Public Relations by Association(s)

Yep - I'm still cross posting from the Buzz Bin. Here's my post from April 29th.

Last Friday's conference for PRSA's Nonprofit/Association section, "PR 2.0: Riding the Social Media Wave," was a big draw for the District's 501(c)-something crowd. You might not know many of the attending groups, but this could change as they move into the digital era. Hey, the train doesn't leave the station without the caboose!

Is it a "Wave" or a Slip-n-Slide?

Without question, the association world is taking strides in public relations and marketing. As with other sectors, you'll find plenty of hemming, hawing and urgency here. (Photo credit: brodiemanlsue)

As membership-driven entities, associations often know what their stakeholders need before the members themselves have a clue. Sometimes it's the other way around. And depending on the association, the members may or may not keep in touch before and after in-person events. Oh, the limitless possibilities to stay in touch with members, foster dialogue with each other, and create useful knowledge-sharing channels for all. It's no surprise that most of PR professionals at this event represented associations.

I was lucky to speak alongside Jeff De Cagna, who could tell you a thing or two about the slip-and-slide nature of the association community's group effort in this area. Jeff keeps associations on their toes through his private practice, Principled Innovation. He also yells at his audience.

During his presentation on the adoption of social technologies by different demographic groups, Jeff paced among the crowd, weaving through tables and chairs, pleading (if not preaching): "We have all these tools, but we're scared to death of them. [You say] 'Oh my God! The members might actually talk to each other!!' I say, 'FANTASTIC.'"

Jeff recently launched an interesting formula to help clients strategically approach social technology: P.R.E.P. (purpose, readiness, experimentation, practice). It could very well apply to your own issue at hand.

Influencing Leadership

Later in the day, Jeff joined my mild-mannered panel with Melanie Miller, VP of PR for The Sugar Association, Inc, moderated by Aaron Ellis, Director of Communications for the American Association of Port Authorities. (Pictured below - Aaron's standing.)

Aaron Ellis, Jeff De Cagna, Melanie Miller, Qui Diaz

We wrapped up the event with a frank discussion on senior leadership hurdles to adopting social media. It comes down to one secret: you have to do whatever it takes to get people on board.
  • Present the facts: find your audience online, see what your competitors are up to, and point out opportunities to improve the situation.

  • Highlight examples: the people who are doing this right want to be spotlighted; use their work as case study and to help expand the comfort zone.

  • Provide a personal experience: Have a wary CEO who doesn't get it? Set him up with a blogging platform, LinkedIn account or other hands-on training wheels.

Daryl McCullough (Paine PR), Brian Reich (Echo Ditto) and Howard Mortman (New Media Strategies and his delightful blog, Extreme Mortman) also spoke. Brian is a new personal hero: check out his blog, Thinking About Media.

Among those in attendance: Mark Coindreau, PR Manager of the the American Payroll Association, Amanda Bednar (another PR Manager) for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, and Elizabeth Griffin and Jennifer Hardy from Catholic Relief Services. Thanks to all those who brought great questions and commentary to the forefront.

Looking for more association resources? Take a look at ASAE's Acronym blog and Jeff's wiki about social media for associations. They'll help you maneuver the plunge.


ljunker said...

Thank you so much for the link to Acronym! The Association Social Media wiki, as you said, is also a great place to look and see what associations are doing in the blogging arena. And most association bloggers are happy to answer questions about the decisions they've made or how their members are reacting to their blogs; since blogging is a relatively new field for many of us, sharing information on what works and what doesn't benefits us all.

Thank you again for the link to Acronym!

Lisa Junker

clo*bee said...

When I first saw the bit about Sugar, I thought you were working with these folks! http://teamsugar.com

Haha, just a little different!