This month’s Corner Office Spotlight shines on Gifford Briggs, vice president and chief lobbyist of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) which represents the independent and service sectors of the state’s oil and gas industry.
- Social media is a great tool for connecting with non-members, i.e. prospective members, in your industry.
- Technology and social media is not going away. If you’re not fired up about it, then find someone on your staff who is.
- To be successful with association video you have to be relevant, consistent and frequent. LOGA-TV has become “Appointment TV” for the oil and gas industry every Monday.
Gifford, to what extent were you and your members impacted by last month’s government shutdown?
The shutdown didn’t affect us that much. Most of the big projects, and permits for those big projects, were issued years in advance.
You’re pretty vocal about domestic energy issues. What’s your take on the future of U.S. energy production?
We’re becoming less and less reliant on foreign energy. We have a big opportunity as a country to be a net exporter because of the many new natural gas plays [domestically].
What is the best way to describe LOGA’s membership?
We have about 1,700 members and 700 company members. That’s up from about 1,450 individual members when we last talked two years ago.
Impressive. Are they mostly senior executives?
We have two distinct age groups: Executives in the 45 to 50-plus range that are running their companies and industry up-and-comers–those 35-and-under who are often the roughnecks out on the platforms.
That must present some tough communication challenges
In order to keep our different members—and prospective members engaged, we did a major revamp of the magazine and have really leveraged technology, mobile and social media. I’ll talk about that in a minute.
Speaking of technology, that seems to play a big role in oil and gas exploration. Your members must be pretty tech-savvy.
You’d be surprised [laughing]. They can put a $100 billion platform 10,000 feet down and hit a 20-by-20 foot target with it. But, half of our members don’t even know what LinkedIn is. Our industry is very tech savvy, but we’re not very tech savvy about communication. We’re taking advantage of every tool we have out there to get them up to speed.
Technology is our theme this month at Association Adviser. Mind if we ask you what LOGA’s biggest tech challenges are?
Resources. Private companies can hire someone full-time to be a tech person and have them focus on that role all day long. Many associations can’t do that. Each staff member has to wear multiple hats. You have to find someone who’s already on staff who has a passion for technology. Fortunately, we have two people here who are very passionate about exploring all that technology can do for you—our membership coordinator and myself.
We understand you’ve turned to technology to help you solve communication challenges.
That’s right. We’re using a lot of electronic communication to get industry news out to our members. Members aren’t all residing in-state and some are working offshore. LOGA-TV is going really well. We created a weekly podcast called “Drilling Report.” People look forward to it every Monday. It gets about 300 to 500 viewers a week who spend almost three minutes per view. It’s very popular, especially when we cover contentious topics like environmental issues or legacy lawsuits. It’s not just talking heads, but charts and audio clips that really help us tell a story. On the mobile front, we have 2,200 users of our apps per month—about 100,000 sessions and our news app is all over the globe. Also, our online buyers guide, while not brand new, remains one of our most popular member resources.
Speaking of LOGA-TV, what’s the key to a successful association video offering?
Obviously the content has to be relevant, but you also have to produce it on a consistent basis—we recommend doing it weekly. LOGA-TV has become Appointment TV for people in our industry. When people see us at conventions or out in the field, they say, “Oh my god, you’re the Drilling Report people!”
You’re a big proponent of social media. Any recommendations for other associations?
Social media is for connecting with non-members, potential members—not just your current members. We want to reach out to others in the industry and social media is one of the best ways to do that. You need to have people passionate and fired up about your industry. For social media to work, you need to be consistent. You need to have good content and you need to have patience. Otherwise it’s not going to happen.
Which social media is best for associations to get started with?
Facebook is the easiest to start. Everyone has a Facebook page. Just start posting every day. We have about 7,000 fans across our various Facebook pages devoted to the moratorium on drilling, to the Haynesville Shale [natural gas field] and to the association itself. Facebook is a good tool for sharing videos, announcing new issues of the magazine and getting feedback. Twitter is great for getting the news out, and we have about 13,000 followers, all cultivated organically. Our tweets are integrated directly into the LOGA home page which gets about 16,000 page views a month. LinkedIn is probably the hardest of the Big Three, but it seems to have good traction with the older members.
What’s the best way to get useful feedback from members?
Ask them. Go out and talk to them at conferences and your other events. We also do speaking tours and of course a lot of lobbying.
So you still do some things via traditional media.
Of course. We’ve made a big investment in revamping our magazine, Oil & Gas Journal, which has grown from 50 to 130 pages since partnering with Naylor. We looked at what our competitors were doing well. We looked at where we were–and where we weren’t–and started taking steps to get the magazine to the point that it truly represented the [type of] organization we felt we really are. The magazine is also better integrated with our other communication channels. After the magazine is published, we follow up with an email blast to announce that the digital edition is out. We use all the social media platforms to push it out and let people know.
Was the revamp risky considering how many longstanding members you have?
It’s human nature to be averse to change, and there are always risks when you make changes. When you’re talking about a magazine, once you make changes, you can’t go back. That was probably the biggest risk, but a risk worth taking.
Aside from the heftier page count, how else do you measure the success of a revamped magazine?
Well for one, there’s a lot more revenue, and we tripled the size of the magazine without changing the ad-to-edit ratio. We’re also seeing a lot more people who want to submit articles and membership has been up every year since we changed the magazine over.
Any advice for associations about technology and social media in 2014?
Tech and social is not going away. You better learn to adapt. If you’re not passionate or fired up about it, then make sure you find someone on your staff who is.