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Six Things to Remember When a Reporter Calls

Posted By Jess Myers, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interacting with the media can sometimes be intimidating, but it does not need to be. Following six simple tips for dealing with the media can help make the difference between a productive interview and a disaster.


1)     Be prepared. Or more accurately, don’t be unprepared.

You’re in the middle of nine things at once, when you get a call that you’re not prepared to deal with. So don’t. Ask what they want to talk about, ask for a few sample questions, and ask for their deadline. Politely tell the person on the other end that you will have to get more information and call them back. Then, vitally important, get the information, and call them back. Make yourself some notes that answer their questions, and underscore the main points you want to get across. Don’t go into the call if you’re unprepared.

2)     Know who you are speaking to.

If you get a call from the lifestyle writer for your local community newspaper, odds are they’re probably looking to write a nice, positive story, and it’s something in which you will want to participate. If you get a call from an investigative reporter at Dateline NBC and they have questions about policy, it’s probably something different and you should be more cautious.

 

In addition to knowing who you’re speaking to, anticipate their questions, and have thought-out, helpful answers ready.

 

3)     Everything is on the record.

When you’re talking to a reporter, you’re never “just chatting.” Everything you say, from the minute you say hello, to the minute you hang up, can and will be used. Saying, “this is off the record” means very little to most reporters. In fact, most will say “then don’t tell me” if it’s off the record.

 

4)     Don’t bluff.

Reporters can smell bluffing a mile away. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s OK to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have that information. Let me get it for you or find someone who can answer that.” In fact, it’s much better to say that than to try to fake your way through an answer.

If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. Trying to bluff your way through an answer is going to leave the reporter unsatisfied, at best, and can be disastrous.


5)     If you’re asked about a problem, talk about a solution.

The mark of a great politician for years has been the ability to take a question about a problem and provide an answer about an opportunity. So for example, if a reporter calls and asks about a safety issue, talk about all of the strict measures in place to help prevent safety problems. If the reporter asks about an issue with a web site, and appropriate answer would be to cite all of the measures in place to find and fix web site problems. They ask about a problem, you talk about a solution.


6)     Don’t argue or debate.

The old adage on dealing with reporters has been, don’t get into a fight with folks who buy ink by the barrel. Always remember, they will have the last word. At worst, say “we clearly see things differently, but let me look into that further.” And again, look into it further, and call them back.

 

If you have questions or concerns before the interview, speaking with a media relations professional can help. Even if it’s just for a few minutes before you conduct an interview, a professional can help develop talking points, relax and focus you, and remove some of the intimidation. Ewald Consulting’s media relations department is on call to help with these kinds of situations. Call or email anytime we can be of service.

Tags:  ewald consulting  jess myers  media  public relations 

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The Biggest Thing I’ve Learned in Marketing

Posted By Sai Yang, Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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I’ve been working with Ewald Consulting for almost three months as a Digital Marketing Specialist. I’ve learned many lessons about marketing and content development. I feel very blessed with what I’ve already experienced and know there’s even more to come.

I’ve recently started writing down a lessoned learned each day. Sometimes they’re really small (like, sleep more) and sometimes they’re larger.

One important lesson I’m learning is:

keep it simple

I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “less is more.” When putting together content for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you’ll want to make it simple. Consider what your audience needs and consider your purpose with every post.

I started noticing that there was more engagements and interactions, once I began putting fresh content on our social media. For example, if someone wrote a blog post for our website, I shared it on social media. I learned to add new, relevant content for social media- simply because it increased our engagement. And, believe it or not- simple was best. People enjoyed our posts about the team and internal workings of Ewald Consultant most!  

Remember:  When developing content for social media choose your words wisely. When you start to write a lot on a single post, you can lose your audience’s attention. Therefore, you’ll want to put the most important caption at the beginning and make it simple by giving less. I know, that’s one thing I learned!

Tags:  ewald consulting  keep it simple  lessons  marketing  sai yang 

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An affinity for success or failure?

Posted By David Ewald, CAE and Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, Thursday, February 26, 2015
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Three quick tests to gauge the strength of your affinity program

Non-dues revenue has steadily become more essential as associations aim to balance their budgets through diversified income streams. Membership dues are no longer the leading revenue source for many associations. The search for new sources of non-dues revenue often includes consideration of potential affinity programs.

