The Power of Blogging for Associations

I work for a local trade association that is affiliated with a national association. A few times a year the national association hosts meetings at which all of its volunteer leaders get together to discuss the association’s business. Last week I attended one of those gatherings and sat through several committee meetings and general sessions, and at one of those sessions a staff member from the national organization excitedly described several new initiatives upon which they had embarked. Most of the announcements were good news for my organization and the other affiliates from around the country, but one was not so good – the service they were launching had the potential to compete with one of our services and have a negative impact on our income and to confuse our members/customers. I instantly messaged one of my counterparts from another affiliate to see if she felt the same way and she immediately replied with a strident YES!

This came to mind as I read the following excerpt from an article written by an association executive who is arguing that blogging is a powerful tool for associations:

As a member of several associations myself, I much prefer an association news stream that talks to me like a colleague and gives me updates on the good work (and sometimes risky experiments) that the association is doing to advance its mission and the industry it represents. The people closest to those projects should be reporting on them, not just describing the work they are doing, but the reasons certain decisions are made, and how they tie back to something that is of value to the members.

Blogging is a much better platform for this kind of communication. Using the traditional method, a staff person may work an entire year on launching a new product or service, and say nothing about it to the members until it’s ready to be sold to them. With blogging, the staff person can share information about the developing program throughout that year–its impetus, its initial framework, challenges it encounters along the way–all of it inviting and encouraging feedback that can be used to make it more attractive to members when it’s ready to launch.

As you might imagine I’ve always been a big fan of the blog as communication tool for an association, or any business for that matter. We’ve had one at our place for years, but until now I hadn’t really thought of the power of using it to communicate our “works in progress.” What a fantastic idea, if for no other reason than to avoid scenarios like the one I described above. Until now we’ve used our blog to cover industry news, share “members in the news” items and to promote some of our events, but I’m thinking we should use it to communicate some of our “skunk works” projects and, hopefully, get helpful feedback from our members.

Red Reality

Here in the United States our Republican friends woke up in a jubilant mood today after handing the Democrats their asses in yesterday’s election. Congrats to them, but here are a few thoughts about the state of American politics as we move forward:

  • If the Democrats have an ounce of sense, definitely not a given, they already have their campaign approach for 2016. Here it is: “The last three times the Republicans held both houses of Congress and the Presidency were the ’20s, a two year stretch in the ’50s and a couple of terms in the ’00s. Two of those three time periods ended in economic catastrophe for the country so it would be beneficial for the country if we didn’t give the folks in Red another chance to run is into the ditch.”
  • It will be interesting to see how the Senate functions now that the Republicans no longer have Harry Reid to kick around. They were quite good at obstructing, but can they lead? We’ll soon find out.
  • If you want a sneak peak into how the Republicans might behave in Washington the next couple of years just take a look at how the NC Republicans have behaved the last couple of years. Fissures in the party, particularly between social and business conservatives, will likely reveal themselves at some point next year.
  • Last and biggest point – this election has only reinforced my belief that we truly could benefit from a legitimate third party in this country. By introducing a third major player to the political mix we’d finally have a mechanism to force our leaders into actual policy making. Why? Because if a third party has enough votes then either of the other parties has to negotiate with them to get anything done. You could argue that the same should happen in the two-party system, but as we’ve seen that’s not the case because the minority party can be intransigent since there’s no alternative for the majority, or the majority can steamroll the minority if they have the votes. With a third party the dynamic shifts; no party can take their position for granted and they are pretty much forced to negotiate to get their policies through.

Yep, I’m still a pie-eyed optimist.

Numbers

From a recent issue of The Week comes two interesting stats:

Just 30 percent of Americans aged 17 to 24 are eligible to become soldiers, according to the US Army. The remaining 70 percent of young people are either too obese or are disqualified because they have a criminal history or didn’t finish high school. – Stars and Stripes

From 2000 to 2013, advertising revenue for America’s newspapers fell $40 billion — from $63.5 billion to $23 billion, according to a new report by the Brookings Foundation. At the same time, Google’s ad revenue has soared to $57.9 billion. – The Atlantic.com

Times, they are a changin’.