‘I Need My Book!’ Programs, Books and Other Print Ventures Can Add Diversity and Value for Your Members

“Wow, I didn’t know that they sent those. I got mine with the PMI GC registration. It’s amazing (the book).”

That comment came from Mayte Mata-Sivera, a project manager in Utah, on the site for the Project Management Institute’s EXCEL award-winning 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book (pictured here) in early 2020. We talk about membership value being when you can go above and beyond the expected, and this book serves as an example of that. Other comments use the phrases “amazing gift,” “great souvenir,” “keep forever” and “get autographs.”

Think those folks will renew?

Association innovation can entail many things in 2021 like virtual shuttle bus rides or AI house tours or metrics that combine more ingredients that the potion from the witches of Macbeth. But we’ve now reached a point—especially during the pandemic—where print can become innovative in swag boxes or as membership bonuses. And despite the absurd amounts of money being offered for NFTs, books, programs and cutouts remain valued items for people. How many Zoom backgrounds do you see splashed with books all around?

Here are some recent examples of successful forays into print.

Bar keepsakes. The Federal Bar Association put together a most impressive, coffee-table book as the centerpiece of their centennial anniversary last year. Executive director Stacy King said that “attorneys love books. They really do. Since we’ve been doing all these Zoom calls, I never realized how many of my leadership has just books on books behind them. Everyone has that prestigious bookcase with all of their books. The other [reason] was that when the celebration was over, we really wanted to make sure we had something to celebrate… for years to come. We also wanted it as a marketing tool to raise our profile. So we are actually in the process right now where we’re sending the book to all three branches of government, all the chief federal judges, so that every federal courthouse has a copy.”

Family fare. “Hi, my name is Carissima Gori Uptmor and I’m a pediatric bilingual speech language pathologist who works in a school setting. Oftentimes, kids will ask me, ‘What do you do with the kids you work with?’” That’s the start of a video by the author of the EXCEL Award-winning The Everyday Adventures of Mrs. Dennis, Speech Language Pathologist on the American Speech-Language Hearing Association website. The story follows Mrs. Dennis “through her day of adventure and… all the different ways she helps students with communication disorders.  You’ll see her in the classroom, in her therapy room, at the playground at recess, and the cafeteria!” Another book in their store is Everybody Needs a Turn: A Book for Brothers and Sisters of Children With Speech and Language Disorders.

Adding diversity. ACSD had two EXCEL award winners last year—Becoming the Educator They Need: Strategies, Mindsets, and Beliefs for Supporting Male Black and Latino Students; and Your Students, My Students, Our Students: Rethinking Equitable and Inclusive Classrooms. (Nice to see the EXCEL Award logo on these pages.) The author of the former book is Robert Jackson, who began his teaching career in the Indianapolis public schools more than 20 years ago—after being cut from the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. The latter book was “written not for ‘special educators’ or ‘general educators’ but for all educators.”

To complement your virtual event. “I got my conference box this afternoon! Looking forward to the virtual fair in the next two days,” tweeted Joyce Tao last August. Just before that event—the 2020 AEJMC Conference—the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication sent a swag box with a printed program, a water bottle, a nametag, a pen and a few handouts for sponsorship opportunities. “In this virtual environment that we now live in, you lose that emotional connection to your attendees,” Amanda Caldwell, conference meetings manager, told Associations Now. “We felt that sending this box a day or two before the conference gave them that tangible thing to hold in their hand.” She also felt that it gave attendees an option for how to experience the event. “We [had] 15 concurrent sessions every 90 minutes for four days… When you have a printed program, you can lay out your day a little easier… I had a lady call me and say, ‘I didn’t get my book yet! I’ve gone to 30 conferences, and I need my book!’ Because she’s saved them all,” Caldwell said.

Fresh prints of Bay Area. And finally, here’s an example from a non-association—a transportation authority of all places. A touchless Short Story Dispenser has become popular in the Bay Area. Riders on BART, their transportation system, can access machines that print one-, three- and five-minute reads at three stations, with a fourth on the way. Created by Short Édition, a French publishing house, the dispenser has investors that include filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who had one installed in his Café Zoetrope (pictured here) in San Francisco’s North Beach. “[Our customers] are fascinated, trying to figure out how, and why, something can exist to give them a gift, a literary gift, without depositing a coin,” Coppola told BART. There’s that word “gift” again.

