if I could take a picture of his logo and said “I think this is worth a blog.”

Everyone tells us that people are visual. That we should use visuals in our communications. That pictures help convey our brand.


Well, in that five minutes, the logo on John’s shirt put the communications theory into practice ... it once again showed me the power of visual images.

John’s shirt logo created an opportunity for conversation and engagement. 

Does your association’s logo or logoed items tell a story or generates conversations? Or, better yet, does it invite people to stop and ask you what you do?

Are your staff and members wearing your logoed items ... it is a great way to create awareness!

If not, why not?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

SCDdaily's association rewind: Liars figure & figures lie

Joe Queenan's column in the Wall Street Journal titled Lack of Sleep Costs Billions? How about Cats? reminded me to share this post from 2012. Note how Queenan combines a multitude of "research" results to create a sense of utter ridiculousness.

Here's my original post on this topic:


I think I was in high school when I first heard the saying: “Liars figure and figures lie.”

I haven’t forgotten it especially as we are subjected to multiple “survey results and polls” multiple times a day.  This also comes into play when we as association professionals share market research with our members and/or association leaders.

As one who has coordinated and managed association survey results for more than three decades, I’m always cautious when hearing someone quote the results of a poll or data or other sets of figures.

Look at these three uses and one story from just the last couple of weeks:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

For association members, how fast is fast enough?

The title of Andrew Hill’s book Be Quick but Don’t Hurry represents one of the axiom’s of legendary coach John Wooden.

Wooden’s message applies to today’s associations ... essentially, if you aren’t quick (fast) in today’s world, you’re done. If you hurry, things are poorly done or not done at all.

So, when it comes to your association’s members, how fast is fast enough?

I thought about this last week after learning my business credit card was compromised.

Thus, I needed a replacement card (with the new number) and I needed it fast!

Monday, February 11, 2013

6 awesome reads for Association Executives


Union Membership Drops: What Associations Can Learn 
By Ernie Smith via Associations Now

While many unions had outside factors play into the steepest membership drops seen in decades, there may be some important things to learn from the situation.  What can associations learn? Some key facts:

  • The economy’s drag
  • Key demographic weaknesses
  • Are members engaged

Oreo Wins the Super Bowl Newsjacking Game 
By David Meerman Scott via WebInkNow

At the Super Bowl last night, the power at the New Orleans Superdome went out for 35 minutes. It took just seconds for people to start talking about #BlackoutBowl and less than five minutes for brands to start Newsjacking the story.  This newsjack from Oreo succeeds because it was fast, its witty and fun, its non-controversial, and it ties back to the brand and its messages.  Newsjacking gets attention. Oreo spent many millions of dollars running television ads during the Super Bowl. But on a cost per view basis, newsjacking generated a much, much bigger ROI.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why wait for an Association's Monthly Newsletter?

When sharing information for your association’s members,
why wait for a “Monthly Newsletter?”
I love ASAE’s digital Associations Now, the daily electronic newsletter providing valuable information for association professions.

It is totally focused on topics and issues related to association management. It doesn’t try to “sneak in” ASAE “news.” It provides its readers (like me) a look at what is happening around the world that impacts associations. It connects us and opens our minds.

ASAE’s bold step into the daily Associations Now provides guidance for association professionals such as you and me.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Words Matter: 7 steps to enhance your association's connection with members

Words Matter to Association Members and Should Matter to Association Professionals
If I see one more association website extolling the value of it’s “endless opportunities” for members, I think I’ll puke.

Come on folks. Where is the precision in our writing?
Words matter to your members and prospects!
Your writing goal should be ...

Clear, crisp, concise benefit-oriented writing with a member-focused style.


Here are the 7 Ps of Power-Writing Steps I’ve taught over the last 35 years:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What’s on Your Association Board’s Agenda?

Don't Waste Your Board's Time

Over the last 35 years, I’ve participated – either as a volunteer or as a staff professional – in 257 board meetings of local, regional or national associations or nonprofit organizations.

While no two organizations are alike, they share a common element: the board meeting. 

And, man have I been in some really awful board meetings. But, some really good ones too.

