Yes, most associations
are looking to cut costsóbut eliminating print is not always your wisest course
By Joe Vallina
Association executives, especially those responsible for the
overall budget, can think of thousands of reasons to stop printing the
associationís newsletters, and all of them involve a dollar sign. Countering
the "bottom lineĒ argument can be difficult at a time when associations are
looking to find any possible way to trim budgets. But here are three compelling
reasons association media managers can give when asked to justify printing hard
copies of the associationís newsletters.
A printed newsletter is a tangible
In fact, many times, itís the only tangible member benefit, especially
for specialty groups that focus on lobbying or other activities that donít
immediately impact their members on a day-to-day basis. Associations should not
underestimate the power of having a physical manifestation of what they do for
their members. When it comes time to renew an association membership, you want
members to easily see exactly what they get from being a part of the
organization. A printed newsletter serves this function better than almost any
other member benefit. It is a tactile, monthly reminder to members of what they
are getting for their dues dollars.
Members want print.
Many associations find that in
polling members about the types of correspondence they wish to receive from the
association, the members want to keep print in the mix. Itís true that more
members than ever are equipped with smartphone and tablet technology, but the
move entirely away from print materials is not appropriate for most
associations. Keep in mind that every association is different, and itís
vitally important to regularly ask members what communication formats they
prefer. Once you have that information, you can use it to help show why keeping
print in the distribution mix is important to your membership.
key for media planning.
In todayís environment of media
overload, it is vitally important that associations use all media at their
disposal to ensure they provide value to their member base. While websites,
blogs, and Twitter feeds are absolutely important, newsletters are still one of
the best methods to deliver information about your association and what it does
for your members. By moving to an all-digital newsletter distribution, you do
not reach as many members as possible with your message, as you completely
ignore the subset of members that do not prefer to get information online (or
primarily online). Whatís more, studies show that emailed correspondence is routinely
ignored, and open rates continue to decline (a July 2011 study by MailerMailer
shows e-newsletter open rates at an anemic 11.4 percent). Old-school printing
and mailing can cut through the digital clutter and get your message noticed. By
covering all the bases distribution-wise, you increase the likelihood that your
content will reach its intended audience.
In the end, it is important to note that print, while at
times feeling like a pariah in the media mix, remains a viable method of
newsletter distribution. Print continues to have real value for associations
and the members they serve. It can complement an organizationís other media
while providing an essential member benefit.
Joe Vallina is
assistant director, periodicals, at the American Nurses Association.