Using live video streaming for advocacy

For the past few weeks, we’ve seen people tiptoe into the world of live video streaming apps including Meerkat and Periscope. While I’ve downloaded Periscope, I’ve yet to produce any content personally or professionally. However, here are some possibilities when it comes to using this service in your advocacy efforts.

1. Congressional Briefings

I once worked on a briefing for congressional staff on the challenges of and opportunities for parents with disabilities. We were bombarded with questions about making it available for outside the DC area. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the capacity to stream our briefing online.

Imagine if we were able to live stream brief segments of our congressional briefings, receptions or other activities for those who could not attend.

2. Hill Days

While you’ll likely be prohibited from live streaming the meeting, you can capture the excitement of your members making their way to Capitol Hill or the statehouse and broadcast it to your members.

3. Congressional Testimony

During a recent House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime hearing on online gambling, a representative from the Poker Players Alliance used Meerkat to give testimony. According to Politico, it was possibly the first use of live video streaming for testimony by an advocacy group. It remains to be seen whether other congressional committees will follow suit.

4. Member Updates

Give your members a live update on your advocacy efforts or breaking news on the status of legislation you’re working on.


What do you think of live video streaming for advocacy? Will it become another tool in our arsenal or just a fad?



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.

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!

Welcome DELP newbies

Congratulations to the DELP class of 2014-2016! Soon you will meet in DC to receive a formal orientation on all things DELP and ASAE. Afterwards, your class will travel to Detroit to meet your fellow DELPers for our annual reunion. There will be some laughs, some happy tears, some learning and a lot of fun! Before we get there, let me share a few words of wisdom with you.

1. DELP is what you make it. Give some thought to what you want the next two years and beyond to look like. Do you have a specific career goal in mind? Do you aspire to ASAE leadership? Whatever it is, put yourself in the mindset to take advantage of every opportunity presented to you through DELP.

2. To Whom Much Is Given, Much Will Be Required. You will gain so much from DELP: professional development, networking opportunities, and new contacts just to name a few. As DELP scholars, we are to volunteer on boards and committees; write for ASAE and other publications; present at conferences and offer their time and talents as needed.

3. Prepare to have your life forever changed. You may think you just applied for a professional development program. You didn’t. You joined a family of high achievers who look out for each other. We bring out the best in each other. When one succeeds, we all succeed. By the end of the weekend, you will gain over 100 brothers and sisters who will understand your challenges and help you find solutions.

So newbies, get ready. This is the start of a long, successful journey. See you in The D!

Congressional testimony tips from Seth Rogen

Last month, actor Seth Rogen testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee to ask for more research funding for Alzheimer’s disease. Organizations are well aware that star power sells and having a celebrity spokesperson can help bring attention to your cause. In fact, Ben Affleck was also on Capitol Hill that same day giving testimony. However, no one seemed to care because Rogen’s opening statement was the talk of Capitol Hill. In fact, two days after his appearance, CSPAN reported that video of Rogen’s testimony was their 3rd most watched video EVER. What lessons can associations learn from this experience?

1. You have to use the right member. Sure, Seth Rogen is a celebrity and celebrity = attention. However, celebrity does not guarantee that someone can articulate personal experiences and connect them to legislative requests. Heck, celebrity doesn’t even guarantee that someone can read. While your association may not have a Seth Rogen at their disposal, you do have members who are knowledgeable about the issues and can articulate them in a way that engage and inform.

2. Once you find the right member, prep them for the congressional experience. If you have watched the congressional hearing, you may have noticed that not all of the committee members were present. This did not sit well with Seth as he took to Twitter openly asking why this hearing was so poorly attended by members of Congress. In hindsight, I wished the organization he was working with would’ve filled him in on what a typical day on Capitol Hill is like. Wednesdays are usually the busiest day on the Hill. At any given moment, there are floor debates, hearings, meetings with constituents, and other activities occurring simultaneously. While it would be great for members of Congress to be present at every hearing, that’s just not possible. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. If anything, this presents a great opportunity for Seth and the advocacy organization to continue their congressional outreach.

