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

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Does advocacy make you anxious or confused?


Improving Your Advocacy Skills
Hotel Indigo, 123 Metcalfe St, Ottawa
Registration 7:00
Program Starts at 7:30 to 11:30

Does advocacy make you anxious or confused? 

Well……you  can hire a consultant; or try this: CSAE-OG is hosting a morning workshop on understanding advocacy that will feature a series of panels and presentations by MPs, Hill staff, and two senior Ottawa advisors. Guests include:

Mr. Brad Trost MP (Saskatoon Humboldt) – Brad is a three term federal MP, committee member, Co-Chair of the CPC Energy Caucus and is a regular resource for CSAE. Mr. Trost is a geologist and geo-physicist by profession.

Mr. Murray Heinzlmeir – Murray Heinzlmeir has been the legislative assistant for MP Brad Trost since 2004. Before that, he was a researcher for Stockwell Day and then Stephen Harper when each was Leader of the Opposition. Before coming to Ottawa, Murray was a small town newspaper editor in Alberta. He has a Master's Degree in History from the University in Calgary.

Ms. Jenny Hooper is Executive Assistant to David McGuinty, Member of Parliament for Ottawa South.  As a long-time Parliament Hill staffer, Jenny has served as Executive Assistant to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chair of the Ontario Liberal Assistants' Caucus, and Executive Assistant to the Official Opposition House Leader.    

Mr. Brendan Hawley is an independent government relations consultant with a decade of experience in both government and industry prior to establishing his consultancy in 2000. He manages a range of portfolios with particular emphasis on executive advocacy and using advocacy as a process for clarifying client issues, resources, and goals.

Mr. Huw Williams is President of Insight Communications Ltd. In Ottawa. Huw is a former political advisor, trade association executive and now manages a multi-disciplinary team at Insight. The firm manages both strategic campaigns and tactical events to promote clients’ views and requirements.    

CSAE-OG Luncheon – March 27, 2014 

Concerned Citizen or Lobbyist? What’s the difference? 

Residence Inn by Marriott, 161 Laurier Ave W, Ottawa
Registration starts at 11:30; Program starts at 12 noon

Guest Speaker: Karen E. Shepherd
Commissioner of Lobbying

Ever wonder at what point you stop being a concerned citizen and start being a lobbyist subject to a Code of Conduct?  You’re not alone; as an independent Agent of Parliament, Commissioner Shepherd is responsible for administering and enforcing the Act. The Commissioner's mandate is to maintain a registry of lobbyists, to increase the transparency of lobbying activities, foster greater awareness of the Act through education and outreach, and enforces compliance with the Act and the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct .Learn more about lobbying and changes to the Act coming later this year.

Click here to register - we hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Don’t let your Board get Decision Fatigue!

In the association environment the board makes significant decisions which in many ways drive the future of the organization.

So, you want your board to be great at making decisions, right? Robust decisions that don’t come unraveled at the next meeting. Well-thought-out decisions, that incorporate multiple perspectives and make appropriate trade-offs. Decisions with just the right amount of risk.

Well, then, maybe you should look at how they make decisions.

Decision fatigue is the phenomenon that anyone who has gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach is intimately familiar with – confronted with the treats near the checkout, we often succumb (well, not you, perhaps – other people). We’re tired from making all the seemingly minor decisions – brand, price, quantity, quality, nutrition, and so on – so we wind up eating something we might not have chosen an hour earlier.

There seems to be a finite amount of energy any individual or group has with which to make decisions. The more challenging the decision – particularly trade-offs, or working with significant constraints – the faster this energy gets depleted. Thinking is legitimately tiring.

If you’ve ever renovated a house you might also recognize this as the “I don’t care, just pick a tile/wallpaper/floorplan/dishwasher/paint colour, I’m out, I’ll live with whatever” effect. (Ask people who’ve recently planned weddings about this phenomenon as well.)

