Power of A, lets take it to the next level!

02May09

Recently ASAE released the “Power of A” campaign (aka #PWRA) to, from what I can tell, little acclaim in the association world. I really haven’t see anyone be like “wow that’s fantastic, that will really help us as an association reach our members”.  In fact, Chris Bailey from Gravit8 had some suggestions to make the Power of A campaign even better (as well as pointing some things out that were missing the mark).

I tend to agree, so I have a challenge for all association leaders out there. Let’s prove the Power of A and really crank it up a notch.

Here’s what I’m suggesting:

  • Blog Posts: Post on your internal association blogs and the Power of A blog about specific examples of what your association has done to better your trade or profession. Preferably this won’t be written by staff but by a member or a leader in the association. Associations are the voice of their members, but why don’t we let our members speak for themselves every once in awhile?
  • Videos: This might be more of a vlog form, but create a short little video telling the story of one of your members, what impact they have in the association, how the association has helped them and then what impact that member has made in the world through their profession. How have they improved our society? Make it short, sweet, to the point and not over produced.
  • Pictures: Take pictures at your community outreach events, either upload them to Flickr or your Facebook page. Maybe see if ASAE can include a photo component with their Power of A campaign.
  • Tweet about it: Any time you help a member in a significant way – tweet about it, use the hashtag #PWRA and show how you as an individual, and association professional help your members directly.

Feel free to add any other ways you can think of to really take this campaign to the Power of A!

For the associations that have contributed already, here’s what I’m seeing wrong and how I think it should change.

  • Your blog posts are using traditional media styles and trying to integrate them into a social media space. It DOESN’T work. Let go control, let go of your elevator pitch and really try to change something! Show how you make the world a better place.
    From @elizabeth627 on Twitter  “Every opening sentence reads like news release boilerplate”
  • Get your members involved, make it a team effort. This isn’t about staff talking at potential members, this about staff and members talking together, so let them know to join in on it all!
  • This one is for ASAE: By having all these pre-formulated materials you are under cutting your audience’s participation and engagement in what you are doing. Encourage your members (association professionals) and their members to write these for you and submit them, showcasing what ASAE thinks is the best, most inspired ones.
  • Stop be general. Be specific, site specific examples, people, places and things. Your audience doesn’t connect with general, they connect with an experience that is specific, yet universal. (Thanks to my Playwriting teacher in college for teaching me the value of this in writing)

So is everyone up for the challenge?

~Lynn

Blogging Style: Evangelist Blogging
14 down, 11 to go.

Updated 5/4/09 –

There has been some blog talk about what’s going on, here are some other takes on what’s happening:

Maggie McGary – The Power of …Huh?
Deirdre Reid – The Natives are Restless

Dave Sabol – The Power of Missed Opportunities
Jamie Notter – The Power of Frustration
John Graham – The Power of Conversation (From The Power of A site, they’re listening!)

I will continue to update this as more people blog about this topic.

Btw, it was clear to me that this campaign was funded be Associations Advance America and not by ASAE membership dues, BUT I think the point is how much it cost in general, not where the money came from. Just because you have a special fund for projects of this nature doesn’t mean you need to spend it all.

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8 Responses to “Power of A, lets take it to the next level!”

  1. Lynn:

    I agree that we should take the ASAE campaign back in our own hands. Actually, I think we should create our own website, our own message and our own stories. Why not take it one step further if we’re going to do that, let’s create our own association for association professionals! Perhaps it’s time to create a new tribe for association professionals that spreads the right message, creates the right enthusiasm, enables the right followers and sparks the right movement.

    Associations are more than organizations that move the country toward economic recovery! Associations are communities of like-minded individuals that enable people to succeed personally and professionally. At their very core, associations are change agents, or at least they should be. They are about creating better spaces to live, grow, work and learn.

    Yet, taking the campaign back into our own hands as you’ve suggested merely highlights that ASAE is failing us as the association leader and enables them to continually miss the mark.

    Unfortunately, the premise of ASAE’s campaign–associations drive the country toward economy recovery–is flawed and not evergreen. It’s not a timeless message and many of the associations featured are trade associations, those that are there to help a specific industry move forward and gain ground. As some of my non-association friends read “A Power Of A” they were disgusted and said it looked more like an egotistical self-serving platform for associations to lobby to get more money. They turned to me and said, “I can’t believe you work for an organization like this.”

