Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Knowing what other membership bodies do is invaluable when deciding how to tackle a situation. How many times have you been faced with a challenge and wondered how other organisations have handled it?

Inspiration Exchange was set up just before Lockdown 1.0 as a way for fellow professionals in PR / Marketing / Communications in membership organisations to meet, and inspire and learn from each other. With meeting in person not possible for the foreseeable, I compile a monthly curation of what has piqued my interest – and give my two-penneth worth view – for you to store away in your knowledge vault (or better still – bookmark this page) to return to when the need arises.

This month, what caught my eye fell into three broad categories: TechnologyDiversity, Equality and InclusionAll Change.

Technology and how it enhances the member experience

The Law Society launched Law Society Connect as a way for their sole practitioner or small firm owner members to interact. Feedback during lockdown showed that this section of the membership wanted to engage with others experiencing the same challenges. This safe and supportive online space is also how The Law Society provides targeted updates and resources.

My 2p: I like the idea of a supportive space for niche member groups to connect without the noise and distracting crackle of everyone else who are in different circumstances. It will be interesting to know the engagement levels after the initial enthusiasm inevitably dies down. Also, whether Law Society Connect is self-supporting and moderating or if an increasing amount of in-house resource is needed to maintain momentum and engagement.

To counter the challenges from time-zone differences and staffing constraints, CIMA has introduced a chatbot. This award-winning chatbot handles 70% of basic queries, meaning their contact centre team has more time to handle the complex queries. This chatbot won the Memcom Best Use of AI Award 2020 and uses Facebook Messenger.

My 2p: My question is whether Facebook is the optimum platform for a business-related service? It is, however, hard to argue with 70% of basic queries being made and responded to this way. NB: Before you embark on an AI journey, I suggest you read and take note of the guidance from the CIPR on Ethics Guide to Artificial Intelligence in PR – chatbots are on page 6 (available to members and non-members).

Recent research* shows that 94% of organisations state that 2020 has either increased their focus on or helped them to see what is possible with the right technology in place, Chrysalis Digital describes the 3 key areas to consider before you make a decision about any digital changes (* a 2020 survey with 70 membership organisations).

My 2p: With so many tech solutions available it is important to ensure you don’t introduce tech for the sake of introducing tech. It is important to establish the requirement from robust data. This advice from Chrysalis Digital will point you in the right direction to investing in the right place.

With recruitment interviews taking place online, CIOF gives tips to their members on how to prepare for success. Tips range from choosing an appropriate background, testing your equipment to reduce the potential for glitches and the old faithful of practice practice practice.

My 2p: The Third Sector has been hit hard during 2020 so providing advice on how to positively come back from a job loss is a welcome move. Providing this level of granular support to members is key and will be a consideration when renewals are due. It is important for a membership organisation to remember that they represent individuals as well as an industry / profession / sector.

Diversity, Equality & Inclusion

RIA recognises there is more to be done to promote diversity and equal opportunity in the rail industry, and announced its “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter“. The Charter launched with an impressive 100+ signatory companies.

My 2p: There have been quite a number of similar charters announced by membership organisations this year. The challenge for them all is how the organisation’s leadership follows through to prompt action and ongoing change, rather than light the touch paper and step back leaving members to carry on under their own steam.

PRCA launched an Ethnicity Pay Gap Guide which included tips on how to track and act on ethnicity pay gaps.

My 2p: I got excited about this document as anything that contributes to reducing pay gaps is a positive move, in my book. However, although billed as ‘freely available’, the website says “freely available exclusively to PRCA members”. PRCA members can access the guide using the link above.

All change

RICS has a new operating model as it evolves to secure long-term financial sustainability. The organisation will adopt a leaner, more agile, digital-first model to deliver a more personalised experience for members. This leaner approach sees full-time staff or offices in six countries withdrawn and smaller UK offices closed.

My 2P: It is heartening to see this level of honesty and transparency, especially from such a membership giant (circa 125,000 members). No-one has been immune from the effects of the COVID pandemic and I applaud this openness and candour. There is no whitewashing what could be considered bad news, which in my mind,deserves respect and praise.

Office changes:

  • CIPR goes fully virtual after closing its London office. New & remote ways of working have proven successful meaning CIPR has more resources to direct towards generating more value for money for members.
  • CSP will seek new London premises in 2021 as their current base no longer meets their needs. New working arrangements, must of the space being unused and significant accessibility issues have prompted the search.

… and finally

PAGB made a lovely video of tips for #SelfCareWeek, which they pushed out on their social channels. I love the ‘less-is-more’ approach which allows the messages to come through loud-and-clear. Watch the video and take care of yourself.


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