Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Our Top 10 Viewed Blogs for #Association Execs in 2014...

What a great year we had!  There has been several thought-provoking articles that have hit the #OGCSAE Chapter Blog this year; and we wanted to celebrate the support we have received by showcasing the top blogs this year:
  1. 5 Big Sponsorship Trends to Watch in 2014 (from March 2014): This post was provided by Bernie Colterman, Managing Partner of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM), who suggested that increased focus on the customization of sponsorship benefits packages, increased focus on sponsorship activation, less emphasis on the “Metal Levels”, increased focus on content distribution, and integration with social media were trends to watch this year.
  2. Blogging Best Practices (from February 2014): This post was written by Angie D’Aoust, Director of Marketing & Communications with the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA), who provided 10 steps/tips/best practices to a better blog.
  3. Don't Let Your Board Get Decision Fatigue! (from March 2014): This post was written by Meredith Low; of Meredith Low Consulting, who talks about decision-making, the decision-fatigue phenomenon, and tips to optimize the way your board makes decisions.
  4. Lessons in Hybrid Meetings: Hybrid or Not? (from March 2014): Written by Mahoganey Jones (a Certified Meeting Professional and Digital Event Strategist with a background in continuing professional development),  talks about hybrid meetings, and questions to ask to help determine if your organization should produce a hybrid event.
  5. 10 Things to Do Before Implementing Something New (from August 2014): This post was submitted by Scott Oser, of Scott Oser Associates, which provides a running checklist of things to take care of before taking the leap.
  6. Best Practices to Maximize Your Conference Experience (from June 2014): In this industry, we attend many conferences; our own, those for our association memberships, and those relevant to our area of work.  This post provides 0 tips to maximize your attendance at a conference.
  7. An Association's Road Map to Handling Criticism on Social Media (from November 2014): This post was written by Marc Cousineau, President and Founder of Incline Marketing, offering eight things to take into account when responding to criticism on social media.
  8. Lessons in Hybrid Meetings: 5 Steps to Getting Senior Management Buy-In (from April 2014): Written by Mahoganey Jones (a Certified Meeting Professional and Digital Event Strategist with a background in continuing professional development), who recommends the 5 steps to gain executive level buy-in to ensure the success of your meeting or event.
  9. Membership in the Age of Google: What Are You Serving Up? (from June 2014): This article was originally featured in the April-May issue of CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Executive, and was written by Jennifer Hagen, CAE, Director, Chamber Development & Services with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and looks at how you can create engagement with current and future members.
  10. The Secret to Member Engagement Is... Being Nosy! (from April 2014): Written by Sarah Hill is the primary blogger for MC Talks, the blog for MemberClicks, which suggests getting at the root of your members' "why" and find out what is most important to them to engage!
Thank you to all who submitted posts for our blog this year - we really appreciate it!  If you want to submit a post in the future, please email Meagan Rockett.  Happy holidays to all, and we look forward to a thought-provoking 2015!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

There's No Life Like It: Associations!

When you were a child, did you say to yourself, "I think I want to work in associations when I grow up"?  If you're like most MarCommers who gathered for our October session - young or more (ahem) seasoned - you fell into association work by opportunity not by design.

Our session, "Young Professionals in Association Communications," included a reach into the young professionals (YP) group of CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau in order to provide a multi-generational look at association communications work.  Through a round table discussion, all participants (YPs and senior professionals [SPs]) shared in a lively conversation about association communications/marketing/membership careers - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Not one person present arrived at their association position having had a career counsellor say, "Association work is a path you should consider."  All arrived at their first association either as a recent graduate in search of a welcome pay-cheque or as a student in a work placement role.  Most have never left.

When you consider the collective years of experience around the table - closing in on 200 years of association experience - it is clear that this is a career that more people should consider.  Association work can be a stopping point on a career map but it can also be a career.

Together, we discussed our varied paths to association work and what has kept us here (flexibility, ability to achieve, grow into roles, try new things, etc.), as well as what the positive rewards are for staying (immediate feedback, inspiring volunteers, and the ability to see an idea from drawing board to reality).

Given that this was an intergenerational group, we asked YPs what SPs could be doing to help them in our organizations.  All YPs said that the gift of time is most beneficial; that is, taking the time to review what has been done and to help YPs understand what the corporate values are.  Second, they stressed the ability to let go and let YPs try new things - not all of which will work out - and having the grace to accept failure when it happens.

Turning the table, the SPs were asked what the look for in YPs when they are hiring or considering promotions.  Attitude was cited as the most valued trait in any new hire or promotion; this valued trait applies to all generations.  Given that associations seem to be chronically understaffed, the ability to see and the attitude to do what needs to be accomplished and to make it happen are key for any generation of employee.

All YPs present indicated their intent to remain in the association environment, at least for now.  This is good news for associations!  Those with more years of experience reinforced the values that had kept them in the association world for their careers: adaptability, the ability to be creative and problem solve (with its own rewards), and community.  For YPs to hear a number of SPs indicate that association work can be a lifelong career path must be reassuring at this point in their journey.  YPs are eager to learn and be mentored, so SPs need to embrace this mentoring opportunity and remember to let go at times, which isn't always easy!  Both generations have valuable contributions to make to the success of our organizations.  Let's not forget this important point.

Did you know?  The MarComm group meets the second Tuesday of every month.  We encourage all generations to participate.  Watch CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau event listings for meeting notices/topics.

A BIG thank you to Jennifer Hagen, with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, for submitting this article.  We appreciate all that you do!

 Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tête-à-Tête: The Beginning

In 1989, the CSAE Ottawa Chapter held a small trade show at the Ottawa Congress Centre.  During this trade show, Herb Brennen, CAE, who was president elect of the CSAE Ottawa Chapter, issued a challenge to Jacques Drury, who was exhibiting the new "Canadian Airlines: and its network products to the association market.  That challenge included striking a committee to create a lucrative trade show that would benefit the chapter financially.  Needless to say, Jacques accepted the challenge.

Step One:

A committee was struck that included the following talent:  Jennifer Barnaby; Richard Castonguay, Ginette Blanchette, Richard Righi, Janet Middleton, Fabienne Nadeau, Margaret McLaren, and Jacques Drury (Chair of the Committee).

Step Two:

The new and improved CSAE Ottawa Chapter Annual Trade Show was held at the Château Laurier in February 1990 and included serious restrictions for exhibiting:

The set-up consisted of mostly tabletops with pop-up units not to exceed three (3) feet when sitting on the top of the eight (8) foot table.