    Yes, it’s time to share our stories and yes it’s time to hold ASAE more accountable.

  2. I can understand your point of view Jeff, but I feel that if the association is lacking, then as members we have a responsibility to make it the best that we can, especially in a case like ASAE where the members do exactly what the staff of the association does.

    I think we have the opportunity to turn the Power of A into a website where it is about the members and the associations they work for. That is inherently built into the site, though not fully taken advantage of at this moment. Your passion for associations is exactly what is needed to turn the association we already have into something better.

    Maybe I haven’t been burned enough by ASAE to not try and fix where I see problems. I care about my association in the same way I hope to inspire my members to care about the association I work for.

    I don’t think ASAE should be held accountable for the content on the pages currently, BUT I do think they need to educate people on what they should be posting. They need to be the leader in this and I think they’ve taken steps to try to go that way, but have veered off course. I’m not ready to throw in the towel on ASAE yet b/c I hope that if any association I worked for ever misstepped (none of us are perfect all of the time) that my members wouldn’t bail on us either. I try to look at this as an opportunity and I’m asking my colleagues to help. I hope you’ll consider helping as well, even if it’s an ASAE project. 😉

    For me it’s not about ASAE, it’s about the associations we all work for reaching our members to show how we help them be the best professionals (or trades) they can be.

  3. Here’s my thing: I work for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. I think the professions and issues our members are involved in are absolutely incredible. But what are they as an overall profession doing to move the nation towards economic recovery? Well, nothing.

    Also, we as association professionals can certainly spout off about the things we’re doing for our members…but, like Lynn said, if you really want to hear about how associations empower their members and make this country a better place, ask the members! We may think x, y, and z are the most important things we do for members, but, to them, lots of times it’s about what one staff person did to help them.

    If *I* were asked to design a campaign to educate the general public about what associations are and how they empower their members, I would showcase the people in every single profession who are better equipped to do their jobs and to serve society because of the assocations they belong to. Medical professionals who are able to save lives because of the standards of practice their associations develop for them, for instance–I mean, how can you get more gut-level than that? There are similarly important things like that for every single profession, stuff that we as a society all take for granted–THOSE are the things that I think of when I think about the power of associations.

    Maybe I’ve seen too many Will Rogers commercials, but stuff like that is moving to me and makes it so everyone can have an “ah ha” moment about the question “what do associations do?”

  4. What comes to my mind is perhaps ASAE needed to beef up it’s already established Associations Advance America program.

    You can see some of the really neat things associations do in this program. Perhaps if it was made more social media enhanced it could have done the job?

    The Power of A – well, we weren’t allowed to swear at home but did sometimes slide with the slam – “Don’t be an A” Would not have been my choice of a campaign slogan. 😉

    When I skimmed John Graham’s message, I thought I read the target market is the folks on capital hill – and that’s why they are running the blitz only in the DC market.

    Influencing legislators is a very different goal than educating the public re all the great things associations do.

  5. @Maggie – I think ASAE would have a much more effective campaign if they were more specific in their examples of how associations help move th economy forward.

    @Cynthia – I understood that the message was to be targeted at Capitol Hill, but I’ve always believed that if an association can represent the majority of it’s profession, then Capitol Hill will be more likely to listen. That could totally be idealistic though.

    The way to help associations survive is the get more members and maybe individual associations need to beef up their recruitment plans to help that goal. I think this doesn’t sit right with me because it isn’t the lawmakers that are feeling the pinch in their pockets, it’s members of the associations. I just don’t see the need to spend (what looks like on the surface and from who they employed) a significant sum of money on this campaign when they never educated the associations that are supposed to be producing content on how to contribute. I’ve read the power of A emails (okay, well I skimmed them) and I watched the video before it was officially released on TV. I just don’t think they did enough prep work to encourage the people that they are trying to help to help themselves. Right now the campaign seems to focus on The Power of ASAE and not so much the members. This plays into the control issue ASAE has with fully letting go when it come to their social media/engagement initiatives. As a member, I wish they would let loose a little bit and fully take the plunge.


  1. 1 The Power Of A…So Close Yet So Very Far Away | Gravit8 Social Relationship Marketing :: Chris Bailey
  2. 2 What I’m Reading | Spark Consulting
  3. 3 The Power Of A…So Close Yet So Very Far Away | Bailey WorkPlay

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