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turning vision into action

Why government affairs?

Yejin Cooke, Director of Government Affairs, National Association of State Chief Information Officers

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Miss Sloan” or watch “House of Cards,” there are probably more than a couple of scenes that portray lobbyists as scum of the earth with questionable morals and flexible principles all jockeying for financial gain or political power. But in real life, the lobbyist’s mission is simple and probably mundane; it is to study the impact of potential laws and regulations on the population they represent, convey that impact to others, and advocate for the position that best serves those they represent.

Great Expectations

Sarah Razor, Executive Director, National Association of State Chief Administrators

One of my colleagues has a mantra before every major event: Expect the unexpected.  This was certainly true at NASCA’s annual conference in October, with a twist.  You should expect the expected, but in an unexpected way.  The conference theme this year was the, “the Velocity of Change” and true to theme, on October 13 (a Friday, of course) things at this event changed at a breakneck pace.

Dan, one of NASCA’s executive committee members, arrived as an enthusiastic soon-to-be-dad.  Prior to our event, he mentioned this was his last out of state travel for the year as the due date for his firstborn was about a month away.  Throughout the week, his excitement was evident. For instance, during an ice breaker, members were warming up with a reciprocity circle activity.  With butcher paper taped along the main wall, attendees wrote both personal and professional ‘asks’ on sticky notes, and then respond below when they could offer help.  Questions like, “Does anyone have a template or research on X issue?” and “Where is the best place for a long run near our hotel?” peppered the room.  I smiled when I saw scrawled on a pink sticky note, “Any advice for a soon to be father? – Dan.”  Several of the attendees wrote messages of congrats and “Come see me.” 

When the Storm Has Passed - Lessons Learned from a Hurricane Cancellation

Molly Marsh, Programs Manager, National Association of State Procurement Officials

As the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) watched Hurricane Irma bear down on the Caribbean and, ultimately, the state of Florida, the clock was ticking. The category five storm was due to make landfall in Tampa, Florida on September 10, the first day of the association’s 2017 Annual Conference. Less than 48 hours before staff was due to arrive on the ground, NASPO made the tough decision to cancel the conference and reschedule the following month. From there, it was up to the NASPO team to kick planning back into high-gear, securing a new venue, re-registering participants and plan an entirely new agenda…all in three weeks. Now that the association is on the other side of the “storm,” there were certainly some valuable lessons learned that apply to any event!

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.