Association communications are, without question, a challenging and ever-changing field. But it’s still very much a young field. There is no single job description for an association communicator. I have one, but I’m not sure it would hit the mark in your association. Every association’s job description is unique.
In our Build a Plan workshop we talk about measurements. Sometimes they are numbers. Other times, you have to ask yourself a few questions to gauge how well you are doing.
Are you any good at this? If you really want to measure your success, you have to patch together a performance review that matches your sometimes-patched-together and often changing job description.
While it’s fairly easy to measure the effectiveness of many of the tactics that you document in your communications plan, it’s harder to measure some of the big picture changes you want to see. You communicate individual programs and services, but to what end?
As you sit back and look at your communications program as a whole and evaluate your own performance as an association communicator, consider these questions:
How does your communications strategy make you stand out from your competition and overcome member distractions? Are you conveying what is unique, and valuable, and significant to your members? Is it clear to the people who matter most to your success what you offer them? Does it have appeal? Is it exclusive? Is it credible? Are your communications different enough from your state (or local) information? Have you compared them lately?
Is your organization perceived as a leader or expert in something? What’s your status or reputation in the eyes of your members? How does your strategy help you position your association as a leader in one specific area? How trusted is your organization to deliver on that promise, and how does your plan maintain and build trust with your members?
Do your supporters remember you? You might be surprised how many supporters you really have. Those supporters are your best advertising. Are you identifying those supporters you worked to create over the years – like past officers and volunteers? Is it going strong? Or are your supporters feeling overlooked or forgotten? Are you communicating regularly with them? Are you reminding them what you do that is valuable? Are you asking them to share your good work with uninvolved members? Ask them for their support. Consider making your supporters, especially your biggest fans, part of your team.
Are you connecting with new people? Unless your target audience is a very well-defined and limited group of people with little turnover, your communications programs should be bringing new members into your target audience. This often requires trying entirely new approaches to tap into that distinct audience. Have you planned for two-way dialog to identify your new member superstars, potential leaders, committee members or volunteers? Listen to them closely and learn what’s important to them. A focus group is a perfect way to seek information quickly.
Perhaps most importantly, do you love your job? Your communications work is about helping members do their job better. It’s important. It matters. Thanks for taking it on.