Budgets. We all have them, but we all don’t allocate them in the same way. Do you ever wonder how your association publishing colleagues plan to divvy up their resources in the coming year? Signature reached out to dozens of associations of all staff and budget sizes to get some insight on where their publishing and communications teams are focusing funds in 2017.
Vice President of Business Development
NAIOP — Commercial Real Estate Development Association
Membership: 18,000 Publishing Staff: 5
Integration and diversification.
Too many associations are losing out on business because their advertising people and their event people don’t work together. At NAIOP, we actively cross-sell sponsorships and advertising, both print and digital.
My goal for 2017 is to close more deals that include all three: event sponsorships, print advertising, and digital advertising.
That’s not just to earn more revenue for my association. It’s also to improve the success of our supporting companies. The more ways you connect with a potential customer, the more likely your success.
I’m also going to cast a wider net for sponsors and advertisers in 2017.
At this point in the economic cycle, companies will start to look for new markets to grow into. The established ones are too crowded.
For example: Technology solutions for commercial real estate is a big growth area. Many tech companies are finding the residential real estate market too crowded, so they are starting to turn their attention to our members. We are actively recruiting in this sector as a result.
Associate Managing Editor, Leader’s Edge
Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers
Membership: 200 commercial Publishing insurance and employee Staff: 4 benefits intermediaries
Our flagship publication, Leader’s Edge, has long been known as a dynamic and visually appealing print magazine. In 2017, we are hoping to further broaden our appeal by bolstering our work on the digital side. We plan to deepen our digital engagement with current subscribers and expand our reach to non-subscribers using a number of tools. Part of this will include enhancing our current digital platform with complementary content around our print editorial to expand story interest and drive more readers online.
We will also be implementing more social media and newsletter outreach. In doing so, we hope to engage an even larger number of insurance industry experts and promote our thought leadership in the field. We will also be exploring new and alternative digital content types on our website, including interactive and multimedia pieces. Our ultimate goal will be to bring the same dynamic experience to our digital users that has long defined our print magazine. And in doing so, we will be engaging with the new generation of insurance professionals, who will help us re-imagine and re-define the field.
Senior Graphic Designer
American Animal Hospital Association
Membership: 49,331 Pubishing Staff: 14
Our association has a two-fold mission of communicating to our veterinary practice members as well as impacting the decisions of pet owners.
We need to be interacting with our members in a format and style that speaks directly to them. It’s all about a mix of media and valuable content to get our message heard. As our membership evolves to include more and more Millennials, we hope to do more with digital media to connect with them and drive engagement. We plan to use more videos, digital infographics, and social media assets that will help us connect with our members. If we do our marketing right, our members will look forward to our communications because they know we are delivering relevant and meaningful messages. And the opportunity to entertain and make them smile is great at the right moment.
In our efforts to drive awareness and relevance among pet owners, we encourage our accredited members to co-brand with us. Our association is focused on developing a variety of publicity tools for our members to use and educating them on how to promote their accreditation to their clients and community.
Chief Communications Officer
Casualty Actuarial Society
Members: 7,000 Publishing Staff: 5
According to a recent study conducted by our New Members Committee, one-third of the 7,000-plus CAS members are considered a “new member,” which means they earned their CAS credential within the past five years. They also found that members who are ages 31-35 represent the largest age bracket within CAS. This is remarkable for an organization that just celebrated its centennial two years ago — as CAS gets older, our members are getting younger.
So the answer to what we hope to accomplish through mobile platforms in 2017 is … everything! Everything and every way we communicate has to be mobile-first because we know that’s how our members will be accessing our information — whether it’s our weekly e-newsletter, the website of our new subsidiary organization, or the digital version of our bi-monthly magazine. We’ll also enhance our Annual Meeting mobile experience with new features for our meeting app and the launch of a new SnapChat filter that is branded for our meeting. We have to be where our younger members are.
American Physiological Society
Membership: 10,500 Publishing Staff: 3
Increasing membership, member retention, and the visibility of APS are major goals for our organization across the board. In addition, my department — marketing and communications — is striving for greater and more meaningful outreach to current and potential members. Because many of these scientific researchers — whether APS members or not — are active on social media, the I Spy Physiology blog is the main tool that I use to work toward these goals.
