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Webinars: What Kind of Content is Best for Them?

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, February 23, 2017

Webinars: What Kind of Content is Best for Them?

By: Larry Bell; E-learning Specialist


Ewald Consulting hosts a variety of webinars for our clients, from the most basic sessions to more elaborate presentations. Each webinar achieves its goal, but interactive sessions result in more engaged and responsive participants who are more likely to ask questions, it seems.

Here are a few pointers to help make your presentation more memorable:

·      Opening & Closing Pages – First impressions are important in nearly every situation. Webinars are no different. Participants can get a feel for your presentation from the opening slide, so spend a little time with it. The subject matter could range from the latest in medical technology all the way to high fashion. It does not matter. Your opening slide is the first opportunity to grab the participant’s attention, so you should give it a little life. The same with your closing slide. It is your last chance to make an impression on attendees, so make it count. It does not need to be as jazzy as the opening of the presentation, but it is helpful to have necessary items like contact information, next steps and so on. As with all content, be certain that everything is legible. For example,  yellow text against a white background will be very hard to read.

·      Images & Graphic Quality – Always strive to include high-resolution images. Yes, sometimes it may take a little extra effort to find that “high-quality, multi-colored bar graph,” but it will be worth it. High-resolution images lend a degree of professional polish to your presentation, and reinforce the credibility of your content. If you use slides with your presentation, show participants that you are taking this presentation seriously by demonstrating that you have taken the time to create an engaging slide show with high quality images properly embedded into your PowerPoint.

·      Test and Test Again – Once your presentation is all put together, be sure to run through it to make sure all images appear where they are supposed to be, your transitions and special effects behave correctly, and so on. The next test is once the slides are uploaded into Adobe Connect (where our webinars are hosted). Please make good use of your tech session and double check your slides. Any item that isn’t embedded into your presentation will be out of its original placement, or might not appear at all.

·      Tech Sessions – Ewald Consulting’s webinar platform is Adobe Connect. If you are unfamiliar with Adobe Connect it is essential to schedule and attend a tech session. This is where presenters have an opportunity to become familiar with Adobe Connect, if they are new to it, in addition to organizing how the webinar will run (assigning moderator, etc.). Most importantly, tech sessions are the opportunity to test your PowerPoint slides in the platform before actually “going live.” You are able to see if your presentation is perfect, and all of your hard work paid off, or if any items need changing. Maybe your transition effect isn’t working properly or your presenters’ photos are out of alignment because they weren’t embedded properly, or more commonly, your initial font selection has changed to a default. The tech session is your opportunity to find and correct any errors, to ensure that your webinar is flawless.



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Hashtag Taken Hostage ​

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Friday, February 10, 2017
Updated: Friday, February 10, 2017

Hashtag Taken Hostage

By Erik Hillesheim; Finance and Data Associate


Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have created new avenues for associations to start conversations with their members, potential members, vendor partners, and industry leaders. Now that we’ve turned the page from 2016 to 2017, it seems as though everyone and their brother has come to adopt some form of social media. With the challenge shifting from getting online to cutting through the noise of everyone who is online, hashtags have become an important way for associations to do just that.

Associations are using hashtags to brand themselves, create a unique, focused channel of conversation, and to speak directly to their stakeholders. This allows members to share their favorite quotes from webinars, vendors to share their praise for an Annual Conference, and volunteers to express their gratitude for the association. But, just as an admirer can praise your organization, so can a critic or the Internet troll spread their thoughts for all to see. Particularly, they can abuse or misuse the campaign hashtag that your association employs.

Recently, the NYPD tried to start a hashtag campaign #myNYPD to allow citizens to share photos of themselves with police officers in an effort to start positive conversations about the force. This backfired when people took the opportunity to post photos of police violence.

Just as any other company or organization, an association is at risk of having its hashtag taken hostage. Here are a few guidelines to be proactive in ensuring your hashtag isn’t taken hostage.

1.     Search the hashtag your association is thinking about using to ensure you know what other content, if any, will show up next to yours.

2.     Make hashtags as narrowly focused and specific to your brand as possible. This will minimize the possible misuse.

3.     When lumping words together, make sure there is only one possible interpretation of the hashtag.

4.     Read your hashtag out loud. Then have your cube-mate read it out loud. Then have your boss read the hashtag out loud. Repeat for good measure.

Suppose you’ve taken the precautions above and still, somehow, a critic has found a way to launch a tirade on your page. This might happen when releasing a new education program, using a conference hashtag, or while running a special competition. While every situation is different, in general we advise following these general steps:

1.     Contact the critic via a direct message and apologize. Ensure them that you are there to listen to their concerns.

2.     Monitor your reputation on the hashtag and perform customer service. Ensure that you are prepared to answer any questions that people may have.

