Archive for February, 2021

Membership Pro Tip: Renew Now, Pay Later

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Giving members the option of a dues grace period can be mutually beneficial.

How does it work?

With the help of its IT team, the Healthcare Financial Management Association created a “Renew Now, Pay Later” program for its largest group of members, who were set to lapse over the summer, according to Keith Chamberlain, director of membership and experience.

Members clicked a button stating their intent to renew and gave their credit card information, but HFMA didn’t charge it for 90 days, providing a grace period for payment.

Why is it effective?

It is low cost and easy to set up. HFMA’s IT team simply created a new 90-day subscription for that group of members. HFMA already had monthly billing installed, so they just leveraged the technology to use monthly dues payments in a similar way. Fewer than 100 people have taken advantage of the offer, but those who did said they were “delighted” with the option, Chamberlain says.

What’s the benefit?

Knowing that HFMA members had the backs of the clinicians they were working with during the pandemic, Chamberlain says his team was motivated to ask, “What can we do to have their backs?”

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

The post Membership Pro Tip: Renew Now, Pay Later appeared first on Associations Now.

Tips and Tools for Helping Members Manage Stress

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

The Massachusetts Society of CPAs goes the extra mile for members facing mental health issues and stress. Here are some of its leadership tips and proven tools to help members cope when they need it most.

Around tax time, the stress level among Certified Public Accountants amps up significantly. That is now compounded by a year-long pandemic, and other issues, which are leaving many people feeling overwhelmed. In response, the Massachusetts Society of CPAs has upped efforts to help its members with programs especially geared for these particularly trying times.

Amy Pitter, MSCPA’s president and CEO, is committed to destigmatizing mental health challenges by providing tools and safe spaces for open conversations among members. The efforts dovetail with an increased focus on how to improve diversity and inclusion in the CPA profession, she said.

“People’s authentic selves include any mental health issues they might chronically have, or have at the moment,” she said. “And, as with any diversity issue, you can’t be inclusive if you’re not willing to talk about it.”

Pitter has three tips for association leaders who are looking for ways to help members manage mental health issues:

  • Talk about mental health with your members. Associations must provide a safe space for their members to have open, honest—even raw—conversations. Talking about it will help normalize these discussions and remove the stigma.
  • Change is hard and comes slowly. COVID-19 has accelerated everything, so it’s OK to pause before you pivot.
  • Lead by example. Dealing openly with stress relieves stress, and association leaders must encourage their staff and members to pay attention to their mental health. It’s hard to let go of thinking that working crazy hours is a badge of honor, but the real badge of honor is to face your stress and its repercussions head on.

Caregiver Support Group

Pitter points to three tools—among many MSCPA currently has in place—the group is using to help members better cope during an extremely stressful time.

Recognizing that many members are caring for children, adult parents, family members with disabilities, and more, MSCPA hosts a CaregiverParent-Alliance Support Group—an online roundtable for members to discuss challenges, share resources, and offer advice.

The virtual groups are held during different times of the week, like Tuesday afternoons or Wednesday mornings, to be sensitive to people’s scheduling needs, Pitter said. MSCPA caps the roundtables at 12 to 15 participants to facilitate open conversations.

“People were so appreciative we were taking the lead,” she said. “Everybody is in the same boat, and they learn from each other and support each other.”

Stress Management Resources

MSCPA provides articles to members on how to help combat burnout, manage expectations, prioritize whole body wellness, and reduce stress. The aim is to provide members with unique value—not the same tax articles they could find anywhere else, Pitter said.

The articles are geared toward helping people navigate their business and work lives and focus on themes like diversity, mental health, and wellness. MSCPA supplements the articles with corresponding webinars, which encourages members to look to MSCPA for thought leadership and guidance on particular issues, Pitter said.

Social Connections

MSCPA hosts virtual social events for members, including a beer and cheese tasting and a trivia night, to provide a networking outlet for members and keep them engaged in a relaxed setting. The events used to be in-person, typically at a bar, but the revised online setting still works. CPA member firms assemble teams and compete against one another.

“It’s a real opportunity for people to have fun with their colleagues,” she said. It also helps the firms recapture a sense of office culture they’ve been struggling to regain.

“It’s something we can uniquely offer our members,” she said. “Everybody’s hungry for connection right now.”

