Spotlighting Younger People Could Pay Off in Many Ways

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At SIPA Annual 2018, Diane Schwartz, SVP and group publisher, and Greg Dool, senior editor—both from Access Intelligence—led a session titled Pivoting Your Editorial Team to Use Data. Dool graduated from Villanova in 2013 and now writes excellent articles for Folio:. Pairing a younger person with an experienced leader to deliver a session is a great way to showcase and involve young talent. (I will report on this session in the near future.) 
The Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance spotlights their young members through Q&A-style interviews, published online in its LEAP Spotlights series. This type of quick-question Q&A—"How did you decide to go into accounting?" "In high school I took an accounting class. Debits and credits just made sense to me!"—is pretty easy to do and enticing to read. Many of their Q&As feature volunteers who serve on AFWA's LEAP Council, which develops programs and initiatives targeted to young members.
"Today, 52% of our new members are under the age of 35," said AFWA Executive Director Cindy Stanley in an article in Associations Now. "That's obviously a huge number. We really need to address this group and make sure they feel heard, because they are our future."
The LEAP Spotlights give a face and voice to young members who project as future leaders, said Karyn Hartke, AFWA's president-elect. "Our goal is to show each leader as their whole self, not just their work self," she says. Some LEAP Council members are even given the reins of the association's Instagram account for a day.
This is a great way to develop your leadership pipeline. One member featured in a spotlight—Edronda Guiriba—recently joined AFWA's national board.
Cheryl Durst, EVP and CEO of The International Interior Design Association, told us recently that the average age of their members used to be 45-49. It wasn't working. "Given our industry [young and diverse], we knew that we needed to make a change," she said. "Now it's 33, relatively young." Part of that change came from a marketing directive to colleges and universities, an underused long-term strategy.
She said that, in a way, today's language is actually a throwback, comparing ancient hieroglyphics to today's emojis. (From my seat in the large conference hall, they did look pretty similar.) "We did an offsite," she said, bringing new people in who strived for diversity of thought. Old print materials showed "men facing right," pretty strange for an industry where 69% of 87,000 practitioners are women—though still, only 25% of firms are women-led.
New materials show much more diversity, also highligting younger members—and "those are actual members of the association!" Durst shouted. "What a concept!" They also got rid of a lot of fancy words and slogans that talked up the organization but not its benefits. Now a big "We Get You" adorns one of the new brochures.
The American Physical Therapy Association spotlights their younger members in two-minute testimonial clips about student membership that has received more than 1,000 YouTube views. Again, this represents longer term thinking, sometimes tough in a produce-now world. But these are very professionally done and promote diversity without shouting it out.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…