With an aging membership, the National Rifle Association is taking a leap into online video as it tries to shape its message about gun ownership to appeal to the millennial generation.
When you think of a typical National Rifle Association member, an image of Colion Noir (above) is probably not the first thing that pops into your head. But that’s exactly why the NRA brought onboard the young, hip gun advocate as it tries to reach out to more millennials.
Noir and the NRA have teamed up to produce a new online video series simply titled “Noir.” The show features Noir and cohost Amy Robbins, who break the mold of the stereotypical NRA member—in Noir’s millennial parlance, OFWGs, or “old, fat white guys.”
Anything that involves a video strategy is really smart and strategic on behalf of an association right now.
Content aside, in launching the video initiative the NRA has stepped into a space where associations continue to dance around the edges with limited but growing success. This is encouraging to Sarah Sladek, founder of XYZ University and author of The End of Membership As We Know It.
“Anything that involves a video strategy is really smart and strategic on behalf of an association right now,” she said. “When you think about it, generation X was raised on MTV, and now we have gen Y that’s been raised on YouTube. That move toward multimedia communication, with lots of information within a condensed period of time and really engaging formats, that’s how these younger generations prefer to learn and how they really observe their information.”
There’s a fine line between creating content that appeals to younger generations and alienating the members that you already have, Sladek said.
“I’ve heard from so many organizations things like, ‘Well, if we get rid of this particular event, or if we start doing social media, that’s just going to alienate these members who liked that event or don’t use social media,’” she said. “The fact is, for so many associations, their audience is starting to age, and you have to start thinking of innovative ways to appeal to younger generations or you’ll be left without any kind of membership succession plan.”
To be successful takes more than just shooting a video and putting it up on your website, she added.
“Groups have to be willing to be authentic and take some risks, but the other piece of it is have a solid grassroots plan,” she said. “If an organization tries to force sharing of content, it doesn’t always work. So, I’ll advise groups to bring in a younger focus group and get their perspective before sending anything out. Get their feedback.”
Another key is identifying and utilizing the networks of key influencers in the demographic that you’re targeting.
“In this case it would be, ‘Who within our membership is younger and has a great network socially, loves the NRA, and would be willing to share our videos and really promote us and be the on-the-ground advocate for us?’” Sladek said. “Those are usually the types of campaigns that do really well, because other people jump onboard when they see key influencers and thought leaders sharing content. They admire that and then they want to share it too.”
Has your association been successful connecting with younger people through video or some other innovative method? Let us know in the comments.