The post Tips and Tools for Helping Members Manage Stress appeared first on Associations Now.

How Associations Can Thrive in a “Virtual Everything” World

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Why preparing for the worst can shake out your best.

After the American Water Works Association made the shift to virtual conferences and events last year, Mike Hiskey, its director of IT, characterized it as a “mind-expanding experience.”

“We couldn’t just say, alright, see you all in a couple of years,” he said. “Everybody has been learning and growing and adapting, and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s fun to learn new things. It’s fun to grow, and it’s been an enlightening process, but also a tremendous amount of work.”

Hiskey shared how the AWWA has been able to keep its members engaged, provide opportunities and share knowledge in this new world of what he called “virtual everything.”

Don’t Work in a Bubble

Although the move to virtual is tech-first, it entails many moving parts, Hiskey said, noting that it’s essential to engage with teams across an organization.

“Honestly, the tech implementation might be the easiest part,” he said. “The more challenging thing is to make sure we understand how each service offering affects our member value, affects our membership benefits package.”

According to research conducted by Personify in December of last year, 46 percent of members said it was very important to engage with their associations to learn career skills or get certifications. Both networking and industry advocacy were considered very important by 45 percent of respondents.

Given those findings, should a product or service be free to members and charged to non-members or exclusively available only to members?

In some cases, the real value of a product is its ability to attract membership. In others, the value is simply the profit. But Hiskey said you have to include your entire team in those conversations to get the most insightful answer. That means collaborating with your product, finance and marketing teams. Include everyone because an interdisciplinary approach will yield the best ideas for membership value, he noted.

Embrace Worst-Case Scenarios

“One big takeaway [from the past year is recognizing] the importance of risk assessment and having an incident response plan,” Hiskey said.

At the start of the pandemic, the AWWA swiftly identified imminent challenges and drafted a plan to transition to working from home and delivering conferences in a virtual setting, he explained. “But we thought this would be for a few weeks, maybe a couple of months.”

Now nearly a year into the pandemic, Hiskey said it’s vital to think about all the possible risks and have a plan in place to cover even the most extreme outcomes. What 2020 has shown us is that it’s both prudent and valuable for associations to build resilience plans to ensure their long-term well being.

“Get people together and say, ‘Let’s seriously think about what could go wrong,” he said, and consider strategies even for scenarios that seem outlandish. “The lesson is to be a little more accepting of things that could go wrong and think about how you’ll respond.”

Evaluate the Systems You Already Have in Place

It’s not all about dreaming up worst-case scenarios. This is also a good time for associations to take a hard look at the systems they currently use.

Hiskey said the AWWA found that the past year was ideal for reworking some long-standing but antiquated workplace procedures. He pointed to one process that required someone to fill out a piece of paper and run it to three different managers for physical signatures. Not only was that time-consuming, but in a remote world, it wasn’t even possible. “This was a perfect time to make changes and improve; there have been a lot of rewarding moments that came out of our conversations.”

Personify’s research found that 83 percent of employees surveyed said that tech has been very important for engaging association members in 2020, with 42 percent saying it’s absolutely critical. What’s more, 76 percent of employees said it’s been easy for their organization to make the change to digital programming.

Never Stop Adapting

AWWA took advantage of member comfort in a digital world by launching its own platform—called envoi—to digitally deliver its standards to members. It’s provided a streamlined product outreach for the association, Hiskey explained.

“Many of our members are working from home, so now they have access to our standards in electronic format,” Hiskey said, adding that the AWWA is considering expanding types of content and accessibility to envoi over the next few months.

In the AWWA’s embrace of “virtual everything,” it uses Microsoft Teams for interoffice collaboration and communication. For large virtual conferences, it uses the webinar platform ON24. For video streaming, it uses webcastcloud. And for all of its member and customer transactions, the AWWA leverages Personify360 and views the AMS solution as “the authoritative source” on its data, according to Hiskey. “We’ve got a good rubric set up to figure out the right tool to meet the needs of a particular event, but we are looking forward to consolidating that stack.”

Be Patient

There are a lot of people coming together from different teams with a common cause. Hiskey emphasized that it’s critical to keep in mind that there’s a learning curve, and everyone is adjusting—not just your staff, but also your clients, your tech support and your members.

