Association Communications Benchmarking Series

All Eyes on Industry: The Most Important Member Topics of the Pandemic

By Association Adviser staff • January 14, 2021

Every year, we like to take the pulse of association communications landscape to know which content topics are most important to association members and their staffs.

For the past 12 months, “take the pulse” has been an appropriate metaphor as associations changed plans and workflows to meet the ever-changing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although “Networking with industry peers” remained at the top of the list this year, as associations remained focused on finding ways to help members connect digitally, “Safety and health” broke into our Top 10 list of association topics for the first time ever. 2020 found associations figuring out new ways to continue their programming despite a sudden shift to remote work for staff and members, the cessation of in-person meetings, and an increased reliance on technology to stay in touch.

Three other topics rose in importance in our most recent survey:

  1. Industry news/trends

Knowing how others are navigating the pandemic rose in importance because there’s no blueprint for how to operate in such a situation.

  1. Coverage of key industry events

Members are interested in how associations are switching to virtual environments for conferences and meetings, and what that experience is like from both attendee and exhibitor perspectives. This topic is likely to continue to garner increased interest as associations begin to host in-person events and hybrid events in the coming months.

  1. Information about products and services

As local, state and national health departments issue updated guidelines for staying healthy while conducting business, members from all industries are looking for products and services that will help them comply.

Two perennially popular topics declined in importance in 2020:

  1. Member news

The drop from No. 8 to  No. 12 may have been caused in part by other topics pushing “member news” out of the way, or may have been caused by a decline in news to talk about thanks to the pausing of many association events and programs last spring.

  1. Programs for young professionals

This decline from the seventh spot to the 10th may also be a casualty of the pandemic. Nine out of 10 association professionals surveyed say the best way to learn about member needs, including those of young professionals, is face-to-face at events. With few events happening last year, and with most associations going back to their core functions, young member programming may have temporarily taken a back seat to programming that serves all members.

If you’re looking for a way to customize your association communications better, this list of important member topics is one place to start. Where do the following topics rank on your association’s list of most important subjects among your membership?

The Most Important Content Topics to Association Members

The Most Important Topics to Association Members 2020

Download the full 2020 Association Communications Benchmarking Report. This valuable tool explores association communication challenges and what steps should be taken to serve members better through improved communication practices. The survey is open year-round at