Done well, an affinity program can be a way to reinforce the association’s value proposition to individual and corporate members. Done poorly, it can become a catch-all discount program that dilutes the message to members and distracts staff and volunteer energy away from work that is central to the association’s mission without adding substantial value. Perhaps your association is considering an affinity program of its own. If so, here are a few quick steps may to get you started.

It is important that any affinity program meet three tests:

  1. Exclusivity of Access. The program must provide a real benefit to members that is not easily available to them through other means or off the street through "hard bargaining."
  2. Benefit to the Association. The program must include a significant benefit to the Association from the providing entity. This benefit must be more than "you will get more members because of this affinity program." In other words, there should be a financial incentive or free in-kind service to the association in exchange for endorsing or adopting the program. It should also align to the association’s mission.
  3. Provider Marketing. There must be willingness and intention by the providing entity to actively market the program.

In addition to these three tests, affinity programs are most likely to be successful if they address an industry-specific need of the members. The American Society of Association Executives and Center for Association Leadership has published a variety of articles that discuss affinity programs and affirm this point. It is important to prioritize what you are going after for the member. Bear in mind that those you approach about an affinity program must see something in it for themselves as well.

How to begin

  1. Prioritize a list of up to 10 different programs that could best meet the criteria discussed above.
  2. Survey members regarding their preferences and collect data from them regarding the potential market size so that can be leveraged when approaching potential providers. Also, review your current data on your members to develop a profile of your membership. Don’t underestimate the value that your members bring to the table if there’s a good match between the affinity program and your membership. If there’s real interest, the program will succeed and add real value to the member value proposition. It must be win-win for both the member and the affinity program and a real partnership where both parties are vested in the success of the program.
  3. Selectively approach vendors to implement a few programs at a time so the association can gauge interest and success. These results can be leveraged if the association decides to approach additional vendors in the future.

It is essential to keep in mind that implementing these activities can be very time-consuming — so they really must accomplish something that makes it worthwhile for both the Association and the member. If it adds real value, it will be worth the effort to put time and resources to the activity. In addition, it must be integrated in the marketing plan for the association as we need to remind our members of the value of their membership throughout the year as well as expand the membership base by providing a compelling value proposition.

Tags:  affinity  affinity program  david ewald  ewald consulting  failure  kathie pugaczewski  success 

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Dir-ACTION

Posted By Monte Abeler, Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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You’ve probably heard the famous phrase, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”  Undoubtedly, there is a lot of evidence proving the validity of that phrase.  Kodak would be one example, as the photography giant was completely overrun by digital photography. However, a plan doesn’t magically transform into success all by itself. That would be like trying to create water with hydrogen alone. You need the oxygen! It would be like a farmer having seed and a plan for what to do with it, but never actually sitting down in the tractor and making the effort to plant; there’s a component missing. You probably know where I’m going with this.  Yes, we truly need both direction and action.  So what is, “Dir-Action,” exactly? It’s an epic combination of direction and action, giving you an opportunity for success. 

Take some time to ponder the following questions:

  1. Do I (we) have a clear direction?

    If your answer is NO, I would recommend holding a strategic planning session.  You can find countless advice and opinions on the best way to conduct strategic planning, and there a lot of successful ways to do it. When it’s all said and done, just make sure you know the mission, understand the direction, and are clear on the goals set to move forward. If your answer is YES, continue on to question two. 

  2. Are you taking intentional action on your direction?

    If your answer is NO, I would encourage you to pinpoint the reason why action isn’t happening. Common causes include vagueness in regard to who is responsible for certain tasks, a lack of accountability to complete assigned responsibilities, apathetic volunteers, volunteer work overload, and the absence of a timeline. Once you have the reason pinpointed you should be able to reestablish forward progress.  Smartsheets, Basecamp, and ProWorkFlow are three resources you may wish to consider to help with project management and deadline completion. If your answer is YES, then congratulations are in order.

