5 Things You Should Be Doing With Your Communication Strategy

By Association Adviser Staff • February 7, 2022

If there was ever a time to solidify your association as the “voice of the industry,” the time is now. Members are looking to their associations for accurate and thoughtful guidance in an ever-changing world. Balancing the acts of keeping members engaged and connected while meeting association goals amidst trying to roll out new communications in this brave new world is a challenge, to say the least.


However, having a well-defined and thoughtful communications strategy is one of the most important aspects of your association’s plan, and should be considered as a first step in keeping the goals of your association within reach. By striking the right tone, expanding your digital offerings and reinforcing the value of your association in your communication strategy you can increase engagement and your non-dues revenue. These five important things will help you set that tone! 


A Word About Tone

It’s probably more important than ever to consider how your tone could be perceived when releasing communications. There are headlines after headlines about so-called “tone-deaf” mistakes that companies and public figures make on a daily basis. Sometimes, the best-intended communication can have terrible repercussions. So make sure to:

Focus On The Facts

As the preeminent resource leader in your industry, you want to be able to share information that is current and based on fact. Sharing false narratives can reduce your credibility. This is often referred to as “content ethics,” this topic should be top of mind with every association since you are the expert leader for industry information. Use reliable sources and maintain transparency about where you are getting your information. Remember your members are looking to you for the latest information. 

Be Honest, Authentic And Accessible

Set the right tone for the situation. Balance humor with seriousness. Calm worries and be the voice of reason while accepting the gravity of the crisis. Don’t limit content just to members. Make resources accessible to all those within the industry who may need it.

Communicate Frequently And Consistently

Send out the most critical information about cancellations and postponements as soon as possible. Keep in touch at regular intervals, knowing more frequent communication at this time is likely needed and appreciated. Take a proactive approach to your communication strategy and promote all relevant content.

Use All The Tools In Your Toolbox

You have great resources right at your fingertips already. On your association website, you can include important updates front and center on your homepage. Leverage your email, social media or eNewsletter to get information out quickly and provide quick-hit information that can be linked to longer articles or stories on your website. Consider using podcasts, video or your online community to reach your members who are working virtually. Post frequently on your online communities, career centers or job boards and support members with encouraging messaging. Lastly, use your print publication to provide in-depth analyses of the latest on-goings in your industry.


Update Existing Content Regularly

New laws and regulations are consistently rolling out; make sure you are keeping your members up to date regularly.

Create Association-Branded Updates 

Make sure to create on-brand blog posts, include a special section in your next member magazine or your association’s website, a weekly or biweekly newsletter and video series on your learning platform with an intentional focus on uplifting the brand identity of the association.

Repurpose Content

Besides saving staff time, repurposing content also benefits your members because everyone processes information and enjoys reading on different platforms. Make sure you are reaching your members where they are and in a format that they like to read. The hard work has already been done! Take an existing published online article and repurpose it into an eBook with graphics on the same content, launch a webinar with thought leaders as speakers on the same topic and create discussion in your online community. But don’t stop there – now you can cross-promote! Making a carbon copy of one piece of content for use across different channels isn’t nearly as compelling or effective. Spend a little extra time and revamp or fine-tune your points, tips, advice and thought leadership.


Try New Digital Tools and Products

Think about how you want to serve your members now and six months to a year from now, and assess how the changes in our world will affect their consumption of information. Launching new tools and digital products could be the right move.

Consider implementing these useful tools:

  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • White Papers
  • AI-Powered
  • Newsletters
  • Content Hubs
  • Online
  • Communities
  • Enhanced Online
  • Buyers’ Guides

Offer More Targeted or Exclusive Offers

Face-to-face events generally enable associations to give their vendor members a direct voice to their audience. A good alternative is offering hybrid events – a combination of an in-person and virtual event – that allows advertisers and sponsors to get in front of their potential customers at their comfort level. Things like sponsored content, sponsored eblasts, direct mail in publications, special/dedication sections in publications and programmatic/retargeting can also be great alternatives for your advertisers when face-to-face isn’t possible.

Don’t Be Afraid to Innovate!

Abrupt changes bring opportunities for creativity and courageous decisions – try new things! Discuss ideas with your staff to see what works and what doesn’t. You might just find a product or service that becomes a long-standing revenue stream for your association.


Your advertisers and sponsors need to market their products and services more than ever to survive and increase business. Make sure your advertisers’ marketing resonates with customers and conveys the right message. Tailoring their message to customers is vital. Help them find a way to communicate universally, consistently and with appropriate emotion, noting this may require them to change their initial game plan. Providing this consultation and new outlets to reach their audience will provide your association with long-lasting benefits. 

Tips to share with your advertisers:

  • Set proper expectations.
  • Take a step back and look at the industry you’re in and the people you serve.
  • Make an (authentic) emotional connection.
  • Make sure your messaging is aligned across all platforms.
  • Be open to trying something new.
  • Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do.


Find ways to communicate with your important stakeholders, share your valuable content resources, and connect people and businesses in a meaningful way. By leveraging your communication channels – and strategically introducing new ones – you not only increase ways for your members to stay engaged, but you also drive much-needed non-dues revenue. 

Sponsored Emails, Sponsored Content, and Advertorials

Engage and interact with your members, while also sharing their important industry knowledge. Sponsored content can be highlighted using your association’s current digital channels, like your newsletter or website. Advertorials are also another option and typically take up more real estate, often a full page in a print publication or larger section in a digital communication. Your association should control all content being published. Make sure you have it labeled as “sponsored” or “paid” and include guidelines and requirements for the advertiser prior to submission.

Webinar, Videos, White Papers, Online Learning Series

In lieu of live events which have traditionally been one of the largest education platforms for associations, you can offer digital learning.  Offering digital options like webinars, videos and virtual learning series can give your members the education they are still seeking and gives you the opportunity to offer sponsorships that can offset the cost and provide your advertisers and partners a captive audience.

“Webinars ranked as the 4th highest-valued communication channel for associations in 2021.” (Source: 2021  Association Communications Benchmarking Survey)

Direct Mail, Special Print Sections

Exhibitor brochures, pamphlets and fliers can be easily repurposed as a direct mail piece in your publication. Additionally, creating special sections like an Exhibitor or Product Showcase inside your publication is another unique way to help suppliers get in front of your audience.

Newsletters, Websites, Programmatic Advertising

Frequency is key to captivating audience attention, and this is often achieved through newsletters, websites, and programmatic advertisements. Newsletters and website ads help companies contribute timely messaging about their products and services. Traditional website advertising can be enhanced through the use of programmatic advertising.

If programmatic advertising has already been instituted, then:

  • Temporarily lower prices on these ads
  • Extend billing options
  • Offer new introductory rates

Content Hubs, Microsites, Communities

Streamline access to information by using content hubs. Microsites and online communities bolster your association’s ability to streamline and distribute relevant content. As a “one-stop-shop,” microsites are a great place to cross-promote other communication channels and house all the communications your association has to offer. Adding an online community to your microsite can aid industry partners and members in connecting. 

Make sure to tell your advertisers they can gain extra exposure by also including the digital versions of their direct mail piece in the digital version of your publication!

Don’t Wait, Rethink Your Strategy Today

One thing we know is the world will continue to turn and communication will be an ever-changing platform. Establishing yourself as the lead voice of your industry with thoughtful, consistent and timely communication will benefit not only your association for years to come but also your members.

Ready to launch something new or revamp your existing communications strategy? Connect with us today!