Sector and AuSAE News

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  • 14 Feb 2020 5:07 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    If you have members who are influential in your industry or profession, consider putting them to work as ambassadors. A look at some roles to consider them for.

    Influencer marketing isn’t just for A-list celebrities and social media personalities with tens of thousands of followers.

    Inside an association, an influencer might be anyone from the CEO to a new member with a small network of highly engaged followers, otherwise known as a “micro-influencer.”

    Regardless of where your association’s influencers reside, consider if they could serve as an ambassador for your industry or profession. That’s exactly what the Women in Trucking Association (WIT) did with its Driver Ambassador program, launched earlier this month.

    Kellylynn McLaughlin—a professional commercial-motor-vehicle driver and training engineer who was also a dedicated WIT volunteer—will be the official WIT Driver Ambassador and travel around the country discussing the many career benefits she’s received from being part of the industry.

    In addition to serving as an ambassador, McLaughlin’s role, which actually made her a part-time WIT staffer, will also have her sharing stories on a blog, serving as a subject-matter expert to media requests, and educating legislators and the general public about the trucking profession.

    “Kellylynn has such a passion for the job, and you want to find your best members who can project that out to others,” says WIT Vice President Debbie Sparks. “As an ambassador, she talks about why she loves being a professional truck driver, but she also uses her position to help recruit new members.”

    Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a part-time ambassador like WIT did, there are several other ambassador roles that your members can play. Here are three other association examples:

    Online community ambassadors. Some of your most engaged members might also be frequent contributors to your association’s online community. At the International Society for Technology in Education, members are frequently called upon to help nurture and grow online engagement as community ambassadors.

    “Some examples include welcoming in new members, nudging along conversations that need further attention, or seeding the community with discussions during quieter periods,” says ISTE’s Director of Community Engagement Simon Helton. “We rely on [members] quite a bit, especially because we cover such a wide range of topics and there’s just no way to have enough expertise on our staff to do it all.”

    Social media ambassadors. If members influencers are adept at using Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter, associations can recruit people to become social media brand ambassadors for the organization.

    In July, Melissa Russom of Nonprofit Tech for Good outlined seven key steps that make a social media ambassador program successful. Essential to a program’s success are the resources, media assets, and guidelines you provide influencers. Also, a degree of flexibility is required.

    “This is not the time for brand policing,” she writes. “You want individuals with personalities. You want your ambassadors to be themselves, not a scripted version that resembles themselves and strips away the authenticity that made their relationship as an ambassador so powerful, to begin with.”

    Show ambassadors. A few years ago, my colleague Sam Whitehorne blogged about the value of enlisting show ambassadors as part of your conference strategy.

    Conference ambassadors can be especially helpful if your association is looking to get its students or young professionals better engaged. By having these groups serve as ambassadors, there could be bonus payoffs for your long-term membership strategy. “These programs allow associations to get students involved in and familiar with what they do,” Whitehorne writes. “This could mean the students become members in the years ahead, bringing a new generation and dues revenue with them.”

    BY TIM EBNER / FEB 11, 2020The Women in Trucking Association recently launched a driver ambassador program. (Smederevac/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

  • 07 Feb 2020 5:41 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    A new GrowthZone survey indicates that many associations struggle to retain first-year members. If your organisation is one of them, a few adjustments to your member onboarding program could help reverse the trend.

    If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated how you onboard new members, there’s a new study that suggests now might be a good time to do it. Last week, the association management software firm GrowthZone released its 2020 Association Annual Survey Results, and it has good and bad news.

    The good news first: New-member growth held steady over the past year. Forty-five percent of association professionals surveyed said their new-member rate increased, only one percentage point less than the previous year.

    But there’s a more troubling statistic in this year’s report: Only 11 percent of respondents said their first-year member renewal rate increased in the past year, whereas 26 percent said it went down, and 61 percent said it remained about the same.

    To hold onto new members after that first year, associations need to demonstrate value as quickly as possible, says Amy Gitchell, senior marketing communications specialist at GrowthZone.
    “It’s extremely important that new members understand the value you bring to their lives,” she says. “In the survey, associations whose members recognized their value proposition reported higher renewal rates overall.”
    That means you need to be thinking about proving value from the moment you begin onboarding a new member. If your onboarding program isn’t focused on value, a recent guide from MemberClicks has several ideas for how to make improvements:

    Build targeted communications. In the GrowthZone study, one in four respondents said the top reason they saw increased member engagement was that they sent more targeted email communications to each member.
    Callie Walker, a senior inbound marketing specialist at MemberClicks, recommends using an automated drip email campaign to communicate with members. Sync the campaign with your association management system, where additional member data can be captured.
    For example, when your new members applied for membership, “were they given the option to select special interests?” Walker writes in the guide. “If so, consider sending them content right off the bat about those special interests.”

