Public Policy: How To Choose a Lobbying Partner
There may come a time when you will need to consider partnering with a lobbying firm to advance your professional agenda. While a great deal of progress can be made with an active and vocal membership, it is often most effective to employ an expert in the field of Government Affairs to help navigate and target your efforts. They can act as a force multiplier, leveraging an already active membership base to achieve policy goals. These professionals often possess a great deal of behind the scenes experience on both sides of public policy, both advocating for and helping to enact it. Their experience in tracking a developing legislative issue can be invaluable in determining where to focus the efforts of an association’s grassroots activism.

When it comes time to do the research and make your decision, an AMC can be invaluable in helping narrow down the pool of eligible lobbying firms as well as crafting an RFP that distinctly outlines the expectations for both parties. Many AMCs, such as Agentis Management, have their own Government Affairs staff that have experience with lobbyists at both the state and federal level, and can help in the selection process. Having specialized staff working directly for your AMC allows for a more efficient distribution of the workload and allows the association's Board of Directors to focus on strategic objectives. Meanwhile, the lobbying team can perform at the tactical level.

Why is Membership Data Maintenance Important?
It is important to ensure that member information is correct and updated for many reasons.

For the overall goals of the association, accurate membership numbers and demographics are needed to determine the scope of opportunities that can be offered to members. Event registration numbers are needed to provide all attendees with food, beverage and hotel needs for each conference. Registration details are also needed in order to determine revenue for current and past events, while budgeting for the future.

To benefit each association member, the correct data is needed in order to maintain open communication so that the member is regularly informed regarding upcoming events, newsletters, and continuing education. In order to receive the full scope of membership benefits, a member’s updated information must be on file.

At Agentis, we value our clients' members and want them to find equal fulfillment in their association memberships!

How Do Associations Engage Their Membership on a Grassroots Level?
When considering your association’s public policy strategy, the very first step should be the identification and mobilization of your grassroots members. In this endeavor it is never too early to start.

Before you even have an issue on the agenda, it is important to engage your membership to identify leaders and activists. Not all of your members will be of the same skill set. Some may be natural born leaders ready to rally the troops at a moment’s notice, with a passionate appeal to their fellow members for action. Others could be more suited to the in-depth research and position development that it takes to make valuable evidence to present to policy makers in meetings. The key here is to keep members of all different persuasions engaged and informed through out the process. If you’re able to make members feel like they have a stake in the association’s future, than you stand a better chance of developing real public policy champions.

At Agentis Management, we work together with the Boards of Directors at our various client organizations and develop committees and special interest groups to help craft public policy to advance each association's agenda and professional stature. When your members see their AMC and their Boards of Directors fighting for their profession on a day-to-day basis, it becomes much easier to tap into their enthusiasm on an as-needed basis instead of having to rally members for each and every issue.
Shed the Blue Blazer
By Stephanie Czuhajewski, Chief Executive Officer , Agentis Management

As I travel for client and industry events, one thing stands out in this post-business-casual world—the blue blazer. This longstanding staple of a professional’s business wardrobe has in many ways come to represent the stodgy, archaic ‘good ole boy’ conventions of years gone by—and is today often associated with outdated ideas, technologies and models of learning.

The blue blazer is safe. It can be worn with everything from a button-down oxford to a polo, to a t-shirt. It can be worn with jeans or khakis—and with—or without a tie. However, there is nothing unique or inventive about a blue blazer. Today’s trailblazers are increasingly shedding the blue blazer and the blue blazer mindset.

Innovators across industries are not only making radically different fashion statements, but equally drastic changes to the way knowledge is transferred at live and virtual events. In this age of rapid change and disruption, the last thing people seem to want to epitomize is adequate and ubiquitous.

Today’s business gurus and TED Talk pioneers all preach the message to push revolution in thinking, embrace change and face fear for the purpose of disruption and innovation. If organizations and individuals don’t take risks to evolve and differentiate to meet modern needs, they will slowly dissolve and disappear.

To be clear, I am not advocating judging one’s ability to innovate by his/her choice of attire. After all Steve Jobs was pretty creative and he wore the same outfit almost every day (though, it should be noted that he did not wear blue blazers). I am merely suggesting that the blue blazer symbolizes complacency and paradigms that are no longer relevant in today’s society.

I am excited about the opportunities for future meetings and events, which are built on new platforms and engagement channels. I hope that all meeting professionals will relegate blue blazer thinking to the back of the closet, in favor of more modern ideas. Let’s make every convention unconventional and create opportunities for learning and networking that are truly meaningful for the professions and industries we serve.