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Four Blessings Turned Strategies for 2012 - 11/29/2011 -

Thankful association media professionals expose their top media strategies.

By Marlene L. Hendrickson

Each November, I cringe a little when my mother-in-law starts directing the why-we-are-thankful circle after Thanksgiving dinner. You know, we all take turns broadcasting what we are thankful for this year—being careful not to leave anyone in our immediate company out. But after it’s said and done, I always feel that much more fortunate and have a bit more clarity about what really counts.

When I reached out to Association Media & Publishing colleagues about what they are grateful for this year, I came out a winner again. Only this time the results revealed best practices and strategic communications and publishing trends. These started with an "I’m thankful” and ended with valuable take-away strategies for all of us to keep in mind—or at least ponder as we doze off after that big, delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

Four ‘Blessings’ Turned Strategies for 2012:

1. Print Publications.

"I’m thankful that I hear at least six or seven members tell me to never stop sending them the print version of our publication for every one who says they only want to get the electronic version.”

—Paul Bergeron, director of communications, National Apartment Association

"I’m thankful that print is not dead—even as we’ve branched out into digital publishing and smartphone-friendly Web content, we’ve continued to stay grounded by producing a substantive magazine that readers say they look forward to.”

—Jennifer Silber, CAE, editor, American Staffing Association

While many association print publications have rolled out digital, online, and mobile components, print is indeed not dead for those who do the best job of presenting high-quality content in an engaging way. Those associations hitting the print-digital sweet spot also are keeping advertisers engaged by allowing them to diversify their sales strategies.

2. Technology.

"I’m thankful, first and foremost, for the Internet! I can’t imagine doing my job, keeping in touch with members, and producing the volume we do without it.”

—Elizabeth Van Fleet, publication and editorial coordinator, Americans for the Arts

Many of us in Association Media & Publishing can remember a pre-email, Internet, Google, iPhone, FTP, and Drupal world—a much slower world with fewer publishing bells and whistles. Those associations that are embracing and maximizing new technology are tightening up production schedules, spending less on printing, and capitalizing on rich media content—all good goals for 2012.

3. Economic Survival.

"I am thankful that professionals value their membership organizations and the value that we provide. Also, I am thankful that 2011 is not 2009.”

—Gary Rubin, chief publishing, e-media, and business development officer, Society for Human Resource Management

"This year, in this tough economic environment, I am grateful for longstanding and loyal clients who have become good friends.

—Karol Keane, president, Karol A. Keane Design & Communications, Inc.

Many associations were hit hard by the recent recession. The economic downturn resulted in reduced staff, less ad revenue, smaller publication budgets, etc., and many continue to struggle. Those who have been successful in enhancing the value of membership and communicating that value effectively through diverse publications will continue to have a leg up on the road to recovery.

4. Professional Community.

"I’m grateful for the Association Media & Publishing discussion list community. It’s great to have a group of helpful colleagues who are willing to share their experiences, both good and bad, and help each other improve our products and serve our readers to the best of our abilities—and our budgets.”

—Kate Conley, periodicals director and editor, International Society for Technology in Education

"I’m grateful for the responsiveness of Association Media & Publishing members. Members are always quick to send a note when they want to comment on an article or cover design, or simply share their reactions to an issue of Signature. It’s wonderful to know we have an engaged audience out there.”

—Carla Kalogeridis, editorial director, Association Media & Publishing

Communications and publishing, by their very nature, are social, interactive disciplines. As writers, editors, directors, and publishers, we seek to engage, deliver value, equip, and (let’s face it) impress. And just as we reach out to leaders in the industries we represent or members who are experts in their field, we also gather the best information and strategies by reaching out to each other. Here’s to a collaborative and successful 2012.

Marlene L. Hendrickson is director of publications for the American Staffing Association.


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