Much of this year’s AM&P 360 buzz is coming from three extraordinary keynotes. Check out a preview of what’s to come at the Annual Meeting.
‘Bring Me Your Zingers’
One thing you can count on: Ken Crerar is going to tell it like it is. As president and CEO of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, his association’s multi-award-winning Leader’s Edge magazine is a recognized groundbreaker in association publishing, and his views on associations and the future of publishing will leave you thinking in new directions.
On how to succeed in association publishing:
Crerar: We’ve never been in the association publishing business. We’re in the business of leading our members by getting information out to them. If an association thinks they are just publishers, they better rethink it. You can’t just be a mouthpiece for your industry.
I don’t really care how the members prefer to get their information. Really, we don’t think of them as members; we think of them as clients. We’re focused on trying to lead them and take them in new directions. How do we get people to pick up our magazine and read it? It’s eyes on the content that counts.
Really, it’s just practical common sense. You’ll see an association in advocacy, running an ad campaign to support an initiative, and most of the time, it doesn’t do anything or count for anything. Your magazine, however, can make them think. It’s not about making members feel good. No one is successful if their communications aren’t driving or leading something.
On competition from other media sources:
Crerar: By the time a member says, “We need something,” it’s too late. Our job is to know what they don’t even know they need yet.
Associations have competition from publishers like The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and many other content providers, but they aren’t the true journalists to our industries anymore. Journalists used to know an industry and track it. Now, these competitive publications are focused on creating CEO events, networking, and membership-like opportunities to bring people together — things that used to be the role of an association.
But associations understand their industries and their members. We shouldn’t just be information aggregators. That’s an old model. We should take what’s going on and put color around it for our members, show what it means to their industry, and where it will lead them. That’s something these competitive publishers can’t do and don’t do. Our members trust us.
On the future of the membership model:
Crerar: These aren’t the days of benevolent membership, clients who automatically re-up every year. The days of members supporting the association because they love it and love their industry are over. If you screw it up, you’re going to lose them.
On a sustainable future for associations:
Crerar: As people in the publishing business, we get so stuck. In that room full of people at the AM&P Annual Meeting, I hope people take a break, walk away from the box they’re in. Take what you know and then throw away the box and use your common sense to think about what it looks like. I want to help them look at their association in a very different way than they do now. I want them to bring their questions, their real zingers.
Association publishers worry about the confines of a magazine and paper, and they worry about being digital. Don’t worry about being digital. Print and digital are just about being multi-lingual. They are just different ways to communicate.
Be more worried about the benevolent membership concept. People don’t belong to something to love it and have an attachment to it. It’s about their businesses, their careers. We have to be ahead of the member. We can compete by leading members — not just reporting on their industry, because anyone can do that. We have to know their business better than anyone else and lead them. They will stay members if we can show them how we impact their businesses and their careers.
For More Information
Check out the entire AM&P 360 2019 Annual Meeting program and register at www.siia.net/ampannual.