Woman connecting with her computer at home and following online courses, distance learning concept

‘A Good Time to Try New Things’; Audio and Other New Content Can Build Value

How many of us thought that, before all this, working from home would yield less production? Guilty. But as we’ve adapted, the opposite has been true, raising the question: How do you turn off the work valve? Similarly, innovation has not suffered either. Recognition programs, new audio and virtual event content have all stayed strong, with exciting wrinkles added in.

“A crisis is no reason to stop innovation,” wrote Gideon Spanier, UK editor-in-chief of Haymarket Media’s Campaign, in an excellent post last week titled, “What We Have Learned at Campaign in a Year Since Lockdown.”

“In fact, it’s a good time to try new things: from a vertical, scrolling digital version of the monthly magazine (we tried it in June and July) to the launch of The Knowledge, our new, premium subscription service with in-depth forecasts about advertising trends and columns, and Advertising Intelligence, a data tracker for agency new business performance.”

Spanier also emphasized our humanity. “Kindness and collaboration matter,” he wrote. “A crisis brings a team closer and encourages collaboration, including between the editorial and commercial teams of Campaign”—always a good thing in our dispense-with-silos times.

Here are three other good ideas that I’ve seen lately—effective and replicable.

Use a recognition program to create ongoing relationships. The 2020 Emerging Leaders Class for ACSD (pictured), an association of educators at all levels, bursts with esteemed superintendents, teachers, founders (one for the Minorities Achieving College Success) and senior administrators. “Elevating educational leadership is the heart of what we do at ASCD, and our emerging leaders exemplify leadership at its best,” ASCD CEO and Executive Director Ranjit Sidhu said in a September 2020 press release.

“These educators strengthen our community and our organization. We are excited to welcome our new class and look forward to working together in the years to come.” What stands out here is that this is a partnership that will continue. ASCD Emerging Leaders are enrolled in the program for two years and invited to participate in multiple opportunities, including, when circumstances allow, attending the invitation-only Leader to Leader convening, writing for ASCD publications, and hosting the ASCD podcast. There are also avenues for leadership opportunities in the association. ASCD adds that “alumni from the program have become ASCD authors, faculty members and board members.” It’s a good way to increase diversity of all types.

Let your event sessions live on! Business Valuation Resources put on a very successful Virtual Divorce Conference in the fall. To add even more value to their event and keep within a reasonable daily view time, they added bonus sessions weeks before and after the main event. And then, at the end of the year, they posted a blog titled, “Top 10 Tips From the 2020 AAML/BV Virtual Divorce Conference.” (Apparently, judging by number 8, the cat that we all think is so cute to see in our staff meetings isn’t that great when testifying online.) “If you weren’t able to attend the virtual conference, you’re in luck! You can get the training pack of the entire 2020 AAML/BVR Virtual Divorce Conference here,” they write. We had two people ask about getting our BIMS 2020 conference sessions yesterday, so it’s worth the continued shout outs.

Develop audio content just for subscribers/members. The New Yorker has started a new show just for subscribers called New Yorker Live at 6-7 pm on certain evenings. Attendees don’t need to reserve tickets or register; they just sign in to before each event to view the live stream and participate in Q&A sessions. As someone who signs up for a lot of events, I appreciate how easy they make it. Initial guests this week include poet, activist, and author Amanda Gorman, Jeremy O. Harris, a celebrated playwright and producer, and tonight Rep. Joaquin Castro and the author Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. Of course, this is consumer, but 6-7 pm or 5-6 pm can be interesting times for B2B audio as well. I see so much audio and video content taking place during the day that I don’t have the time to access.

Spanier’s ending lines really hit home. “One final measure of this last, weird 12 months. I have not seen a single member of the Campaign editorial or commercial team face to face since the start of that first lockdown. It is exciting to think what all of us can achieve when we meet again.”

Very true. Our awesome IT guy Dan met me at the old office one day in January to help load me up for home. And I met another friend/colleague for pizza on a cold outdoor terrace at our favorite restaurant. That’s it for me. Hopefully, better—and more social—days lie ahead.