Associations Now: News, insight and analysis for association leaders
Associations Now delivers the essential information, insights, and ideas that empower you to master challenges, invoke imagination, and act decisively to create a better future for your organization and the world.
According to one estimate, nearly a quarter of email recipients unsubscribed in response to those GDPR privacy disclosure emails marketers sent at the end of last month.
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation has been in effect for nearly a month at this point—and already, it’s having a devastating effect on many email lists.
A recent CNBC piece reported that many major marketing agencies have seen steep declines in their email lists as a result of the rules, which require updates to privacy disclosures and, in some cases, mean marketers must reverify their lists. These emails, according to data by the marketing firm Huge, have often gone unheeded.
The agency reported, based on its own internal data, that 38 percent of U.S.-based email recipients were ignoring the privacy requests, while 23 percent were using the information to opt out of the lists entirely.
“People are not opting back in,” Huge Director of Data Science Michael Horn told the outlet. “It’s one thing for your customers who don’t have a relationship with the brand to decline and not respond, but you’re also losing a sales channel.”
Other firms reported even more dire findings—PostUp told CNBC that just 15 to 20 percent of Americans opened the emails at all.
Of course, there’s a good reason why so many of those emails were ignored: There were a lot of them. During the two-week period just before and immediately after GDPR took effect, a deluge of emails filled inboxes.
And the nature of many of these emails might have come as a surprise to recipients. As The Wall Street Journal [subscription] explained:
With so many organizations sending such emails at once, a lot of marketers were destined to get lost in the shuffle.
Seeing the Bright Side
For organizations reliant on email, this situation highlights some major challenges, but there are some benefits to the cleanse.
For one, the people who do stick around are likely to be more willing to share their data, something noted by a recent study by the Global Alliance of Data-Driven Marketing Associations (GDMA), the UK’s Direct Marketing Association (DMA), and Acxiom. In their report Global Data Privacy: What the Consumer Really Thinks, the three organizations found that more than three-quarters of global respondents were not generally opposed to sharing their data, with 58 percent of Americans tending to be pragmatic about the issue and 18 percent of Americans generally unconcerned about their data rights.
“Our research shows that consumer attitudes are changing in a positive way that makes us optimistic,” explained GDMA board member and DMA CEO Chris Combemale in a news release. “But, as we move forward, it will be a challenge to see how businesses can capitalize on this positive consumer attitude and ensure that consumers’ relationship with the data economy does not end with a reluctant acceptance of its existence.”
Possibly losing a huge chunk of your email base is certainly not ideal, but the potential for higher engagement with the people who are still there might prove a desirable salve.
Soon after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would not defend the Affordable Care Act in a closely watched federal court case, numerous associations in the medical space and beyond threw their support behind the law in a series of amicus briefs.
That case, filed by 20 Republican-led states in a Texas district court, is the latest move by opponents to stop the law, even after multiple trips to the Supreme Court and several failed attempts in Congress to repeal it. The plaintiff states argue that because lawmakers repealed the individual mandate provision as part of last year’s tax reform legislation, the ACA as a whole is now unconstitutional. DOJ doesn’t go that far, but it declined to defend the law, saying that without the individual mandate, the provision requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for preexisting conditions at standard rates is now invalid.
But last week, numerous groups representing different players in the healthcare industry—including hospitals, doctors, patient advocates, and health insurers—rallied to the law’s defense in a series of friend-of-the-court briefs in Texas v. United States. The 11 briefs touch on different parts of the law and reflect a variety of interests but demonstrate broad support in the medical world for keeping the law intact.
“The ACA’s repeal may serve plaintiffs’ idiosyncratic health-policy preferences,” the American Hospital Association [PDF] and other groups write in their brief. “But for the rest of the country, which has received from the act expanded health insurance coverage, a stable individual-insurance market, and an expanded Medicaid safety net, a judgment for plaintiffs would be disastrous.”
The American Medical Association and a number of other physician groups argue that Congress, not the courts, should resolve the issues raised in the lawsuit.
The medical groups “have acknowledged that the ACA has flaws and policymakers need to fix the problems, gaps, and unintended consequences of this law,” the AMA’s brief states [PDF]. “They have consistently advocated that position before Congress. But they disagree with any attempt to erase key features of the ACA.”
