With friends like Public Relations, who needs Lobbying?

The Center for Public Integrity recently reported on how some trade associations were turning to public relations and advertising instead of lobbying to influence legislators. They point to the lack of disclosure rules and expansive outreach as factors in this shift. While these groups still spent money on lobbying, public relations and communications are receiving more resources and attention.

As an association lobbyist, it raises some interesting questions. First, is this the beginning of the end of lobbying? The article tries to tie in the rise of PR campaigns with the decline of lobbying expenditures. However, it’s too simple of an explanation. It doesn’t account for those who were once lobbyists, but no longer fit the definition and doesn’t have to register. Second, is what PR companies doing count as lobbying? Sure, the primary audience for these PR firms is the public. However, it’s abundantly clear that the real targets for their outreach are those Members of Congress with jurisdiction over their client’s issues. Third, what does this mean for the lobbyist? I think those of us who continue to advocate without developing any communications expertise run the risk of becoming useless. If I can’t articulate my point to the legislative director, my board chair and the family down the street, my association will turn to someone who can.

Will PR campaigns replace lobbying? I don’t think so. It remains an important function for many associations. However, they should consider public relations when putting together an advocacy strategy.

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Now What?

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Generation Advocacy

I have a confession to make. This past June, I gave birth to my baby. Now that my baby’s 6 months old, I felt it was time to show them off.

Introducing Generation Advocacy.

No, I have not gone Hollywood and gave a child a weird name (although we could call them Ginny for short). Generation Advocacy is the name of my new business. GA, which is what I affectionately call it, is my advocacy training/PAC management/general government relations consulting service.

In the 15+ years I’ve done government relations, I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who never knew they could meet with their legislator and talk about issues that affect them. My goal for GA is to spread the message that you (yes you) have the power and ability to advocate. We will give you the skills and know how to tackle a Capitol Hill visit with ease. Along with advocacy training, GA also works with political action committees as well provides direction for an association’s government relations efforts.

Generation Advocacy wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for some wonderful colleagues and friends who pushed, encouraged and in some cases threatened me if I didn’t embark on this journey. To them I say, thank you :-). If you have a few minutes, please visit the website and let me what you think. Want to work with us? Let us know how we can help.

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Achieving Success in Diversity and Inclusion

In August, ASAE introduced the 2015-2017 Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan as well as new policies on religious diversity and accessibility. We asked the D + I Committee’s Immediate Past Chair and 2008-2009 DELP Scholar Mariama Boney to talk about their important work.

Association Advocacy Chick: What are some of the responsibilities for ASAE’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee?

Mariama Boney: For nearly 25 years, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee has promoted diversity and inclusion in association management, develop recommendations on how to make ASAE’s leadership and membership more diverse, and assisted ASAE with integrating diversity and inclusion into initiatives, education, or programs. The committee also coordinates the ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP).

AAC : Identify some of the most pressing issues for associations when it comes to D + I. 

MB: Some key and most pressing issues for associations include:

  1. Promoting an understanding of and celebrating the various generations and cultures that are working together.
  2. Creating and fostering inclusive environments for all cultural groups to work together effectively.
  3. Growing recruitment, retention and equity of multicultural groups in at all levels – in hiring, membership, and boards.

As associations, we have to be innovative and willing to do something different. We’ve been distracted by the same conversations we’ve been having for years. Association professional must broaden the conversation and move toward action. According to US Census estimates, by the year 2020, the most prominent changes in the US workforce will be in the demographic areas of age, gender, national origin and race/ethnicity. Yet, less than 30% of associations have a Diversity & Inclusion initiative and only 21% have a designated staff person responsible for staff and/or membership diversity & inclusion.

AAC: The D&I Committee developed a new strategic plan for 2015-2017. Talk about some of the key points and what goes into developing such a plan. 

MB: We used the principles of scan, plan, implement, evaluate. The process was 8 months from start to finish.

First, we clarified the terminology regarding diversity, inclusion, diversity + inclusion and cultural competence.