    Send invitations to a “new members only” event. Hosting a few low-budget events for new members can help them feel welcome. They might take place during your annual meeting or another conference—examples include a networking happy hour or a gathering in a new-members-only lounge, Walker says. And don’t underestimate the power of virtual events, such as regular orientation webinars.
    “The benefit of doing it in a webinar format is that you’re bringing your new members together, getting them to actively engage with your organization, and giving them an opportunity to ask questions—all crucial for onboarding success,” Walker writes.

    Ask questions at the six-month mark. It’s also essential to listen to new members’ feedback at the midpoint of their first year. Walker suggests asking:

    • What do you like the most about membership? What do you like the least?
    • How often and why do you login to use the member portal?
    • What meetings or events have you attended since joining?
    • How likely are you to renew? Why or why not?

    Checking in at the six-month mark gives you a chance to point out opportunities that new members may be missing or to resolve any frustrations they may be experiencing before you ask them to renew.“If there’s something they’re not really digging or taking advantage of, it gives your association the opportunity to make adjustments before the question of renewal is put back on the table,” she writes.

    TIM EBNER - Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues.


  • 30 Jan 2020 4:22 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Attendees take time away from the office and spend money to attend your events. Are you doing everything you can to make them feel appreciated? Five ideas for setting the bar high.

    Earlier this week I came across an article posted on Harvard Business Review (HBR) about small things employers and managers can do to make their employees feel appreciated. The article got me thinking about two things: how it applies to conference attendees, as well as a bad experience I had as an attendee that made me feel unappreciated.

    We’ll start with the latter. During my first job as an editorial assistant for Prevention magazine, I was sent to a holistic health conference. I was excited because not only was it the first conference I got to attend as an official reporter, but I was also getting to fly and stay there on the company dime. Now fast forward to me arriving: I walk in to the registration area where I am asked to give my name. When I do, I’m told, “We have no one registered under that name.” We quickly discover I’m registered under “Samantha Whitehorse.”

    Honestly, it’s not a big deal. My last name has been mispronounced and misspelled practically since I was born, but what was surprising was their solution. Instead of printing me a new name badge, they told me the only option was to hand-write my correct name on a white sheet of paper and shove it in my badge holder. Needless to say, most of my conversations at that conference began with people looking at my badge and saying, “Oh, what happened?” or “So, you signed up at the last minute and they couldn’t make you a proper badge?” Not exactly the impression I wanted to make.

    So, in the vein of HBR, here are five small ways to make your attendees feel appreciated:

    Tell them to what to expect ahead of time. Attendees, especially first-timers, may feel some anxiety about attending your event, so it’s important to give them as much information as you can. You might provide them with a first-timers’ guide or share tips and tricks from your seasoned attendees.

    Make them feel at home once they’re onsite. First impressions are everything, so set the tone immediately when attendees arrive. If that’s at the convention center, make sure you have their name badge ready (with the correct spelling!) and that you give them the tools they need to make the most of your conference. These might include your onsite guide, a personalized list of suggested sessions, or a schedule of networking events.

    Give them the opportunity to provide feedback in real time. Sometimes you can make quick fixes for attendees onsite that make them feel more comfortable—for instance, making the room warmer or turning up the microphone volume in the general session. Give attendees a way to provide feedback in the moment, whether through your conference app or social media.

    Be their note-taker. With multiple sessions to choose from in a particular time slot, attendees won’t be able to get to every learning session they’d like. Consider having a designated person in each session who can take notes on the key takeaways and lessons. After the conference, send a summary out to every attendee, so they don’t feel like they’ve missed out on anything.

    Follow up with them post-conference. Once the closing session wraps up, it doesn’t mean that the experience is over for your attendees. Touch base with them after they’ve returned home. That communication should include not only a post-event survey to get their thoughts, but also a thank you to say the event wouldn’t have been as successful without them being there.

    How does your association make sure that your conference attendees feel appreciated? Tell us about it in the comments.

    BY SAMANTHA WHITEHORNE / JAN 23, 2020 - Association NOW

  • 20 Jan 2020 8:36 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Your association exists to provide value to members, and likely to improve the profession or niche in which your members operate. If your association is like most, that value comes from the products, programs, services, information, resources, and tools you create. These valuable offerings are produced by your staff or member work groups, task forces, or committees.

