While in graduate school, I had the opportunity to work with a large, global, professional engineering association. During those two years, I was exposed to executive leadership, conferences, publications, awards, and more – opening my eyes to the world of professional associations. And I learned that working with associations is very different than working with your typical business.
Volunteers are a Must
Associations are volunteer-driven; without passionate volunteers who are excited to work to further the industry, an association will have a hard time doing much of anything. Jumping from work obligations to conferences to writing papers, these dedicated members must balance their career and volunteer positions, making them very busy people – a very important point to be aware of when working with associations.
As PR pros, we need to be strategic about our time with volunteers in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. Flexibility is key when working with volunteers who are balancing their day-to-day jobs with their volunteer efforts. Therefore, being flexible and accommodating when engaging with volunteers should always be top-of-mind.
Collaboration is Key
Associations unite people who otherwise may never work together, let alone meet. This environment of collaboration is unique to associations, bringing together the best and brightest minds. It’s one of the key reasons associations can advance their given industry effectively. Therefore, working with associations means working with a lot of people from many different businesses, organizations, and countries. With so many volunteers working together, it’s important to collect and leverage their ideas to create messaging that clearly communicates with target audiences about their work. This is an especially important consideration with global organizations, where it’s essential to listen and learn from representatives from the different countries.
Here at Interprose, I’ve had the privilege of working with several other associations. If there is any one key takeaway I gleaned from working with these organizations, it’s that people are overloaded with information. Inboxes are full and unmanageable, making our jobs as PR professionals crucial. Information sent about associations to non-members and even communications sent to members must be spot-on.
With so much information being sent to people these days, it’s ever more important to “respect the inbox”. Associations want to keep their members informed about new conferences, webinars, eNewsletters, publications, and a variety of other benefits but also don’t want to overwhelm them. We often recommend that rather than send individual emails about upcoming events and publications, all of these benefits are consolidated into a single eBulletin Alert. Similar to a newsletter, these bulletins provide a short blurb about each offering and a link to the association’s website to register, subscribe, or get more information.
Working with associations is a unique and different experience. At Interprose, partnering with associations is a very rewarding experience, as we play a key role in helping them and their volunteers to both achieve their goals and excel within their given industries.
Does your association have unmet communication needs? Let us help you.