“Association Innovation” theme @ MASAE Confab; Turn to Kleiner PR

Cover of Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives (MASAE) Conference attended by Michael Kleiner Public Relations and Web Design's Michael Kleiner and John Shiffert
Cover of Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives (MASAE) Conference attended by Michael Kleiner Public Relations and Web Design’s Michael Kleiner and John Shiffert

If you look up “innovation” on Dictionary.com, you’ll find it’s, “something new or different introduced.”

More elaborately, according to Amanda Kaiser of Kaiser Insights LLC, writing for the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) “2016 Association Innovation Benchmark Study,” “the most common definition of innovation is a 3 element definition.” Kaiser thus gives the following definition, targeted to association executives, “We create and launch a member benefit or product or process that is new that provides value to members.”

We at Michael Kleiner Public Relations and Web Design, while respecting the broad, encyclopedic nature of Dictionary.com, are more likely to applaud Kaiser’s definition, one that received a great deal of exposure at the recent Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives (MASAE) 2016 Conference in Atlantic City, whose theme was, “Association Innovation.”

Our concurrence with Kaiser and NBAA stems from two factors; the emphasis and focus on innovation that ran throughout the MASAE Conference, and the fact that, in our opinion, Kaiser has clearly stated the most important aspect of innovation.

True, anyone can introduce, “something new or different” into their organization, but, what good does that do if innovation doesn’t produce something of value? Innovation for innovation’s sake may at first seem exciting (or daunting), but, innovation should lead to some practical result, no matter in what venue you’re operating.

So, we were impressed with MASAE’s focus on helping educate its members as to meaningful innovation, through both the keynote speakers and breakout sessions. Specifically, we would be remiss by not mentioning the contributions of Kaiser and NBAA’s Jo D’Amato (a pilot with both feet on the ground), keynoters/presenters Jennifer Blenkle (Frameworks, Inc.), and Arlene Pietranton of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Construction Management Financial Management Association’s Brian Summers and Ariel Sanchirico (kudos for their extensive use of self-paced online courses, an innovation that higher education has yet to fully embrace). Indeed, so infused with innovation was MASAE 2016 that several attendees were overheard commenting at the Member Gala Reception that they thought the Boy George music video was cutting edge.

Innovation is cutting edge at Michael Kleiner Public Relations and Web Design, notably in the form of our “Service to Members” program that augments an association’s marketing and communications (Marcomm) efforts, while at the same time providing Marcomm services to the association’s individual organizations and/or members. Operating under a single monthly contract with Kleiner PR, association managers can access for themselves additional professional help in everything from public relations to copywriting, editing and content creation to web design to blogging to branding to publication management, while at the same time providing, “a member benefit or product or process that is new that provides value to members.”

That’s innovation for associations, too.


Tips from Mike and John on Dealing with the News Media, Part Two

art work for blog post on top 10 tips for dealing with the media by John Shiffert for Michael Kleiner PR & Web DesignTip Number 6) Controversy

When dealing with even a potentially controversial issue, don’t be afraid to ask your questioner your own questions. For example… “Can you give me an idea of how you came by this information?” (They’ll never tell you specifically, but you might get enough of an idea to help you know what’s going on behind the scenes… which will help before the camera or tape starts running.)

 Tip Number 7) The Worst Thing You Can Do

Never, ever, say, “no comment!” That is simply the worst thing you can do in a controversial situation. If there’s one thing the media cannot forgive (in controversial AND non-controversial situations), it’s someone who will not talk to them. This is, in their minds, the ultimate sin, a peche mortel. Guaranteed, they’ll stick your “no comment” comment in the middle of the story and make it look like either you’re an idiot, or you have something to hide, or both.

Be ready beforehand to explain your answers carefully. However, if indeed you are asked a question you don’t want to answer at that moment, one approach is to state you need more information from your sources (they have their sources, you have your sources… only fair, right?) before answering and you will get back to them once you have that information. That will buy some time to frame an answer… but make sure you do get back to them.

If you are unsure or nervous under these circumstances, consult a media relations/crisis situation professional. Run it by them, and practice your answer.

Tip Number 8) Market to the Media

Surprise, surprise! The news media wants exactly what you want… they want to get ahead in their jobs. If you can make their jobs easier, or if you know their hot buttons, your job (in terms of dealing with the media) will be a lot easier. This is the first rule of media relations. Marketing is basically the art of meeting the wants and needs of your public(s). In this case, the public is the news media and you want to market to them, by finding out their wants and needs.