Tags:  clear direction  ewald consulting  kate madonna hindes  success  take action 

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Preparing Your Volunteer Leaders to Deliver Value

Posted By Shannon Pfarr Thompson, CAE, MPA, Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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Everyone knows it is good practice to orient new board members. Annual new board member orientation sessions have become commonplace for the good reason that by getting new board members up to speed, they start off ready to succeed for your organization. Reviewing items such as the bylaws, policies and procedures, staff and board relationship, and other key items provides new board members with the tools and comfort level they need.

However, organizations often overlook training for their other volunteer leaders. Committee, special interest group (SIG), chapter and task force leaders are appointed by boards to implement important work for the organization, but frequently they are thrown into their roles without much guidance or training. This can lead to frustration and less-than-stellar results.

This year, one of the organizations I lead began biannual orientation sessions for new leaders, and I’ve been impressed with the difference it has made. The president and staff developed an agenda that takes volunteers through the most important aspects of the organization, divided up the list to best address each item, and then presented it via a webinar.

Using webinar technology allowed us to show organizational documents, demonstrate where leaders can find valuable information on the association’s website and also how to use the private part of the website specific to their committee, chapter or SIG. We had a chat available for questions during the meeting.

Here are some of the key things we included in our new leader orientation:

  • Organizational info – the tax status and what it means, the articles of incorporation, bylaws and policies and how they all relate
  • Key board and staff contacts – where leaders get support and who they should go to with questions
  • Important meetings – so leaders may plan ahead and see how these meetings benefit them
  • Financial policies – how their group fits into the budget and how to request funds
  • Communication tools – how to share information with their group, the board, and all members
  • Their responsibilities – to be a strategic leader, to consider leadership succession, to serve as an ambassador to members

By the end of the second orientation (after honing the original agenda), we found that leaders’ questions had been answered and they felt much more comfortable in their new roles as volunteer leaders. We hope it will also result in lower volunteer turnover and an enhanced willingness to step forward because leaders feel more supported. A small time investment has ended up providing a large benefit to our organization because we have volunteer leaders who understand their role, how it fits within the larger picture of the association’s activities, and they have the information and tools needed to hit the ground running. We look forward to the great results that these informed leaders and their teams will produce for our members!

Tags:  delivering value  ewald consulting  leadership  shannon thompson  volunteer 

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Sound Bite Friendly: Talking Points to Keep on Message

Posted By Jess Myers, Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, December 11, 2014
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When a reporter calls, the most important guideline you should keep in mind is: “don’t panic.” Once you’re calm and following lesson one, the next most important guideline is to have a goal for the interview/interaction with the media.

By having a goal, I mean to have a message you want to convey about yourself, your organization, your event, etc. When you talk to a reporter, speak in headlines. For example, if your dream headline for the story is, “Ewald Consulting is experiencing rapid growth,” I would make that sentence a talking point.

We hear the term “talking points” used frequently, especially during election season. Simply put, a talking point is a one- or two-sentence summary of your position.

Talking points are valuable to have ready before going into an interview — whether the medium is television, radio, newspapers or online journalism. You can use talking points not only as notes for what you want to say, but also as a way to refer to key messages you want to convey in the interview. And because many of us, when we get nervous, tend to ramble and say more than is needed, talking points are a great tool to keep us “on message.”

Here are some examples, brief talking points we put together for a retailer about its Black Friday weekend hours and specials:

  • Responding to incredible demand from shoppers, we are again offering extended hours on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, and are distributing a multi-page sale flier with hundreds of great deals.
  • The great deals for convenient online shopping started in the first week of November, with our company offering free shipping with no minimum throughout the holiday season.
  • For those who want to skip the checkout lines, we are offering a free “buy online, pickup in-store” option at each of the stores in our network.
  • Hundreds more great deals are available. Full details can be found in our sale flier

As you can see, none are too extensive or overly detailed; they’re just simple one-sentence talking points designed to help the interview subject get to the point, deliver key messages and convey the most salient information to a reporter. We like to say that the seven-word answer is always better than the 27-word answer.

If you anticipate a reporter’s call, it’s good to have a set of talking points on hand. Again, speak in headlines: think of the three to five main points you want to convey – your goals for the interview – and have them ready in bullet point form. If a reporter catches you by surprise, it’s OK to buy some time. Say that you need to call them back in 30 or 45 minutes, and use that time to craft some talking points for yourself.