“This is affecting all of us; we’re all having to change what we think, what we do, how we behave, how we act,” Hiskey said. “I think that’s one of the beautiful things that came out of the last year—the support everyone had for each other.”

At the end of the day, if you intend to adapt and support those around you in an empathetic way, you’ve got a solid foundation, he said.

“As long as we continue to demonstrate value to members and make sure people understand that we’re still here for them, people will adapt, and people will change.”

This series by Personify is intended to serve as a guidepost for associations that are reacting to fundamental market shifts and proactively building a better future for their organizations.

The post How Associations Can Thrive in a “Virtual Everything” World appeared first on Associations Now.

When the Contingency Plan Becomes the Main Event

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

How associations can adapt to the times with research and the right technology.

Chris Lyons’s association faced a daunting task: Planning two annual meetings at once.

Maybe this sounds familiar: Lyons, who is the associate executive director at the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS), was contractually obligated to a host city for an on-site meeting. But as the pandemic descended across the US, he realized he needed to simultaneously plan for a virtual event.

Like many associations dealing with a volatile 2020, “the uncertainty of planning two potential meeting formats divided our focus,” he said.

Eventually, the AALAS’s commitment to its on-site meeting was lifted, and Lyons and his team were able to focus all their efforts on planning a virtual event—with just a few months to spare.

The whiplash of 2020 is a common story for organizations navigating major event commitments. Executives and their staff grappled with how to rapidly transform their annual meetings—touchstones for communities of professionals who rely on them for education, networking and support—by successfully leveraging digital platforms and trying to replicate the benefits of an in-person experience.

It was a reactive, stressful year, by most accounts. But going forward, Lyons and other executives are learning from the chaos of 2020, and they’re planning to use their experience to fuel growth and efficiencies in 2021. Here are some of the lessons they’ve learned that can help guide your own decision-making moving forward:

What Doesn’t Thrill You Makes You Stronger

While 2020 may have been trial by fire for many organizations, one silver lining is that many of those same organizations discovered inner strengths – like resilience and the ability to pivot their planning in a more agile way than they had perhaps thought, especially through digital technology. This turned last year’s challenges into a springboard to inform event planning for 2021 and beyond. In this spirit, Lyons said the AALAS will continue to identify different ways to keep attendees engaged during virtual meetings—the venue of choice for at least a while longer.

For example, Lyons tapped into Personify’s technology suite to reduce reporting bottlenecks by making data more accessible to his entire team instead of relying on traditional methods of pulling data. This improved processes and allowed for more efficient and effective decision-making.

May I Have Your Attention, Please? It Depends

Audience engagement starts with tuning in, but without true interactivity, it’s far too easy to tune out in favor of another browser tab, incoming IMs, or other real-life distractions now that so many are working from home.

While many companies may be inclined to simply take their standard event format and convert it to an online version, that may not always work, according to a recent article in Fast Company. It’s important for organizers to consider what new opportunities they can provide attendees.

In exploring ways to keep participants’ attention, Lyons mentioned live polling, video chat breakout rooms, push notifications, live question-and-answer sessions, quizzes, virtual activity-a-thons, and virtual photo booths as examples of some of the strategies companies are considering for future events.

The key is to find ways to engage attendees in the online environment instead of just moving from one speaker to the next. Scheduling breaks and finding creative ways to use the digital medium to gamify attendees’ experiences can be a successful strategy, the article said.

Make Sure Your Tools Adapt With the Times

Personify conducted a study in January 2021 on the future of associations, nonprofits and events. According to its research, nearly half of association professionals said they saw a boost in tech spending in 2020. Community software, virtual event software and member self-service tools were all top-purchased items.

In order to embed their educational videos into their online engagement platform, Lyons’ association, chose Vimeo—not only for its array of features, but also for its strong privacy policies. “Though there was a nominal fee, this hosting platform provided more security controls and options than YouTube did,” he said.

AALAS also uses Microsoft 365 and Zoom, and is in the process of working with their database vendor to integrate their online exhibitor registration—A2Z Events—with Personify360—their association management system. “This integration will improve efficiency by keeping data and exhibitor transactions under one roof,” Lyons said.

