How associations tell their stories

AM&P's new research on association publishing benchmarks shows a thriving print environment, among other findings.

BY Alma Bahman
Content Manager

One of the keys to futureproofing yourself is taking stock of what your association looks like right now and how you’re communicating your unique expertise and value.

Association Media & Publishing did just that for the whole association industry in its recently released AM&P 2017 Publishing Benchmark Study, co-sponsored by Imagination, Sheridan and Network Media. Here’s a quick look at some of the research’s findings about the way associations do business and tell their stories.

More members are signing up

Membership is looking up for associations, with 45 percent of respondents reporting an uptick. Forty-one percent of respondents reported no change in membership, while only 14 percent saw a downtrend.

Publications showcase member value

Associations say their flagship publications aim to increase membership value (41 percent), demonstrate thought leadership (21 percent) and educate their members (11 percent).

Print holds the lead

About 75 percent of associations publish their flagship publications in print magazine form, while 59 percent publish a digital version. Enewsletters and journals (print and digital are equally popular) follow closely as the next preferential formats. However, no respondents reported converting their flagship print publication to completely digital in the past year.

More content is key

A majority of respondents (91 percent) reported they distribute their flagship publications in both print and electronic formats. Even so, 47 percent of respondents say there’s more opportunity to leverage technology.

The average print run is …

Respondents reported they print an average 316,000 copies of their magazine annually. Per issue, respondents distributed an average of 31,000 copies (free and paid). Nearly 70 percent of respondents post their full publication online, while only 18 percent post selected text. About half of respondents update the online content on a monthly basis. Social media is a big channel, with respondents active on Facebook (88 percent), Twitter (81 percent), LinkedIn (49 percent), Instagram (30 percent) and YouTube (26 percent). Only 9 percent of respondents do not post any content on social media.

Redesigning and refreshing matter

Associations recognize the value of keeping publications current and fresh. About 31 percent of respondents redesigned their flagship publication within the past 12 months. Almost half said they’re planning digital product launches in the next 12 months.

Staffing is the top challenge

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents report a lack of staff is their main challenge to maintaining their publication. Other challenges include a lack of advertising sales or publishing-related revenue (56 percent) and insufficient budget (42 percent). Nearly half (47 percent) say leveraging more technology is the next hurdle in the immediate future.

published: June 14, 2018

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