Second,  we reviewed and clarified ASAE’s Diversity and Inclusion statement. Next we worked with a consultant in a day-long session to identify successes, strengths and gaps as well as opportunities to build from the earlier 2012-14 plan created under the leadership of D&I Committee Past Chair, Oleathia Gadsden.

Out of that dialogue and data review, we worked with a consultant secured by ASAE to engage a diverse work group in a visioning dialogue and outlined the impact and accomplishments we wanted to see for ASAE and the association community in 3-5 years. The priorities include a focus on:

  • Resources and Recognition
  • Reach and Relevance
  • Talent Development
  • Relationship Development

Then, the consultant and ASAE Sr. Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Alexis Terry, placed our thoughts, ideas and priorities into a workable framework and organized the ideas into major themes which yielded the primary goals and action steps.

I worked with an awesome core group of DELP class liaisons to engage over 100 association leaders, the ASAE executive team, the work group and the D&I committee to review the initial draft and highlight critical gaps. Finally, edits were made and the plan was formatted into a reader friendly publication by ASAE’s marketing team.

AAC: The D&I Committee assisted with recommendations to address religious diversity and accessibility. What prompted these recommendations? 

MB: The recommendations which are now approved policies grew out of best prescribes and the experiences of some ASAE members. When opportunities arise to be better and serve ASAE members better through suggestions or complaints, we have to gather the facts, examine the experiences and pay attention so we can explore opportunities for advocacy which then yields change.

So, as the opportunities and best practices regarding interfaith issues and accessibility on meeting came to our attention we thought it important to bring some action via policy. You can find these recommendations here. Information on accessibility at ASAE meetings can be found here.

AAC: How does the work of the D&I Committee affect/impact ASAE’s Diversity Executive Leadership Program?

MB: The committee generated the concept of DELP nearly 15 years ago and has served as the coordinating group in partnership with ASAE staff with the selection of each DELP class and the program model. Program operations, logistics and implementation are managed  by ASAE  staff.

The committee reviews the program purpose, goals, marketing, program criteria, selection process and program components and make revisions annually. Since the program has been such a great success with 135 alumni, a DELP subcommittee of the D&I committee now focuses on alumni engagement.

AAC: What will make associations successful in diversity and inclusion for the future?

MB: Have a committed and trained executive leadership team. Equip them with the courage to go beyond being PC about equity, diversity and inclusion. In addition…

  1. Get the Data. Many associations don’t know their strengths and challenges, and opportunities regarding diversity and inclusion which is why the Association Inclusion Index is so important. It is only $199 and well worth the investment.
  2. Develop a plan. Include diversity and inclusion in the strategic plan and integrate it throughout the organization.
  3. Focus on Recruitment. Build a diverse workforce through multicultural outreach.
  4. Measure Retention. Implement professional development and foster inclusive environments to keep a thriving and diverse workforce.

ASAE also created a video highlighting the importance of D+I to the association community and how we as association professionals can take the necessary steps to develop and implement D+I strategies within our own organizations. Check it out today!

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#asae14 is over. Now what?

To recap #asae14, some sessions were great; Others not so much. People had particular feelings about the opening and closing sessions. Nashville pulled out all the stops to welcome attendees. We all had fun at parties, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But it’s all over now. The sessions. The networking. The receptions. So now what? Do we go back to work as if nothing happened? Obviously not. Here’s what we should do before the end of the month.

1. Follow up with those we promised to connect with. Schedule that coffee or lunch meeting. Don’t let those potential connections die off.

2. Submit your travel expense form. Don’t wait until the end of the year to take care of this. Your finance department will thank you for it.

3. Act on what you learned. Whether it was something you gained from a session or an idea discovered during lunch, make a plan to act on it. Don’t let those great ideas go to waste.

4. Start thinking about asae15. Maybe the Ignite session inspired you to submit a proposal. Or maybe the choir that performed during the closing session got you pumped for Detroit. Regardless of the reason, it’s never too early to think about the next ASAE annual meeting. If the typical annual meeting schedule holds, RFPs will open in November, a mere three months away.