Also filing amicus briefs were the insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), AARP, and a variety of health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.
“At bottom, plaintiffs seek to turn off the health insurance system as we know it with the flip of a switch,” AHIP’s brief states [PDF]. “The ACA’s scale and scope make that impossible. Accordingly, this court should deny a preliminary injunction.”
A group of five law professors also filed a joint brief opposing the goals of the lawsuit—a group who were noted for previously having diverging opinions on the law. “Congress told us what it wanted through its 2017 legislative actions. … It repealed the penalty while leaving the insurance reforms in place,” the scholars write.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Justice Department would not defend the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, breaking with the usual practice of the federal government supporting laws passed by Congress, if challenged in court, regardless of the policies they contain.
Subcultures naturally pop up within organizations, and it’s important to manage them effectively to keep them from turning toxic. Also: As apps and platforms integrate, social media will likely become a major event sales channel.
Many leaders work hard to establish an organizational culture. But how should you handle the office subcultures that emerge?
Before you can manage subculture, you need to understand what each group values. “List unifying themes, common behavior and stories from the grapevine,” writes Tricia Emerson in a recent post for The Talent Economy. “Identify examples of people regarded as heroes and those who are not. These data points can flesh out or validate your determination of a culture.”
The main problem with subcultures is that they can turn toxic or rebellious—we’re all familiar with that one group that’s always complaining. It’s important that leadership doesn’t let that fester for too long. You can try ignoring the problem and hope it goes away, or you can confront the team directly. But if these tactics don’t work, you have to be willing to fire people, Emerson writes.
Tickets on Instagram
I could absolutely see Instagram becoming an important channel for driving attendance, especially for experiential events, and – let's be honest – they're all experiential events at this point! #eventprofs#socialmediahttps://t.co/8eaXBdwbN4
Social media channels are a part of any event marketing strategy, but soon they may be one of the central ways attendees purchase tickets to your events. Recent tech integrations is making it easier to use social networks to buy tickets.
“Snapchat has integrated with concert and sports ticket reseller Seatgeek to sell tickets on its platform, and Eventbrite will be one of the first companies to integrate Snapchat features into its app,” reports a Skift post. “Instagram, as well, has introduced connectivity with Eventbrite to sell tickets through the Instagram app.”
Facebook is experimenting with a new feature that will please social media pros. The social giant is experimenting with an A/B testing product that Page admins could use to optimize posts, reports Social Media Today.
The Specialty Food Association is increasing the space it’s donating to incubators at its Summer Fancy Food Show. This year, the former Incubator Alley has grown to an Incubator Village, spotlighting 11 incubators and 80 emerging food companies.
The Specialty Food Association is increasing its support of specialty food incubators at its Summer Fancy Food Show, which will kick off on June 30. This year, SFA is giving complimentary exhibit space for an Incubator Village of 11 incubators and 80 emerging food companies.
“Specialty foods are now a $140 billion industry,” said SFA President Phil Kafarakis in a press release. “Small emerging brands—innovative and totally focused on what consumers want—are leading trends, but it can be difficult to succeed in the food industry. Food incubators give new and passionate entrepreneurs a solid chance to enter the marketplace by providing them with opportunities to test concepts and create successful product launches. SFA is thrilled to showcase these incubators and give show attendees a deeper understanding of how they help grow our industry.”
To build out its village, SFA created a selection process. SFA first invited its nonprofit member incubators, then its for-profit member incubators, and lastly, it opened the village up to nonprofit nonmember incubators. “Within those first three categories, we filled up the village,” said SFA Vice President of Philanthropy, Government, and Industry Ron Tanner.
Along with donating the exhibit space, SFA is also hosting an education program, which will close out the three-day food show, to allow the incubators to share knowledge and stories and learn from each other.
But even though the interest in joining the Incubator Village has been tremendous, the work it’s taken to get it off the ground has been equally tremendous, Tanner said. Still, SFA is excited about the array of companies that will get exposure in the village.
“The ultimate goal is to really help these incubators and these companies be successful so they can eventually be members of the association.” Tanner said. “Our vision is to shape the future of food and we want to grow our membership, and we feel this is a very good way to get the companies before they’re too far down the road—to get them involved with us and have them be members of the association.”