If all these things are true about decision-making, what can be done to optimize the way your Board (and management team) makes decisions?

Set clear decision expectations: Often Boards find themselves confused about what’s required of them during a particular agenda item; is this something they need to approve, information they are receiving, or something else? The clearer you can be, consistently, about when a real decision is required, the better. This takes skill from both the staff and the Board, particularly the leadership, although I’ve seen this get much better with practice; it gets baked into the culture of the organization.

Make fewer decisions: Look at upcoming agendas – can any of these decisions be made by others? Even if you are more of a volunteer-driven organization, you will still want the board to be focused on strategy, with other bodies (committees, task forces, or however you are organized) empowered to get operations done without too much bureaucracy. And if you do have staff, perhaps there are opportunities for them to take on more autonomy.

Look at your process: If you don’t have strong leadership of the meetings themselves, the group self-organizes. While a little of this can be a good thing (for instance, for team-building, or to develop a sense of ownership of the process) too much of it drains the group’s energy pointlessly. The tougher the decisions ahead of you, the more you want the process to be clear and well-managed. This can mean hiring an outside facilitator, splitting the Chair and President roles (the Chair manages the discussion and the schedule; the President provides leadership), or agreeing on (and sticking to) ground rules. Board evaluations as well as the decisions themselves can help you fine-tune.

Eliminate the decision altogether: What decisions can be routinized? Buying in bulk, signing a contract, and outsourcing multiple parts of a project are all ways to make a single, bigger decision as opposed to multiple decisions. Delegating to an individual is another way to get rid of a group decision. What’s for lunch? Jim orders something, that’s what’s for lunch.

Schedule mindfully: Look at the timing of your important decisions. It’s true that sometimes really important decisions need to be made after a significant discussion – first thing in the morning may not be practical. But I will often arrange strategic planning agendas so that we can create ideas and start to outline the plan one afternoon, and then come back in the morning to validate and finalize. It allows people to be looser and more creative in the afternoon, knowing they can sleep on what they’ve started to decide. And then in the morning the remaining decisions to be made tend to be much more clear – and we can have a shorter discussion before arriving at a real commitment.

Feed people! Making sure there are balanced snacks available helps keep people’s brains fueled. Same goes for letting people rest, replenish, stretch their legs and their brains.

Envisioning decision-making ability as something that can be depleted, and therefore should be managed mindfully, can be very helpful. It’s the organizational equivalent of eating a healthy breakfast before grocery shopping, so the croissants look less enticing.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you with your decision-making, please get in touch.

Meredith Low provided this guest post.  She is a management consultant, focusing on helping organizations and companies understand how, when, and where to grow in the context of fast-changing environments. Her work with associations includes leading strategic and tactical planning, performing assessments to position conferences and meetings for growth and durability, and assessing the needs of members and other stakeholders.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Monday, 10 March 2014

Spring 2014 CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Executive now available

In this issue....

  • New Member Event a BIG Success - see the re-cap from Brett Filson and Clementine Van Veen, our Membership Committee Co-Chairs.  
  • What does Spring have to do with Association Executives?  Check out Susie Grynol's post in our Message from the President column. 
  • Katherine McColgan re-caps the February Parliamentary Breakfast in her article, "Association with Associations".  
  • When was the last time you reviewed your association's insurance?  Serge Paquette provides Business Insurance Considerations for Associations. 
  • In January the chapter held a great lunch panel discussion on Hybrid Meetings: Myths, Opportunities and Lessons Learned.  Check out the re-cap here.  
  • Did you attend Tête-à-Tête 2014?  If you did (or even if you didn't) - it was ALL GOOD - and we have captured the essence here. 
  • Three experts provided some commentary for association executives to "Take Control of Risk in Your Organization".
  • Our MarComm Group held a session recently asking "Do you send CEMs to your stakeholders?"  Jennifer Hagen writes about a really engaging discussion on the Anti-Spam Legislation.
  • AODA - The Quick and Dirty, gives a easy to read overview on what is already law and what is coming.
  • Are you using images?  Royalty-free images are not free: Find and Use Photos without being sued.  A great article by Angie D'Aoust.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