    This is the first in a three-part series of articles. Look for the second article in February 2020 and the third in March.

    What is content?

    Content is how our work is manifested in the world. Your products, programs, services, information, resources, and tools are your organization’s content. Here are some examples of content associations create: advocacy issue updates, books, conference proceedings, clinical practice guidelines, courses, legislative talking points, magazine articles, membership details, newsletters, podcasts, press releases, webinars… the list is not exhaustive.

    Associations may decide to create these in various formats: text (articles, blog posts, or web pages), infographics, videos, designed documents (PDFs), graphics, etc. But regardless of the format, it’s all content.

    Who creates associations’ content?

    The people who create this content are subject-matter experts (SMEs) – conference planners, government relations folks, course developers, researchers. That is what you’ve hired them to do, and they usually do their jobs very well. But not all of them have experience communicating their expertise to audiences who need the information but don’t have the deep expertise that the SMEs do.

    As a result, members don’t always know about all the good work your association creates for them – and they may question the benefits they are getting by being a member of your organization.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you treat your content strategically, members are more likely to:

    • Use the programs you create for them
    • Support your efforts to shape industry-positive legislation
    • Register for courses
    • Download research
    • Attend conferences

    And members who take part in what you offer will have more favorable opinions of your organization, and are more likely to renew their membership and recommend your association to industry colleagues.

    What is content strategy?

    Content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, publication, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, effective content. Useful means the content is presented so its relevance comes through loud and clear. Usable means the content is easy to find and act on. Effective means that the content has a clearly articulated audience and explicit measurable goals, that you do the measurement to determine whether the content met its goals, and that you make decisions about how to publish similar content based on those results

    The objective of content strategy is to get the right content to the right person at the right time for the right action. This takes a partnership between SMEs and people with expertise in content creation, publication, and promotion.

    Why content strategy?

    Smart organizations align their content with their strategic goals. This means several things, as listed in Association Content Strategies for a Changing World, a report published by the ASAE Foundation in 2019:

    • Each piece of content it produces has an explicit, measurable goal tied to a specific outcome of the program that the content is about and a clearly articulated audience.
    • Content is created in a way—terminology, readability level, format, length, timing, etc.—that resonates with the audience.
    • The people with expertise in creating, publishing, and promoting content work in partnership with subject-matter experts managing the organization’s offerings to ensure that the content about and from those programs achieves its goals.
    • The organization evaluates content to determine whether the content meets its goals, and that information drives decisions about what to do more of, do less of, or do differently.
    • Subject-matter experts work in partnership with each other to determine when to collaborate, when to cross-link, and when to reuse content that another department has created.

    Content strategy is a key way associations can make sure that the content about their work is published in a way that resonates with the audience and, therefore, has the greatest chance to succeed.

    What does it take to have content strategy?

    Content strategy consists of six building blocks, each with several tactics: 1) Know the organization; 2) Know the audience, 3) Ensure content effectiveness; 4) Plan and promote content; 5) Support content with structure; and 6) Sustain with content governance/operations

    We will dive in to the blocks and tactics in more detail in the next article, but for now it’s enough to say that not every organization needs to use all of the tactics to achieve content success.

    Starting your content strategy journey

    Every organization’s journey to content strategy is different, because associations have such a diverse set of sizes, focus areas, staff composition, challenges, and industry dynamics.

    But to get started, I suggest that you take stock of where you are now and start planning content better:

    1.      Learn what content you have now with a content audit. You’ll likely uncover content you didn’t know you had, content that is outdated, or old versions of current information.

    2.      See how your content is doing. Start by collecting analytics data for each piece of content. You may be surprised at the low usage of much of your content. (When you create similar content next time, you’ll be identifying the audience and setting measurable goals.)

    3.      Gather everyone who creates content and start conversations about the content they have now and what they plan to create. You’ll all likely identify opportunities to collaborate and cross-link content that is relevant to the same member segment or used for a common purpose.

    There are probably people in your association who already realize the need for a more strategic approach to content. They may be in your communications group, education, marketing, IT, or a program area. If you can find them, the journey will be easier.

    Words Hilary Marsh The Boardroom 

    https://boardroom.global/why-your-association-needs-content-strategy/

  • 16 Jan 2020 5:00 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Nonprofits’ email open rates rose nearly 5% in 2019, a stark contrast to a slight decrease in worldwide email open rates, according to a new study.