Since launching the I Spy Physiology blog in early 2015, we’ve made some major in-roads with getting our members to submit interesting, timely blog posts related to their areas of expertise. It has become a fun, ground-floor way to engage younger current and potential members, and it’s something cool and outside the box for our more seasoned members.
Member-authored posts tend to get a lot of engagement on our social feeds. And because of the lay-friendly presentation of research, the blog has also increased APS’s visibility outside of the research community, especially among “sciencephiles” — think people who read Popular Science in their free time — and science teachers. APS is a publisher of 14 scientific journals, so the blog also provides a way to highlight research published in our journals in a fresher way than issuing a press release.
In 2017, I’m focusing on new, dynamic ways to present our content, specifically with audio and visual techniques such as podcasts, short videos, animation, and infographics. I also want to continue to present a good mix of topics that showcase the breadth of physiology research.
Vice President, Communications & Marketing
The Catholic Health Association of the United States
Membership: 600 hospitals Publishing and 1,400 long-term Staff: 18 care facilities
The Catholic Health Association of the United States publishes our newspaper, Catholic Health World, 22 times a year (twice a month except in January and June) for leadership audiences in Catholic hospitals, health systems, long-term care facilities, and other care facilities across the country. The paper was launched in pre-Internet 1985 as a means of sharing timely information across the nation’s Catholic health care organizations. Today, the paper is distributed in hard copy as well as electronically via CHA’s website.
The health care landscape in the U.S. is rapidly changing, and Catholic health care organizations — like all organizations in the health care sector — are experiencing significant consolidation and new strategic relationships. Catholic Health World reports on these changes. As a bimonthly publication, the newspaper doesn’t break news. Rather, it is a platform to call attention to trends and best practices in advancing the health of communities and caring for poor and vulnerable populations.
Looking ahead to 2017, the editorial team is considering two challenges — one internal to our membership, and one beyond. First, how can Catholic Health World catalyze robust dialogue with readers in our member organizations? We are looking at ways to increase interaction with and among readers, employing online and social media options for generating conversations and future content.
Catholic Health World routinely covers outstanding health and social service programs offered by CHA member organizations in their communities. Our second challenge in 2017 is to find new channels to extend this content beyond our existing circulation to a larger, general-public audience, and thereby tell the strong story of Catholic health care’s contribution to the health of this nation.
Manager of Marketing and Publications
International Legal Technology Association
Members: 1,440 entities Publishing with over 20,000 Staff: 4 individual participants
Our quantitative and qualitative feedback tells us that our members primarily access the association’s digital publications from their PCs. That knowledge has driven us to focus our 2017 goals on the following:
- Increase the use of rich media. One of the great things about a digital format is the ability to incorporate media that readers can interact with, yet I can count on one hand the number of authors and advertisers who take advantage of this.
- Improve searchability. Our ideal digital publication solution would allow members to perform a search on our organization’s website and receive content from the publications in search results. We haven’t found a solution that delivers this type of indexing, so we’ll focus on search abilities within our library of digital publications (and keep searching for a more efficient solution).
- Identify missing, inconsistent features. We’ve done research on switching to numerous digital publishing tools but chose to stick with our current provider. We’re on their beta version that uses HTML5, and we’ve noticed some missing features and inconsistencies from publication to publication. They’re excited to receive feedback and improve their product, and I’m sure we’ll work together to accomplish great things in 2017.
These are our primary goals for next year, but we’ll remain nimble to ensure we can make any changes necessary to provide the resources our members need. After all, it’s all about them, right?
Editorial Director, Associations Now
Membership: 23,000 Publishing Staff: 7
Whether it’s one of our major conferences like Annual Meeting & Exposition or a smaller, audience-specific event, ASAE wants to give our audiences a flavor of these meetings — even if they did not attend.
Take Annual, for example. As our largest meeting, we deliver event-related communications through a number of channels. One is our conference newspaper, Daily Now, which is published three times during the conference. Delivered onsite to attendees, this print publication provides coverage of all that’s going on at the meeting, from keynotes to concurrent sessions to the expo hall. We also include attendee profiles, a photo page, and questions-of-the-day to help bring the meeting to life and showcase the learning that’s happening. Some of the content that appears in Daily Now is also posted on AssociationsNow.com and delivered through the Associations Now Daily News, which gives those who are not onsite the opportunity to engage.