Tags:  ewald consulting  jess myers  pr  public relations  talking points 

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Membership: Rules of Engagement

Posted By Jacquie Durant, Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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You worked hard to get them, now you need to keep them. We all know that the best way to retain our members is to get them involved.

The way we communicate and engage our members has changed considerably in the last ten years. What hasn’t changed is that even in these high-tech times, we all still want to be asked to contribute, friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or join my LinkedIn group.

Many associations send new members personalized, generic welcome letters/emails as they join. In some cases, the next time members hear from the association is nine months later when it’s time to renew, and then the association wonders why many first-year members don’t renew.

Develop a plan to reach out to members at regular intervals throughout the year; send them a personal invitation to attend an event; invite them to join a committee; solicit their feedback at the 6-8 month point asking if membership is meeting their needs.

The plan will be more effective if you get buy-in from your membership committee and make it easy for them to reach out to new members. Prepare talking points and sample language for your membership committee to personalize and send to new member lists. Putting together plans to reach out to members at regular intervals of 3 months, 6 months and 9 months has proven to be very effective.

Great plans have varying messages:

  • 3 Months: Thank them for joining and give them an overview of their membership benefits. Most new members may not remember all of the benefits that your association offers. Link these benefits sent in the email back to your website where it has more detail and how they can make use of these benefits.
  • 6 Months: Encourage new members to get involved and remind them (again) of their key benefits. Perhaps you can include a testimonial from previous new members on what they found helpful when they were first starting out in the profession or as a new member and how the association was able to provide value.
  • 9 Months: Include a survey to see what benefits are being used and what benefits the association may need to offer. New members are great critics and it’s helpful to find out what they’re actually taking advantage of.
  • 12 Months: Thank them for being a member and encourage them to get involved and renew.

Connect with new members early and often; invite them to get involved. It’s well worth the effort.

Tags:  engagement  ewald consulting  jacquie durant  membership  non profits  retain membership  rules 

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The Secret to Successful Budgeting: Have More Income Than Expense

Posted By Bill Monn, Monday, October 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, October 2, 2014
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A solid, profitable budget is just that simple: take in more than you spend. Creating that winning budget is a confluence of science and art – and sometimes a favorable wind.

Step 1: Start your budget planning by thoroughly understanding where you are. Concentrate on the big 3 — revenues, expenses and margin. Where are your revenues, expenses and margin relative to what you planned for in the current year? Look at them together as well as individually. A spike in expenses is not necessarily a bad thing if there has been a corresponding spike equal or greater in revenues. Conversely, a big jump in revenue could be a mirage if you have had a bigger jump in expenses. Review variances from your budget. If attendance is lower than projected for monthly events, understand why. Is it program content? Cost to attend? Location? Time of day?

Step 2: Understand the trends. Once you have a good feeling for where you are, take the time to understand where you’ve been. Two points on a chart are a direction, three are a trend. Go back at least three years — four is better — and graph your revenues, expenses and margin. You can do this for every event or every element of your organization, but at the very least roll up the overall numbers. Look at the variances on the chart and they will show maximum and minimum boundaries for budgeting purposes. In the absence of any major changes (adding or eliminating an event, for example) the science of budgeting tells you that next year’s budget should be within this range.

Step 3: Boldly wade into the future. This is where the art of budgeting will guide you on projecting in a more aggressive or conservative vein. You’ve done the left-brain stuff in analyzing the data of where you are and where you’ve been. You can poke at them all you want, but they won’t change. What can your right brain leverage from all that is spinning around? Is the economy on an upswing? Has anything changed that will require your members to need more of your services — such as a requirement for new or additional education credits that may prompt them to attend your conference? Has competition for your services or products changed? Are there opportunities to impact your cost side — such as transitioning from a printed newsletter to an electronic newsletter?

Step 4: Mix them together and make magic. An age-old practice is to hedge bets with conservative numbers on revenue and aggressive numbers on the expense side. This also is referred to as sandbagging. Trust your trending data on this. If you have a long history of results for a particular area, you are not planning anything significantly different and there are no external drivers, then you can be pretty confident you will have a similar result. If you have an area where results have bounced around over the years, you should be careful in projecting a big swing either up or down.

We’ve observed a number of pitfalls to watch out for during the budgeting process. Be alert to these.