    With an average open rate of 25.20%, nonprofits trailed only government organisations (30.50%) in a benchmark report released by email marketing software provider Campaign Monitor.

    The average email open rate across the 20 measured industries for 2019 was 17.80% — a 0.12% dip from the same report in 2018, in which nonprofits led the field with a 20.39% open rate.

    Campaign Monitor found that, for nonprofits, Wednesday (26.20%) was the highest-performing day; in the 2018 report, Sunday (22.9%) had been the No. 1 day for nonprofit emails.

    While nonprofits exceeded the average for open rates, the average click-through rate for nonprofits settled at 2.60%, matching the global average for 2019. Nonprofit open rates lagged slightly from 2018, when they were measured at 2.66%.

    Certain other industries also saw stark improvements: government open rates improved by a stunning 10.71% (from 19.79% to 30.5%), while education open rates improved by 4.5% (from 18.9% to 23.4%).

    Mondays and Wednesdays rated the best for nonprofit click-through rates, at 2.70%; Sunday, Thursday and Friday trailed at 2.50%. Overall, Tuesdays were the best day for email open rates across industries, at 18.30%.

    Nonprofit emails also slightly exceeded the global averages in bounce rate (1.00% to 0.7%), and unsubscribe rate (0.2% to 0.1%).

    Campaign Monitor said in a press release that the report was developed after analyzing billions of emails sent globally using its platform.

    “Marketing has evolved to become a data-driven discipline, and marketers need to actively measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and programs,” said Lane Harbin, director of marketing at Campaign Monitor, which boasts more than 250,000 customers worldwide. “Savvy marketers can use this information to quickly double down on areas where they are excelling and determine where they need to make improvements in 2020.”

    For nonprofits, the latest findings reinforce an industry-wide trend toward email marketing. Another 2019 report from CampaignMonitor and QGiv found that a plurality of donors – 42% – say they prefer to hear from a nonprofit via email.

    Chris Strub Contributor 

    CMO Network I highlight successful social media strategies from savvy nonprofits.


  • 09 Jan 2020 5:11 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Associations pros frequently cite member engagement as a top challenge, and many of the most effective ways to make easier connections with members are in the digital realm. Here are three items to add to your online engagement plan in the new year.

    If January is for making new year’s resolutions, then association professionals might want to spend some quality time thinking about boosting member engagement in the coming year. Most associations have a good set of digital tools available, but it might be time to take a look at ways you could use them better to make the member experience feel more relevant and real.

    In a GrowthZone survey, association professionals ranked member engagement as the top challenge of 2019, higher than recruitment and retention or challenges with communicating member value, attracting young members, or funding.

    Shaun O’Reilly, vice president of marketing at MemberSuite, thinks member engagement will remain the top challenge in 2020. He argues that association professionals need to start thinking strategically if they want to succeed in making routine touchpoints with time-strapped members. “What we advocate is that associations should engage online through a continuous and segmented approach,” O’Reilly says.

    He suggests three areas where associations can focus on digital engagement this year:

    Member portals. An association’s online community is where members go for information, resources, and connections. O’Reilly believes that many member portals are underutilized or overlooked as engagement opportunities. To get better results this year, he says it helps to think like a community manager.

    You might already have a community manager on staff, but you could cross-train other staff members and member volunteers to serve as community ambassadors. This creates champions who know how to cultivate and encourage community conversations online. “With the right functionality and people, [a member portal] can transform into a dynamic place for online engagement,” he says.

    Social media diversification. This could be the year you break out of business as usual on social media. O’Reilly says associations should go beyond pushing social posts to followers and embrace social media as a customer service interface, as many brands do. “Look at all the different channels you’re on and think about how you might use them differently to deliver messaging and support,” he says.

    Also consider new platforms for engagement. For instance, Fast Company recently reported that Facebook engagement is declining, whereas TikTok engagement is growing quickly, especially with millennials and members of Gen Z. How might you use TikTok to engage members?

    Sponsored content. Too often, O’Reilly says, sponsored content is viewed purely as a nondues revenue opportunity. “However, I think associations need to get more creative if they want to find digital content opportunities that can serve revenue goals and member engagement,” he says. “Sponsored content is not just about getting in front of people; it’s about building a connection.”

    A strong sponsored content program provides valuable knowledge and information to readers from sponsors with expertise to share. In turn, it gives sponsors a platform to create a meaningful connection to the community. In the new year, O’Reilly says, associations should look for opportunities to start or grow a sponsored content program as a way to drive engagement as well as revenue.

