Association Legends

Monday Buzz: The Challenge of Following Association Legends

All leaders eventually leave. Is your association ready for when its top exec departs? Plus: where branded content is most likely to be trusted.

Look around at those who occupy the leadership positions of many associations, and take note of their office accessories. You may see signs that these leaders will soon be stepping back and retiring, which could include more photos of  grandchildren.

So what can your organization do when its high-level execs decide to leave, especially if they’ve been a bedrock of your group for decades? Association consultant and SCD Group president Steve Drake was faced with that challenge in 2003, when a CEO of 30 years decided to leave Ohio State University’s (OSU) Alumni Association. Drake and his fellow association board members picked two-time Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio State legend Archie Griffin to lead the huddle.

Beyond being a hero on the field, Griffin proved to be wildly successful in his 11-plus years as CEO.

Just read the praise of alumni association board member Janet Porter, who was just one of many to applaud Griffin’s leadership:

“Archie is a tremendously value-driven leader. The value of ‘We’re going to invest in students.’ The value of ‘Everyone gets treated with respect.’ The value of ‘Do the right thing,'” she told Ohio State Alumni magazine editor Mary Alice Casey. “I just think about how proud his parents would be, because he has such a strong and clear moral compass. And that, in tough times, is one of the incredible characteristics that he’s brought to the alumni association.”

With Griffin departing, OSU once again faces the challenge of replacing a prominent leader, a challenge shared by associations worldwide.

Recap of the Day

If you missed the 2015 Engaging Associations Forum, then catch up with this recap by rising association management professional Kait Solomon, who details a particularly interesting session on “how to communicate the WHY of an association.”

Other Good Reads

If you want your branded content to be trusted, Facebook tops traditional media, according to a new survey from the Acquity Group. For a full recap, read this post by MarketingProfs research writer Ayaz Nanji.

What’s old is new again! Whether that means those old things are working is another matter entirely. Wall Street Journal reporter Steven Perlberg explores why brands are dusting off old mascots.

Learn to separate bot traffic from the real thing by taking lessons from eZanga CEO Rich Kahn’s post on CMSWire.


Morgan Little

By Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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