  • Cutting and pasting last year’s budget into the new year. This approach often misses trends or fails to capitalize on opportunities. If attendance at monthly events was down 50 percent in the first half of the year and up 50 percent in the second half of the year, then just rolling over last year’s budget numbers into the new year could miss a big opportunity. Even worse is a trend where attendance is falling. Or, if your numbers are significantly underperforming in your current budget, why would you roll those numbers over into the new year?
  • Calculating where the organization will likely finish the current year and projecting those numbers into the new year. Although this is less risky than rolling over the previous year’s budget as described above, it also runs the risk of not appreciating trends and doesn’t draw on the trending analysis of the past three (we still like four) years.
  • Saying that budgeting is not the job of the whole board. On the contrary — it is the job of everyone on the board to invest the time and effort to build a budget that brings value to the organization’s members. Leaving the budget process entirely up to the president or a treasurer is not good governance.
  • Don’t exclude your committees. Some of the best structures ask committee chairs to come forward with a budget for the board to review. Committee members often are closest to their activity areas and have the inside line on why (for instance) attendance at monthly meetings was down 50 percent in the first half of the year but up 50 percent in the second half of the year.

What about reserves?
A topic deserving an article of its own: We recommend that our clients maintain cash reserves equal to 1-2 years of operational expenses as the sweet spot for most organizations. If your organization has well-established programs that produce consistent results (the trend band referenced above is narrow), then less reserves are required to accurately project a budget. If an organization has more variables in its budget (a major revenue source is grants, for example), then a hedge toward greater reserves is recommended.

And finally…
Your budget should not be a once-a-year exercise that you do in the fall and then tuck away for the year. Said another way: Do you know everything that’s going to happen in the next 12 months when you adopt a budget? A monthly review of your organization’s financials is terrific discipline to gauge how you are performing compared to your plan. High-performing organizations do periodic reviews and reallocate as appropriate. So if your monthly meetings are drawing 50 percent more attendance in the first half of the year than projected, your organization has the opportunity to capture those excess funds in real time and fund a program or initiative in the second half of the year rather than just letting the extra money sit until the end of the year. You don’t have to spend it — but you can.

Tags:  bill monn  budget planning  ewald consulting  expense  income 

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10 Hot Moves to Use in the Boardroom

Posted By Paul Hanscom, Thursday, September 25, 2014
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1. Read the “owner’s manual”
Whether you’re new to the board or just starting a new term, it’s always a good move to familiarize yourself with critical governing documents. This includes articles of incorporation, bylaws, policies and any additional governing documents that guide the association. These documents should be readily accessible and used regularly. Governing documents dictate how the association operates, and you need to understand how things get done if you are to be successful on the board. Having a clear understanding of the association’s governing documents helps you avoid any unnecessary questions as well as potentially embarrassing or damaging misunderstandings.

2. Embrace your responsibilities
The board as a whole has a number of important responsibilities to fulfill. Different experts will define these in different ways, but they essentially all relate to three things:

  • Setting and monitoring the direction of the association to ensure efficacy and service to the mission, which includes goal-setting, policy-making, and fiduciary duties.
  • Oversight of the chief staff executive, which includes hiring, replacement, and regular performance review.
  • Serve as ambassador of the organization to key stakeholder groups, and the industry at large through membership and fundraising outreach.

Strive to go beyond simply knowing what is expected of you as a board. Make it clear which of these responsibilities is being fulfilled through each board discussion and action.

Individual board members have responsibility to carry out the board’s work between board meetings in a number of ways that are nuanced to every organization. Articulate these in a position description that is reviewed annually.

3: Bring stamina to board recruitment efforts
Having a strong board is rarely the product of chance. A nominating committee that convenes a few short months prior to the board election will be substantially less successful than one that makes a year-round effort. Each year the board should inventory the skills and demographics of its directors (e.g. personalities, backgrounds, industry positions) compared to organizational goals and demographics of its membership. This type of “gap analysis” helps the nominating committee to target its recruitment toward areas of need over the coming year. Clear criteria should be established and used uniformly to ensure that individuals are qualified and committed to serve on the board. Individuals who sit on the board but do not meet the identified needs of the association do a disservice by prohibiting more qualified members from a position on the board.

