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We’re Not Like a Regular Association - We’re a Cool Association

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We’re Not Like a Regular Association - We’re a Cool Association

Emily Lane, Program and Brand Manager, National Association of State Chief Information Officers

For those who may not recognize the word play, the blog title is a nod to an often-quoted line by Amy Poehler’s character in the teen comedy Mean Girls. Poehler’s character tries desperately to be the “cool mom”; a friend who dresses like her teenage daughter and knows all the teenage gossip. In the end however, she just seems desperate.

The fear of appearing desperate or, more likely, unprofessional, prevents many associations from adding personality to their communications and instead falling back on a sterile, just-the-facts style.

The reluctance is understood. Will members equate levity with a loss of credibility? Could a joke unintentionally and unknowingly offend? But, having a little bit of fun in communications can break through the clutter and better engage our members. So, how can associations strike the right “cool” balance?

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has used holidays and widely recognized pseudo-holidays to shake up messaging and interact with members. More than just a gimmick though, the use has been purposeful. With this intentionality, messaging doesn’t stray into a cringe-worthy zone.

May the Force

A conference kicked-off on May 4th (May the Force Day); with a solid understanding of our membership, we knew there would be Star Wars fans in the audience. To give new life to a routine quote-of-the-day Twitter contest, we asked attendees to Star Wars-ifiy their tweets in honor of the day.

The result was better than we had imagined; attendees engaged in a meaningful way with the session content – boiling complex concepts down to Meme-length phrases and dispensing IT wisdom Yoda-style. An industry publication even covered the contest.


Valentine’s Day

Registration for a conference opened on Valentine's Day; to help members remember when they could begin registering, we decided to play up the date with NASCIO-specific conversation hearts. Social media followers were encouraged to create their own NASCIO hearts and share on Twitter. The result was a playful and memorable campaign that helped build buzz for registration opening.


Friday the 13th

The deadline for an awards program was extended after we learned our members had multiple competing deadlines. To ensure our message broke through the inbox clutter we knew members were experiencing, we highlighted superstition and fear of Friday the 13th as the reason for the deadline change. 

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