Embracing new technology often comes from identifying what’s not working and making changes accordingly. One challenge Lyons’ association faced before adopting Personify360 many years ago was that their original database didn’t have capabilities for ecommerce integration. That’s what catalyzed their search for a new system in the first place. But as part of the upgrade to a more comprehensive management system, Personify360 has also given their association the ability to centralize their data, such as online exhibitor registrations, with other databases for memberships and subscriptions.

First and foremost, however, it’s important for associations to identify what their needs are when it comes to their virtual presence and strategies and then match those needs to the right tools. In Lyons’ case, it was discovering that it was possible to streamline a multitude of services under one roof. In this digital-first age, you want your plans to be in perfect harmony with your digital tools. And ultimately, those digital tools should help reinforce the reason people attend conferences in the first place: for the meaningful connections, networking opportunities, and professional development they look forward to all year. In other words, help them remember why they’re a member in the first place.

This series by Personify is intended to serve as a guidepost for associations that are reacting to fundamental market shifts and proactively building a better future for their organizations.

The post When the Contingency Plan Becomes the Main Event appeared first on Associations Now.

Tips for Navigating a New Membership Terrain

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Associations long relied on the same channels to engage, recruit, and retain members. And then everything changed. Now what? A membership expert shares her ideas for switching course and finding new opportunities.

Association executives often default to finding a better marketing strategy when times are tough. But what if marketing isn’t the problem? More and better marketing is not necessarily the solution to all membership challenges, especially right now.

“Marketing is not a fix for value,” said Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of Avenue M Group. Instead, organizations need to think through the channels they use to engage members. “It has become increasingly important to have many micro segments within your value proposition to meet member needs—whether you are a trade or professional organization,” she said.

Associations have long counted on the same channels to engage with members. For example, in the past it was a given that members would reliably attend meetings. “That’s how we recruit them,” Jacobs said. “They come to the meetings and we give them value.” No one thought about new channels before the pandemic because everything was working. Now it’s time to “think big and bring it,” she said.

Adjacent Markets

Jacobs had a moment recently while listening to a podcast about an organic cattle ranch in California that sold meat directly to restaurants. When the pandemic hit and restaurants were shuttered, the owners considered closing the family business, which had existed for five generations. Their main distribution channel had been abruptly shut off, and the only way to survive was to find a new market and a way to expand their business. Rather than closing up shop, they partnered with neighboring ranches to sell meat directly to consumers instead.

The rancher’s predicament—and solution—reminded Jacobs of associations. For organizations that can’t deliver what they did before, adjacent markets may be able to help. Partnerships among like-minded organizations can provide a way for associations to mutually benefit one another.

“It’s not just looking at expanding in existing markets, but looking at adjacent markets where there are resources you don’t have,” she said.

Think Big and Bring It

Jacobs recommends a “swipe file” exercise to encourage thinking about solutions beyond marketing. When you see an idea you like that stands out and is effective, grab it and keep it in a swipe file.

“Put away all resource constraints, and once you come up with the big ideas, then come back and assess what’s realistic to implement,” she said. Just as commercial ventures do, look at adjacent markets that might be relevant to your business. “Think about where you might need to make some flips and changes”—like the cattle ranch.

Considering new channels for market expansion and delivering value requires a certain amount of fearlessness. “I start every year saying I need 100 failures,” Jacobs said. She challenges herself to experiment enough—and take enough smart risks—to get a dozen or more successes. “The success comes in failure,” she said.

Despite the daunting challenges of the past year, Jacobs is encouraged.

“Every organization and every board is open to change right now,” she said. If the pandemic hadn’t happened, associations would likely have stayed in their comfort zones while the drop in membership and increased competition continued unaddressed.

“I am more optimistic now for associations than ever,” she said.

The post Tips for Navigating a New Membership Terrain appeared first on Associations Now.

Membership Pro Tip: A Low-Cost Way to Connect Members

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Looking for simple, inexpensive ways to keep members engaged in a virtual world? Here’s one solution.

How does it work? Recognizing that its members were lonelier and more isolated than ever without the typical pathways to interact with colleagues at in-person meetings—an ongoing issue—the Council on Undergraduate Research established “CUR Conversations,” a low-cost way for members to connect on a video calling platform.

