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New DEI Statement and Implementation Plan Light Path Forward for Associations Council

As AM&P Network’s Associations Council continues to grow and evolve, we are rededicating overselves to the values, goals and initiatives that have helped us serve members like you over the years. Perhaps nowhere is that more important then ensuring all our members are represented, welcomed, and heard through our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

To reaffirm our commitment to progressive change, we are unveiling a new DEI statement and implementation plan.

“I am thrilled that we are taking steps like this to better serve and support our members,” says Diane Rusignola, Associations Council advisory board president and senior editorial director at Nareit. “The association publishing industry has evolved significantly over the past year. Some of our companies have added new and specialized team members, pivoted publications, launched new products, and made other changes to better fit our members’ lives. Changes like this are so important for all of our missions.”

Our new statement reiterates the Council’s commitment to anti-racism, eliminating other prejudices, and to elevating equity in all areas of our community.

“As we stand up against inequality, we will actively honor all voices from marginalized groups or communities. In service of our association members and industry service partners, we are responsible for ensuring that the Associations Council is regularly making progressive change toward diversity, equity and inclusion.”

— AM&P Network Associations Council Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

This new statement represents the culmination of the latest efforts of the DEI Initiative that started last year and is being led by Randy Townsend and Kaylen Tucker. The initiative is focused on dedicating ourselves to five pillars: collaborative opportunities, knowledge development, member experience, organizational policy, and representation.

“This is a long-term initiative with several stages — looking within the Associations Council organization and thinking about some of the elements: the programming, topics we cover, the reputation that we have — looking at every aspect,” says Tucker, associate executive director of communications and editor-in-chief of NAESP. “I think a next stage is being able to share recommendations and how other professional organizations can do the same.”

The Associations Council aims to advance our DEI goals through action on a consistent and ongoing basis. As we begin this initiative in 2021 and 2022, those actions will include an initial eight-point plan: this DEI statement; our new Equity Award, to be presented in its inaugural year on June 16 during the EXCEL Awards; and continued content development; as well as new work on collaboration with the ISP community; training for volunteer leaders; membership surveys; an equity audit; and creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

“This past year has brought a tremendous amount of attention to social injustices that have been occurring for decades, centuries even, for people of color,” says Townsend, director of publications operations for the American Geophysical Union. “This has generated organizational letters — sounds of support. We have had a lot of great talk that sounds like what we need to hear.

“What I would like to do with our initiative is to take a look at those letters — ‘This is what you said, stand by and believe. What’s the follow through?’” he says. “Because the commitment to the execution is going to be key. How’s it going to stand up? Despite what occurs there, are you going to stand by the commitment because it was who you say you are or just the politically right thing to do at the time?”

One of the great strengths of the Associations Council is the wide variety of professions and industries we represent. Our DEI efforts represent one of many steps we’re taking to support and empower our members to face the challenges of the day.

“We represent through our colleagues, a block of professionals in organizations that cover many topics,” Tucker says. “I’m representing school principals, Randy’s in the geophysical union — we’re people of all things. So for us to come together and start to think about how to get at that business imperative, not just about people of color or individuals in pain, but that hostility is actually hurting your business.”

Townsend says these are changes that will not happen overnight. “It can’t be one and done,” he says. “There need to be strategies put into place — a way to maintain the effort and keep the conversation going. It needs be a true cultural change.”

This is why Townsend says allies in association publishing are so important. “It’s not enough to just add some diverse faces to a magazine and hope people will come to you. We need people reaching out, offering a hand. Someone needs to be going out and telling people ‘We want you to join us. And not just to join us, but to be heard, to be part of what we’re building here.’”

“Nothing is going to change if no one is talking about it,” he says. “If it’s not at the table, it will get left behind. It doesn’t have to be as blatant as ‘Why don’t we have any Hispanics in the room?’ That’s an important question, but the consistency of having the conversation is just as important.”

You can join the conversation, starting with our new DEI statement, which you can find here.

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A Publishing Staff Revolts Over Bungled Return-To-Office Message

As the world opens up, one of the most pressing issues facing publishing CEOs is navigating the cultural and business ramifications of sticking with remote work versus returning to the office (editor’s note: on May 19, AM&P Network’s CEO and Owners Council is hosting a virtual discussion on Planning the Office Return, facilitated by workplace experts Monreau Shepell).

