Covid-19 Response: Membership Communication
We asked 6 Association Excellence Awards judges:
How has your association responded to the covid-19 pandemic in terms of how you communicate with members?Darren Caplan, Chief Executive, Railway Industry Association
We at the Railway Industry Association instituted three main initiatives, to respond to the Coronavirus challenge and communicate with our members.
• Firstly, we arranged for a member of staff to clear the desk and become a full-time Coronavirus-response Lead Coordinator; and so all our comms from RIA, policy-makers, rail clients or stakeholders, were centralised to avoid confusion, with messages sent, generally via email, in a consistent and standard way.
• Secondly, we sent regular email ‘Coronavirus Updates’ – sometimes daily – to communicate anything we felt our members wanted to know; and we also asked members to let us know any individual enquiries they had relating to Coronavirus, and then conveyed them to the appropriate parties to seek answers and clarification on their behalf – with answers communicated to the wider membership, when answers were likely to be of use to them.
• Finally, we set up a series of virtual events, meeting and roundtables, so members could discuss with and communicate to politicians and policy influencers, rail clients and stakeholders, direct – which were appreciated on both sides to tease out issues and, where required, enabled us and our members to lobby for our sector’s asks.
A: Richard Lambert, Chief Executive, National Hair & Beauty Federation
For the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF), the key to helping out members through the pandemic, the disjointed return to work after lockdown and the continuing almost daily uncertainty has been clarity of communication.
In the run up to lockdown, we saw huge concerns spreading among hair and beauty business owners as Government guidance became increasingly confusing and salons faced closure. The lack of clarity from Government, combined with media speculation, made life more stressful for our Members.
We quickly implemented a crisis communications approach and a ‘no speculation’ strategy, ensuring that everything we put out was clear, factual and based on solid information. If we didn’t have the answers, we didn’t speculate. This enabled us to build trust within the industry, the media and the government, to the point where Members said they would not make any decisions following any new announcements until they heard from us.
Social media channels proved invaluable, underlining the industry’s desire for concise, easily digestible statements rather than confusing government guidance. The NHBF Instagram following ballooned from an initial 5,000 followers to almost 68,000, while Facebook followers grew by nearly 55,000 compared to the same period in 2019. The NHBF website had over three million-page views, compared to just over 200,000 in 2019. All this led to NHBF membership increasing by almost 20%.
A: Valerie Vaughan-Dick, Chief Operating Officer, Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)
The RCGP were quick to adopt a digital first approach, which led to the following implementations and achievements:
A digital first approach led to the utilisation and advancement of the College’s digital platforms including website, email communications, and social media;
Dedicated webpages were developed quickly to provide members with the latest COVID-19 guidance in each of the four nations and present key information to in multiple format, including documentation, FAQs, written blogs and video content;
The COVID-19 resource hub, hosted in the College’s eLearning platform, was created to support GPs in understanding and managing the pandemic. The hub is now home to a range of resources to upskill and support GPs and their teams to respond to COVID-19. The hub during the pandemic’s initial peak (March to May) was viewed over 100,000 times and the College’s eLearning platform saw a 170% increase in users.
The membership forum was a new addition and was developed incredibly quickly to ensure members were provided with a platform to share their thoughts, ideas, questions and experiences in relation to the pandemic. Members quickly took to the forum and since its creation over 4,000 have registered.
A: Ken Pullar, CEO, Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP)
Covid- 19 has undoubtedly created numerous challenges for organisations across the globe, including the CIPP. The uncertainty of what was to happen and how this would affect us all was clearly felt by businesses and individuals alike. One of the CIPP’s main priorities was to ensure that our communication channels with our members were wide open.
We focussed our attentions on the services that were, and still are, vital to our members, whilst we made the transition to working from home. Front and centre of these essential communications were our Policy and Advisory teams. As the government created new legislation and guidance, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we produced factsheets, breaking news, and webinars, explaining what this new legislation meant and how our members were to implement it. This information was sent out to our members via our daily and weekly News Online service, via emails and across our social media channels, ensuring as many of our members had immediate access to this information, no matter the circumstances.
Our Advisory service answered a record amount of calls and emails from our members, becoming that much needed extra member of their payroll team. They worked solidly throughout the pandemic, providing support, guidance, and advice, ensuring we all kept the UK paid.
Whilst we may not have been able to provide our members with the physical events they know, love and rely on, we were able to hold a variety of events online, ensuring we were able to continue communicating with them, they could communicate with us, and maybe more importantly, each other. Events such as our National Forums, through to our Annual Conference and Exhibition are a vital part of how our members network, stay in touch with, and share ideas with others in the payroll industry. Instead of postponing these crucial events, we moved them online, streamlining and focussing on the essential elements we know our members appreciate. We were thrilled to see them chatting, sharing ideas, and contributing to each session with enthusiasm and passion, and were delighted to have been able to provide this outlet for them.
Our members have been at the heart of every decision we have made since the pandemic began. They are why we exist and why we do what we do at the CIPP every day. We have discovered different ways of keeping the channels of communication open, some have been extremely successful, whilst others we have taken lessons from. We will continue to communicate with and listen to our members throughout this challenging period and beyond, ensuring we provide them with knowledge, support and advice for as long as they need us.
A: Chris Skeith, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Event Organisers
As CEO I have responded to every question, every email, and every social post from members (and indeed non-members) seeking information, help or reassurance.
On a more formal basis, we have sent a daily digest to every single member, detailing:
In addition we created a new cross association campaign, called Project Confidence, which communicated common messages to members to use on their social media channels at the same time each week, to amplify our public affairs work. We also promoted milestones on progress via social to the broader event community, and continued with our scheduled monthly newsletters and specific email shots on noteworthy projects or events to all member contacts.
A: Ben Beadle, Chief Executive Officer, National Residential Landlords Association
Like a lot of organisations, we have communicated much more. In fact, we have never hosted so many people. Members and non-members alike have found great comfort in our informative events, as well as explaining to them how we are campaigning in their interests at what is such a difficult time. We have invested in better platforms to make the experience more interesting and engaging, and it will be a model of engagement that we look to take forward in a post lockdown world.
Darren Caplan, Richard Lambert, Valerie Vaughan-Dick, Ken Pullar, Chris Skeith and Ben Beadle are all judges at the 2021 Association Excellence Awards, the chance to gain recognition for your successes and celebrate with your fellow trade body, professional organisation and association colleagues.