CUR sends out an email inviting members of its community to get together and share ideas for an hour on the video calls. Any member can propose a topic for the call, which is limited to a specific number of people.

Why is it effective? Members can join the casual forums to discuss hot topics, issues they are struggling with, success stories, solutions, and more. The calls often bring together members who don’t already know each other, which helps them widen their circle and build bonds with new people in a virtual world, despite the lack of face-to-face events.

What’s the benefit? “We don’t have to develop any content, and it’s not a heavy lift for us, but members are getting a lot of value out of being able to connect with their colleagues,” says Lindsay Currie, CAE, CUR’s executive officer.

Do you have a membership pro tip? Please share in the comments or send me an email.

The post Membership Pro Tip: A Low-Cost Way to Connect Members appeared first on Associations Now.

Why Associations Should Emphasize Brand Strategy Amid COVID-19

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Right now, your brand may be the most visible part of what you do. For that reason, your association should lean into efforts to strategically raise the brand. Here’s why.

Most of the time, once you have a brand set, you leave it alone and let it do its thing.

But this is not most of the time, and suddenly, the brand is more important than ever. In fact, when you can’t hold meetings and receptions, it may be the glue holding everything together.

With that in mind, here are a few considerations to keep your brand strategy in focus:

Tighter budgets require a tighter strategic focus. Recent Gartner research found that nearly half of chief marketing officers had seen budget cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, and that has led many of them to reprioritize brand strategy. According to a Marketing Dive analysis of the data, a third of respondents moved brand strategy to one of their top three priorities—despite it being “near the bottom of the list in 2019.” Ewan McIntyre, a Gartner for Marketers analyst, said that the shifting economy required a shifting focus on brand awareness. “We are seeing successful brands take action that is authentically connected to their brand strategy and value proposition,” he said.

It will allow you to think beyond the crisis. Putting a focus on branding right now could also create a path forward beyond the current moment. In a resource page on the COVID-19 crisis, PwC recommends that businesses take the current moment to do some planning for a point when things are a bit closer to normalcy. “What we see today may be dramatically different in six months. In the long term, it will be essential to take a pulse of your customers to determine the need to make fundamental changes to core markets or business models,” the page states. “This is also a time to reassess your brand relative to competitors to understand your differentiating capabilities and where your company could win market share.”

It will allow you to emphasize visually what you can’t physically. In a lot of ways, brand strategy is about positioning. Now is a good time to experiment with what a brand could be. A recent Forbes piece shows how many retail brands are using digital and sensory experiences online as a way to highlight their work—and they offer a lot you can borrow from.

You should be willing to keep up right now. The one downside of brand strategy at the moment is that the uncertainty of COVID-19 means that associations, like many others, could find themselves shifting with the times. AdExchanger notes, for example, that many brands have had to adapt to the shifting attempts to reopen and close states and countries. Lindblad Expeditions, a firm that offers luxury adventure cruises, has leaned into online content marketing in its messaging as it’s had to pause service. “It’s a week-by-week thing,” noted Kim Kyaw, Lindblad’s director of advertising and digital, in comments to the website. “A lot of factors go into it, like the willingness of guests to travel, the willingness of people in those communities to allow guests and whether the airlines are going to those areas.”

The post Why Associations Should Emphasize Brand Strategy Amid COVID-19 appeared first on Associations Now.

Inside an Effective Governance Overhaul

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Once burdened with a top-heavy leadership structure, the Ontario Medical Association has successfully found a way to be more nimble and forward-thinking.

Sticking around for 138 years is a good sign of an association’s ability to endure. It’s also a signal that there are probably a few old habits that need shedding.

That was the case with the Ontario Medical Association in 2016, when a debate over physician fee agreements brought some long-simmering frustrations to a head. Divisions on the issue splintered the membership and prompted a majority to vote against the wishes of the OMA board. In the process, members spotlighted a governance structure that wasn’t just bloated—a 26-member board, plus a 250-person council of delegates—but insular.

You need to have some patience, you have to have a clear roadmap, and you need to recognize that democracy is going to be messy.

Member elections for board president, for instance, weren’t binding votes but instead were conducted as an “advisory referendum.”