Strong cases can be made for both, including remote work offering flexibility, lower costs for both employees and employers, and unchanged or improved productivity (see chart below) while in-office fosters deeper collaboration, mentoring and camaraderie.

However, Cathy Merrill, CEO of D.C. regional magazine The Washingtonian, showed exactly how NOT to approach the dilemma in a Washington Post opinion piece last week.

Merrill wrote that she’s excited about the prospect of returning to the office but concerned about the “common office worker who wants to continue working at home and just go into the office on occasion.” Fair enough.

Then Merrill threw down the gauntlet, saying employers could consider changing the status of those workers to contractor and eliminate their benefits:

“While some employees might like to continue to work from home and pop in only when necessary, that presents executives with a tempting economic option the employees might not like. I estimate that about 20 percent of every office job is outside one’s core responsibilities — ‘extra.’ It involves helping a colleague, mentoring more junior people, celebrating someone’s birthday — things that drive office culture. If the employee is rarely around to participate in those extras, management has a strong incentive to change their status to ‘contractor.’ Instead of receiving a set salary, contractors are paid only for the work they do, either hourly or by appropriate output metrics. That would also mean not having to pay for health care, a 401(k) match and our share of FICA and Medicare taxes — benefits that in my company’s case add up roughly to an extra 15 percent of compensation.”

Merrill’s staff subsequently revolted very publicly, including a one-day work stoppage on May 7. “As members of the Washingtonian editorial staff, we want our CEO to understand the risks of not valuing our labor,” they declared. “We are dismayed by Cathy Merrill’s public threat to our livelihoods. We will not be publishing today.”  

Ultimately, the pushback from The Washingtonian staff has less to do with remote work versus office work than a lack of respect from the C-suite. That next conference room birthday bash should be fun.

No Change in Productivity

Fortunately, in B2B and information publishing, most CEO’s seem to be treating their employees like adults and exploring a hybrid model of remote work and office. “We’re allowing employees to keep working from home two-to-three days per week,” says the CEO of one mid-sized B2B publisher. “I find where face-to-face is really necessary is for things like budgeting and idea generation, not day-to-day.”

According to an AM&P Network survey conducted last fall, most B2B media and information companies surveyed noted little change in productivity with remote work.

That’s led to some creative policies for publishers to enable employees to balance home life and work. Industry Dive (a staple on the Washington Post’s Top Workplaces list) adopted a flexible approach to supporting employees should they decide to live in another part of the U.S. during lockdown, while keeping staff connected by offering a video-based story time hour for employees’ children as well as cooking demonstration, yoga and workout sessions.

Changing Culture, Not Just Revenue Mix

Publishers today are quick to refer to themselves as “digital first” or cutting edge compared to their competitors.

While that may be true of their product set, it often doesn’t apply to culture and daily operations (not that the tech giants have handled the office return any smoother—last week Google backtracked on its hardline return-to-work policy, saying staff can telecommute through Sept. 1 and then have the options of returning to their pre-pandemic office, working out of a Google office in a different city or working remotely if their role permits it).

The evolution of this industry can’t be limited to the development of data products and marketing services or dropping the label “publisher” for something like “information services.”

“We refer to ourselves as digital-first and if we can’t operate day-to-day in a digital environment, then we’re doing something wrong,” said Thomas CEO Tony Uphoff at our Business Information & Media Summit last year.

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AM&P Network Association Council issues DEI Statement

AM&P Network Associations Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

The AM&P Network’s Associations Council is committed to anti-racism and eliminating other prejudices and to elevating equity in all areas of our community. As we stand up against inequality, we will actively honor all voices from marginalized groups or communities. In service of our association members and industry service partners (ISPs), we are responsible for ensuring that the Associations Council is regularly making progressive change toward diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We commit to helping the community acknowledge bias and identify and challenge discrimination and marginalization of any sort.