4. Get active in the boardroom
Board service is a privilege that is not afforded to everyone. Board meetings are a unique opportunity to gather the brightest minds in the industry to guide the future of your profession. Fellow directors on the board, and the membership as a whole, expect each board member to be an active participant in board meetings. This means:

  • Prepare for meetings – read materials and ask clarifying questions in advance.
  • Attend all meetings and arrive on time.
  • Follow the agenda – if there is something you would like added to the agenda, request that before the meeting (ideally, before the board materials are distributed).
  • Actively listen during discussions so you make well-informed decisions.
  • If you leave the meeting with an action item, execute it with alacrity and report when finished.
  • Support others in their work and keep each other accountable.

5. Engage the right volunteers
Board member attention should be focused on a handful of key governance responsibilities. Encourage additional volunteerism in the organization to help fulfill the work of the organization toward the board-established outcomes. The #1 reason why members say they don’t volunteer with their industry association is because they were never asked. “Asking” someone to volunteer doesn’t mean sending an email to every member of the organization soliciting their participation (although that is a valid approach). Asking a member to volunteer should be a direct, personal, one-on-one request that reflects a thoughtful effort by the board or committee chair to match needs of the organization with skills/passions of qualified members. Board members who serve as good ambassadors to their organization are well-connected in the membership community. When a situation comes up that requires volunteer support, they collectively know of at least one or two individuals who can be asked to step up and get involved.

Additionally, members have a stronger commitment to the association if they volunteer. Research by ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership has shown that volunteerism has a direct positive impact on an member’s sense of connection and the likelihood that s/he will renew his/her membership in the coming year. By this rationale, the more volunteers you can recruit from among your membership, the stronger your association’s community will become and the better your member retention.

6. Take time to plan
Periodically devote time to deeper examination of your industry and the organization’s role in it. Prepare for your planning by conducting both quantitative and qualitative research to better inform your examination. Review these data and identify what trends emerge in perceptions, participation, and funding streams. What do these trends say about the way your association is serving its members? Additionally, how do professional, economic, political and industrial environments impact the way you do business now and into the future? Spend time together as a board crafting goals and strategies that are responsive to current as well as future market conditions.

A stumbling block for many groups can be determining the “right” way to conduct annual and/or strategic planning. There are as many different approaches to planning as there are organizations going through the planning process. Don’t let your search for the “right” way keep you from initiating this process. Start by collecting just a few critical data points and gathering input from members and program participants. Dedicate a short amount of time during a board meeting to discuss what was learned from this feedback.  You may be surprised to find out what issues members are most concerned about and how your association can better position itself as a resource to address them.

7. Don’t get confused by “experts”
There are plenty of articles, websites, videos, and consultants that serve as resources to support organizations in good governance practices. They each share unique perspectives, experiences, knowledge and best practices to guide associations to perform better. However, the sheer scope and variety of opinions on governance can be overwhelming. By the same token, ascribing to one governance model as the “right and only” one unnecessarily boxes an association in, making it inflexible to changing market conditions that demand new thinking. Don’t get confused by tomes of expert opinions regarding board governance; be open to adjusting your approach so it works best for your board in its current state.

8. Check the dashboard but keep your eyes on the road
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical metrics for your organization’s operations, much like dashboard gauges in your car. It is extremely important that the board identify what KPIs to assign to organization-wide goals in order to perform adequate oversight over time. At the same time, it can be unhealthy for a board to ruminate over numbers and reporting and lose sight of big picture changes in the industry. Sticking with the dashboard/car metaphor, it is important to watch the speed of your vehicle and adjust it appropriately if the road begins to curve. Keep an eye on the dashboard, but make sure you are watching the road.

9. Know the resources available
The most successful boards are not those with know-it-all directors; they’re the ones that know the resources they need to get the outcomes they desire. This can be as simple as knowing and implementing basic rules for decision making in meetings like Robert’s Rules of Order. It can also mean having connections to experts on legal, financial, insurance, and industry-related nuances that support the organization through a unique challenge. Benchmarking and best practice resources are available through ASAE, state societies of association executives, BoardSource, and many other organizations. Publications and professional networks, whether in-person or online, can be invaluable as you address governance matters.