We couple this more traditional meeting coverage with posts in our social spaces like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In 2016, we introduced a new app that not only lets attendees create their own agendas but also allows them to interact and post comments in an activity feed, have conversations within curated topic channels, and earn points and badges for using the app. These new elements helped us to get even more attendee-contributed content into our different channels.
As we move into 2017, I expect to see event publishing — whether traditional or not — make more use of attendee-generated content and gamification. I also think associations will continue to look closely at how they can use their various event-publishing tools to help drive non-dues revenue.
Director, Marketing, Media and Communications
The American Legion
Membership: 13,000 posts, Publishing 2.1 million members Staff: 48
The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans service organization with 2.1 million members and a full portfolio of media channels — print, web, email, social, mobile apps, etc. This kind of integration has been a revolution for The American Legion, a way to synthesize our branding, messaging, and marketing functions.
We have two key social media goals in 2017: (1) stimulating social media to activate our audiences surrounding our centennial coming up in 2018 and 2019, and (2) encouraging our local posts or chapters to create and manage social media for themselves.
On the centennial interest, we are launching an international veterans and military memorials and monuments database. Our hope is that we can mobilize members of our 13,000-plus posts worldwide to photograph, document condition, and share the purpose of the monuments in a community. We see this as a valuable contribution to local communities in close keeping with our organizational values and responsibilities. We hope our members will use this opportunity to engage schools, civic organizations, local government, and media, all of which will drive brand awareness.
Second, we really will be working with our local posts and helping them share their identities through social media channels. Not every American Legion post has the resources or technological members to produce top-line websites, but most can put up robust Facebook pages and establish effective digital footprints in their communities.
Most of all, then, it’s a matter of our national organization driving local social media activity and multiplying our message across the landscape. We also will continue to build and grow our social advertising program to drive memberships and charitable giving opportunities. These interests are not social media only — social media is one plank in a bigger multimedia platform.
Senior Vice President
PMMI — The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies
Membership: 700 Publishing Staff: 55
Since our purchase of the Summit Media Group in 2014 and subsequent relaunch of its offerings as PMMI Media Group in 2015, one of our largest and most ambitious goals is the creation of a content hub for the processing and packaging industry. 2017 will be the year when we accomplish a good portion of the heavy lifting of this project. Not only will this serve as a digital home for the industry, but it will reaffirm our contention that PMMI — The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies — is the industry thought leader.
Our vision is to selectively curate content from Packaging World, Healthcare Packaging, Automation World, PP+OEM and ProFoodWorld.com and combine it with assets from PMMI Business Drivers. These include solutions from our OpX Leadership Network, industry-leading research from PMMI Business Intelligence, and innovations and technologies discovered among the exhibitors at the PACK EXPO portfolio of tradeshows.
In fact, our hope is that this will expand our trade shows into a 365-day-a-year experience, making this hub one of the first stops of the day for processing and packaging professionals.
Another desire is to continue to better understand — and begin to break down — the silos that inevitably exist in the many audiences we serve. With this understanding, we will use our digital footprint to generate the right technology environment to facilitate the use of data to drive business decisions.
Senior Vice President, Business and Publishing
American Dental Association
Membership: 160,000 Publishing Staff: 30
The ADA publishing group has pushed assertively into the area of online newsletters over the last five years. Beginning with a series of quarterly updates in various dental specialties under the JADA banner (The Journal of the American Dental Association), next year we will have grown to eight quarterly newsletters in various dental disciplines. Since our members are very interested in practical, business-related topics, we launched Dental Practice Success in 2013.
In 2017, we are taking a step back and looking at the overall branding of our offerings. We may have charged ahead a little too fast for our members and don’t want to run the risk of confusing them with too many publications or competing brands. We are looking at introducing a sub-brand to JADA called JADA+, which will incorporate the more digestible and reader-friendly content that is curated by the publishing staff. We are also looking at other content products throughout the ADA, such as Professional Product Review and the Center for Professional Success, to see if we can draw more attention to their information as part of JADA+.
