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On associations and newspapers

There have been a few posts around the community lately about two-dimensional thinking and comparing newspapers to associations. And I’ve gotta say, it’s not such a stretch.

If you’ve been following Splash for a while, you might recall I studied journalism in college and I spent many, many hours in the newsroom at our student paper. Newspapers are near and dear to my heart, and I still love settling into Sunday brunch with the newspaper and a huge cup of coffee.

What does this have to do with associations, you might ask. See, newspapers and associations have a lot in common. Both are struggling with how the Internet affects their business model, among other things.

To be honest, reading the newspaper and clipping coupons leaves me with a feeling of nostalgia. It’s so much easier to find coupons for specific products I want using the Internet, and I’m definitely guilty of eating breakfast and sipping my morning coffee with my trusty MacBook in front of me.

I still love newspapers, though, and here's a big reason why: Studies have shown that the most original reporting comes from traditional media sources.

It makes sense. How often do you see the same old content repurposed on blogs? Maybe it's true that anyone can be a reporter, but professional journalists are able to provide news analyses, which are sort of a cross-breed of news stories and editorials. They’re intended to help readers fully understand the implications of a certain story and are written from different, less-explored angles.

Finally! Some association stuff…

Do you want your members to feel nostalgic when they participate in your organization? (I hope not.) Should your meetings feel antiquated and leave your members searching for another way to get the information? (No.)

It’s true that talk alone won’t save associations, just like it couldn’t save newspapers. The newspapers that have a specific focus, such as smaller local papers, are the survivors so far. It’s the larger, less specialized publications that are in danger. Sound familiar?

A step in the right direction could involve changing your communication strategy, experimenting with micro-pricing and other business models or targeting more niche groups.  So what are you going to do to make sure your (old) members don’t talk fondly about “the days when associations used to exist?”

(Image via Flickr.)


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