The maximum number of exhibitors was restricted to 40 and was on a first come, first served basis.

When the registration faxes (yes... we connected with this new fancy communication took call "the fax") were sent to a list of potential exhibitors, the responses cam in on a regular basis, with the show selling out within a week.

The expectation was that the show would generate a modest profit to contribute to the educational opporutnities for the membership.

The post-mortem of the new trade show turned into a brainstorming session.  The committee came up with the idea of branding the trade show.  Jennifer Barnaby has previously mentioned that her background was in advertising and graphic display.  Therefore, Jennifer was asked to come up with a name for the trade show.  She proposed "Tête-à-Tête", and fashioned a logo, both of which were unanimously accepted by the committee.

The Chair then had to present the name and logo to the chapter board for approval.  It was also recommended to the board to register the name and logo; the board approved the branding concept and agreed that registration of the brand was a good course of action.  Jacques engaged a patent lawyer to do the research.  The results were free and clear so, upon board approval again, the committee moved forward with the registration of both the name and the logo.

In November 1990, the registration form for the new Tête-à-Tête, which included the intuitive new logo, was distributed by fax.  The show sold out in a few days and the very first wait-list was created.
Since that time, Tête-à-Tête has been a highly successful annual event for CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau and continues to draw record numbers of registrations.

Will you be joining us to celebrate the 25th Anniversary?  Click here for more details, and to register!

Friday, 21 November 2014

OG CSAE Fall/automne2014Executive

OG CSAE Fall/automne2014Executive

In this issue...

  • CSAE O-G is Recognized for it's Innovative Programming! (Page 3)
  • Carleton University MPNL Program's Capstone Project and Practicum Opportunities for CSAE Association Executives (Page 6)
  • Making a Difference: One Child At A Time (Page 8)
  • What I learned at a Softball Game (Page 12)
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (Page 14)
  • Focusing on what makes us feel good (Page 18)
  • Tête-à-Tête: The Beginning (Page 23)
  • There's No Life Like It!: Associations (Page 26)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

3 MORE Books Every #Association Executive Should Consider

We have come across a few more books that association executive should have a look at:

Road To Relevance: 5 Strategies for Compeitive Associations; by Harrison Coerver & Mary Byers, CAE

Road to Relevance, the complementary companion to Race, doesn't stop at identifying the strategies.  It gives real insight into how to adapt the strategies to your organization's circumstances so that you can execute.  Case studies, adaptable examples, and provocative questions are included throughout Road to help you work through these strategies from adoption to implementation.

Operating as you've traditionally done for the last 10, 20 or more years is not a viable option, argue the authors.  Association leaders must be disciplined strategists, focusing the organizations they serve on value they can deliver and structuring accordingly to compete in the "new normal."  Use insight from Road to Relevance to lead your organization to an evermore-valued, sustainable, and relevant future.

Social Intelligence Demystified: How Associations Can Master the New Rules of Engagement in the Digital World; by Julie King

The Internet has had a profound impact on the way people come together and discover information, resulting in a new form of social intelligence that affects all associations. Not-for-profits are uniquely positioned to dominate under the new rules of engagement, yet they face significant risks and must be prepared for tough competition from the business sector.

In this important and timely publication, social media expert, Julie King, provides association leaders, staff and volunteers with a concise, big-picture understanding of these changes and how to move forward using actionable steps. This fascinating book empowers associations to make smart decisions about how they can and should be leveraging digital technologies in their organizations and provides an invaluable array of tools for them to do so.

In Your Face!  Canadian Association Leaders Share Candid Advice on Pressing Issues; by Sandi L. Humphrey, CAE

In Your Face! Is a frank look at the challenges facing today’s Canadian association and not-for-profit sector.  In this long-awaited publication, editor, Sandi L. Humphrey, CAE, has assembled a group of association leaders who have demonstrated a real ability to effect change in their own organizations and who were willing to speak candidly to their peers on issues of both strategic and tactical importance.

From empowering employees and managing internal power struggles to trimming your by-laws and navigating the perils of non-dues revenue, In Your Face! provides sound advice and insight from experienced not-for-profit leaders that will truly enlighten industry contemporaries as well as Canada’s next generation of top association professionals.

What other publications have captured your attention lately?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

3 Books Every #Association Executive Should Consider

We have been asking around to association executives, and have come up with the three books that association executives should consider adding to their library.  If you already have it, maybe it's worth reading again?

Online PR & Social Media: For Experts, Authors, Consultants and Speakers; by Randall M. Craig

Develop your association’s reputation, get found, and attract a following.

Your not-for-profit probably has a web site, blog, and a LinkedIn profile. If you are on the leading edge, you are on Facebook, and have posted videos on YouTube. But, is all of this giving your organization exposure? Are you being contacted by media? What are your search engine rankings?

In this book by social media expert, Randall Craig, you’ll learn how to build your organization’s following, engage your stakeholders and manage you social media strategy and risk management policies. This must-read publication will tell you which PR sites you should and should not join, how to use social bookmarking to extend your time investment and how to monitor your reputation.

Your association has spent years developing its benefits, mission and expertise. Why not let people know about it?

What Makes High Performing Boards; by Beth Gazley, PhD and Ashley Bowers

Boards matter to organizational performance.  But the diversity of the nonprofit sector means there is no single formula for effective governance.  Structure, size, rate of growth, geography, and other organizational differences can cloud our understanding of board performance.The study behind this book, therefore, pays special attention to the intentional decisions boards and staff make to achieve high performance regardless of context.

The research was produced through an ASAE Foundation collaboration with Indiana University.  Prior to this study, research into the governing practices of associations and other member-serving organizations across the 501(c) spectrum was hard to come by.  Yet many nonprofits are dues-reliant associations serving members from professions, occupations, trades and businesses, sports, and cultural activities.  This study is the first to offer a representative snapshot of current governance practices in these associations and member-serving organizations.

Keep Your People in the Boat:  Workforce Engagement Lessons From the Sea; by Crane Wood Stookey

Association executives talk a lot about leading change, but at the heart of it that really means leadership that changes people's attitude. In leading a team, or implementing change across your association, you have to become skillful at working with people's attitude.

Engagement is a state of mind. The fruit of effective leadership is an engaged and expansive state of mind, a big view, in the people you lead. In this highly original and timely book, Tall Ship officer and leadership coach, Crane Stookey, shows you how to lead your association staff and volunteers to do their best and to be their best no matter what challenges they face. Drawing on 20 years of experience of leadership and workforce engagement at sea, the author joins provocative theory with hands-on, real-world practices that you can apply to you’re the leadership of your not-for-profit.