Board time is a nonrenewable resource ... don’t waste it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Associations as Solutions Providers

Are you helping your association’s members solve their business and marketing problems?

Is your association provides solutions for its members problems?
Business owners and/or professionals represent the core membership of many associations. Most of those members are good at what they do but many have little formal training in managing their business or marketing their products and services.
  • One of my brothers was an orthodontist. I remember him telling me that dental school taught him how to straighten teeth but not how to operate and market his practice.
  • When I served as CEO of the National Christmas Tree Association, many members said, “I know how to grow trees but I’m not very good with marketing or finding customers.”
  • When I served as the CEO of the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association, a Blue Ocean strategy session uncovered that members were great at producing dairy calves but really wanted help in how to manage employees and customer relationships.
If associations are in the solution business, then providing solutions to members (and potential members) builds value in association membership.

I thought of this the other day when I read an “advertorial” from Brett Ellis, a Ft. Myers area realtor titled Top Realtors Meet for 3 Days of Sharing Marketing Strategies.  Ellis mentioned he was getting valuable marketing strategies from the Annual CyberStars® Summit. 

Curious, I Googled CyberStars and discovered it started at a National Association of Realtors (NAR) event but is a separate organization providing technology and online marketing strategies to realtors. Unfortunately, as near as I can tell, CyberStars is no longer a part of NAR.

Association Solutions

Over the years, I’ve found that some large national organizations don’t provide solutions for individual members. 
In the case of my brother, the orthodontist, he told me his most valuable marketing and business knowledge came – not from his professional association – but from a vendor-sponsored study group.

That is one of the reasons I encouraged NCTA and DCHA to offer solutions for individual members. NCTA hosted special marketing and social media training at its annual conventions. DCHA modified its education and provided business management topics at its conferences and webinars.

What Is Your Association Doing?

Do your association’s members have similar non-traditional issues for which you could offer solutions? 

 Are you providing solutions? 

If so, please share in the comments what programs you are providing!

Monday, February 4, 2013

4 Super Marketing Lessons for Association Marketers

Despite the 33-minute blackout, Sunday’s Super Bowl ads continued and provided highlights that associations can seize for their marketing efforts.

Watching, listening and reading news media yielded at least four opportunities for association marketers:
1. Tell a Story

  • This is not new. Stories sell. 
  • “What most of Sunday night’s viewers really wanted weren’t ads that go whiz, bang and pop.” USA Today reported. “That’s too easy. What they preferred were ads that told a simple story with a wisp of wonder. Folks wanted ads that made them feel good. Most effective on Sunday night: the few ads that plucked the heartstrings. Amid the wreckage of Sunday Night’s mostly overdone ad fest, Madison Avenue must admit this: simple is hard.
  • "Viewers loved the ads about heart-felt reunions. For A-B, man and horse. For Chrysler, soldier and family. This is the kind of ad that America needs to see . . . hope, love, faith, patriotism . . . all of the things that America is desperately looking for . . . and needs,” says Frank Slezak, a fashion photographer from Horsham, Pa.”
  • See Associations have stories to share. Spotlight them. 
Lesson 1: Think of the stories coming from your members. Their experiences as members or conference attendees. Find those stories and share them in words, pictures and video.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

3 Super Lessons for Associations

Ok, another Super Bowl ... the big show plus a football game on the world’s stage.

1. Keep tweaking your “big event” to ensure it remains viable

  • The NFL keeps making changes – rules, venue, program elements, etc. – to keep the event fresh and to draw non-football consumers to the game.
2. Add sizzle to the steak
  • The game is the steak, the event, the main thing.
  • The ads, pre-game build up (like media day), half-time show, post-game are the sizzle that attracts non-football fans.
3. Marketing combines traditional and social
  • While the NFL uses all forms of media, it is the advertisers who have combined traditional media (TV ads) with Social Media to engage consumers/fans. 
That’s my take. What Super Bowl lessons for associations – if any – do you see in the event?


PS. Obviously, the blackout shows that you should always have backup plans or, as my Scout training advised:  "Be Prepared!"

PSS. You may want to read 10 Super Bowl Ad Trends from USA Today.