For One Association, It’s Halloween All Year Long
Associations are built on annual cycles, but serving the members of an industry focused on a single day of the year isn't as scary as it sounds.
Halloween is tomorrow, which means lots of people have been snapping up costumes from store shelves (or web pages) in the past few weeks. It must be a busy time for the Halloween Industry Association (HIA), the trade association for manufacturers and distributors of costumes and other Halloween products.
Well, yes and no.
Much of the costumes, decorations, and party supplies you see in stores today were ordered from manufacturers close to a year ago. Right now, HIA’s members are in fact already preparing for Halloween 2014, says Michele Biordi, the group’s executive director. The association’s busy time begins with the upcoming International Halloween Show in New York City this December, followed by the Halloween & Party Expo in Houston in January 2014.
“It’s interesting in that the season really has nothing to do with it,” she says. “They actually have to plan over a year out.”
By the time October rolls around, one of HIA’s main roles is media relations. “We work with the members a lot in outreach to the media this time of year,” Biordi says. “We get a lot of media requests, so we’re a voice on behalf of the industry to the media. We do a lot of safety tips and things like that.”
Much of HIA’s work throughout the year comes in working with government, both national and state, on regulations that affect manufacturing, importation, or child-product safety. While Halloween overall is a $7 billion industry, according to the National Retail Federation, HIA often partners with larger assocations on advocacy, Biordi says, because its members’ concerns frequently align with groups like the National Association of Manufacturers or the Toy Industry Association. HIA itself is made up of between 30 and 40 member companies. Many of them, Biordi says, are still privately owned, family-run businesses that focus almost exclusively on Halloween products and costumes.
Biordi serves HIA via association management company Association Headquarters, so she has a close-up view of how HIA’s work compares with other associations. “As a manufacturer’s association, they’re pretty typical of what you’d expect them to be focused on and what they’re working on,” she says. “[Association HQ] also represents the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, so there’s a lot of synergy there.”
Any association professional who has worked on the planning of an annual meeting knows that a year’s worth of work goes into developing an event that might last just a few days. So, perhaps it’s not surprising that, for HIA and other associations like it, the behind-the-scenes work of supporting a seasonal industry is a year-round calling.
Do your association’s members have seasonal cycles in their professional activity? How does that affect the work of your association in serving them? Please share in the comments. And happy Halloween!