Top 3 challenges for association communicators

20 Nov 2017 Top 3 challenges for association communicators

From November 6-8, Communicatto’s founder and president Doug Lacombe emceed and presented at the Communications for Associations conference in Ottawa, ON. The Communicatto-sponsored event was a great success thanks to the incredible presenters, organizers and guests in attendance!

The conference brought together many of Canada’s top communications pros in order to break down the challenges and rewards specific to association communicators. While attendees came from all different backgrounds, one thing was clear: association communicators have a lot in common, regardless of their niche.  

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Here are Communicatto’s top three takeaways from the conference:

Selling intangibles is much harder than selling widgets

“Communications professionals working for associations aren’t selling pizzas,” notes Lacombe. “Associations persuade.”

When you’re selling ideas, whether that’s some form of advocacy, lobby, public education or simply brand and reputation management, it’s not just as simple as cranking out a coupon code for a Friday night special.

Persuasion is a long-game, it doesn’t happen overnight and results can be tricky to measure.

Donna Papacosta speaking at Communications for Associations conference in Ottawa

Learning about #podcasting from the lady (@dpapacosta) who literally wrote the book! #comms4associations Targeting multiple, fragmented audiences

Association communicators typically have a number of external audiences such as media, politicians, bureaucrats, industry participants and stakeholders, not to mention “the general public,” itself a multi-segmented target.
“These folks have to reach so many different audiences with very few resources and little money,” says Lacombe. “It’s a tough gig.”
Warren Weeks speaking at the Communications for Associations conference in Ottawa

@warrenweeks killing it on “Stop talking about video and just do it!” #comms4associations


Small budgets drive digital engagement

“Associations have a lot of people to reach with very few staff and little money,” Lacombe says, “It forces association communicators to be more creative.”

Digital communications tactics like social media and online advertising are well suited for associations that need to stretch their comms budgets and execute big plans with small teams. The cost for entry is often low, if not completely free, and can even be automated to save time and resources

Brian Lambie speaking at the Communications for Associations conference in Ottawa

Brian Lambie from @redbrickcomms on dealing with difficult reporters. #comms4associations #media #publicrelations

If you weren’t able to attend the Communications for Associations conference, we’ve got you covered. Check out the slides from Doug’s presentation below.

Doug’s Communications for Associations presentation:

Thanks again to all of those who made the conference possible. We’re thrilled to have been a part of such an illuminating event!
Lindey Sudo
Lindey Sudo

Writer and Golden Girls enthusiast Lindey Sudo travels the continent in search of great stories. As a graduate of the Vancouver Film School’s Writing Program, she has spent time brainstorming in writers’ rooms, networking in Los Angeles and captivating audiences on Canada’s Smartest Person in Toronto (as an audience member). Lindey’s all-consuming love for the written word has led to her latest endeavour: content creation. When not glued to her word processor, Lindey enjoys playing guitar, skiing, attempting aerial yoga and Rolling Up The Rim To Win.

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