Know the reporters who cover your story. That is the number one complaint of reporters, people pitching them don’t know what they write about. Every publication has a web site… go there. Do searches for articles about your topic. Stories will pop up. Read them. Most articles have an e-mail address and/or Twitter handle for the writer. Your pitch can say, “I know you write a lot about…. Well, our company does….”

Tip Number 9) They Know Nothing

One of the first rules of journalism is to assume that your readership knows virtually nothing about the subject of your story. Since public relations/media relations practitioners are basically journalists working from the other side of the street, that’s equally true when you’re answering news media questions. That is, you assume they don’t really know a great deal about the story, a not surprising assumption, since many reporters are generalists, not specialists, on the subject where YOU are the expert.

So, make sure you make your information clear, and, if necessary, offer to send them additional information, ideally in hard copy (i.e., by fax.)

Tip Number 10) When the Media Statement is About an Event, There Isn’t Time to Poll

Organization and association members and boards are sometimes leery of taking public positions on an issue and feel there needs to be a vote, a consensus. On a timely event, in the 24/7 news cycle, you don’t have time to poll everybody. Suppose the vote is 10-1. The organization/association should have an understanding of what they represent, so must trust the executive director and/or public relations/spokesperson to say the right thing. They’re in those positions for a reason.

For example, SBN wants to take a position on Donald Trump nominating anti-environmentalist Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. It can be assumed that in an organization like SBN, whose motto is People, Planet, Profit, the members are going to support a stand against Pruitt. CNN, Nightline and Rachel Maddow are waiting. You don’t have time to poll the members or the Board. You think the other people being interviewed cleared it first?

Tip Number 11) Handle With Care

Another way of looking at this list is as a guideline for handling the news media. As such, the best advice is, “handle with care.” Yes, you should also keep it simple. Be patient. Keep your cool (don’t overreact to inflammatory questions). Listen closely to what they are saying. Get to the point when answering. Journalists are looking for mnemonic quotes that anyone can understand.

In the end though, handle the news media with care. While they can, and do, give you free publicity in news stories, it’s not by definition the publicity you want, and the news media are NOT your friends. Their job is to sell — newspapers, web space, air time, etc. Not to support you. And they do that by publishing what they perceive is the story, not what you perceive.

New developments at Michael Kleiner Public Relations & Web Design

There are exciting developments at Michael Kleiner Public Relations and Web Design. Michael is reuniting with long-time friend and early mentor, John Shiffert to create a team offering editorial services and/or web design to membership associations and organizations. Why? Because the universal question from members of an organization is “What am I getting for my dues?” We plan on providing that answer by providing valuable editorial services to the associations themselves and then for the members.

You will be benefiting from two experts in communications — marketing, branding, communications, the web, PR and diverse writing/editorial experience over different platforms, and we understand Marcomm and the challenges presented to non-profits, especially associations, in delivering first-rate, to say nothing of adequate, communications-related services. While a dearth of professional expertise can be an issue, almost no one has enough staff to support the Marcomm needs of client associations AND their individual members. In today’s world, we are told technology is making things easier. What it has actually done is expand the possibilities in Marcomm and put more demands on our time to meet those opportunities and challenges. There are blogs, Facebook pages, tweets, e-mail newsletters, media kits to develop and update. There are probably more publications on the Internet than in “hard copy,” not surprising since there are literally a billion web pages on the Internet. Every time one turns around, there is another social media site popping up. Let us help you meet the challenge and participate in the 21st century communications world.

Many moons ago, Michael Kleiner and John Shiffert worked together. When Mr. Kleiner was a student at Germantown Friends School, he covered the school’s sports teams for the weekly newspaper Germantown Courier. Mr. Shiffert, an earlier graduate of GFS, was one of his Sports Editors at the Courier. Both shared and continue to share a passion for writing, sports statistics and history and left a similar indelible mark on the school–for those who remember. Now, they are becoming a team again, as the subsequent moons have given them a wealth of experience in journalism, writing, public relations, marketing, web design, publications, communications, editing, non-profit and association management, integrated marketing/branding and teaching in the areas of sports, education, small business development and management, healthcare and publishing. 

We’re members of Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia Public Relations Association, Global Philadelphia Association and Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives.

Check our new web site out and then use the contact form on the Contact page.