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DELP at ASAE14

Hi all! Just a quick hello before we head to Nashville for ASAE14. I was going to do a “tips on prepping for ASAE annual post”, but there are already a ton of great posts on this topic including this, this and this. I want to take this opportunity to plug some of the Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) and diversity+inclusion activities at ASAE this year.

DELP Lounge

Check out the DELP Lounge in the Music City Center, Davidson Ballroom, Salon C2. You’ll find information on the program, tips on applying to DELP and more. The lounge will be open on Sunday from 10 to 5; Monday from 9 to 5 and Tuesday from 8:30 to 12 noon.

Diversity & Inclusion Reception – 8/10 at 9 pm

Join members of the association community as we celebrate ASAE in Nashville at the Whiskey Bent, 306 Broadway. Stop through and say hello as you head to the many parties and receptions on Sunday night.                         

DELP Scholars presenting at ASAE 14 (Big thanks to Marilu Morada for putting this list together.)

Sunday, August 10

2:00 -3:30pm

The Changing Face of Society

Co-presenter: Horacio Gavilan

 

Monday, August 11

9:00-10:00 am

The Association Shark Tank: D&I Initiatives for Competitive Advantage

Co-presenters: Juan Amador CAE; Darlene Lebron Lopez, VJ Mayor, CAE; Shomari McCrimons; and Sikha Singh MHS, PMP

 

Get the Grant: Finding Funding Opportunities for Associations

Co-presenters: LaTanya Benford, Sharon Moss, CAE;  Lemmietta G McNeilly, CAE

 

2:00 -3:00 pm

All Aboard! The Move to a Smaller, Competency-Based Board 

Panelist: Mila Fuller, Ed.D, CAE

 

3:30 – 4:30 pm 

Building Community through Inclusion

Co-presenter: Shane Feldman, CAE

 

What Your Faculty Must Know to Make Your Meeting Memorable

Co-presenters: Tracy King CFD, CAE and Audra Franks, MTA, CMP, CAE

 

Tuesday, August 12

9:00 – 10:00am

Association Hunger Games: Victory or Defeat?

Co-presenter: Aaron D. Wolowiec, CAE, CMP, CTA

 

Ignite

If I had 24 More Hours: VJ Mayor, CAE

How Not to Embarrass Yourself Doing Business Abroad: Darlene Lebron Lopez, MBA

Salsa for the Soul – The Secret to Lifelong Success: Eloiza Altoro, MA, CAE

 

10:30 – 11:30 am

Innovation in Plain Sight: ASAE’s Experiment with a New Product Development Framework

Co-presenter: Mariah Burton Nelson, MPH, CAE

 

Earning the CAE

Co-presenter: Nathan Victoria, CAE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Heart Detroit

One of the highlights of being a DELP scholar is our annual reunion. For most of us,  it’s the only opportunity we have to see each other and immerse ourselves in all things DELP. No matter how large our group gets or how unique our experiences are, there’s been one constant in my seven (!) years as a DELPer:  Detroit.

The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau supports ASAE’s Diversity Executive Leadership Program. Every summer, we travel to Detroit for a weekend filled with learning and fun. It’s become one of my favorite annual trips. Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Detroit?” The same city that filed for bankruptcy? The same place with the high crime and unemployment rates? Yes, but if that’s all you know about this Midwestern city in Michigan, then you’re missing the big picture.

Yes, Detroit has its challenges. However, look beyond the bankruptcy and abandoned buildings and you’ll see beautiful hotels, parks and public art displays. You’ll see a great new convention center. You’ll see people dedicating their time and talent to rebuild this city. When I see Detroit, I see progress. I’m a native Washingtonian. I remember the years when the downtown area was desolate. Stores closed. Businesses moved to the suburbs or other parts of the city. Buildings laid vacant. And then, you saw the resurgence. The Verizon Center. New restaurants, hotels and stores. Businesses moving back to the area. What I saw in DC is what’s happening now in Detroit. With nurturing, guidance, and investments, I believe in the comeback that is The D.

So, thank you Detroit for not only being a gracious host to DELP every year, but also showing us what a bright future looks like.

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