Association Spotlight

Association Spotlight Roundup

By Association Adviser staff • November 5, 2012

By Association Adviser staff

As Association Adviser chalks up another anniversary, we thought it would be timely to reflect on the
insights gleaned from the association leaders we’ve profiled over the past
year. It has been a turbulent but exciting time, and the associations profiled
below have thrived not by hiring large staffs, but by being agile enough to
react quickly to members’ fast-changing needs and tastes.



  • Associations are increasingly asking themselves
    tough questions about their brands. Changing one’s logo is just the tip of the
  • Savvy associations are thinking outside the cozy
    confines of their membership lists to position their magazines for
    industry-wide distribution and consumption.
  • Even
    associations with small staffs can pack a powerful communications punch if
    their old and new media initiatives are carefully integrated.


Take the
Northeast Spa & Pool
for instance. As NESPA Executive Director Larry Caniglia tells
it, the organization reached a crossroads when it realized there was just way
too much information out there competing for members’ attention. “We asked
ourselves: How do you get members to follow us and stay with us? How do you
make it really important to them?” he said.

The solution? NESPA shifted its communication focus from
nice-to-know to need-to-know
so there would be more emphasis on industry news and contractor best practices and
a lot less on “who’s doing what at the association.”

“That’s also part of our brand,” related Caniglia. “Just because an
expert says something is true, we still check it out anyway and vet the
information if it doesn’t sound right to our in-house experts. Not everyone
else does that.”

Associations asking
themselves hard questions about their brands


The ASID Brand Story

Speaking of branding, associations representing industries ranging from
interior designers to underwater diving contractors shared some valuable
lessons about the brand reinvigoration process. Tasked with engineering a re-branding effort for their association, some leaders
might consider the mission suitably accomplished with a new logo and color
palette, perhaps augmented by a trendy visual upgrade to the organization’s
website design.

“That’s just the eye candy,” said Michael Berens, director of research and
knowledge resources for the American
Society of Interior Designers
(ASID), and a survivor of the group’s
extensive 12-month re-branding initiative. “The brand isn’t just the
organization’s graphic identity. It’s about what people say about you when
you’re not in the room,” he said. “And you have to ask yourself some
hard questions about what you want people to say you really are. What are the
messages you’re telling people that you need to live up to? Ultimately, you
create a visual identity to help reinforce all that.”

Result? The association now aims to separate ASID professionals from industry
rank and file by emphasizing their elite status and conveying that value to
potential customers, Berens explained.

The national association created an online portal for its chapters,
complete with predesigned materials to ensure a coordinated, comprehensive
rollout of pertinent information. A
rebrand recap, called “The ASID Brand Story,” can be found on the
association’s website.



Keeping it simple

UnderWater magazine digital edition


Like ASID, the Underwater
Diving Contractors International

(ADCI) knew it had a branding challenge on its hands but wasn’t sure about how
to go about fixing it. BeforepartneringwithNaylor, the organization
was exclusively focused on diving, noted Phil Newsum, ADCI’s Executive
Director. “We were very naïve about marketing and branding, and how it
affects readership, revenue and membership growth. Naylor really helped us
understand the need for a more professional and cohesive branding
communications strategy for both members and the advertiser community.”

Sohow does a relatively modest-sized organization keep its broad
communication portfolio, widely cited standards, multiple brands and a global
membership all bubbling along?


“I like to offer lots of options to our
people, but still keep it simple,” said Newsum. “No matter how
many initiatives you have, you’ve got to stick to simple branding, simple
messaging and a simple point of contact.”

the best of old and new media


Like ADCI, the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) has found a way to communicate frequently and effectively with
members across a wide array of topics and channels despite its modest staff
size. How does a seven-person organization like LOGA pack such a powerful
punch? By blending the best of old school (speaking tours and lobbying) and new
school (technology and social media) communication tactics, according to
Gifford Briggs, LOGA’s vice president and chief lobbyist.

LOGA Twitter pageIn addition to revamping its website, LOGA
has rapidly gained 7,500 fans across its three Facebook pages that are devoted
to the moratorium on drilling, to the Haynesville Shale and to the association
itself. LOGA also
has about 2,500 Twitter followers and its tweets are integrated directly onto
the LOGA home page, which attracts 15,000 to 20,000 visits per month. This
enables members to follow the oil and gas industry in real time.