Failures are inevitable. But, as former Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler explains, taking a few chances is essential for an organization’s survival.
Business culture is overwhelmed with inspirational catchphrases—“no pain, no gain,” “fake it till you make it,” and so on. Most are as innocuous as that dusty Successories poster nobody looks at down at your local used-car lot. But one of them is actively counterproductive: “Failure is not an option.”
The line has its origin in the space program, and if you are, in fact, shooting people into space, you’re forgiven and welcome to continue using it. But for most of the rest of us—and particularly those in the association world—the line has a chilling effect that shuts down risk-taking and stifles new ideas.
“Every organization needs a mix of creative people and managerial, doing-things people. Those aren’t the same person.”
Kickstarter shares updated aggregated statistics on how its projects are performing, and it’s held to a pretty consistent failure rate: Only about 36 percent of Kickstarter projects reach the funding goals that creators set for them. Which is fine for Strickler, because he founded the company to be an incubator for new ideas. “We always felt that if the system produced a success rate of 100 percent and every project got funded, there would be something wrong with that,” Strickler told me. “We’re trying to create a system where you are able to explore new ideas and try to do new things. And a system like that has to be tolerant of some amount of risk.”
That said, not all risks are created equal. Moonshots don’t happen without test flights, and Kickstarter is built on relatively small successes: The majority of fully funded projects are asking for $10,000 or less. Your association may not be looking to create the kinds of artistic or tech-driven projects that are Kickstarter’s bread and butter, but the sensibility is the same—the new ideas that get over are the ones that are large enough to be meaningful, small enough to test without too much drama, and interesting enough to get a tribe of people to rally around.
First, though, you need to cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable putting those new ideas out there. For associations to be more risk-oriented, Strickler said, “it would have to start with an acceptance of change. If you don’t believe that things will change, or should change, or could change, you’ll find yourself very rigid. And when change starts to happen you will get anxious and fight it.”
Embracing change signals an ability to thinking beyond the short term. “If an organization can create an attitude like that, I would bet on their ability to make good decisions,” he said. “When you have that sort of orientation, I think it’s possible to explore what the future could look like.”
Strickler argues that the leader’s job in this environment isn’t so much to the be creator of those new ideas, but to serve as a facilitator for them. “I think every organization needs a mix of creative people and managerial, doing-things people,” he says. “Those aren’t the same person.” And Strickler returns often to the notion of success being a function of how a leader thinks about time. Thinking solely about how you’re going to get through today is its own kind of high-risk moonshot—you’re making a bet that your environment ten years from now will be the same as it is now. But that bet is a proven loser. Thinking about the future carries its own risks—nobody is perfect at predicting it. But you’ll be cultivating the kind of flexibility that will allow you to anticipate trends and adapt to them.
“The context of right now literally only lasts for this moment,” Strickler says. “It’s different tomorrow, and it’s different a week from now, and it always will be. I think having an orientation towards change should open an organization to having the possibility of making good adjustments, of evolving, of having more than one product that people are interested in. I think that’s a good thing to strive for.”
What does your organization do to cultivate small-scale risks? Share your experiences in the comments.
The Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance spotlights young members who have stories to tell and are in a good position to lead.
How to hack it? As part of an effort to amplify the voices of future leaders, the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance profiles young members in Q&A-style interviews, published online in its LEAP Spotlights series.
Most of these interviews feature volunteers who serve on AFWA’s LEAP Council, which develops programs and initiatives targeted to young members, a segment of membership that’s growing quickly, says AFWA Executive Director Cindy Stanley.
“Today, 52 percent of our new members are under the age of 35. That’s obviously a huge number. We really need to address this group and make sure they feel heard, because they are our future,” she says.
Why does it work? The LEAP Spotlights put names and faces to young members who show promise as future leaders, says Karyn Hartke, AFWA’s president-elect. “Our goal is to show each leader as their whole self, not just their work self,” she says.
The New Jersey Hospital Association, along with its Health Research and Educational Trust, will fund a software platform that will make it easier to track opioid prescriptions and identify proper treatments for ER patients.
On the front lines of the opioid crisis, one of the most critical tools that hospital emergency room doctors need to save lives is basic information about a patient’s prescription history. But stopping to search a database can take precious time that a patient may not have.