“It seemed like the executive of the board wasn’t directly elected by members,” says Dr. Lisa Salamon, cochair of OMA’s governance transformation task force, which was created to address the issue. “There seemed to be a succession plan that was chosen by the members of the board. Theoretically, someone could run for president from the council, but it never really happened.”

Because the frustrations emerged from membership, says OMA CEO Allan O’Dette, the solutions needed to be made bottom-up, not top-down. “It had to be member-driven,” he says. “You need to have some patience, you have to have a clear roadmap, and you need to recognize that democracy is going to be messy.”

Late last year, four years after the need for changes became clear, OMA announced a new governance structure to address both size and transparency. Starting in 2021, the association’s board will be reduced from 26 to 11 members, and the council will be replaced with a smaller general assembly that’s designed to be more agenda-driven and report to the board more directly. And votes for board president are now binding.

One hallmark of the new structure is that three of the board members will now be nonphysicians. Salamon notes that under the new structure—cleanly and thoroughly detailed on a dedicated website—diversity is a key consideration for physician board members in terms of race, gender, areas of practice, and other areas. But making room for nonphysicians means OMA can recruit the kind of expertise that doesn’t necessarily come with an MD.

“You want to make sure that you cover skills that are important for a board, and that’s where the nonphysician board directors come into play,” she says. “Then you can say, ‘Well, we’d really like someone with some legal expertise, or some IT expertise, or some strategic planning expertise.’”

The priorities of the governance revamp were simple, says O’Dette: “Avoid groupthink and paralysis at the board level, and put the agenda-prioritizing ability back in the hands of members through the general assembly.” But that simple goal required a substantial investment of time. In addition to a full-time staff project manager and reshuffling of staff time, he says, “there were hundreds of hours of consultations with our members, hundreds of hours of group consultations, and iterative documents based on those consultations.”

Despite all that, some elements of the process moved quickly. For instance, the decision to cut board size by more than half wasn’t contentious, which surprised some. “That was actually the easiest sell,” Salamon says. “If you look at organizations that are revising their governance, by and large they were all making their boards smaller. And we could see that having a big board meant it took longer to make decisions.”

Salamon encourages organizations to be patient when undergoing a governance overhaul, and also to be confident—and ready to act on the promises made around the changes.

“I think a lot of people didn’t think a huge change like this was actually going to come to fruition,” she says. “It may see like a daunting process and a big ask of people, but we’ve seen with the pandemic and how our lives have been turned upside-down, I think people are ready for big changes. But if you’re going to embark on it, be ready to implement it when it passes.”

The post Inside an Effective Governance Overhaul appeared first on Associations Now.

What You Need to Know About Music Licensing for Virtual Events

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

In a world where a live event can be as simple as a few people meeting via videoconference, how do the rules of music licensing apply? According to one legal expert, it’s a question of liability and risk, just as with in-person events.

Music played at in-person events can add the right vibe and a unique kind of energy. It can have a similar effect for virtual events too. But event planners might be wondering: Does the difference in venue matter when it comes to music licensing?

For the most part, it doesn’t, says Peter Strand, a lawyer with Mandell Menkes LLC who specializes in intellectual property issues in the music industry. In a virtual setting, “if there’s music being played, that is still copyright protected, and the performance has to be authorized,” he says.

Strand, himself a musician (his ’70s band Yipes! once opened for Foreigner and Cheap Trick), notes that this is also true of event recordings, even if they will not be available in perpetuity. “Again, the fact that these are virtual, and that the recording may not be permanent … doesn’t change that,” he says.

Managing Risk

Plenty of virtual events—some in venues as small as living rooms, others at a massive scale—have used music in a high-profile way. Strand says that the two primary groups for performance rights, ASCAP and BMI, realistically don’t have the resources to track down every performance, nor do groups representing songwriters.

But failing to get a license for the music you use carries potential for liability, especially if the event is high-profile. Strand cites the hypothetical example of a well-known musician doing a musical livestream. “If an artist with some notoriety says, ‘I’m gonna do a Dylan program on Friday live from my living room, that may trigger somebody to contact that performer to say, ‘You need to get that license,’” he says.

The poster child for what can happen if you fail to license music for digital use is the exercise bike company Peloton. In 2019, the company was sued by numerous music publishers over unlicensed songs featured in Peloton videos.