3. Humor works. Seth Rogen is funny. Alzheimer’s is not. And yet, here was this comedic actor who was able to translate humor into an ask for more research dollars to fight the disease his mother-in-law is battling. A little levity when faced with these challenging issues is appreciated by those advocating for these issues as well as the legislators who are faced with making tough choices in a difficult economy.

A Scandalous lesson in social media

I’m a huge fan of the hit ABC drama Scandal starring Kerry Washington. Washington plays Olivia Pope, a person who makes a living “fixing” things whether it’s covering up a liaison in a congressman’s office or throwing a presidential election. With its legions of fans taking to social media daily to discuss all things Scandal, the show decided to embrace the chatter.

Outside of their Facebook page and Twitter feed, the show hosts a live Twitter chat each week (#AskScandal) where fans can talk to some of the stars and producers including Judy Smith, the inspiration for the Olivia Pope character.  There are fan sites with everything from in-depth analysis to blog posts on what Washington wore on the show. All of this energy makes Thursday nights at 10 pm a community event with every little plot twist dissected up to the cliffhanger at the end of each episode. More importantly, it leaves the fans wanting more and more each week.

So what can those of us in the association community take from this? We should learn to embrace social media for our benefit. Provide our members with memorable, exciting experiences. Give them the opportunity to talk to us about what’s really going on in the association community and how we can work together to make it a better place.

scandal screenshot

What associations can learn from the 2012-2013 NFL season

As we bid a fond farewell to the 2012-2013 NFL season, here are some lessons learned that may provide valuable to those of us in the association community.

1. Never underestimate your young talent


Rookies made a name for themselves this season. Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III (2013 NFL’s Rookie of the Year). Russell Wilson. Three rookie quarterbacks who led their teams to winning seasons and the playoffs. Let’s not forget Alfred Morris who’s on his way to becoming the next great ‘Skins running back. Associations should also be willing to give their younger staff the ball and take the lead where appropriate. They may exceed your expectations.

2. Mistreat your staff at your own risk

RG3 injured

The aforementioned RGIII is currently recuperating from knee surgery due to injuries this season. Much of the blame for this has centered around Skins coach Mike Shanahan and the decision to not pull his quarterback from the playoff game when he was obviously hurt. For a quarterback who is known for his rushing yards as well as his passing, ACL surgery is significant and may affect how RGIII plays from here on out. While association staff typically do not suffer ACL tears on the job (at least I hope not), they do suffer from toxic work environments, office bullies, and unsatisfying work. Continue to ignore this and you will lose valuable staff.

3. Institutional memory still matters

If you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, you’re well aware of the following image

green bay seattle

For those who are not sports fans, this was the final play of one of the first Monday Night Football games of the season where one referee called it a touchdown for Seattle while the other called it a touchback for Green Bay.  Ultimately, the game is called for Seattle. The refs, replacements for the officials involved with a labor dispute with the NFL, were vilified for this call and others like it during the first few games of the season. The replacement refs had very limited experience calling NFL games and it showed. In fact, it was this game that was credited with ending the lockout and bringing back the professional refs. The successful association is one that utilizes both new and seasoned talent.  Staff with more than 20 years of experience have the institutional memory that no amount of research can replace.  They can tell you where the bodies are buried and more importantly, how they died.

4. The unexpected will happen. Deal with it.

Super bowl blackout

Super Bowl 47 will be remembered for many things: The Ravens’ dominant first half, Beyoncé’s half time extravaganza, The 49ers’ surge, and a partial power outage in the third quarter. While it cannot be considered the SuperDome’s finest half hour, the power was eventually restored and play continued. What happens when something unexpected happens during your association’s legislative fly in or annual conference? You fix it and move on.