This week, the New Jersey Hospital Association and its Health Research and Educational Trust announced a plan to fund a tracking tool that will eliminate the need for healthcare providers to go looking for that information. Instead, the tool pushes alerts to the emergency department when a patient is entered into the system, supplying real-time information from a variety of care settings and helping ER doctors to identify patients who have been traveling to multiple hospitals or other facilities to get opioid prescriptions.
New Jersey saw a 35 percent increase in opioid deaths between July 2016 and June 2017, with 2,284 overdose deaths reported during the period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’ve seen far too many drug victims come into our EDs when it’s already too late to save them,” NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett said in a news release. “NJHA has embraced a new mission and vision of improving the health and well-being of the people in our state, and today we’re backing that commitment with a significant investment. While opioid abuse is one of our most urgent needs, this resource has the potential to be a powerful population health tool through better coordination across care settings.”
The association collaborated with the software provider Collective Medical to bring the platform to New Jersey. Previously, the system has been used in Washington and Massachusetts, among other states. NJHA worked with the New Jersey chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) to arrange site visits to facilities in those states, where doctors observed the tool in action.
Marjory Langer, president of ACEP’s New Jersey chapter, said the tool “will remove the communication barriers between EDs and other emergency care settings and help emergency physicians to better identify, manage, and treat patients struggling with opioid addiction.”
$216M The amount that accredited museums spent on field conservation projects in 127 countries in 2016, according to the American Alliance of Museums. AAM notes that museum initiatives—including conservation, habitat preservation, research, and public education—play a key role in protecting endangered species.
This week, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida went out of its way to save a tiny seahorse named Frito—and it’s not the first time the nonprofit marine rescue center has stepped up for the species.
Of the many things Florida’s Clearwater Marine Aquarium is known for, one is very small. And her name is Frito.
This week, CMA returned Frito the Seahorse to her natural home in the Gulf of Mexico. She is the third, and tiniest, seahorse rescued and returned to the wild by conservationists at the aquarium.
Dawn McCartney, a Tampa Bay resident, discovered Frito tangled in fishing line while snorkeling June 10. She freed the seahorse, placed her in a water bottled filled with seawater, and then reached out to the aquarium for help.
On Thursday, after a period of rehabilitation, the CMA team released Frito back into the wild, into a lush bed of sea grass.
“Our mission of rescue, rehabilitation, and release applies to all marine life, big and small,” aquarium CEO David Yates said in a statement. “The level of care our team gave to tiny Frito is inspiring. It is so rewarding to get her back home.”
CMA noted that monofilament fishing line floating in the ocean poses an entanglement danger for many species, including sea turtles, dophins, stingrays, and birds.
Frito is CMA’s third seahorse rescue. Last year, the team rescued, rehabilitated, and released Frito’s predecessors, Cheeto and Funyun.
A community engagement pro offers some nuanced thinking about what makes a good association community. Also: Is it possible to get some personal space during an airport layover?
It might be one of the most challenging questions your association faces when you set up an online community: Do you leave the community closed and keep it a member benefit, or do you let nonmembers in?
A lot of factors go into that decision, and on her site Community by Association, Marjorie Anderson of the Project Management Institute works out much of the calculus in a recent blog post.
“Most associations have a target segment that they cater to. They build their products and services around those segments and innovate on their behalf based on their needs,” she writes. “An online community fits nicely into that equation because it provides an opportunity to obtain insight into what members want/need, right-in-time developments in a specific area or topic, and ways to communicate with the market when feedback is needed quickly.”
While both approaches—open and closed—have benefits, Anderson suggests considering a hybrid approach that offers some access to nonmembers but restricts premium content to members only. This formula can improve the makeup of the community, she argues, and also works as a subtle selling tactic.
“It exposes nonmembers to the benefits of membership without a hard sell and gives them the opportunity to join if they see the value in it,” she writes.
Traveling is stressful, at least party because airports are stressful. Wouldn’t it be great to escape the craziness while at the airport, at least for a little while? Over at Forbes, travel writer Leslie Wu notes that some businesses are catering to travelers by offering an oasis or two in the terminal, in the form of private pods, more sophisticated lounges, and even green space. (On the other hand, a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones might do the trick.)