3.     If it gets too out of hand, discontinue the use of the hashtag and prepare a public announcement.


Currently have a hashtag taken hostage or want more advice on how to prevent it from happening?

We’re more than happy to help you plan for or respond to any sticky social media situations. Feel free to shoot our Marketing Director an email: Katemh@ewald.com. We hope you all have had an excellent start to 2017.

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New Ideas for Your Trade Show or Event

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Ideas for Your Trade Show or Event

By Meghan Tompkins, Meeting Planner

In November, three Ewald Consulting meeting planners attended the 2016 Meeting Planner Symposium hosted by Associations North. This is the second year the event was held. It was organized by Minnesota meeting planners who volunteered their time to ensure we have great continuing education opportunities available in our state. Our meeting planners were there to learn about new and innovative conference ideas to bring back to our staff, and to implement these ideas with our clients.

The Meeting Planner Symposium was all about being innovative and thinking sideways. The whole meeting was held in one ballroom and when planners weren’t in the general session, they were in one of three concurrent sessions separated by pipe and drape. The educational tracks in the program were color coded to match lighting in the session rooms, making the conference extremely easy to navigate. The three tracks included trade show design, audience engagement and sponsorship ideas.

Interesting ideas to think about, according to our Meeting planners?

1. Trade Show Design

Space in your exhibit hall for startups: This allows smaller companies a chance to exhibit at your show and also allows you to work with these companies before they exhibit in the main hall. Put four companies within one 8x10 space — allowing more companies to get involved and start building relationships with your attendees.

Neighborhoods: If you don’t need to separate competitors and have a larger trade show, neighborhoods may be a great idea. This is the idea of putting companies in the same industry/niche near each other so attendees have an easier time navigating the exhibit hall.


2. Audience Engagement

Idea Wall: To increase attendee engagement, give each attendee a tablet of paper during the keynote. Have them write down any great ideas they’ve learned and pin them on the idea wall. All of these ideas are compiled and sent to attendees at the conclusion of the conference. This can also be done electronically.

Service Project: For an offsite event, do a service project rather than another networking event.


3. Sponsorship Ideas

Three Year Rule: Even if a sponsorship is successful, change it up every three years to keep your event relevant.

Debrief Call: Make sure you have a debrief call with your sponsors prior to the event.

Although all of the information presented was important, what stuck with our staff the most is the importance of having a conference goal. It’s crucial — yet so easy to forget. Why are we putting on this conference? What will be our success measure? What do we want attendees to get out of this? Answering these questions will aid in all aspects of meeting planning from choosing the location, to the event flow and picking the event speakers.

It was a fun task for our planners to be attend a conference, rather than planning it. Continuing education is important to Ewald Consulting because investing in our employees is also investing in our clients. Thank you to Associations North for planning a great day of learning and networking for our staff!

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Key Takeaways from IMEX Event

Posted By Carissa Wolf, Meeting Planner, Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ewald planners participated in IMEX’s Hosted Buyer Program to attend their 2016 America Conference held this past October in Last Vegas, NV. The conference, which had over 12,000 total participants and 3,250 exhibitors, provided an opportunity to meet with suppliers from around the U.S. and the world and learn from the best in the industry.

Each planner met with a minimum of 16 exhibitors over the course of two days. Exhibitors included hotels, technology, and Convention and Visitors Bureaus across the United States and the world.  

In addition to the tradeshow, planners attended Smart Monday sponsored by MPI. I visited the Play Room to attend an interactive session on the little things that meeting planners can do at events that make a big impact with little cost. It was a great opportunity to network with other planners and share ideas on how to engage with attendees in a meaningful way.

Another session that I attended was on Wi-Fi 101 Comprehension and Negotiation Tools. It was a helpful look at the basic tenants of Wi-Fi and a Wi-Fi network and on the key questions to ask when negotiating Wi-Fi with a hotel. I learned that hotels can provide a Bandwidth Utilization Report so we can review peak and number of connections used throughout the conference. It was also recommended to download speed test prior to a site visit as a way to test the internet strength.

On the exhibit floor, I met with Event Management software companies and mobile app companies to talk about all the new tech capabilities available for our industry. I really enjoyed meeting with EventMobi as I had an opportunity to talk with our contact about the new tools, such as uploading photos, that will be released in the New Year.  It was really neat to meet with companies who offer Event Management software and demo their online registration functionality and interfaces.

Tags:  event planning  IMEX Hosted Buyer Program. meting planning 

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The Why and What of Member Services

Posted By Barb Mann, Director of Operations, Thursday, December 15, 2016
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Member Services department plays a crucial role in an association management company (AMC). The major focus of this department is customer service — keeping members happy — thereby contributing to member retention and promotion. Members are the lifeblood of the association, making it vital to serve their needs in any way possible.

