Donít be afraid to completely disrupt your own
communications systems to further your goals, advises ASAEís Robb Lee.
By Michael Deme
The 2013 Association Media & Publishers Annual Meeting
was the first I've attended since becoming editor of Adventure Cyclist, the
association magazine for members of Adventure Cycling Association. My reason
for attending was to investigate the ways in which other associations were addressing
issues that most of us share.
One of the concurrent sessions I attended was hosted by Robb
Lee, chief marketing and communications officer, ASAE: The Center for
Association Leadership. He was joined by Andrew Hanelly, vice president,
digital experience, McMurry/TMG and Julie Shoop, vice president/editor in chief,
of Associations Now. The focus of this session was on how associations are
meeting the challenges presented to them by the digital revolution.
Robb Lee opened the session by explaining how ASAE continues
to explore ways of staying current, relevant, and fresh in the digital arena. I
had the feeling that many in the audience represented associations that are
much smaller in size and have fewer resources than ASAE but were eager to hear
how a well-regarded organization such as ASAE met the challenges weíre all
facing from other nonprofit associations and for-profit competitors.
At Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit organization
that promotes bicycle travel, we compete with both and have been in the process
of revolutionizing all of the ways that we communicate with our members and the
readers of Adventure Cyclist magazine. Throughout the first half of 2013, we
have redesigned both our extensive website and Adventure Cyclist to incorporate
all aspects of our digital communications including Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram, and FlickR, while providing the flexibility to incorporate any other
methods that we have yet to take advantage of.
Leeís message was fairly simple: Donít be afraid to
challenge yourselves and to completely disrupt your own systems to further your
goals. I think this is great advice, but it can be a scary scenario for many in
the nonprofit world. Not all organizations have the ability to disrupt how they
behave, especially if they have a longstanding relationship with their core
funding mechanisms and everything seems to be going well. Why rock the boat?
While digital is great and offers new and valuable ways to communicate the
organizationís message, print is still king and thatís what their members are
happy with ó at least thatís what the surveys say.
While this may be true (and it is with Adventure Cyclist),
we recognize that the printed magazine can benefit greatly from the added
content that we can produce in the digital sphere. In addition, this enhanced
content may reach audiences that would not otherwise come into contact with
Adventure Cycling Association.
In support of Leeís message, Andrew Hanelly gave examples of
how ASAE, in association with McMurry/TMG, has developed its ideas about how to
meet the digital challenge. Julie Shoop provided the details and explained the
specific methods that ASAE was using with a focus on Daily Digital, its online
source for contextualizing association news with general news trends.
I came away from this session feeling very good about what
weíre doing at Adventure Cycling because we are thinking the same way about
digital as ASAE is. In short, digital is a great way to enhance what we already
do. When we combine the new methods with the more established ones, we can
reach new audiences and expand our message to a broader audience.
Michael Deme is director of publications and editor of Adventure Cyclist Magazine for Adventure
Cycling Association. Association Media & Publishing thanks him for covering
this session for our members who were unable to attend.