The Becker Blog

What to do with Your Association Publication?


The pandemic had certainly made nonprofit organizations rethink their approach to marketing communications. Developing a stronger digital footprint is high on the priority list when the market begins to emerge around the “new normal”. This puts into question all communications and resource-heavy programs, including your association’s flagship publication. If you are considering the possibility of canceling this important benefit, please make sure to ask yourself the following three questions before confirming your decision.

1. Will you replace it with something as valuable as your print publication?

According to a study completed by AM&P, respondents were asked to rank their association print publication’s primary objective. The number one answer was member value and the least cited response was to generate non-dues revenue. 

Increasing member value is one of the biggest issues nonprofits face. Some of our clients have seen dramatic shifts in their membership renewals after print publications were no longer offered. How will your members see value in their annual dues if one of their largest membership benefits is taken away?

Sometimes the question is not about replacing the print publication, but changing the publishing model as in the case of scholarly journals for which Open Access is an option.

2. How will your association engage its members?

Website visits and impressions are important, but engagement metrics, such as session length and viewing time, are the ones that truly measure the effectiveness of your content. Members may visit your website for news updates or for referring to specific information, but for the most part, they are fairly knowledgeable about most of the static content that is displayed. Publications, regardless of digital or print, are an important tool in how your association communicates and connects with its members.

3. How will your association maintain credibility?

Publications are a strong way to develop trust and authenticity, not only with its members but also with its contributors and all other readers. 

Is your organization known as an expert in its field? How will this expertise be promoted? How will the public trust your association in comparison with your competitors once publications are no longer issued?

4. Bonus Question

Can you pivot your communications to be lead generating? Put full member-only content on your website behind a paywall, and build a newsletter of teasers that members can share widely. Let people see what they are missing if they are not a member while building your relevance beyond your membership base.

There are many more questions to ask when determining whether or not to continue with your publication. These three (four) will help shape the conversation and point the discussion in the right direction. 

Contact us today if your organization is going through a similar process and would like guidance on managing these changes.

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