What are you reading?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

An Association’s Road Map to Handling Criticism on Social Media

Negative comments are as much a part of social media life as typing updates, retweeting posts and liking statuses.

There are many ways to respond to negative comments about your association and the internet is full of as many horror stories as tales of triumphs.

Responding to criticism on social media has the power to lift your association to new heights or toss its reputation over a cliff. It’s a tough tightrope to cross, so we’ve put together eight tips that will hopefully help organizations cross safely to the other side and make them stronger on the way.

1. Have a Plan

Being unprepared to deal with online criticism can lead to knee-jerk reactions, misinformation and further damage to your association’s reputation.
It’s crucial to discuss how best to address complaints and where to get the right information and answers with other in your organization. Look at several possible scenarios and how go about dealing with them. It’s not possible to predict every situation, but having a roadmap definitely helps when the unexpected comes up.

2. Respond Quickly

One of the worst things an association can do is ignore a criticism or take days or weeks to respond. This delay shows your community and the public that you don’t value them enough to get on the problem right away.

Responding quickly, even with a message that simply acknowledges the comment and lets that person know you are working on a response, shows you care and will work to rectify any problems and meet any need. This show of loyalty and care will keep people coming back even after a less-than-perfect experience.

3. Be Transparent

When an organization receives criticism, the natural tendency is to deal with it in a more private setting. But being transparent with negative comments on your Twitter feed, Facebook page, blog comment section or elsewhere can work to your advantage.

By addressing the issue in a public forum, in a sensitive, calm and constructive manner, it shows everyone that your association is honest and genuinely cares about helping its members and the community. It builds trust, loyalty and engagement as well as neutralizing any accusations of censoring.

There are exceptions to this rule. If comments are hateful, discriminatory or meant to fuel these types of discussions, responding to them and keeping them visible will not help you, your organization or anyone in the community. Delete them and move on to responding to those who actually care about resolving an issue.

4. Don’t Play Tug-of-War

It’s okay to not fight back once in a while on social media. Sometimes those making negative comments will argue with you. Don’t argue with them.

This doesn’t mean you have to back down completely, but always be polite, respectful and try your best to find and solve the issues behind the criticism. If this is not enough, do not engage in an argument. It makes your organization look combative, harsh and unwelcoming.

5. Listen

Listening to negative feedback is important to finding a solution and building your organization, but sometimes the answer doesn’t come after the first response. Longer conversations, through social media, email or over the phone, may be necessary to address an issue that was brought up online.

Again, this doesn’t mean a back and forth argument, but a conversation where you listen to the problems, explain your side of the story and listen and respond once again.

6. Find a Solution and Follow up

Once a complaint has been brought forward, work hard to find the answer to the problem. Keep that person and the rest of your network informed of the progress and make sure to follow up with the individual who originally made the complaint.

Seeing the problem all the way to the end lets your community know that your association is dedicated and treats every one of their members with the same care and devotion as the next. It will also encourage loyalty and trust, which generates great word-of-mouth for the organization.

7. Don’t Be a Robot 

Remember that your organization is there to help real people with real issues. Those who write negative comments are just as human as you are.

Be human in your response to complaints. Whatever you do, do not use a canned corporate response or a generic, one-line answer. This makes others feel like you’re brushing them off; it is disheartening and even condescending. Addressing people by name, mentioning the specific problem and using humor (when called for) are all simple ways to let others know you value them as individuals.

8. Build on It

Okay, so you’ve received a complaint and are in the process of finding a solution. Now is a great time to use these negative comments to generate positive growth for your organization. Engage your online community in helping find an answer to an issue. Ask followers and fans for ways to make your organization better. Your weaknesses will remain just that until you recognize them and fix them. This sometimes requires new perspectives. Some organizations open social media forums that act as virtual suggestion boxes. Not every idea can be put into action, but your members will appreciate the sentiment and you might be amazed at some of the great ideas brought forward.

No two complaints are the same and your responses should be equally unique. When responding to criticism, you should be respectful, quick and strive to find solutions. Providing great answers to issues on social media can mean the difference between your organization falling behind and soaring high.

Author Bio: Marc Cousineau is the President and Founder of Incline Marketing. Marc is passionate about helping non-profit organizations and associations grow and serve members through online marketing and social media.

You can follow Marc on Twitter, @marccousineau2, and follow Incline Marketing @inclinemktg

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Looking forward to #CSAE next week!

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter is really looking forward to our National Conference next week.  For those of who who are looking at the program, and wondering what to attend, here are some of the highlights you should be aware of:

There really is too many items to list that we are looking forward to.  Be sure to check out the sessions and schedule, and pick your topics wisely!  

For all those attending, safe travels next week!  If you cannot attend, but want to be part of the action, there are some sessions being offered virtually.  Check them out here.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Fall Programming

Join the Ottawa-Gatineau CSAE Chapter at one of our upcoming events!  Click here for our full slate of programming.

Or, scan the list below for additional details:

Programming & Continuing Education:

  • On October 16th, join us at the Best Western Plus Victoria Park Suites for our Leadership & Development Lunch.  Dr. Roseann O'Reilly Runte, President of Carleton University, will share her thoughts and insights on how to hone our leadership skills while maintaining that all-too-elusive work-life balance.  Be part of this unique opportunity to hear from one of Canada's premier leaders on a subject that directly impacts all executives and learn how to cut through the million threads holding you back.  Click here to register.
  • On November 18th, we will be hosting a half-day workshop at the Ottawa Conference & Event Centre on Information Management - Effective Processes to Reduce Uncertainty.

    Participants in this complimentary session will learn:
    • How to determine the right time to make a change
    • How to assess the needs of their organizations and select and implement effective and integrated systems
    • How to manage the human side of change
    • How to ensure that they understand and are delivering the financial and non-financial information the Board requires to discharge its responsibilities

      We have partnered with BDO on this one - and hope to see you there!  Click here for more info.
  • Right after the 1/2 day workshop, stick around for lunch - back by popular demand, we will hear from 3 Executives:  What are three tips for balancing the demands of a CEO role with the demans of the rest of your life?  Click here to register.
Interested in Marketing & Communications?