10. Show appreciation and have fun!
Serving on a board of directors can be challenging, but it can also be a whole lot of fun. We often forget to take the time to thank our peers on the board for their commitment to serving the greater good of the industry. There is a value exchange between the contribution that individuals make through board service and the satisfaction they receive as a part of being involved in a great organization. Set aside time to thank board members and volunteers frequently for their work making your organization one with which people are proud to affiliate. Make your appreciation genuine and specific to something they’ve done or results they’ve achieved.

Do good work and enjoy your volunteer leadership experience!



The Decision to Volunteer: Why People Give Their Time and How You Can Engage Them. Gazley, Beth and Monica Dignam (Aug 16, 2008).

Tags:  board member  boardroom  ewald consulting  member recruitment  paul hanscom  tips 

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The Importance of Knowing Your Audience

Posted By Jess Myers, Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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The Boy Scouts of America, seemingly forever, have told their charges to “Be Prepared,” even making that simple mantra their official motto. Those words, or a version of them, are ones to live by when dealing with the media, and speaking to a wider audience. Be prepared, or more importantly, don’t be unprepared.

One important preparedness key to a successful encounter when you speak publicly, be it in an interview with a local reporter, or in a conference address before 100 attendees, is to know who you’re speaking to. When prepping for a conference it’s easier to know, generally, the makeup of the audience. Use that information – who they are, what concerns them, what makes them happy – to your advantage, catering your message to answer questions they may have before they ask, and anticipating questions they may have which have not been answered, yet.

When the phone rings and a reporter is on the other end of the line, it’s a different challenge, but no reason to panic. Again, know with whom you are speaking.

If you get a call from the lifestyle writer for your local community newspaper, they’re probably looking to write a nice, positive story, and it’s something in which you will want to participate. If you get a call from an investigative reporter at Dateline NBC and they have questions about policy, it’s probably something different and you should be cautious.

A simple way to get to know your audience is to buy some time. Take down the reporter’s name, phone and email, the name of the media outlet; ask what questions they want answered and ask about the deadline for the story. It’s OK to ask the reporter to email you a list of questions. Then tell the reporter you need to gather some information and you will get back to him or her. Give an approximate time you’ll call back (generally no more than 90 minutes later) – and make sure you do call back.

In the time you’ve given yourself, find out more about the reporter and, if necessary, the media outlet. The simplest way to do this is with an Internet search. For example, searching for “Joe Smith, Northern Minnesota Times” will often produce a list of the reporter’s past stories, a bio of the reporter and some additional information about the media outlet.

With that research completed, if you’re comfortable with proceeding with the interview, take some time to prepare talking points for yourself. These are key points you want to get across in your talk with the reporter – salient facts and important opinions that you want to offer. Think about what things you would want in the story if you were writing it, and get those points across in the interview.

Some other important points about knowing your audience when speaking publicly:

  1. Everything is on the record: When you’re talking to a reporter or in front of an audience, you’re never “just chatting.” Everything you say – from the minute you say hello, to the minute you say goodbye – can and will be used. In this era of instant social media, words can be world-wide on Twitter or Facebook in seconds, so choose them carefully. Saying, “this is off the record” means very little to most reporters. In fact, most will say “then don’t tell me” if it’s off the record.
  2. Don’t bluff: Reporters, and most audiences, can smell bluffing a mile away. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s OK to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have that information. Let me get it for you or find someone who can answer that.” In fact, it’s much better to say that than to try to fake your way through an answer. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. Trying to bluff your way through an answer is going to leave the reporter unsatisfied, at best, and can be disastrous.
  3. If you’re asked about a problem, talk about a solution: The mark of a great politician for years has been the ability to take a question about a problem and provide an answer about an opportunity. For example, if a reporter calls and asks about a safety issue, talk about all of the strict measures in place to help prevent safety problems. If the audience asks about an issue with a website, an appropriate answer would be to cite all of the measures in place to find and fix website problems. They ask about a problem, you talk about a solution.
  4. Don’t argue or debate: The old adage on dealing with reporters has been, don’t get into a fight with folks who buy ink by the barrel. Always remember, they will have the last word. At worst, say “We clearly see things differently, but let me look into that further.” And again, look into it further, and call them back.

Tags:  audience  be prepared  ewald consulting  jess myers 

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