Association Spotlight

American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA)

By Association Adviser staff • November 5, 2012

This month’s spotlight on communication excellence shines on the 3,500-member American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA), the nation’s only membership organization exclusively serving human resources leaders in the health care industry.
Doctors, nurses and emergency personnel are the public faces of a well-run and busy hospital, but there is usually a talented human resource director behind the scenes ensuring that everyone from surgeons to cafeteria workers are competent, fairly compensated, improving their skills and getting along in oft-stressful circumstances.
  • To serve a diverse membership base means you have to rely on a broad portfolio of communication tools to reach all of your members effectively.
  • Consider your demographics. Generally speaking, older demographics tend to appreciate print while younger demographics gravitate towards electronic methods.
  • Conference apps are not only convenient for members. Exhibitors can reach their key audiences via banner ads, Facebook and Twitter messages, and instant surveys.
  • Every communication piece you push out to your members to should be purposeful, relevant, and on the cutting edge of hot or sensitive issues.
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Founded in 1964, ASHHRA represents more than 3,500 human resources executives nationwide. As a personal membership group of the American Hospital Association (AHA), the society’s membership benefits include continuing educational resources, industry benchmarking research, HR tools, networking and best practices.
“We serve everyone from large urban health care systems to small rural hospitals,” noted ASHHRA Executive Director Stephanie Drake. Almost half of ASHHRA members have more than 20 years of HR experience, and 60 percent are female.
Communication integration
ASHHRA serves a diverse membership based on facility size, specializations and interests, relying on a broad portfolio of communication tools to reach members: a quarterly magazine, monthly newsletters and bulletins, social media and apps, white papers, a membership directory, and an annual conference with a Show Daily eNewsletter.

Every July, ASHHRA editors, writers, volunteer contributors and other content creators collaborate to assemble a synchronized editorial calendar, Drake said. The challenge is to customize information for the organization’s many subgroups while avoiding duplication, overloading members and keeping its financial goals in sight.”ASHHRA is one of nine revenue-generating divisions of the renowned AHA,” Drake explained, who spent 11 years in health care human resources and technology areas before coming to AHA and ASHHRA in 2008. “Every property has to operate on a margin that goes back to the AHA.”

Advertising, sold in partnership with Naylor, educational resources and sales of its comprehensive industry research are the society’s key non-dues revenue sources.

Member communication vehicles
The official ASHHRA member magazine, HR Pulse, published quarterly in both print and digital formats, covers cutting-edge issues in health care human resources, as well as best practices, case studies and organizational messages.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of members turn to the ASHHRA membership directory at least 10 times per year for networking resources and purchasing guidance. “It’s one of our members’ favorite resources and a large source of revenue for us,” Drake said. “Our audience demographic is a little older, and they like the convenience and heft of the print directory.”About 60 percent of users go to an advertised company’s website after seeing its advertisement in the directory, and more than half pass on the information they find to a colleague. The member search page on the ASHHRA website accounts for almost 20 percent of the site’s traffic.

The ASHHRA e-News Brief is a monthly electronic news source that provides HR leaders with a variety of articles focused on issues ASHHRA members are most concerned about, such as workforce strategies, recruitment and retention, compensation and benefits, and health care workforce initiatives. There is a concentration on the latest health care HR trends, legislation and resources to keep ASHHRA members up-to-date on health care HR issues. Additional newsletters include the monthly Benefits and Wellness Bulletin, ASHHRA Insider and the ASHHRA & IFD Hot Topics in Diversity eNews Brief.
The ASHHRA website attracts nearly 7,500 visitor sessions and more than 500,000 hits per month. The ASHHRA 48th Annual Conference & Exposition will be held September 22-25 in Denver, where more than 800 attendees and 200 exhibitors will be expected. The conference typically earns a 98 percent attendee satisfaction rating and an 85 percent approval rating from exhibitors.
ASHHRA Conference Mobile App
Nearly 60 percent of attendees downloaded the conference app last year and post-show surveys indicated that 85 percent of attendees believed it was a valuable resource.
With the app, attendees can customize their schedules, access profiles of speakers and instantly find where and when they’re presenting. They also can use the app to find fellow attendees and send them messages. Built-in maps allow users to scope the exhibit hall, hotel and local restaurants. Meanwhile, exhibitors can place banner ads on each screen, send Facebook and Twitter messages to attendees and conduct instant surveys.
Managing information overload
The society’s main communication challenge is providing comprehensive, relevant information without overwhelming members. “We want to make sure everything is purposeful and relevant and that we don’t miss anything important to the industry or our members’ careers,” Drake said. “We always want to be on the cutting edge of any hot or sensitive issues that affect them; for instance, there has been a large increase in M&A [merger and acquisition] activity lately. At the same time, we can’t overload them. We have strict recency/frequency rules in place so that we’re never touching members more than once on any given day or more than three times per week.”
So what’s keeping Drake up at night these days? “Making sure members are always seeing value and making sure we’re not missing anything obvious. Naylor is always very proactive when it comes to new ideas, new products and new ways for sponsors to reach ASHHRA members and help us reach our non-dues revenue goals.”
When associations and their vendors form a partnership built on trust, innovation and mutual understanding, the long-term prognosis is for a very healthy outcome.
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