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Our members and volunteer leaders are inundated with emails on a daily basis. How do you get through, get what you need, and not result in confusion? Here are some email etiquette tips to be sure to follow to make everyone’s lives (yours included!) a little easier:

Tip #1: Be Clear and Concise
Nobody likes to receive an email that they have to scroll through. Can what you are asking for or saying be shortened? Use bullet points to clearly separate ideas, questions, etc. If you’re asking for multiple things, they can get lost in paragraphs of information. Calling them out will make it easier for the reader to refer back to.

Tip #2: Set Deadlines
If you need a response to or action from your email by the recipient(s), make sure to clearly lay out a deadline. Trust me—they’ll appreciate it! I like to call it out in the closing of my email, such as “Response is appreciated/needed no later than 5pm CT on Friday, February 23.”

Tip #3: Use BCC
In my opinion, nothing is worse than being overloaded with emails on a chain that you no longer need to be a part of or getting everyone’s responses. Below are a couple examples of when to use BCC.

  • Example 1: You’re emailing one of your Boards to confirm that a specific set of dates works for an upcoming meeting. Save the Board members from getting everyone’s responses if someone hits “Reply All” by blind copying everyone instead. As a courtesy, make note in the email that the entire Board is blind copied.
  • Example 2: A colleague makes an email introduction between you and another person. Said colleague does not need to remain on the chain back and forth between you and the new person. A simple “Thanks for the introduction, Tim – I’ll move you to BCC now” at the start of your reply to all will cover it.

Tip #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Change the Subject Line!
Are you on an email chain where the topic has changed or gone on a different tangent? Don’t be afraid to change the subject line to match! A recent example: I emailed a potential sponsor to offer them the opportunity to host a cocktail party with a client in Las Vegas. My subject line was “Sponsor Opportunity – Event in Vegas.” Throughout the chain, a marketing person got looped in regarding another topic—we were out of their flyers we typically include with our membership renewal invoices. When I replied to that marketing person, I used tip #3 and moved two individuals to BCC who didn’t need to remain on the chain for this particular topic. I also changed the subject line to “[Client Name] – [Sponsor Name] Inserts.” This way, the people dealing with the sponsorship didn’t need to have their inboxes cluttered with irrelevant emails (but know the other item was taken care of), and it was obvious to me and the marketing person what the topic of the email was.

Tip #5: Reread Before Hitting Send
Stop. Before you hit send, read the email through one more time. Is what you are asking for clear? Are you missing any vital information? Did you set a deadline if you are in need of something? Take a few extra seconds now to cover these bases and save yourself from having to send any further clarifying emails.

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It’s part of the culture at AMPED Association Management that staff regularly share with one another tools and processes they use to support our mission: to perfect operations and accelerate growth for the organizations we manage. In fact, we specifically share “hacks” during our weekly staff meetings — what works for one person or organization may also work for another. It’s that sharing of knowledge across diverse associations that is the beauty of the AMC model.

Another, more public way of sharing what we know is through the AMPED-UP! blog. Staff members write weekly about challenges, tips and solutions for all things associations, from technology, to governance, to workplace issues.

Here is a list of top-read blogs from the last few months that are not to be missed.

Nine questions that can green-light or sideline your next association initiative
by Tony Veroeven

Planning a joint convention: Tips for a successful and positive collaboration
by Michael Battaglia

How to develop strategic priorities using a breakout session model
by Jen Brydges

When a hurricane hits your convention city: How our meetings team prepared for the worst
by Chris Caple

Is Squarespace right for your association's website?
by Emily Viles

Why you should attend user conferences for your technology platforms
by Emily Wiseman

First impressions: How to welcome new members
by Terry Driscoll

The Hitchhikers Guide to the CAE: Part 1
by Christina McCoy, CAE

What’s in your bag? Using video to up the entertainment value of your social presence
by Kristin McGuine

Certification program is opportunity to recognize key members
by Kim Siebecker

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helvetica film

My name is Jeanne Weiss and I’m a font nerd.

I came to grips with this while watching Helvetica, a documentary film dedicated to the proliferation and appreciation of the Helvetica font.

Judge me if you like, but I. Was. Glued.

The film takes the viewer through the 60-plus-year history of Helvetica while gathering the opinions and thoughts of designers and typographers around the world.

Until I watched the film, I was oblivious to just how much Helvetica had shaped my world. Now, I see it everywhere!

Helvetica is ubiquitous
Most likely, you’re not even aware of the extent to which Helvetica demands your attention every day. It directs you on street signage. It’s used on official Federal documents like your tax forms. It’s a favorite of corporate logos — Greyhound, Crate & Barrel, Urban Outfitters, the U.S. Post Office, American Apparel, Nike, Kodak, Target, Samsung, American Airlines, TNT and more!

The next time you watch The Office, pay attention to that opening sequence. That’s Helvetica.

We even use it in our branding at AMPED! 

Helvetica is neutral
Even with thousands of possible font choices at their disposal, designers continue to favor Helvetica because it’s clean, simple and perfect.

Said one of the designers in the film, “It’s very hard for a designer to look at Helvetica characters and say, ‘How would I improve them? How would I make them look any different?’ They just seem to be exactly right. Helvetica is a beautiful, timeless thing and certain things shouldn’t be messed with.”