We continue to experiment with the interplay of digital and print media by featuring tastes of our content in print form in our flagship publications, JADA and ADA News, as a way to build visibility and awareness. Our readers of all ages still strongly prefer print, and we hope to lead them to the online water by letting them drink in some print first.
Alyssa E. Lambert
Managing Editor of Trial Magazine and Associate Director of Publications
American Association for Justice
Membership: Not available Publishing Staff: 8
Expanding our newsletters’ visibility is very important to us. One of our main newsletters, a bi-weekly online-only publication called Trial News, goes out to every association member — but we’re not seeing the click-through rates and open rates we would like to. It’s been an issue for several years, but one we are actively trying to remedy.
In 2016, we revamped the look of Trial News. We started using a new email vendor that publishes a more visually appealing newsletter — one that is more reader friendly on phones and tablets. The new vendor also gives us more control over enhancing our deliverability, so that we can increase those open rates.
We’ve increased our social media presence across all our publications, and we post the lead news story or lead verdict/settlement from our other newsletters on several social media platforms, as well as on our association’s networking list servers. We have also talked about “reintroducing” Trial News to our association as a way to get more members to read it. The content is as strong as it has ever been — it has won Association Media & Publishing Gold EXCEL Awards for newswriting and also several Apex Awards for individual news stories almost every year since 2012 — and we want our members to count on it as a go-to resource.
Million Dollar Round Table
Members: 49,508 Publishing Staff: 5
In 2017, the Million Dollar Round Table will continue to expand its approach to and the audience for its monthly podcast series. Utilizing the expertise of its members — the world’s leading financial services professionals — the MDRT podcast addresses a variety of subjects ranging from overcoming objections, when to say goodbye to clients, and preparing for legislative change. Moving forward, the series will explore new ways to deliver its relevant, applicable insights, whether in quick-hit episodes, themed series, or otherwise. We are always thinking about how best to communicate our members’ successes and challenges to our readers around the world, and the podcast allows a direct, conversational platform for that expression of experiences and ideas.
We are excited to continue to develop how members interact within our podcasts and how information is organized. While we have covered topics like staffing, motivation, and compliance, there is always more to be done to identify specific areas of interest and utilize our podcast to explore members’ recommendations and curiosity.
Thanks to the contributions of our members and an assortment of committees from which we gather content, the MDRT podcast is able to thrive on the knowledge of the professionals who are at the top of their field. In 2017, we will advance our understanding of what they know and want to know, and look forward to recording them sharing that information for the benefit of our membership.
Editor in Chief, Publications Manager
ARRL: The National Association for Amateur Radio
Total members: 165,000 Publishing staff: 100
Based on the success of our first podcast, we hope to roll out two more podcasts in 2017. We also hope to expand into the growing area of video podcasting. We’ve been rather surprised at the positive response we’ve received. Each episode averages 10,000 unique listener downloads.
ARRL (The American Radio Relay League, Inc.), the national association for amateur radio, began its second century in 2014. As radio technology and practice matured during its first century, ARRL, through its members, advanced the art and science of radio, kept amateur radio accessible to all, preserved and expanded the amateur radio spectrum, and played an important role in the ongoing communications revolution. As ARRL enters its second century, we will continue to be the representative voice of amateur radio across multiple platforms.
Chief Communications Officer
Association for Middle Level Education
Membership: 48,000 Publishing Staff: 3
As we’re in the process of reviving our podcast — Today’s Middle Level Educator — our focus is firmly on creating the right content in the right way for our members. We had a pretty successful podcast, probably six to eight years ago. We had good listenership, and we were on about 15 or 20 distribution platforms, which was a lot for back then. But we began to see a decrease in listeners, so we decided to refocus our efforts.
Now, with the resurgence of podcast popularity, we see it as a great to tool to add value to our existing content and give us a new channel to pursue new content. Before, there were only so many places we could distribute a podcast. Now, there are more ways and apps than you can count to get a podcast. There is far more infrastructure in place, and I think people are responding to that.
In publishing, we’re always trying to meet multiple needs. We have to be everywhere, because that’s where people want to consume content — everywhere. Podcasts are well-suited for people who are on the go a lot — and who isn’t these days? Whether it’s on an airplane, in a car, or in their kitchen, it’s a format that travels well and that you can enjoy during a large variety of activities. It’s another way for people to interact with information.
