Trade Associations & Nonprofits: Get Ahead of Reputation Challenges, Public Affairs Issues and Regulations

June 4, 2019

In this complex and unpredictable legislative and regulatory environment, serving as the voice of your industry or constituency is more important than ever. Trade association and nonprofit leaders must demonstrate a compelling value proposition to retain and attract members while also being good stewards of the limited and hard-earned resources members and donors are able to contribute to advance their collective agendas.

trade association and nonprofit communications

The trade associations and nonprofits making an impact today know when they need to lead, how to advance their ideas and effectively demonstrate a return on their members’ investments. But how does a leader navigate the competitive landscape for membership and provide a value proposition that resonates with current and prospective members? And how does that same leader, board or executive committee prepare for reputation challenges and public affairs issues and regulations that impact their ability to operate?

For starters, the current political climate has resulted in policy deadlock, which means many nonprofits and trade associations are struggling to adapt their advocacy focus from the legislative arena to the regulatory arena. According to a recent survey, 55 percent of trade association and nonprofit CEOs believe regulatory and compliance costs will increase for their members.

Couple that with the fact that, within the same survey, more than half of trade association and nonprofit CEOs (55 percent) say mergers and acquisitions activity will impact their membership – that’s nearly double the rate from five years ago and clear evidence that, due to consolidation, the competition for new members is steeper than ever. Creating a value proposition that resonates with current and prospective members is critical to remain relevant. If employees can’t justify the external expense of membership or membership participation, they are less likely to have association activity supported by their employer. Successful associations will be those that understand how changing company and industry structures influence member needs and create value propositions that take these changing needs into account.

To help trade association and nonprofit leaders identify, manage and navigate through reputational, governmental and regulatory challenges, we focus on three key areas of need:

  • Creating a value proposition that retains and attracts members. Comprehensive diagnostics include evaluating if an organization’s value proposition is resonating with current and prospective members, whether its fee structure is relevant and competitive, whether its governance is effective and efficient in achieving the goals of the organization, and whether its brand is relevant, timely and aligned with its mission and values.
  • Creating and deploying communications strategies to break through complex legislative and regulatory environments. Any sound communication strategy starts with research and covers message development, media and stakeholder relations, and digital and social campaigns that reach targeted audiences.
  • Legislative tracking and preparing for industry scrutiny and reputational risks. This includes conducting a vulnerability assessment and a strategy for engagement opportunities and responses, in addition to legislative tracking and monitoring that provides insights on the federal, state and local levels.

Ketchum’s expertise in reputation management and public affairs for trade associations and nonprofits builds on years of experience serving various industry trade groups and global nonprofits to provide the tools leaders need to ensure they are protecting their industries and enhancing their reputations. Our new and expanded offering puts us in a unique position to provide unrivaled reputation management and public affairs expertise designed specifically for the challenges these organizations face in serving as the voice of their respective industries in today’s complex legislative, regulatory and budgeting environment.

With this complete approach to guide leaders through this complex geopolitical landscape, trade associations and nonprofits will not only serve as the voice of their industry, but their voice will carry, have an impact and lead to successful outcomes for their members.

Let us know how we can help.

KayAnn P. Schoeneman is an accomplished public and corporate affairs specialist with nearly 20 years of experience. She has led complex national and international public and corporate affairs campaigns for foreign governments, Fortune 100 companies and leading trade associations. Among her areas of expertise include reputation management, ally development, coalition building, issue advocacy, influencer engagement and research and measurement. KayAnn has been active in national, state and local politics for more than two decades. She is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, American Association of Public Opinion Research and the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of PR. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University for the Master of Arts in Communication program. You may follow her on Twitter @Kschoeneman.