5 Big Sponsorship Trends to Watch for in 2014

The sponsorship landscape is rapidly changing. It’s also one of the few mediums experiencing year-over-year growth, with the Internet marketing showing the highest increase in marketing budget allocation. While sponsorship marketing accounts for up to 22% of corporate marketing budgets, getting the money is more difficult than ever due to the number of organizations competing for the same dollars and the increased sophistication of the value proposition that companies require before parting with their marketing dollars.

Here are 5 Trends that will have an impact on the association sponsorship sector in 2014 and how you need to shift your thinking to remain relevant:

Increased Focus on the Customization of Sponsorship Benefits Packages

Generic sponsorship packages will make way for customized proposals as companies become more focused on achieving their objectives and less concerned about “fitting into the boxes” created for them through these generic offerings.

Associations will need to be more nimble in listening to sponsor prospects and developing solutions-based proposals that respond to specific objectives. As well, any pre-set sponsor benefits packages should be positioned as baseline benefits and include a statement that leaves the door open for a certain level of customization depending on the prospects’ specific objectives.

Increased Focus on Sponsorship Activation

More emphasis will be placed by companies on leveraging their sponsorship through some form of “activation” that demonstrates brand attributes in a unique way and/or engages the audience at a meaningful level.  This is in sharp contrast to the old days when companies gave you money in exchange for some soft visibility opportunities (think banners and logos).

Successful associations will do a better job at presenting creative activation opportunities as part of their sponsorship offerings and encouraging sponsors to leverage their sponsorship in ways that engage audiences and add value to the customer experience.

Less Emphasis on the “Metal Levels”

The Gold, Silver, Bronze hierarchy could be dying a slow death as companies become less concerned about sponsorship levels and more concerned about value for dollar. With increased customization and activation, the levels are just not as important as they were perceived to be; and besides, there is certainly no evidence to suggest that a “gold” level sponsorship is looked upon more favourably than a silver or bronze level.

Associations will need to change their mindset on how they package their sponsorship opportunities and start thinking about how different sponsors can “own” distinct properties within a larger context and excel at leveraging that property to achieve specific objectives.

Increased Focus on Content Distribution

With over 27 million pieces of content shared daily, the trend towards sharing branded content is soaring upwards for 2014 with an estimated 40% of companies indicating that they will be increasing their efforts in this area in the coming year. Furthermore, 72% of these marketers say branded content is more effective than advertising in a magazine, and 69% say it is superior to direct mail and PR.

Any way you look at it, "content marketing" is something you'll hear a lot about in 2014.

An effective sponsorship will provide opportunities for companies to share branded content with a property's target audience through a variety of mediums such as articles in publications, newsletters, web site, social media channels and even onsite demonstrations and sampling opportunities. Associations need to position their sponsorship opportunity as a conduit to a highly targeted, engaged audience that will help a company build their audience quicker and at less cost than doing it on their own.

Integration with Social Media

Increasingly, companies are looking to engage with customers through the sponsored property’s social media channels as a form of cost-effective activation. Despite the huge shift to online marketing, I’m amazed at the number of not-for-profit organizations that still do not even provide a link from their web site to a sponsor site.

Associations need to start leveraging social media channels as part of their own business strategy and break down some of the barriers for sponsors to start leveraging a property’s online assets.

The bottom line for 2014 is that sponsor-seeking organizations will need to become more responsive than ever, to the specific needs of sponsorship clients and will need to get more creative in helping these clients engage with audiences in new ways. Associations that stick their old ways of doing things could easily find themselves on the outside looking in.

This post was provided by Bernie Colterman, Managing Partner of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM).  Check out their line-up for the 2014 MARCOM Professional Development Forum, this coming June.