The significant challenge will be ensuring the content is the right fit for the format, that the presentation and approach is right. You can’t just take information and push it out on all channels.
I don’t feel like there is any competition based on our content. What we’re going to be offering, the specific segment we’re looking at, won’t be duplicated by other podcasts. Of course, the challenge is always to rise above all the other noise, all the other things vying for their attention. That’s why we’re starting with data and introspection to determine how best to meet our members’ needs.
Members: 125,000 Publishing Staff: 10
ISACA’s ultimate goal for its podcasts is to provide our constituents with more value and opportunities for engagement. While our members enjoy reading our articles, books, and white papers, we want to keep up with the new ways people want to consume information. By experimenting with different media, we hope to keep our members engaged with ISACA and become the go-to association for individuals in the industries we serve.
Specifically, ISACA hopes to use podcasts to provide thought leadership and amplify the content in our published materials. Being in the IT security, audit, and governance space, keeping our publications up-to-date with new advancements and regulations is necessary. Podcasts offer an easy and engaging way to revamp our material and expand our reach. By using previously published material as the jumping-off point for conversations with subject matter experts, ISACA has the ability to provide fresh, new content to our constituents, while also extending the lifespan of the original articles.
In 2017, we will continue to leverage podcasts related to our bimonthly journal. In these podcasts, ISACA Journal authors have the opportunity to speak about their recent contribution. These journal podcasts, which are much more informal than their print counterparts, allow our readers to see a more personal side of some of their favorite authors. We hope to expand our podcast reach in 2017. While the ISACA Journal is a member-only publication, our podcasts are available to the public, enabling us to reach a larger audience.
Carol Meerschaert, MBA, RD
Director of Marketing and Communication
Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Membership: 7,500 Publishing Staff: 4
The HBA has played in the podcast space for years. Our media partners have interviewed our CEO for podcasts so that we can reach the public. We interview workshop leaders who present at our annual conference to help promote that event. Our website hosts a series of podcasts that interview the winners of our ACE award and a second series relating to a leadership project we did with another association. These two areas focused on our corporate partners, and we felt that audience needed several ways to consume our information, so we added podcasts to the mix of our magazine, website, electronic newsletters, phone calls, and in-person events.
In 2016, we played with Blab, as did many associations, and were sad when they closed up shop. We’re excited to try out the next incarnation as Bebo. From this and our webinars, we learned that our audience is interested in interview-type programs, especially when they can be replayed at their leisure. We posted the Blab recordings as both a movie (mp4) and podcast format (mp3) and found the mp3 version got more downloads.
For 2017, we are focused on digital as a key part of our overall growth. The most important thing is to grow awareness of the HBA and increase our leadership in the area of gender parity via gender partnership in the healthcare industry. HBA podcasting will reinforce the topics we share via our in-person events, webinars, and magazine. An audio format allows us to go more in depth and show the personality of the speakers — so much more than a magazine article allows.
Editor and Publisher, Lighting Design + Application
The Illuminating Engineering Society
Members: 7,500 Publishing Staff: 5
The Illuminating Engineering Society does not want to rest on its laurels and be known only for its magazine. True, Lighting Design + Application is the monthly membership reminder and one of the most important benefits of membership, but in this age of 24-7 content, we want the magazine to be just part of what we do. We’re striving for a hub-and-spoke approach, with LD+A at the center (the “mothership” to mix metaphors), and various spokes emanating from that hub in the form of e-newsletters, video newsletters, special reports, and a digital edition of the magazine.
Another key objective is to continue to use the power of the LD+A brand to support the society’s other programs, such as a lighting design competition, a new-product competition, and, of course, our annual conference. Case in point: For the first time in 2016, we featured a Q+A with our keynote speaker in our conference preview issue in an attempt to gin up interest for the event. This is a more effective, interesting, and exciting approach than simply republishing the seminar program or schedule of events.