We commit to elevating diversity, equity and inclusion as a guiding priority for our members and their organizations, as well as for our staff and volunteer leaders. We formally launched a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative in 2020, dedicating ourselves to: 

  • Collaborative Opportunities: Providing opportunities for members to share best practices.
  • Knowledge Development: Offering equity and inclusion skill development, widely for members and more intimately for Associations Council volunteer leaders. 
  • Member Experience: Connecting members through activities and teaching skills they can take back to their organizations, while also developing a membership pipeline through outreach to new and underrepresented people and groups.
  • Organizational Policy: Ensuring that the Associations Council is an organization making progressive change toward diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Representation: Ensuring diversity in membership, leadership and content creation, threaded throughout all other tactics.

The Associations Council aims to advance our DEI goals through action on a consistent and ongoing basis. As we begin this initiative in 2021 and 2022, those actions will include:

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement Implementation: Widely sharing the Associations Council Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement through a delineated implementation plan. In conjunction with the DEI Statement, the Associations Council may also develop a code of conduct, which will foster DEI by creating a no-tolerance policy against harassment.
  • Content Development: Integrating diversity, equity and inclusion topics into Associations Council content channels, with specific emphasis on the Annual Meeting and Signature magazine, but threaded throughout all of our content.
  • Associations Council Equity Award: Introducing a member Equity Award that recognizes contributions to the diversity, equity and inclusion landscape, either within the Associations Council community or within their own organizations.
  • Collaboration with the ISP Community: Offering a sponsorship opportunity that aligns an Industry Service Partner with the Associations Council, focusing primarily on innovation and inclusion, values that both organizations will hold in high regard.
  • Training: Providing training to volunteer leaders on the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, with the goal of leading our community with an equity lens. Building strategies for change and implementation organizationally and individually.
  • Membership Survey: Fielding a survey to the Associations Council membership to obtain baseline data on their knowledge of the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, their workplace experiences and their professional learning needs as related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Equity Audit: Reviewing volunteer committees through an equity audit to create a more inclusive member experience and operate with an equity lens. The audit will review membership recruitment, leadership development and aligned content. In conjunction with the equity audit, a similar audit at the staff or budgetary level may also be considered to determine the level of investment needed to ensure diverse representation among speakers and members moving forward. 
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council: Establishing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council comprised of members with expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion. The council will advise the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative.

 

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SIIA Announces Finalists for the 2021 Jesse H. Neal Awards

For Immediate Release
SIIA Communications Contact: Amanda McMaster, VP Awards and Recognition Programs

SIIA Announces Finalists for the 2021 Jesse H. Neal Awards

235 B2B journalism professionals recognized in peer-reviewed awards program

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 10, 2021) – The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announces today finalists for the 67th Jesse H. Neal Awards – the premier awards program honoring business-to-business (B2B) journalism. Winners will be announced during a special awards ceremony held virtually on June 9, 2021. 

“The Neal Awards have long recognized the best of the best in B2B journalism,” said SIIA President Jeff Joseph. “We are particularly proud of this year’s honorees who produced reliable data, content, and services during a period of global upheaval and uncertainty – an era in which producing trusted, accurate information that provides critical business intelligence took on increased importance, perhaps more so than any time ever before. Our thanks and congratulations go to these outstanding finalists.”

Representing a complete range of digital and traditional content disciplines, 235 Neal Award finalists were carefully selected following a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation process by peer professionals.  Companies with the most finalists in the 2021 competition include Advertising Specialty Institute, Arizent, BNP Media, Crain Communications, IEEE Media, Industry Dive, Informa and Winsight. For a full list of the Neal Award finalists, please visit: https://www.siia.net/2021-neals-finalists/ 

A total of 59 winners will be announced at the June ceremony, culminating in the Grand Neal Award, honoring the most outstanding entry from among the winners in all categories. A panel of over 80 judges reviewed the finalists in three stages to select the winners in 24 categories.

The Neal Awards also will honor the recipients of four special recognition Leadership Awards, including the prestigious Marianne Dekker Mattera Award for dedicated mentoring; the G.D. Crain Award for distinguished editorial career; Timothy White Award for exemplary leadership in the face of challenges and pressures; and the McAllister Editorial Fellowship, given to an editor who will teach journalism at Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.

For more information on the Neals, visit siia.net/neals.