Eventually, the company ended up striking a settlement with the National Music Publishers’ Association, whose members filed the lawsuit. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Peloton paid $49.3 million in settlement and litigation costs.

“I think that the media coverage of that matter probably was instructive to other organizations,” Strand says.

Consider the Source

One thing that has changed about music licensing thanks to the internet is how easy it is to find songs and use them without thinking about copyright—which can lead to trouble.

Strand cites the real-life example of a company that attempted to license a vintage pop song for a commercial, only to learn after using the song that the recording was not owned by the record company it was trying to license from. It turned out to be a cover version that an employee found on the internet.

In an era when Spotify and even illegal torrent sites can put a song at your fingertips, the ease of sourcing music can create headaches, especially as the rules for permissible use are often unclear.

“People do have a little bit of a casual relationship with stuff found on the internet, even if in the back of their head, they know something about Napster,” Strand says, referring to the now-defunct peer-to-peer file-sharing service that got into legal hot water over copyright infringement.

For event planners to avoid such risks, Strand recommends dedicating staff to content discovery and working with a lawyer to help manage decision making around licensing for an event.

“If you’re going to assign people to select content that you want to have as part of your event, find out the source of what they handled; make sure that you know it, if you can identify the owners; and make sure that you can contact somebody to get it licensed,” he says.

The post What You Need to Know About Music Licensing for Virtual Events appeared first on Associations Now.

What Exhibitors and Sponsors Want From Virtual Events in 2021

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed

Organizers had a lot to learn in 2020 as they quickly transitioned their in-person events to the virtual space. And while sponsors supported those efforts, it could be a tougher sell this year. Here’s a look at how to improve the virtual conference experience for exhibitors and sponsors.

Back in December, a group of legal vendors came together for the Virtual Value Workshop, which organizers described as “a creative mix of strategy retreat, problem-solving workshop, and innovation hackathon for legal vendors searching for ROI from the virtual events, tradeshows, and conferences they sponsor.”

As part of that workshop, participants began drafting their “manifesto,” which they shared in its final form earlier this week.

This is our Manifesto. It was originally conceived in frustration, but we share it in a spirit of collaboration Beginning today, let’s reinvent tomorrow together as equals and improve the conference for all.

— Matt Homann (@matthomann) February 15, 2021

Although this was developed for the legal technology industry, it includes several ideas for how to better collaborate with sponsors and increase vendor engagement and satisfaction that also apply to associations. Here are four that I found particularly notable:

Get vendors involved during the planning stage. “Invite us to offer suggestions, give feedback, and share the lessons we’re learning (and the solutions we’re seeing) before you go your own way,” states the manifesto. One idea offered up by participants for making that happen: Pitch your most innovate ideas for 2021 and beyond to a panel of your partners and sponsors. Not only will they give you honest feedback, but they could also decide to sponsor one of your ideas on the spot.

Rethink the virtual expo hall. In an online environment, it may not make sense to have exhibitors and vendors organized in traditional tradeshow hall rows. Instead, the manifesto suggests that the hall be organized around the problems that attendees are looking to solve, or even around conference tracks. One plus side to arranging this way: Vendors might choose to be in more than one area, depending on the variety of solutions and services they offer.

Build small curated exhibit spaces. “Make attendees leave their virtual sessions through a curated, mini vendor hall where they might be exposed to solutions connected with the session they just attended,” the manifesto suggests.

Offer discounts in exchange for engagement and data. Exhibitor and sponsor satisfaction is sure to increase if they have more attendees meeting with them or if they have access to attendee data that can help them easily reach out to people who may be interested in their products and services. To accomplish both, the manifesto suggests offering discounts to attendees who visit with vendors or who are willing to provide additional data about themselves. If registration discounts aren’t something your association would consider, you could offer other benefits like prizes or access to additional content.

Ultimately, I think successful virtual events in 2021 will be those created by meeting teams that focused on this quote from the manifesto: “Instead of asking, ‘How can we do online what we’ve always done in person?’ you should ask, ‘How can we do online what we’ve never been able to do in person?’ And then answer it well.”

What new opportunities are you offering sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors at your upcoming 2021 virtual and hybrid events? Please share in the comments.

The post What Exhibitors and Sponsors Want From Virtual Events in 2021 appeared first on Associations Now.