We also have two free networking sessions to consider:  October 14th will be geared towards Young Professionals in Association Communications, November 11th will be all about Digital Analytics: Making them relevant to your association.  Sign up for one, or both!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Stuff Happens - Social Media, Associations and Sudden Events

Twitter, Blogs and Helping Members When Something Goes Wrong 

There’s a scene in the iconic movie Forrest Gump where Tom Hanks/Forrest gets mud splashed on his face from a passing car and is given a shirt to wipe it away. When the bright yellow shirt is pulled away, it has a muddy smiley face gracing the middle. That’s when Hanks/Forrest mutters, “It happens,” in his Alabama drawl.

That moment is supposed to be the line that spawned a million upbeat bumper stickers pasted on cars and dorm room walls around the world. But it’s also very true; stuff happens and sometimes it’s not very good stuff. Floods happen, terrible winter storms happen, strikes happen and vandalism happens. That doesn’t mean your association, and its members, need to be unprepared.

Social media can help any association come to the assistance of its members during an event that threatens their industry. Here are just a couple examples.


Twitter is made for breaking news. Twitter users can instantly get news from colleagues, organizations, news services and other connections. They can search for specific topics, write an update in a less than a minute and include photos and videos. They can access the platform in their office or in the middle of a field. In this way, Twitter can be an association’s best friend when the unexpected hits.

Twitter offers organizations a way to relay vital information to its members. Updates on a natural disaster (evacuations, emergency services, etc.), surprise political decision or any other piece of news that affects your members can be quickly, easily and succinctly passed on to members.
Twitter is a great platform to use to not only inform members, but also guide them to important resources when they need them quickly. Tweets can be sent out with links to information on government assistance, your association’s insurance program, or articles that give strategies on coping with unexpected scenarios, such as a flood.

Twitter also acts as a gathering place, a space where an organization and its members can join together and support their colleagues. An encouraging tweet, a meaningful conversation about shared experiences or an offer of time or resources from a colleague can help a member through a tough time and many an obstacle. Twitter opens up several avenues to make this possible and the best one is through an organization’s account.

Twitter offers a forum for those affected by natural disasters to tell their stories in the days after an unanticipated event and long after a member has rebounded. Twitter is a great platform to see the way members triumph over hardship and the pride and perseverance they show in their jobs. There is no better way for an organization to inspire and empower its members than to share these stories of dedication and success.


Blogging does a lot of what Twitter does, but in a bigger, more in-depth way. While Twitter is there for you to pass on news and information immediately and in bite-sized pieces, a blog will help your association tell stories, convey detailed information and share analysis of an event.

It’s great when your association’s president, CEO or executive director can write a letter to members about an event, explaining the ins and outs, detailing the resources available and showing support for the people most affected by a sudden turn in fortunes. A blog is a handy platform with which to achieve this, as it encourages members to read, comment and share the content.

A blog can also be used as an outlet for storytelling. Your members have a story to tell after an unexpected event hits their operations. A blog offers those members a chance to outline their experiences in an interview, photo blog or guest post. This type of blog helps connect your members in a way few other platforms can; with shared experiences. They may even be a part of one member’s story that helps another member recover or cope with the changing landscape of an industry, whether it’s a physical landscape or a cultural one.

Author Bio: Marc Cousineau is the President and Founder of Incline Marketing. Marc is passionate about helping non-profit organizations and associations grow and serve members through online marketing and social media.

You can follow Marc on Twitter, @marccousineau2, and follow Incline Marketing @inclinemktg

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Promote Your Publications by Harnessing the Power of Members

The tactic of using members to promote your association is nothing new. But have you ever considered using members to promote the value of your association’s publications? Here are five ways to use members, or even readers, to promote the value of your publications, leading to higher readership and possibly more advertising dollars.

  1. Put them in print. Most associations continue to do print pieces to promote their association to members as well as non-members because print is still effective when used smartly. Your publications are a key member benefit, so the value of the publications is promoted in any print pieces you produce for the purpose of recruiting and retaining members.Print promotions are the perfect place to use targeted testimonials. Target testimonials allow you to show segments of your audience the value of the publications in a non-promotional way because the testimonials come from their colleagues, not from association staff. When using testimonials in print, or any other format, it is beneficial to include testimonials from different segments of your key audiences so that readers will see themselves represented and associate themselves with the value being presented.
  2. Find the social media champions. Social Media is a great way to create engagement and spread information quickly. Many associations are already involved in this medium on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and more. In addition to sharing information and creating conversation, you can use social media to locate individuals who are already talking about your association or the topics that you cover, and contact them about becoming a champion for your publication.This does not mean they promote your publication, or your association, but it does mean that you feed them important information or exciting things that are happening in your publications and ask them to participate in the conversation on your social media sites or on their own. If you recruit the right people to serve as champions, your content will get coverage without much effort on your part.
  3. Encourage members to forward content via enewsletters. Using your members to help spread the word can be very simple if you are producing an e-newsletter to recruit members or to inform current members about key happenings in your association. It is simple because almost all email programs make it easy to insert a “forward-to-a-friend” link within your e-newsletter. Not everyone is going to actually take action on a forward-to-a-friend link, so to maximize its usage, suggest that e-newsletter readers pass the message along, and then track how many recipients actually do so.E-newsletters are also a great place to insert video testimonials or links to video testimonials. A video testimonial can be captured at one of your events or can be self-produced by a reader. Like a written testimonial, a video is a great way to promote your publications in your readers’ own words.
  4. Feature testimonials on the website. Your website is a great way to communicate with members and non-members alike. Testimonials about your publications, videos about how members and non-members have benefited from your publications, and quotes from authors and social media champions can all be posted on your website for your community to see. The real estate on your website is very valuable and because of that, many of your association’s departments will want to have a presence on the site. However, since your publications are valuable member benefits, commit to making sure that publications have a regular presence there.
  5. Promote from the inside. It may sound silly to cross promote your publications, but it is a smart thing to do. If you have multiple publications, promote content from one publication in another publication so readers of one will learn the benefits of another. Including testimonials or links to videos or social media comments about your publications within the publications is a good way to engage more people, ultimately leading to a higher level of commitment and understanding of your content offerings. Messaging about sharing the publication with other colleagues increases awareness within the right audience, with the added benefit that the publication was suggested by a colleague, not a staff member. The members of your association and your industry are resources that you should take advantage of. Having these types of people speak for your association and spread the word about your publications provides a level of legitimacy and authenticity that staff spokespeople cannot duplicate. If you are not already using members to tell your story, start doing so right away. Happy recruiting!