An efficiently run department communicates professionally and effectively with association members and leaders to achieve the organization’s potential and fulfill the association’s mission and goals. Member Services staff understand that members are involved in their association to grow in their profession and advance their credibility in their industry.

Member services is often the first point of contact members have with their association — and sometimes their only contact — so these interactions provide evidence of how well the association is being managed. Knowing that an understanding partner is a phone call or an email away provides security to members that they have made the right choice to be active in their professional trade association.

A great member services representative provides excellent customer service by listening to the inquiry, understanding the question or problem, empathizing with the member, and offering a solution. This representative has a clear and complete understanding of all aspects of the organization to be able to assist with complex inquiries and can handle the day-to-day needs of all association members. The department answers membership questions, provides information to access membership benefits, and trains members to make full use of their membership through online benefits (such as searchable directories, professional development webinars and publications).

Additional roles of a member services department include working proactively to avoid problems or difficulties members might encounter accessing member resources, renewing memberships, and registering for association events and functions. Being on the front line and having a constant finger on the pulse of the organization, member services staff offers feedback to all other departments on best practices as members actively use their association’s services. 

Tags:  AMC  association management  customer service  member services 

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Run Hard to the Finish Line

Posted By Bill Monn, Vice President of Client Relations, Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sports are a good example to use to make this point. Every track coach since the ancient Greek Olympics has implored their athletes to run hard to the finish line. Every football coach since Knute Rockne has urged their players to run all the way to the end zone. Hockey, basketball, soccer – every sport can point to the improbable play where someone was caught from behind or didn’t give a full run all the way to the finish line and paid a heavy price.

Turning to managing your association, running hard all the way to the finish line is a great message for all leaders to use the last weeks of the year to push hard and finish strong to set up next year for success. Here are some ideas to get your head in the game to do that.

Make a list and check it twice. Some key questions should be:

  • Our strategic plan or goals for the year – did we accomplish them? Why/why not? Is there time to get them done, make a dent in them or position them for the coming year? Are they still relevant?
  • How’s our budget look? Did we perform as well as we thought? Where are we off? Too optimistic on revenues? Unexpected expenses? Are we better off compared to a year ago? Do we need to put a team of smart people on this now to get next year right?
  • Key metrics of the association – are they pointing up or down? Is membership growing, stagnant, shrinking? Is attendance at our programs, conferences, events growing? Is industry support strong?
  • Is the association doing what it is meant to do? Are members happy, engaged, enthusiastic? Have we asked them lately? Do we need to formally take their temperature?
  • Finally – and don’t miss this one – has the world changed? Has anything happened in our industry or elsewhere that impacts our industry? Has anything changed since we made our goals for the year? Probably yes, so take time to understand and pla

One forward-thinking leader that comes to mind loved the end of the year because all the outside noise in the world helped to force greater concentration on the important matters at hand. Said another way, this leader reveled in the opportunity to take dead-aim at a time when it was easy to be distracted. The leader made it a game, made it fun, then made it work.

This thoughtful leader asked his board to come prepared to a brainstorming meeting with an idea that would greatly benefit the organization but was (almost) impossible because of time, money, resources. Take the blinders off and think big without worrying, for the moment, about how to get it done. The energy created by the ideas was intoxicating. And once a good idea got rolling it is almost impossible to stop. In short order, a great idea was begetting more ideas and it was like hanging ornaments on a Christmas Tree. If the idea is good enough, somehow the barriers of time-money-resources get taken care of.

Also worth remembering is that creativity and purpose come in many colors and shapes. While those people we call the “idea creatives” will be brainstorming the new and cool, a good leader will be identifying the people who are passionate about buttoning up details. These are the folks you want massaging your budget and creating that financial plan that will let the new ideas fly.

A word of caution is to not turn over the budget and financial planning completely to a buzz-kill who will be developing a long list of “cant’s.” Best case is you’d like some creative thinking and if/then propositions – if we fund A then perhaps B can’t be funded this year. A great, creative-minded financial planner is worth their weight in gold – the gold they will find to fund the creative ideas.

Tags:  association management  goals  strategic plan  year-end review 

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Keeping Your Association Safe from Bad Public Relations

Posted By Jess Myers, Thursday, November 3, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 14, 2016

The time to shop for a fire extinguisher is not when you smell smoke. In the same vein, when you have a public relations crisis on your hands, that’s not the time to think about putting a P.R plan in place.

By definition, a crisis that affects or involves your association is bad news, and the way to lessen the impact of bad news is to have a plan in place before trouble strikes.

Some basic tips on a PR plan:

Know in advance what you want to say if bad news comes.

