Association Power and Influence Means Communication

Representatives from CEO Update recently held one of their premier events entitled "CEO Update Live: Power and Influence" in Washington, D.C. The panel -- made up of some of Washington's most celebrated association executives, headhunters, and PR specialists -- talked about how Washington perceives power and influence. Huffington Post columnist David K. Rehr, who formerly served as head of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), suggests that it missed key elements. Most notably, it missed the importance of properly communicating the mission and vision of the organization to Congress and the general public, minimizing reactive "crisis communication" through pro-active initiatives, and association executives serving as the face of the industry. With regards to crisis communication, Rehr quoted National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay who recently suggested that leaders should see such a crisis as an opportunity to leverage ideas and reputation to tell a positive story. Some of the most effective association CEOs devote considerable time and attention working with their senior staff to anticipate, minimize, and resolve future crises before they occur. At the NBWA, Rehr wrote, "the attack on beer as an unhealthy beverage over a decade ago was stopped in its tracks by an aggressive, scientific-based discussion of the health benefits of moderate beer consumption." Rehr concluded by stating that influential and powerful leaders know the importance of being a visible leader, appearing across various media formats to best represent their organization's interests. For instance, the late Jack Valenti, former head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), once told Rehr that his real objective for appearing on the annual Oscars telecast was because he knew members of Congress and their staff all watched the award show. "Then, whenever he wanted to visit a member on Capitol Hill, he would be quickly remembered and get immediate face time," Rehr concluded.

Margot McMahon