“We compile energy articles from all
over our state, and that’s important because many of our members are not
necessarily residing in Louisiana and don’t get the local news about our industry,”
Briggs said. LOGA also has an impressive iPhone app that is primarily a news
reader. LOGA developed the app for free, and it is downloaded 8,000 times
annually. LOGA’s daily eNewsletter and bimonthly news alerts carry the most
important stories of the day, while the LOGA conference group, headed by CeCe
Richter, has transitioned entirely to electronic promotional announcements and
online registration for its events. “We’ve completely moved away from
paper. It not only saves us tons of money but seems to get us better
results,” said Briggs.

mobile and social media


BOMA Facebook Page

Members of the Building Owners
& Managers Association
(BOMA) are
not desk jockeys.
They’re on the go, working at multiple locations, according to
BOMA President and COO Henry Chamberlain. “Mobile has been a particularly
effective way for us to get information out to them, and we have apps to
facilitate that. We also have a Facebook page. Our LinkedIn platform has about
10,000 members using it for networking and problem solving. We post videos on
YouTube. Our PR and marketing efforts go through Twitter to reporters as well
as to younger people who are searching for expertise on particular topics. We’re in a very competitive industry, but our
members are very supportive of each other. They’re very gregarious and willing
to help each other problem-solve.”

Boosting member magazine audience by
galvanizing industries, not just members

While much has
been said about digital versions of member magazines, a more remarkable trend
that jumped out at us is the industry-wide versus member-centric distribution
model. Take the American Association of Managing General

(AAMGA) for example.


Unlike most member magazines, AAMGA’s
flagship publication
last May, Wholesale Insurance News
(WIN),does not
contain any information about the association itself – that’s what the member
newsletter is for, noted Executive Director Bernie Heinze. Instead, it’s
designed to be a trusted portal of immediately usable information for the
wholesale insurance industry. We’re getting great content from all corners of
the profession, and we’re utilizing the latest advances in page-digital
publishing, QR codes and the like,” he said. “It’s just great to see
how a small idea has really exploded and the digital edition makes it very convenient
for members to forward along to their colleagues, clients and customers.”

In addition
to AAMGA’s company members and their employees, WIN is sent digitally to
nearly 7,000 past and present conference attendees and has been picked up by
Insurance Broadcast Media. That gives WIN a total reach of about 250,000
sets of eyes.


Like the AAMGA, the Incentive
Marketing Association
(IMA) has
looked outside the confines of its membership list to gain a substantial
increase in its following and influence. IMA works to raise the corporate
community’s awareness of the power of incentive programs. IMA’s official
end-user publication, Return on Performance™ (ROP), provides the latest
best-practice strategies and research to engage, align and motivate employees,
business partners and customers to yield measurable corporate results.

ROP was introduced nearly three years ago
to further the understanding of “people-centric
leadership,” said IMA Executive Director Karen Renk. After running into early challenges to attract advertisers,
IMA enlisted Naylor 18 months ago and now has a non-dues revenue stream
commensurate with its highly regarded editorial content. Sounds like a typical
outsourcing success story—except there’s more.

Return on Performance magazineIn addition to serving 700 member companies such as Sony, TJ Maxx and Vera
Bradley, ROP is distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada to 10,000 C-suite
executives including CEOs, CFOs and COOs. When its digital distribution is included,
ROP’s readership exceeds 20,000. It’s not just a member benefit, but the
definitive voice of the $46 billion dollar industry it serves.

By association standards, ROP is an unusual
publication. The majority of readers are not necessarily members of the parent
organization, IMA, and the magazine’s branding and design is clearly separate
from the IMA’s.


READER NOTE: Association Adviser enews readers can receive a free
subscription to ROP magazine by registering




If necessity is the mother of invention, then timely and relevant communication
remains the mother of member retention. “Things change too fast in our
industry,” related NESPA’s Caniglia. “As the world shrinks, we’re all
going to be relying more on electronic communication to get the word out about
matters that are urgent to our members and constituents.” But with all that
speed you still need trust, cautioned Caniglia. That’s what the association is
there for.

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