In addition to the Neal Awards Ceremony, SIIA will also host two additional awards programs this June:

  • June 16: EXCEL Awards, recognizing excellence in association media
  • June 22 and 23: Codie Awards, honoring excellence in technology

About Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
SIIA is the only professional organization connecting more than 700 data, financial information, education technology, specialized content and publishing, and health technology companies. Our diverse members manage the global financial markets, develop software that solves today’s challenges through technology, provide critical information that helps inform global businesses large and small, and innovate for better health care and personal wellness outcomes.

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‘Let’s see what they need now’; talking to audience gave these two leaders direction

“We’re looking to see how our creativity and ideas, and how we reach audiences can be a driver of revenue,” said Denise Burrell-Stinson, head of WP Creative Team in the Creative Group at The Washington Post. “When that’s done well, it’s a good marriage of business and creativity. We used to think that they have to live very separately… I’ve found that as absolutely not true. Everyone can embrace [those two attributes].”

I love seeing “ideas,” “creativity” and “revenue” in the same sentence. Burrell-Stinson (pictured), who will be a keynote speaker at our AM&P Network Associations Council Reset, Reinvent, Revenue 2021 virtual event June 16-17, laughed a bit when reciting her title—that’s a lot of “creativity.” But she made a lot of sense when crediting much of their success to listening to readers.

“One of the things we learned at the Post in 2020 is that there’s still an appetite for marketing content,” she said. “But it had to be done a specific way. One of the ways that we were able to get through that time and 2020 was by being in constant conversation with our audience. ‘What’s the best way to reach you? What’s the type of messaging that you want to know about? What do you believe has value?’

“They were like, ‘You know what, we still want to know about brands, but only if they’re helping people. We want to know that the brands that you’re working with have a POV on social justice.’ They want gender equity and racial parity all the way across the organization.”

That was huge for the Post to hear. Similarly, I remember interviewing Kevin Turpin, president of the National Journal, on his organization’s turnaround a couple years ago. He didn’t go quite as far as Burrell-Stinson—a lot has changed in society in two years—but he did want his staff to listen more.

“One thing we launched was a presentation center,” Turpin said, explaining that by talking to their customers they discovered that’s what they needed help with. “They were being asked to explain Washington in more detail. They knew the content but needed a workable format. We’re actually very good at that. Take what happened in midterm elections and create a 40-page sllde deck out of it. We’re still doing that for board meetings of Fortune 500 companies.

“When businesses are trying to recreate themselves and change, they spend too much time inside, in strategy meetings, batting around ideas that they think will work,” Turpin added. “We don’t spend enough time going around. How are [our customers’] jobs changing? What are they thinking about? What are they investing in this year? This will give you solutions.”

While “going around” means something totally different in 2021 than 2019, those customer conversations have become even more paramount. It’s also important for everyone who interacts with customers to share what they’re hearing, from customer service to podcast hosts to receptionists, if there still is one.

“No one should ever feel that their sphere of influence is too small to make change,” Burrell-Stinson said. “If you’re working for a platform, a content creator, a digital magazine, the everyday results of your job are a contribution that ladders up to what the overall goals are.” As a fact checker early on in her career, she knew she was making a big contribution to the publication.

“During the early stages of the pandemic, “I was one of those people showing up and asking, ‘What is my job right now?’ I can’t sit here selling,” she said. “I really wanted to know that I felt right about what my job was.” Fortunately, the Post felt the same. “Let’s talk to our audience and see what they need right now.”

“We did this deep, intentional engaging of the audience. ‘Tell us what it is you need to know. Tell us what’s helpful. Tell us what’s respectful. Tell us what empowers you.’ And they did. And when we listened to the audience, we had our North Star. They told us what was going to work. When we had that information, we were actually able to take it to brands and say we’ve heard from this audience, they’re vocal, they’re smart and let’s do more than just market to them. Let’s really engage them on their terms.”

At our BIMS event in December, Turpin also emphasized those points. “We had a really deep dedication to getting to know our audience as best we could,” he said. “Knowing what their top challenges are, how those challenges are changing? ‘What are the new things that are getting into your budget that wasn’t there five years ago? How are you managing the office differently?’

“We spent a year with our customers, asking them a set of questions over and over. The most important one was, ‘What keeps you effective?’”