From a business-publishing perspective, the philosophy is to be just a step ahead of what our advertising customers may need. For example, we’re now offering a video newsletter in which they can embed their video, which is wrapped around content from the magazine or content tailored to their message. At the moment, there are but a few advertisers who have sophisticated enough video to take advantage of the offering, but we’ll be ready when they are. Print is still our bread-and-butter — it’s what most clients still want — but multi-platform programs will be even more critical in 2017.
Program Specialist, Foundation
Membership: 36,000 Publishing Staff: 3
As the charitable entity of NACE International, the NACE Foundation dove into work on our new website with a very specific objective in mind. Our mission differs from that of the main association, focusing primarily on programs that promote the next generation of corrosion engineers and professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. We work to make an impact on the future membership of our industry by soliciting members of the association to become a part of this vision.
Our main goal was to develop an informative and compelling website that distinctly represented our organization, while effectively connecting to the members of the association on both a personal and corporate level. We accomplished this by delivering concise and consistent messaging across all webpages, integrating simple navigation and menus, and optimizing the website for mobile and tablet devices.
Moving forward into 2017, the NACE Foundation hopes to further engage the members of the association and others to support the cause and take action, either by making a gift, sponsoring or participating at an event, or volunteering their time. We incorporated a more streamlined donation process, as well as proper donor recognition to encourage continued giving to our cause and mission. By sharing and telling compelling stories through our website and social media about the lives we have affected, we hope to create even more opportunities for the association to become involved in building the future of the industry.
Managing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
National Association of REALTORS®
Members: 1.3 million Publishing Staff: 10
This next year is going to be an important one for member communications because there are two significant changes coming in 2017 that will necessitate deep thinking about our strategy.
After years of news releases going directly from the organization to outside news sources, we are redirecting the flow to ensure a members-first orientation. That means instead of hearing NAR news from real estate publications outside the association, we are hoping to use our internal outlets (particularly REALTOR® Magazine) to create engaging and timely alerts specifically targeted at members, and to make this the priority for communications about association news as well as other industry happenings.
This means the entire organization has to train all staff to think in a different way about how to disseminate department news and when. Also in 2017, we are planning to merge our magazine and association websites, which have been evolving separately since the association first ventured online. This offers both a challenge and an opportunity to differentiate and consolidate news platforms to ensure the right types of content are being displayed in appropriate venues (blogs, info pages, articles, news briefs, email updates, social media, podcasts, etc.). We hope to improve our efforts at matching subject matter, intent, audience, and tone with the platform that content is being presented upon and the way in which members want to consume any given piece of news or advice.
Senior Director of Publishing
Association of American Medical Colleges
Membership: More than 600 institutions and 350,000 members Publishing Staff: 50
In the coming year, AAMC seeks to build out a successful digital strategy that incorporates customer relationship management and digital business principles to ensure content is high quality and engaging to the association’s diverse audiences.
In September 2016, we started down this pathway with completely rethinking our print-only news publication, the AAMC Reporter, and replacing it with AAMCNews. This new dynamic, mobile-friendly online destination serves as the digital nexus for the latest news, current trends, and ongoing conversations about emerging topics in academic medicine.
Design & Brand Marketing Manager
Creative Director, Journal of Corporate Renewal
Turnaround Management Association
Membership: 9,000 Publishing Staff: 4
Since TMA redesigned its website to become more visual and responsive, the focus now needs to shift toward ensuring the website suits the needs of TMA members, visitors, and chapters. TMA needs to determine how members digest digital information, read our industry-leading Journal of Corporate Renewal, connect with other members, and promote relevant industry news.
We need to constantly ask, “What’s next?” and make sure all 55 chapter executives from around the world act as an extension of our marketing and communications team as brand ambassadors. TMA wants to ensure our voice and brand are cohesive throughout all chapters and events; therefore, the website should continually evolve to remain consistent with our brand identity.
Adding visuals breaks up the website, allowing visitors to easily digest small pieces of information at a time. Another solution is to integrate discussion forums into our site where members can connect with other members.
We want to increase the ease of our customers’ experience by simplifying forms and the checkout process for event registration and purchasing educational materials such as our newly streamlined certification program.
Our end goal is to help members find new business by providing thousands of opportunities to connect, whether it be online or at high-caliber events. The website should highlight TMA members’ leadership and business connections at the chapter, regional, and global level.