    Have you found member engagement to be a challenge at your association? How are you addressing the issue through digital engagement? Post your comments below.

    TIM EBNER 

    Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues.


  • 20 Dec 2019 12:15 PM | Toni Brearley (Administrator)


    AuSAE in partnership with Survey Matters are excited to announce we are embarking on a research project to discover what defines a successful association.

    Your participation will contribute to comprehensive results that reflect the breadth of experiences across all associations. Click below to start the survey:

     https://www.asr2.com/surveymatters/anon/2079.aspx

    This research is intended to support association executives, to enable their organisations to remain relevant and leverage meaningful change.

    The Associations Matter - Defining Successful Associations in 2020 Report will:

    • Provide a timely overview of the sector
    • Identify common sector challenges and what others are doing to overcome them
    • Identify high performing associations and what drives their success
    • Allow you to benchmark your association
    • Help guide your strategic planning

    All participants will receive an electronic copy of the report.

    We thank you in advance for your participation.  Your contribution will help build our collective understanding and impact of our sector.


    Warm regards,
    Toni Brearley
    CEO, AuSAE

  • 20 Dec 2019 12:05 PM | Toni Brearley (Administrator)


    As recognition of our partnership for the #WIAL event in Melbourne this year,  RACV Conferences and Events have generously extended the below offer to the AuSAE community at the RACV Cape Schanck Resort.

    Book a new event to be held in May or June 2020 at RACV Cape Schanck Resort and receive*:
    • Complimentary upgrade to the Peninsula Suite for 1 VIP (valued at $2,500)
    • 30 minutes of canapes or 45-minute wine tasting
    • 10% discount at One Spa for treatments booked throughout the event dates or 2 x Hammam Bathing Vouchers

    With a special event lawn for dinner under the stars, RACV Cape Schanck is a breath of fresh air.

    Call 03 5950 8000 or email capeschanck_conference@racv.com.au. Advise of AuSAE offer.

    *Event bookings are subject to availability. Valid May & June 2020 for new bookings only. Minimum event spend is $20,000. Accommodation in Peninsula Suite is subject to availability.

     

  • 18 Dec 2019 8:34 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    Let’s make a bet. I bet that if you pull any association’s job posting for a leadership opening, you will find the word “innovation” at least half the time, either as a requirement of the type of person or a descriptor of where the organization is going. I also would bet that if you walk into most associations and ask their team the last time they innovated, they would have to think about it and wouldn’t be able to name more than one innovation in the past year.

    With the push for associations to innovate and think more like businesses to maintain relevance long-term, there seems to be a gap in how associations see innovation.  

    Here’s my final bet: If you asked an association leader what innovation is, I bet they would describe a strategic initiative that would drastically change or evolve their offerings or operations.

    This is not the only way to define, measure or think of innovation. I want to invite you to the real world of innovation: small-sized innovation.

    Rather than think of innovation only as large, shiny new projects, think of it as any change that moves the needle toward your goals. Here are three examples of small-sized innovations we’ve implemented in 2019 at the Professional Pricing Society. These changes took small amounts of staff time, funding and resources:

    1. Member newsletter: Each month, we would email our members that the newsletter was ready for them to view in their portal electronically, but the conversion of users logging in was not as high as we would like and we received feedback that they would prefer we attach the newsletter directly to the email. While we were nervous they might share the newsletter with non-members, we realized they could download the PDF and share it regardless, so why not embrace this potential marketing and give our members what they want? Now, instead of an alert to login with a link to the member portal, we email them a link to view the newsletter directly without login.  This turned a 4-click login process into a 1-click viewing process and made our members much happier.
    2. Transcriptions: As a global organization, we receive a few requests annually for our online courses to be offered in other languages. While that could be a large, costly project, we determined a quicker, more efficient way to meet our member needs after talking with them directly. Nearly every requestor agreed a transcription of the online course would be sufficient as they could run it through Google Translate to follow along. To get the transcriptions, we used an artificial intelligence program that cost 10 cents per minute of audio with 99% accuracy to transcribe with timestamps. We uploaded each course individually and within ten minutes, each one had a transcription we could upload as a Word document into our LMS for immediate availability. A bonus win: this advanced our online accessibility, too.
    3. Membership value: In addition to our current member benefits, one goal we had was to include a monthly new learning opportunity for all members across the skills needed in the industry we serve so tat they can see an increase in the ROI of their membership and increase member portal logins to increase engagement with other member offerings and retention. Originally, we were mapping a new series that would take a lot of time every month. After some consideration, we decided instead to invest in a videographer to record our keynotes at our two main annual conferences. Across these, we have 16 keynotes, so we can afford to throw out any that don’t perform well or save one or two for free content marketing while still retaining 12 for our monthly offerings each year. The two-time recording and editing costs were much lower than doing new content each month, so we essentially exported the content creation as our keynote speakers were already presenting rather than having staff make new content, and it added an additional benefit because it showed members who didn’t come to the conference what they were missing.