This post was submitted by Scott Oser, of Scott Oser Associates, with over 17 years of marketing experience in the association and publishing industries. Before starting the firm he worked for market leaders like National Geographic Society, AARP and Science.Throughout his career Scott has excelled in developing, implementing and analyzing multi-channel direct marketing programs. He is highly skilled in creating effective membership, marketing and sales programs with the ability to align resources and operations to consistently achieve and exceed goals.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Why Smart Advertisers Choose Associations

During my almost 20-year career, I have been fortunate to work for — and with — both for-profit and association publications. Throughout this time, I have often heard that it is not as easy to sell ads in association publications as it is in consumer publications. Over the last seven years, as I have focused on selling advertising almost exclusively in association publications, I have learned that simply is not the case.

Here are a few reasons some people believe that association publications are not as valuable as consumer publications:

  • The majority of readers do not make a commitment to the magazine; they are receiving it as a member benefit because they are a member of the association.
  • Association publications are typically not audited, so an advertiser or an ad agency cannot easily compare an association publication to a consumer publication that is audited.
  • Associations often do not have as many readers as consumer publications.

At face value, these are all good reasons that it is smarter for an advertiser to put their ad dollars toward a consumer publication as compared to an association publication. The good news for association publishers is that there are even more reasons why an association publication is a great advertising choice:

  1. Associations keep their members. According to ASAE, the average association annual member-renewal rate is 80 percent . That means that advertisers are able to consistently reach the same individuals multiple times over multiple years if they advertise regularly over time. All marketers know that staying in front of potential customers is important. This consistency is almost guaranteed when working with associations.
  2. Associations can be small, but they are targeted. Most associations and association publications are built around an industry or a mission that members support or believe in. This basically guarantees that the individuals who are receiving the publication are similar in need and focus. Targeting is important in advertising, and if you are able to reach an audience that is almost totally made up of the type of individual you are trying to reach, it will increase the likelihood of success.
  3. Associations are communities of engaged members. Associations are putting more and more time and money into engaging their member community. They are giving members ways to communicate and even share information about products and services they use and like. With these engagement mechanisms already in place, companies that consistently advertise and do a good job of getting members to talk about their product or service to the larger community will see word of mouth about their offerings progress faster than they may see in a consumer environment.
  4. Associations are trusted. As nonprofit organizations, associations are looked at with a level of respect and trust that for-profit entities often are not. A company that advertises in an association publication benefits from the perception of trust as well. Members also trust the association to provide them with the right information, products, and services, so companies that advertise in association publications may receive a more positive perception than they would if the ad were placed in a consumer publication.
  5. Association members pay a good amount for dues. It is true that association members typically do not pay for their publication directly like a consumer would for a magazine. That said, members are making a choice to join the association and are typically paying a dues amount that is higher than the ever-shrinking price of a consumer magazine. Additionally, many consumer publications are controlled (qualified subscribers receive a free subscription) where a subscriber doesn’t pay anything for their subscription.

Selling advertising in an association publication is not an easy thing to do. However, if you educate your advertisers and potential advertisers to the benefits you bring to the table, it will be much easier. There are many benefits to advertising in an association publication — we just have to make them known.

This post was submitted by Scott Oser, of Scott Oser Associates, with over 17 years of marketing experience in the association and publishing industries. Before starting the firm he worked for market leaders like National Geographic Society, AARP and Science.Throughout his career Scott has excelled in developing, implementing and analyzing multi-channel direct marketing programs. He is highly skilled in creating effective membership, marketing and sales programs with the ability to align resources and operations to consistently achieve and exceed goals.

Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

10 Things to Do Before Implementing Something New

  1. Talk to your co-workers across all departments early in the process to get their thoughts and perspectives and how it might impact their area of responsibility.
  2. Talk to your association network to see what their experience has been and how it has impacted them at their association.
  3. Make sure that what you are considering doing helps you better serve your members or makes your efforts more effective and efficient.
  4. Don’t do it just to do it (Don’t chase the shiny object).
  5. Talk to your members to make sure that what you are considering is right for them.
  6. Test or develop a pilot program for the idea to see how it will play out in real life.
  7. Run the numbers to see how following the “trend” will impact your bottom line and your association’s business.
  8. Do your research (i.e. books, white papers, listservs).
  9. Allow for a cooling down period so that you don’t rush into implementation too quickly.  Give yourself a chance to sleep on it for a little bit.
  10. Consultants/associations should both take equal responsibility for implementation/outcomes

This post was submitted by Scott Oser, of Scott Oser Associates, with over 17 years of marketing experience in the association and publishing industries. Before starting the firm he worked for market leaders like National Geographic Society, AARP and Science.Throughout his career Scott has excelled in developing, implementing and analyzing multi-channel direct marketing programs. He is highly skilled in creating effective membership, marketing and sales programs with the ability to align resources and operations to consistently achieve and exceed goals.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

AWESOME Blog Posts (Featuring @Dan_Vee @jcufaude @WildApricot @affinitycenter)

These four posts that we saw in the last week focused on ROI (in one form or another).  For our followers, we re-capped them here, and encourage you to read the full posts!  Great stuff!

  1. ROI to R.O.M.E:  Thanks to Dan Varroney for this one.  R.O.M.E (Return On Member Engagement) encourages association executives to be proactive, and change the conversation.  Instead of engagement taking a back seat to budgets and putting out fires, can this challenges be avoided by focusing on the member and the outcome?  
  2. 7 Simple Upgrades to Improve Conference ROI:  Jeffrey Cufaude posted this at the end of July, and his suggestions should be read by all who have limited budgets to adhere to when planning a conference, but want to really move the needle and increase attendee participation, and ultimately, attendance year over year.  Get your delegates involved!  
  3. How Are You Welcoming New Members?: While we all recognize that we need to be consistent and timely with our outreach to new members, we do not need a Wal-Mart greeter.  Wild Apricot posted some stats from the US-based research produced by MGI, and adds commentary on what we can be doing to welcome new members. 
  4. Combating Low Member Engagement: Affinity Center International shares four best practices – as a result of the MGI Research that states that membership is on the rise, but renewals are down.  These best practices might help you get rid of high attrition.  

What’s on your reading list this week?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Associations That Create Change – An Interview with Paul Smith, Executive Director

In the May-June issue of the CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Executive, an interview with Paul Smith, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers (CACEE) was submitted for publication.

Associations are constantly on the lookout to create change in their industry, and remain relevant. Paul Smith, the Executive Director with CACEE was kind enough to share his experience with his organization, the change created, and the accomplishments achieved as a result.

