It’s an exciting time to be in associations, media and publishing. From artificial intelligence (AI) and DEI initiatives to digital transitions and next year’s presidential election, here’s what’s top of mind for key publishing industry experts as they look ahead.
All of these thought leaders will be speaking at AMPLIFY 2023, AM&P Network’s Content & Marketing Summit, June 27-28 in Washington, D.C. Sign up for the conference today to reserve your spot and hear them live and in person.
How do you see the associations, media and publishing industry evolving in the remainder of 2023 … and beyond?
I see the industry evolving in 2023 to find ways to incorporate the use of AI into their overall content strategies and practices. They will focus on operationalizing the use cases, establishing ways to ensure voice authenticity, and incorporating measures around ethics and ownership of content.
—Jemilah Senter, vice president, marketing and communications, Association Solutions, MCI USA
Fall 2023 is the ideal time to start developing a messaging playbook and crisis management plan just in case an inevitably wild election cycle gets close to an association’s issue areas. The messaging playbook and crisis management plan could be the starting points for continual updates built around changing circumstances and designed for quick, efficient, effective response.
—Randy Ford, writer and storytelling strategist, First Story Strategies; communication coach, Marianna Swallow
Strategist Roger Martin notes the distinction between playing to play and playing to win. “Are we playing to win?” is a question that all associations must ask themselves in 2023 and beyond. Associations that play to win understand there is competition for members, corporate investment dollars, and overall relevance. And, they see the invaluable role content plays in reaching stakeholders and advancing the association mission. As the association landscape continues to evolve, uniting the entire association behind a shared aspiration of winning and an organizational strategy will become imperative.
—Carolyn Shomali, director of content, Professionals for Association Revenue
As producers of member content, associations need to be at the forefront of strategically engaging with their members through social, digital and story-driven magazines.
—Kelly McMurray, founder and creative director, 2Communiqué
I anticipate that we will see more emphasis on digital channels, particularly shorter-format podcast and video content.
—Marcus Maleck, vice president, global partnerships, Society for Clinical Research Sites
What hot topics and major themes do you anticipate will surface?
Associations will start to hear from board members about how to use AI to ease staff overload and to produce more member products. Association leaders will need a grasp of the AI state of play as well as the ethics of relying on automated tools.
I hope that we will lean in more deeply to giving consideration to our overall integrated publishing strategies thinking beyond a single medium or channel. I also think that the use of AR in print has not been as widely utilized and should be because of the added engagement as well as data capture and metrics opportunities to gather insights. This is an underutilized opportunity for advertisers.
Determining the right kind of AI to use, as well as how and when to use it, will continue to be a question publishing teams explore.
I think one of the biggest issues impacting SEO right now is generative AI. There’s a lot of curiosity (and perhaps some worry) over how tools like Chat GPT will impact how people search—and research—topics.
—Erin Hallstrom, associate director of SEO Strategy, Endeavor
Hot topics for 2023 definitely include the use of AI like Chat GPT. It’s new, and people are navigating its full potential and how it can be helpful to their organization. Don’t be scared of AI, but don’t treat it as a replacement. Treat it as an enhancer to help create efficiencies in things you’re already doing.
—Morgan Mulgrew, strategic account manager, HighRoad Solutions
The continued rise of AI will have major implications for the industry that we are only just beginning to grapple with. The increasingly sophisticated tools that are being built around AI, as well as the need to grapple with the practical and ethical implications of those tools, will dominate our industry for years to come.
—Matt Ausloos, manager of publishing, American Health Law Association
AI is evolving so quickly. Associations need to consider the ethics of how they implement AI-driven work in their communications.
Our industry must continue to explore opportunities to increase non-dues revenue. Additionally, I anticipate continued emphasis on member, partner, and sponsor experience.
Which skills should people in the industry hone to stay competitive and relevant?
Between now and November 2024—maybe more than in any other election cycle—association professionals need to almost obsessively track public opinion and the issue viewpoints of their members to help walk a fine line in what will be an inevitably divisive year or two or more. To stay relevant, they have to know those views and be able to adapt to them, while still taking positions that may not appeal to all the viewpoints they discover in such research.
Curiosity, commitment to ongoing learning, creativity, and a focus on emerging and evolving technologies. I also think that collaboration across our organizations will continue to be a key factor as we think about overall relevancy, strategic alignment and leveraging our brand value in our approaches.
Embrace leaning into digital and data. Digital is not going away; it’s becoming more and more pervasive. If you’re digitally inclined in your personal life, why aren’t you doing the same in professional life? Be smart about what you want to do; don’t be scared to jump into digital,
Understanding how to differentiate your content and messaging to appeal to your distinct audience will continue to be an important skill. What works for one audience could fall flat with another, so it is important to be curious and ask questions of the audience you are trying to reach. Determining what data to track and leaning into those data points will help teams develop and distribute content that resonates.
The continued growth of the creator economy and the rise of AI have provided association marketers with an abundance of resources to unlock efficiency—and creativity. Generative AI tools are revolutionizing content creation, design, project management, and data analysis. And, according to a survey by Upwork, over one-third of the U.S. workforce is now performing freelance work, with the share of non-temporary freelancers reaching a new high last year. The opportunity? Associations can gain quick and efficient support, boost creativity, and add expertise without the need for full-time talent. However, leveraging both AI and a freelance workforce comes with a learning curve and requires that teams hone their skillsets accordingly. While AI can generate text, develop campaign briefs, and suggest new workflows and tactics, it can’t produce original ideas, solve complex problems, or make decisions. AI is not a replacement for human creativity or strategic thinking. And although freelancing allows teams to bring in the right talent at the right time, associations must learn to manage a freelance workforce effectively—including prioritizing areas like communication, privacy issues, and remote work processes.
—Laura Marzec, content director, The Mx Group
We as an industry need to better understand the business of associations. We are unable to serve our members and communities if we do not prioritize growth and sustainability of our own organizations.
Understanding and staying abreast of some of the major trends and themes right now, such as AI, is very important. Keeping up to speed with industry trends is going to be especially important in this fast-changing environment.
Storytelling. Whether it is for print, digital, or video, having the skills to discover and produce unique stories that connect with readership will always be an imperative skill.
Again, hear from and discuss these topics with these industry visionaries at AMPLIFY 2023, AM&P Network’s Content & Marketing Summit, June 27-28 in Washington, D.C. Sign up today to guarantee that you won’t miss out!