  • Picture a bad thing that could happen involving your association, and then think of your ideal response. Write down your response. Keep a list of potential good responses. These are called “talking points,” and they can make a huge difference.
  • Having a prepared, well thought-out response, versus a potentially damaging off-the-cuff response, can vastly improve the image of your association in a time of crisis.

Know who you want to deliver the message.

  • Appoint a single spokesperson to deliver messages on behalf of the association in times of crisis.
  • Make sure everyone in your association knows who the spokesperson is, and that when they are contacted by the press, they say, “Please contact our spokesperson.”
  • This is vitally important for controlling the message and making sure one voice, rather than several voices, is speaking on behalf of your association.

Be mindful of what you can and cannot share.

  • In times of crisis, the press may ask about a variety of sensitive information. Things like financial records, legal proceedings, and information regarding minors. While we hate using “no comment,” it’s fair to be mindful of what information you simply cannot legally offer, and to say that.
  • It’s fine to tell a reporter, “I’m sorry, but I do not have any information I can share about that.”

Know that everything you say and do is “on the record.”

  • You are never “just talking” with a member of the press.
  • If a reporter calls, from the moment you say “hello” to the moment you hang up, anything you say can be used in their story.
  • If you are being interviewed on TV or radio, the interview hasn’t ended until the reporter has left the room. Be very mindful around microphones. Always assume they are turned on and recording.

 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.

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

  • 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 budget, an appropriate answer would be to cite all of the measures in place to check and balance budgets. They ask about a problem, you talk about a solution.

Every now and then, we smell smoke. The way to keep that smoke from becoming a fire that damages your association’s reputation is to have that fire extinguisher (in this case, a solid PR plan) in place, ready to go, before the smoke detector starts blaring.

Tags:  crisis management  media  PR plan  public relations 

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Association Event Planning

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, October 20, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 14, 2016
The Event Planners Association explains it perfectly when it comes to succeeding at conference events. There are many details that go into planning, executing, and growing from association events. Sometimes, there are bigger pictures to look at and larger goals in mind. So, what does it take to be successful while participating in your association's conference? Take a look at this piece on what it takes to improve your next event, but succeed at it as well. http://bit.ly/2crcMra

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Association Event Case Study

Posted By Murphy Pickett and Jess Myers, Thursday, October 6, 2016
Updated: Thursday, October 6, 2016

In the Association world, you can expect plenty of conferences. Whether you’re a member of a certain association, a volunteer, or on an association’s board, there will always be some sort of event to attend or prepare for.

Recently, our Event Department created a case study on conference revenue and the accompanying boost in attendance.

Here are 3 ways we found to boost conference revenue with a before and after look.

1. Planning

  • Changed the program from all Plenary to Plenary and breakouts.
  • Increased networking opportunities with chapter/SIG meetings, roundtables and more interactive panel sessions.
  • Analyzed previous year’s evaluations and did mini focus groups with previous attendees to get recommendations on topics and industry related educational needs.

2. Execution

  • Better keynotes and breakout speakers with more focused content were sought and secured, committee/member liaisons worked with speakers to deliver appropriate, high-quality content.
  • Increased marketing and outreach efforts, social media. LinkedIn and Facebook.  Generated a marketing plan.
  • Invited sponsors and exhibitors to join us on a call about what ROI/exposure they were expecting from the conference.  What were some valuable offerings they wanted and how could we increase their visibility with attendees.

3. Feedback

We found that conference success rates improve as attendee’s are more satisfied. Deeper discussions, increased networking opportunities, and strong keynote speaker appearances contributed to the jump in success which only improves associations as a whole.


If Ewald can help you with your next conference, reach out to Paul Hanscom at paulh@ewald.com for more information. 

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Association Finances

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Thursday, September 22, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 14, 2016

As we all know, finances are a crucial aspect of nearly every association. As the season becomes busier and busier, make sure you are up to date with everything going on in your finance department. What can you do protect, aid, and implement positive change for your association as a whole, but also in the finance area specifically?  

You may have missed this piece on Association Finances and how to protect them. There are plenty of resources available to you in order to keep your financial department on track. Read more here to discover ways to keep your finances safe. http://bit.ly/2bJsHwW


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MANAGEMENT | View all Management articles
A Successful Year Starts with a Solid Budget by Bill Monn
Read full article

MARKETING | View all Marketing articles
9 Marketing Ideas for Your Organization by Kathie Pugaczewski
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MEMBERSHIP | View all Membership articles
A Holistic Approach to Membership Recruitment by Darrin Hubbard
Read full article

VOLUNTEERISM | View all Volunteerism articles
Three Ways to Stronger Volunteer Engagement by Paul Hanscom
Read full article

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