As meeting organizers embrace diversity and inclusion, their event playbook evolves.
Diversity and inclusion have long been the subject matter of mission statements and initiatives for associations, but increasingly practical examples of their commitment have begun to emerge—especially in the meetings and events business.
Which makes both societal and business sense, as diversity is a topic gaining momentum in enterprises worldwide, according to recent research in the Harvard Business Review, which demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between diversity and innovation outcomes. The effect was amplified the more dimensions of diversity were represented.
In turn, forward-thinking destinations throughout the U.S. are encouraging and supportive of diversity in their locales from both a social and an economic perspective as organizations increasingly seek out host cities that share their values. For an example, Indianapolis is a destination actively pursuing partnerships with diversity-minded organizations.
InterPride, a global convention of leaders and event organizers from various pride organizations around the world, recently honored Indianapolis to be the host city for their annual World Conference in October 2017. Each year, the World Conference works to educate and honor LGBT history, as well as celebrate diversity. Working closely with IndyPride, the local LGBTQ pride group in Indianapolis, the organization coordinated to bring a record number of pride organizations to the city for the diversity and inclusion themed conference.
Upon arriving to the city, their reception was warm, to say the least: when the delegates arrived at the airport, recalls board of directors member Chris Morehead, the local convention and visitors bureau had arranged a lively welcoming committee.
“The moment they walked off their plane there was an exhibition there, with full rainbows, LGBT all over; a big sign from Indianapolis airport welcoming them to our city, that type of touch,” he recalls. This fanfare, with its visible signs of welcoming and appreciating diversity, set a positive tone for the event.
Such was the case recently for Wendy Holliday, executive director of PLM World, a group of users of a Siemens manufacturing software. When Holliday organized the May 2017 event at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, she and her team took steps to make sure women, who are in the minority at the 2,300-person event, felt included.
The organizers started what is now called Women of PLM, a group for female attendees. “People wanted an opportunity to connect,” says Holliday. The group appointed two male allies or “Manbassadors” —the group’s chair elect and a board member—to show their public support for inclusion. “Having that kind of support for leadership is important,” says Holliday.
Although this affinity group at the conference was promoted to women, she said, “they didn’t want to exclude men.”
The initiative was a success, Holliday says, noting “excellent participation” from attendees. “We were extremely pleased with the meeting in Indianapolis,” she says. “It had the highest attendance have in more than a decade.”
Diversity is about a making a commitment to create the type of environment that sets an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming tone, says CEO of Visit Indy Leonard Hoops.
“Diversity and inclusion are intrinsically important to me, to Visit Indy and to Indianapolis,” says Hoops. “As someone of mixed race, who is a father to a child with special needs, who works for an organization that believes in the power of diverse people with diverse thought, and who promotes a city with a long-standing, comprehensive human rights ordinance, it is simply part of my, and our, daily fabric in Indy.”
Hoops isn’t the only executive that hears this calling and answers it. Take Irene Hulede, manager of student programs at the American Society for Microbiology. For Hulede, promoting diversity is not only just an important initiative, it’s central to the mission. In fact, her organization has even launched a conference specifically with diversity and inclusion in mind which has been a growing success story.
“In order to move the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) forward, it’s crucial that there is more diversity, which means the inclusion of minorities, veterans and people with disabilities working in these fields. ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students) was founded to encourage minority, first-generation, veteran, and disabled students to pursue higher education in STEM,” says Hulede.
Today, ABRCMS is one the largest professional conferences for underrepresented students and will be hosted in Indianapolis this fall.
As more organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion in their events, meetings and overall strategies, expect to see an increased focus on:
Organizations getting inventive in their approach to attracting and engaging audience segments outside of their core membership and attendee base
Meeting planners and event organizers finding ways to make events feel accessible to groups that current feel excluded or alienated
Organizers to prioritize securing speakers and panelists that represent a diverse mix of viewpoints, perspectives and background
Association leaders and executives to increasingly support diversity as an agenda item
This trend report was brought to you by Visit Indy. Visit Indy proudly serves as the official sales and marketing organization for USA Today’s “#1 Convention City in the U.S. Learn more at https://www.visitindy.com/indianapolis-planner