Paul was kind enough to answer questions relating to:

  • What happened with your organization to make you realize that a change was needed?
  • What did you identify as possible ways to implement change?
  • How did you get stakeholder (Board of Directors, Staff, etc.) buy-in to making the change?
  • Did the process work the way you had anticipated?
  • What timeframe did you account for in your planning to create and implement this change? How does this compare to the time it took?
  • What were some of the hurdles you did not anticipate?
  • What have the outcomes been so far? Is there anything else you anticipate taking shape as a result?
  • What advice would you provide other association executives who are looking to create change?

To read the full article, click here and flip to Page 9.  Paul has some great insights, and we thank him for his honesty, and willingness to share!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Interested in Guest Blogging?

The Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of the Canadian Society of Association Executives has opened up the blog to guest bloggers.  Should you have any questions about the information provided below, please do not hesitate to contact Meagan Rockett, 613-288-4517, or by email at meagan@greenfield-services.ca.

We are looking for posts under the following categories:

  • Advocacy/Government Relations
  • Marketing/Communications
  • Governance, Board & Leadership
  • Strategic & Business Planning
  • Human Resources
  • Meeting & Event Planning
  • Membership
  • Education, Programs & Services
  • Sponsorship & Non-Dues Revenue
  • Technology (including CRMs, Websites & Social Media)

If you feel that there have been categories missed, please let us know, we would be happy to speak with you to further discuss additions to the above list.

If you are interested in submitting a post:  

  • Submissions received in Word documents preferred.
  • Include any links to outside references that you would like included
  • All posts will have an image.  Should you have one that you would like us to review & use, please submit along with the post.  Otherwise, an image will be selected on your behalf.
  • Post Length:  While there are no “rules” to be applied, common practice is that posts are between 200-750 words.  The idea is to provide value to our readers within a quick-read.

Submitting:  Please send your blog and image (when applicable) to Meagan Rockett (meagan@greenfield-services.ca).  When received, we will advise of the date of post.  Please include a short bio to include in the post as well.

Other Tips:

  • Subject Lines should be eye-catching
  • Calls to action identified, when appropriate
  • Posts should not be self-serving, but provide value to readership

Should you have any questions about the information provided below or wish to submit posts on a regular basis please do not hesitate to contact:

Angie D’Aoust
Co-Chair Communications Committee

Mona Forrest
Co-Chair Communications Committee  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, 21 July 2014

Blogs that caught our eye last week (Featuring @AssociationsNow @MemberClicks @XYZUniversity @SmoothThePath)

There are many blogs out there for Association Executives – opinionated pieces, that aim to share knowledge, expertise, and make you think.  Here are four that caught our eye this week:

  1. Three Keys to Inspire New Ideas From Staff:  Thanks to AssociationsNow for posting an article about Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE (with Spark Consulting).  This article discusses the fact that there is a lot of hype around innovation with associations.  We all know we should be doing it – but are there any associations out there that are doing it successfully?  Elizabeth conducted some research that says there are.  Find out about some organizations doing it right, and how they are achieving it.
  2. The First Step to Innovation:  Thanks to MemberClicks for this article.  Again, about innovation (Yes, the hot topic). This article suggests that innovation is not about having all the answers – it’s about asking the right questions.  Those who are consistently reaching out to members to find out what is working; and what is not, are those who are on the innovation train.
  3. What Members Want:  The New Meaning of Value: We can always count on XYZ University to provide content worth reading.  This particular article suggests that if your association is going to be around long enough to worry about the next generation of membership, you need to know what these members value – NOW.
  4. It’s Hard to Communicate Member Value:  If you haven’t come across Amanda Kaiser’s blog, “Smooth The Path”, you should add it to your reading list.  Amanda digs into three pieces of the member benefit/value equation, and some tactics to understanding their specific needs.

What’s on your reading list this week?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday, 3 July 2014

May-June Issue of #CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Executive Now Available...

In this issue....

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Best Practices to Maximize Conference Value

In this industry, we attend many conferences; our own, those for our association memberships, and those relevant to our area of work.  Here are 10 tips to maximize your attendance at a conference, and make it the best one yet:

  1. Do your research before the conference: Even before you register, you should put in some time to maximize the value you should (and, need) to receive.  Why are you attending it?  What do you want to accomplish?  Attendees should set goals (in writing if you can, it is easier to be accountable this way); so that you can track your experience, and make sure the time away from the office is effectively used.
  2. What can you do?  When planning on attending a conference, or selecting the sessions you want to learn from, determine what contribution you can add to it, not just what you want to get from it.  Determine what questions you might have based on the topic and description.  Ask your industry peers what they are attending, and what they want out of it.
  3. Put down your phone!  We are not suggesting that you cannot use your mobile device during sessions to tweet, connect, and share, but we all know that the real value of a conference is the human interaction.  It is easier to connect with people when you are not on your phone during breaks and lunch.  Meet new people, have conversations, share experiences.
  4. Manage Expectations:  Everyone has attended a session or two where the topic, or the speaker did not meet your expectations.  If you find you are in one of those sessions, you may start thinking negatively and not want to listen to the speaker anymore.  I recommend re-framing your intention – even if the session was not what you expected, you may still be able to draw key pieces of information that you did not expect to get.
  5. Go All In…: Attend everything you can, and avoid staying in your room, answering emails or taking calls.  Engagement is key to maximizing your conference experience, and you cannot do that alone.
  6. …But Stay Healthy:  If you are not a huge fan of large crowds, or are an introvert by nature, pace yourself, and set aside some downtime.  Take this time to plan the rest of your social and educational activities, and review your goals.  When out and about, dress comfortably, but appropriate – being yourself will be less exhausting all around.
  7. Make a lasting impression:  Be the best you can at connecting people, meeting new people, and collecting cards/contact info.  ALWAYS use a person’s name, and be interesting and have engaging conversations.  
  8. Leverage Your Attendance with Content:  How can you blog, write an article, or document what you have learned?  Who will you share it with?  Your members, your colleagues – both?  Depending on the conference you are attending, you may be the only one representing your organization.  Ensure that you take back everything you can, and outline it appropriately, so that all can benefit from your time out of the office.
  9. Follow-Up…:  Whether you have re-connected with a long-time industry peer, or met someone new, follow-up should be mandatory.  It can be a quick note to thank them for their time, or show a supplier/sponsor/exhibitor some appreciation for the demonstration/conversation/social function.  Personal follow-ups go a long way.
  10. …And Be Useful:  When sending your follow-up, especially if you have permission to by email, include a reference if you can to the conversation you may have had, and provide them with something useful (for example, a link to an article they may find interesting, or that information on your company that you promised).  Determine next steps in the relationship, and stay committed to following up.

