Be it recognition, awards or a mechanism to unearth and spotlight key segments of your audience, programs such as Aging Media Network’s Future Leaders can be hugely beneficial. It’s a classic win-win. Not only does it give deserved recognition to the honorees, but it builds a diverse roster of leaders, webinar/panel speakers, and event attendees – and can bring in sponsors.
Scroll down AMN’s page for their Future Leaders Class of 2021 (sponsored by PointClickCare), and you’ll see an impressive array of names, faces and companies. They’re divided into topic sub-divisions: Home Health and Home Care (14 Leaders); Skilled Nursing (6 Leaders); Senior Housing (13 Leaders); and Hospice (7 Leaders).
The titles range from CEO and founder to VP of finance and accounting, chief design officer and real estate innovation manager to VP, people operations, senior consultant – outsourced agency management, and chief medical officer. The faces are mostly earlyish mid-career.
“The Future Leaders program has provided us a way to connect with the next generation of leaders in the industry we cover,” George Yedinak (pictured below), co-founder, executive vice president, Aging Media Network (an AM&P Network member), wrote to me in an email recently. “It provides brand awareness across our publications and also provides our editorial team with new contacts that they can work with in the years to come.”
Yedinak was kind enough to answer a few questions about their Future Leaders program, which just completed its third year.
Was it hard to launch? What were the keys to getting it up and running?
The launch was difficult. The first year was full of challenges and questions that we needed to address that we may not have fully thought about in the conceptualization stage. It took about 4-6 months of conceptualization and structuring between the commercial and editorial teams in our organization. We just completed our third year of the program and we’ve come to view this as work in progress where each year we may look to tweak things and make iterative changes to continually strive to improve the program. We have another awards program that has gone on for 8 years and learned a lot from that which helped the launch of Future Leaders.
Did entries go up the second year? What have you learned for next year?
Entries in our awards programs typically have risen year over year as the awareness of the program grows and the recognition that the nominees and winners receive rises in stature through recognition by the industry. Awards marketing takes up significantly more time, especially in the first few years to build that awards brand. Just because you build a program, you still have to do a lot of explaining and positioning when it comes to the program for all involved.
How does the sponsorship work? What do they get?
The sponsorship for our Future Leaders program is heavily focused on branding for our sponsor and very similarly in other awards programs we’ve developed. Our awards programs look to focus on some of the positives of the industries we cover: people, programs and more. That positivity has been something many of our clients have been excited to support, especially over the last 18 months. Each sponsorship opportunity on our awards program is custom depending on the goals of the sponsor. Besides branding opportunities, there are ways we create custom content pieces associated with the program that aligns with our sponsors, whether they are Q&A pieces, ebooks, branded landing pages with content or social media posts, it’s a way to purposely extend the content, leaders and program to our audience. We are just starting to integrate the awards programs into our in-person and virtual events where possible.
Is there a plan to keep past winners involved? That seems to be a mistake often, that these programs don’t take enough advantage of the winners – have them speak, pursue volunteer opportunities, write articles, etc.
There’s a plan for our Future Leaders program to certainly develop an alumni network that can meet at our events as a start. Our editorial teams are looking to build these relationships for content and stories that align with their goals. There are a number of ideas around the program on continuing to extend involvement of the current and past classes of leaders. We’ll take a break and get some feedback from all stakeholders and look to make those iterative improvements.