    As we focus on these types of small-sized innovation, we are able to more clearly articulate to our president, board and members many innovative wins each year rather than placing all of our innovation eggs in one large basket.  As a result, staff morale is higher, we find ourselves more open to large and small change, and we tackle bigger innovation projects with confidence and enthusiasm because our small wins have built us up.

    Dr. Michael Tatonetti is the Director of Certification and Education for The Professional Pricing Society, where he oversees global training and development of pricing professionals and their organizations through conferences, online courses, virtual summits and private trainings. His areas of expertise include education, membership, marketing and sales.

  • 12 Dec 2019 4:27 AM | Brett Jeffery (Administrator)

    How should association communicators balance the needs of their business, the priorities of their organisation’s leaders and the resources at their disposal? Who are their audiences, and what do they need in their lives as members – or prospective members? And what matters most when it comes time to measure success?

    Those are the types of questions we were asking at The Ohio Society of CPAs as we thought about our content. We wanted to know:

    • What content we should create and distribute.
    • Who should consume it.
    • How they would consume it.
    • How to measure value and success.
    • How to identify things we should stop doing.

    That’s an important and complex discussion even if we were to stop there. But we’re also living in a world of swift and constant change, not only for our members in the accounting profession but for us in the communication business. As the OSCPA content team discussed our strategy, we realized we could take the time to develop a list of specific to-dos for the next 3-5 years. But we understood there was a strong chance our plan could be obsolete or worn away by sudden events or changed minds before we reached the end. We did not want to relitigate our strategy again in a year or two. Instead, we needed something that would continue to guide us through those very times that make planning difficult: when the world evolves and organizational priorities shift. Something, as we said at the time, that we could frame and hang on the wall like the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Of course, you do need to get specific things done, and we’re fortunate at OSCPA to have a systematic way to do it. That’s our “plan of work,” an organization-wide structure we began using around 2015 to prioritize and coordinate efforts based on the direction of our executive board. The plan, which is updated annually, details strategic priorities, the steps needed to achieve them and the responsible staff and volunteers. It guides our planning and helps us prepare our annual operating budget.

    The plan of work also removes the burden of including our to-do list in our departmental strategy, allowing it to instead be a stabilizing force over time. So, we created a content strategy intended to be a nimble, adaptable framework to inform the things our communications department is doing within the plan of work. The intent was to provide objectives we can turn to each year, in conjunction with the directives we receive from the executive board and CEO.

    It consists of four goals, each of which is supported by a list of objectives. In summary:

    Support strategic objectives. This is about alignment. We need to make sure what we’re doing is tied to the strategic priorities identified annually (or sometimes more frequently) by the board and CEO. Our measurements are based on the organizational objectives, for example: growth in membership, revenue, audiences or engagement.

    Communicate and provide value to our audiences. This is about providing knowledge on two levels. First, we provide content members need to be effective in their jobs. Second, we give members information about our organization itself; how they benefit by being members, learning opportunities we offer and ways they can further engage with the accounting profession.

    Demonstrate thought leadership by serving as an authoritative, influential voice for the accounting profession. This ties closely to our organization’s strategic initiative of advocacy for the accounting profession. Listening is an important part, as we need to keep tabs on the important issues CPAs care about, as well as the ones they aren’t concerned about yet, but should be. We also need to think differently and find opportunities to stand out by offering information and opinion that contrasts with the status quo.

    Drive member discussion and engagement, which may include prompting people or groups to action. This ties to our strategic initiative of community and speaks to our need to foster community by providing a framework and forum for members to connect with one another and benefit from those connections.

    This strategy has served us well, and it remains a work in progress. Though we’re still implementing some ideas we had when we wrote it, we’ve remained aligned within our organization, we’re aiming at our goals and we continue to make progress. We’ve tweaked it over the years and remain open to changes, but knowing our direction has made it easier for us to concentrate on the work of serving our organization and members’ needs.

    Gary Hunt, Communications Director at The Ohio Society of CPAs. 10 Dec 2019

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