What else could you be doing to maximize YOUR conference experience?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Membership in the age of Google: What are you serving up?

Do you have an information desk open at all hours?  Is your website an open book for your members and the general public?  Or do you keep reports, whitepapers, podcasts and other benefits of your membership hidden behind walls on your website – only available to your dues-paying customers?

Google is available 24/7 to answer questions from your potential new members or clients.  Before you even sit down at your desk with your first cup of coffee, there may have been several potential clients sizing up your business or association without you ever knowing about it.  So how are you capturing the attention of these potential members?  And how are you retaining members who know that they can probably access all you offer through some other on-line source in this age of Google?

This was the topic earlier this Spring for the Marketing & Communications Group in CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau.  While they didn’t come up with all the answers, they did have a fulsome discussion on the tactics you could use to encourage non-members to become members and those you could use to reinforce membership with existing members.

Information on websites can answer immediate questions.  Whitepapers can solve immediate research needs.  But are you giving all your value away without capturing something from these transactions?

When we focus on what matters to our members, perhaps it’s a bit like that old sitcom Cheers where at some point during the opening minutes of the show, Mr. Peterson walks into the bar and all the regulars should out “Norm!”  Are you ready to capture information that will give online visitors that “Norm” feeling about your organization?  Do your existing members that have that “Norm” feeling about your organization?

During the session, they looked at how you can begin to create engagement with current and future clients. Here are a few of the possibilities discussed:

  • If you sell things through your website – books, promotional items, events or other – are you capturing any data through these transactions that could help you build a relationship with the buyers?
  • With your existing members and clients, have you ever done any data mining to build more complete profiles of them?  What specific interests do they have? Do they belong to other organizations? When is their birthday?  Some of these questions might seem frivolous but it helps you develop a more complete profile.  They become human to you and you to them.
  • Build sub-groups.  This type of niche knowledge could lead to news-sharing, events and meet-ups in communities which reinforce the value of your organization.
  • If a non-member attends an event, is it purely financial or have you made a connection with them during attendance? (This could include a special welcome at the event; a buddy system; a personalized survey afterwards, etc).

Many of these ideas are certainly possible with technology.  But you, the organization, need to have a plan for data collection and usage.  How will capturing information help you transform your clients’ transaction into an experience that they will want to repeat?

Many member-based organizations used to be able to provide one-size-fits-all programs to their members. That game has been upped.  If you buy books online, you’ll know that you will receive future promotional emails based on your previous purchases.  Can you say that you know your members this well?

Sure Google is open for business 24/7 and commercial websites can create “personalized” experiences. Technology has provided the tools for data mining and resultant niche marketing.  Anything that you can do to add “warm and fuzzies” to your stakeholder transactions, will put you a step above Google, Wikipedia or any other online experience.  It’s important to remember that transactions do not equal engagement; human relationships do.  After all, Norm didn’t just want a beer at Cheers, he wanted the camaraderie; it could have been any bar.

This article was originally featured in the April-May issue of CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Executive, and was written by Jennifer Hagen, CAE, Director, Chamber Development & Services with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Beyond Social Media 101: Meeting Member Needs & Facilitating Communications

In the Spring, members of the CSAE Marketing & Communications Group met and held a roundtable to discuss how to use social media tools in a more focused way to support organizational communications objectives and meet specific, defined member needs.  Here are the highlights of the discussion:

  • Everyone noted that finding out what member’s needs and wants from their association is not an easy task.  It’s difficult to know if we are reaching the opinion leaders among our members, particularly for those with institutional membership rather than individual.
  • It was suggested that, despite the prevalence of electronic communications, old-fashioned paper and phone surveys might still be necessary in addition to email and social media, in order to obtain an accurate representation of member wants and needs.
  • Draws and contests remain a good way to evoke a response from otherwise un-engaged members.
  • In the absence of good data about member needs, most association communicators are simply trying to build audiences on the “big three” social networking platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, on the assumption that if we want members to talk to us, we need to provide multiple opportunities and meet people where they are.
  • At minimum, associations should maintain a “placeholder” presence on these three platforms, lest their name and identity be used by someone else.  For example, one association has been unable to register a LinkedIn group under their name as it is already in use by a similarly-named group overseas.
  • Once established, these networks can be used to seek input from members regarding what they want and need from their association.  This is particularly important for associations with non-mandatory membership.
  • Although these sites are free to use, the cost of staff time must be taken into account, and communications staff do need to monitor traffic and remain regularly responsive to members who communicate with them via these platforms.

The goal for everyone, it seems, is to move from pushing information to asking members what they need and then seeking solutions to fulfill those needs.  Social networking could provide the answers in some cases, but perhaps other needs can be fulfilled by more traditional means.  We won’t know until we ask.

This post was originally featured in the April-May issue of the CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Executive, and was written by Alison Larabie Chase, Communications and Membership Coordinator, with the Canadian Association of University Business Officers.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Secret to Member Engagement Is… Being Nosy!

The only constant I’ve learned about associations is that there are no two that are identical. Every organization has a distinct profile of members, events, and objectives. This is true of associations of all size, even chapter-to-chapter of a larger national organization.

So when the question is posed, “What is the secret to member engagement?” My answer always tends to be, “Well that depends on the members.” So how do you learn about your members and engage them in a way that will be on target every time? Be nosy!

I’m not saying you should Facebook stalk them or find out where their kids go to school, but you should definitely start talking. Ask questions! Be genuinely curious about your members! Use the cocktail party rule: listen 70% of the time, share 30% of the time. This is tough because as an association leader you know you have a lot of valuable information to share and you know they need it. But to figure out the best way to get your members that information, you need to talk to them first.

So what do you need to find out in these cocktail party-esque conversations?

Who they are

Find out a little about your members’ lives and priorities. If your members tend to have young children that can drastically change your optimal times for meeting. If your members are mostly nearing retirement age, think about how your programming can adjust to meet those changing needs. If your members are younger professionals just starting out, they’ll require a different kind of networking. A simple bio of your members will go a long way!

