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Networking the ECPA Community

Friday, February 4, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sheri Toomb
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Networking the ECPA Community

Mark W. Kuyper
President and CEO, ECPA

E-Link, January 2011

Network: a group of people who exchange information, contacts and experience for professional or social purposes.

ECPA Strategic Goal #1:  ECPA will create opportunities for our members to connect and engage with each other in meaningful ways utilizing a number of formats and venues.

The #1 reason a person or an organization joins an association is to belong to an industry community for the purpose of networking. This is no less true for ECPA members. Results from member surveys and my formal interviews with member CEOs in 2005 and 2009, revealed that ‘networking’ is the most valuable service ECPA provides. In fact, when the ECPA Board recently determined our top three strategic goals (see Cris Doornbos E-Link article), they determined that networking was our primary goal.

Now that is a clear directive! In 2011, ECPA will continue growing and developing some of our most popular networking opportunities, while launching a major initiative to help you collaborate in whole new ways. (Read on!)

We already have several programs in place that create an opportunity for our members to connect with each other. Our primary event is the Executive Leadership Summit and Annual Member Meeting (ELS). This event is designed to help the top executives and management teams from our member houses and affiliates to hear relevant data, information, research and leadership principles, and then discuss them as a team and with their peers. Many collaborative products and alliances have had their start at ELS meetings.

A few years ago we launched a new event to provide an opportunity to CEOs to meet and share their wisdom and expertise as corporate leaders as well as innovators in the publishing industry. Our CEO Symposium has continued to grow each year and publishers find it increasingly valuable to develop business and personal relationships with one another.

ECPA’s Publishing University (PUBu) was launched in 2004 as a way to support publishing professionals in a variety of roles, to connect and learn from each other as well as from experts in their field. We discontinued the live event after Fall 2008, when we all were feeling the effects of a declining economy. In the time since then we have hosted several highly-rated PUBu online webinars. These, too, are opportunities to not only learn, but to network (though not at the same level as the live event).

In my most recent round of CEO interviews, one of the top requests was to bring back the live PUBu event. The Board has echoed that sentiment, believing it is important for us to offer a networking opportunity for all levels in our publishing houses. As a result we are going to establish a Task Force to help us re-design the PUBu onsite event, so it is more effective for attendees with a positive net line. The new ECPA Community website and association management software will enable us to include as many members as want to participate, and help facilitate the discussion and distribution of information. When the new website launches in a few weeks, we will send out a notification that the Task Force is open to participants with a link to sign up.

The really big news is that the ECPA Community website we are about to launch was selected for the primary purpose of helping you connect with your publishing colleagues as often as you like—even daily! You will hear much more about it in the days, weeks and months to come, but here are a few things it will offer:

  • A forum for industry dialogue; employing Open Forums that generate discussion around broad topics as well as group forums open exclusively to smaller working groups within the industry.

  • A meeting place and resource for collaborative industry-focused groups (i.e., committees, task forces, advisory councils, etc.) that include their own web pages, file libraries, event calendars, blogs and wikis.

  • Personal profiles similar to your Facebook profile. You control who sees what and create a place to connect with others from around the industry; your "ECPA Connections." Connect with others by posting on their walls, sending them private messages, or even chatting with them while you are both online.

  • SocialConnect functionality allows you to connect your ECPA profile with any/all of your other social networking profiles. Log in to the industry site using Facebook and even connect with Twitter to have your tweets appear on your ECPA profile. Search the database to see who else is on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking platforms.

  • The ability to stay connected on the go with the free ECPA iPhone App (available for free with the launch of the new ECPA Community site). Easily reach out to your industry connections, view their walls, send them private messages and view up-to-the minute ECPA news and information from your phone.

  • Opportunity to subscribe to the ECPA Now! Feed an industry micro-blog with information not available anywhere else.

Our new website will offer even more as it relates to information about our industry, technology, industry partners, job opportunities and more. I will write more about that next month when I present ECPA’s second strategic goal: Information.

We look forward to 2011 – meeting new challenges with strong programs that allow you to network with each other, in order to strengthen your professional role, your individual company, and the Christian publishing industry as a whole.

So… register for an upcoming ECPA event, join a Task Force, plan to become involved on the new ECPA Community site… and get connected!!

Mark Kuyper is the President and CEO of ECPA. He has nearly 30 years of experience in the Christian resources industry. Previously he served as the VP of Business Development and Marketing for CBA (the trade association for Christian retailers). He also worked for NavPress for over 10 years starting as a Customer Service Supervisor and completing his service as Sales Director. During this time he also served on the Leadership and Publishing teams for the organization. He began his career as a manager for Family Christian Stores. Mark currently serves on the board of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and Magazine Training International.

Mark is married to Vicki, an author of more than 50 books, and has two grown children.

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