Why they joined your association

You could probably guess this, and you’ll probably be pretty close, but ask anyway. You may be surprised, for example, how many people say, “to make friends because I Just moved here” or “to improve my networking skills.” If you find that there is a common thread that doesn’t necessarily have to do with professional development in the traditional sense, that’s a great opportunity to hit the nail on the head with engagement.

What they think about your association so far

Now that you know what they want out of your association, how are those needs being met? Ask specific questions about events, programs, or initiatives that you’ve recently run. Were they on target? Even close? Encourage your members to be candid, even if the feedback is negative. Assure them this isn’t about you as an association pro, but about the betterment of the association as a whole.

So when will you get the opportunity to collect all of this valuable feedback? Start with the members who are already engaged. Even if every answer is “peachy keen, jelly bean!” it’s still good feedback to have.
Once you have your already-engaged members’ feedback, start doing a little networking on your own. You probably already use post-event surveys, so start following up on those responses. If you have a great conversation with a member at a meeting or event, take a business card and reach out to him or her later. You may have a few people too busy to respond or who aren’t interested. However even the feedback you do get from the handful of people who want to participate is valuable!

And make sure your members know you are open and willing to talk. Whether you have an “actual” office door or not (association pros work from all kinds of places!) assure your members that it’s always open and you’re always there for feedback, new ideas, and constructive criticism.

Now that you have all of this fabulous information, adjust your efforts, programming, and meetings! You won’t be able to please everyone, but you can make a lot of people happy and engaged with your association. And isn’t that the goal, after all?

Happy engaging!

Sarah Hill is the primary blogger for MC Talks, the blog for MemberClicks, an Association Management Software provider. She loves listening to association pros tell her about their challenges, then figuring out how to help them work it out. To read more of her writings check out blog.memberclicks.com.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Lessons in Hybrid Meetings: 5 Steps to Getting Senior Management Buy-In

One of the main reasons why associations choose not to produce hybrid meetings is the lack of senior management buy-in. I believe that the key to convincing them of your decision is to know your facts. I recommend the following to gain executive level buy-in to ensure the success of your meeting or event.

Step 1: Help them recognize the need for change. 

Schedule a brief project meeting with your senior management team to review why you determined a hybrid meeting was right for the association.  Identify your strategy and walk them through how you plan to implement it. It is a good practice to submit a brief overview in advance so that executives have time to prepare.

Step 2: Present your event strategy.

Building on the decision to go hybrid or not, you will want to clearly define your vision through a 1-2 page event scenario. This should be a concise document that captures key elements of the event including content, timing, checkpoints, venue suggestions, basic logistics, budget, scope changes and associated costs, and questions that you require senior management input. This scenario will become a reference for senior management, not the agenda for your initial meeting.

Step 3: Present multiple options for implementation.

Avoid an all-or-nothing scenario by presenting at least three options.  Presenting two options is good, but opens the door for a “who likes which option the best” discussion.  Present three or more options to create a better chance for dialogue and collaboration about advantages, disadvantages and innovative ways of combing the options.

Step 4: Allow questions and discussion during the initial meeting, and be prepared for other ideas to surface.

Give your senior-level executives the time and opportunity to ask questions, discuss and get used to new ideas.  To assist in preparing for this meeting, you may want to discuss possible questions or scenarios with other meeting professionals. Then, listen well to the management team for their input and be prepared to implement their recommendations (or validate why the recommendations were not considered).

Step 5: Research other associations who have produced successful hybrid meeting.

Use one of the many examples of successful hybrid meetings to demonstrate your commitment and understanding of the opportunities and risks at hand.  Also, knowing what the competition is doing shows your dedication to ensuring your association is positioned to continuously meet the needs of its members.
Planning an event without senior management input is a little bit like playing a game of Russian roulette. Armed with enthusiasm and facts, you will be sure to gain the confidence of even the weariest senior executives.

Next lesson: Building your hybrid event budget.

Mahoganey Jones is a Certified Meeting Professional and Digital Event Strategist with a background in continuing professional development.  She has a proven success record in planning meetings and events that boost revenues and increase brand awareness. She specializes in ensuring all details are considered and that all targets are met and/or exceeded.

Image courtesy of 89studio / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Lessons in Hybrid Meetings: Hybrid or not?

With the rising interest in hybrid meetings - a meeting or event with at least one group of face-to-face participants connecting with other participants in one or more additional locations - planners have to ensure they are choosing options that not only fit their budgets, but also suit their members. Whether your goals are to increase revenues, improve performance or grow your membership, associations should start small and set realistic expectations. To ensure the success of your hybrid initiative, it is crucial to manage expectations of both the association executives and your members.

The hybrid model is so new that most association staff make incorrect assumptions about it. Hybrid meeting planners need to provide a clear rationale to both management and attendees that explains why the meeting is organized as a Hybrid and what they will be getting. If attendees are expecting the format of a talk show and they get a lecture from someone in a two-inch window, they’re going to have trouble staying engaged.

Questions to ask to help determine if you should produce a hybrid meeting or event:

  • What problem might a hybrid meeting address, and how? 
  • What opportunity might a hybrid meeting provide, and how?
  • Which elements of your live event might be enhanced, and how? 
  • What strategic objectives would a hybrid event achieve or support?
  • What is the competition doing? Are they engaging your members more efficiently than you are?
  • According to your membership surveys and attendance data, what are the main sources of value in your current physical events? 
    • In what ways could this value be transferred and/or enhanced online? For whom?

Producing a hybrid meeting for the first time does take more time than planning a face-to-face meeting. After two or three hybrid meetings, this is no longer true. Initially, though, the planning process does become more elaborate as you coordinate for TWO audiences.

In my opinion, hybrid meetings are a way to enhance what your association is already doing well. Does your meeting bring in exceptional keynotes? Does your association produce innovative and engaging sessions?

Offering one or two keynote presentations as a webcast lets non-members “see what they are missing”, but the captured content now becomes a strategic tool for the association. The content can be re-purposed as a promotional tool for the meeting, a financial opportunity through the sale of the recording, or a member benefit by offering a copy of the recording for free in your resource library.

By embracing hybrid meetings, we as planners are able to show that we have the skills necessary to address the expectations of our members while demonstrating a clear commitment to innovation and new ways of adding value to our meetings.

Next lesson: Getting buy-in from senior management

Mahoganey Jones is a Certified Meeting Professional and Digital Event Strategist with a background in continuing professional development.  She has a proven success record in planning meetings and events that boost revenues and increase brand awareness. She specializes in ensuring all details are considered and that all targets are met and/or exceeded.

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net