Said another, “Some fonts only say one thing: Christmas! Wedding! Helvetica says everything, and that’s part of its appeal.”

Helvetica is powerful
There were so many wonderful quotes from the film about design and typography that I wanted to share them with those of you who geek out on such things. Here are a few:

“A typeface should express a mood, give atmosphere or color.”

“Graphic designers have an enormous responsibility. They are the people putting their wires in our heads. Graphic design is the communications framework through which these messages are sent.”

“Don’t confuse legibility with communication. Just because something is legible doesn’t mean it communicates.”

“If something has an important message and it’s set in a boring, nondescript way, it might be lost.”

“If you take the same message and apply a different design and typeface to it, the emotional response will be different. The choice of typeface is the prime weapon in that communication.”

“Type casts a secret spell. It makes you say, ‘I like that. That’s my kind of product.’”

“There’s a thin line between simple and clean and powerful, and simple and clean and boring.”
Standing joke: “A typographer can’t see a historical film because the fonts are always wrong.” Which reminded me of this recent story.

“The reader shouldn’t be aware of the font at all. The font should just hold, display and organize the information, not draw the reader from it.”

“Think about when an actor is miscast in a role. The viewer will still follow the plot, but be less convinced or affected. Typography is similar. A designer choosing typefaces is essentially the casting director.”

Whattaya know, I’m a font nerd AND a casting director!

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content creation tip

In my role as editor of the quarterly magazine publication for one of our clients, I am responsible for sourcing and curating content. One of the enduring challenges for marketing and communications professionals is struggling to come up with enough quality content to fill their needs. Here are some of the strategies I use.

Where does the content come from?

My top five tips for filling pages with really strong, relevant and timely content:

  1. Monitor what questions and pain points are posted in industry discussion boards or communities. This can be a great source for content ideas that address what members are grappling with right now.
  2. Work with an editorial council or board. Members of an editorial council can help recommend or provide feedback on topic ideas. They also help provide a wider network from which to draw, reaching out to contacts and connections as potential authors.
  3. Pose a question or topic in your own association discussion board. Every one of your members is a potential source for both inspirational successes, as well as lessons learned the hard way. Your members are experts in their industry, so look to them for answers. They love to share what they’ve learned with their peers, either by providing ideas and suggestions that can be compiled into an article, or by submitting their own full-length article on a given topic.
  4. Ask speakers for an upcoming event to provide an article that is structured around their planned presentation. This can help to build anticipation and drive registration for your event. Alternatively, ask speakers from a recent past event if they would author an article. This helps to extend the momentum for attendees, as well as facilitates sharing useful information with members who were unable to attend.
  5. Not all your content needs to be original. It’s OK to source articles reprinted from industry experts. Our members appreciate when we can bring great content forth, helping them sort through all the mediocre information they come across each day. Just be sure to secure appropriate permission first.

And, what do we do with it now?

Really strong, relevant and timely content is awesome! But once a magazine is published, please don’t leave all that valuable content hidden away between the covers. Repurposing content from publication articles helps build social media presence and drive traffic to your website.

My top five tips for repurposing article content:

  1. Post each article, individually, to your website or blog. This is different from posting the entire publication as a .pdf file or as an online version of your magazine. Posting as text helps your SEO! At the end of your article, include links to other related content or articles for those looking for additional information on that topic.
  2. Use the information in the article to create a short video or podcast to reach additional audiences.
  3. Tease paragraphs in your e-newsletter, linking to the full article on your website.
  4. Select two or three snippets from the article and strategically post about them to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at set intervals, again including a link to the full article.
  5. Tag and compliment the author wherever possible. The author will receive notice, and will often like, comment on or share your post. Their connections are likely to take notice, as well, driving post engagement up.

Bonus tip: Bring your process full circle by tracking analytics to determine what content readers really respond to, and building on that for your next issue.

Please let me know if you have any other content tips of your own!

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When it comes to Photoshop skills, I like to describe myself as a “seasoned beginner.” With so many ways to accomplish the same effect, I’ve always viewed the software as a conundrum. It’s an easy excuse to say that I never have enough time to learn more. But when it’s crunch time and I need a last-minute graphic, I’m at a loss, with no easy way forward.

Canva is the easy solution. This free, online software describes itself as making “design simple for everyone.” It provides ready-to-use templates for everything from blog banners to business cards. I value their social media templates most; the exact dimensions and layouts for each platform makes it easy to transform marketing campaign graphics from one social media account to another.

canva 1

Canva offers preset layouts, as well. If you’d rather create your graphic from scratch, there’s a simple toolbar on the side that contains a variety of font options, images and illustrations. The drag-and-drop editor enables anyone and everyone to use it — even those who aren’t seasoned Photoshop beginners.

Canva 2

Canva prides itself in making design simple, but is it too simple? By simplifying the functions, it limits design possibilities. I’ll admit that there have been times when I was unable to create an effect in Canva that I know is possible in Photoshop. When it comes down to it, online tools like Canva are great for discovering new ideas for graphics and creating quick and simple designs, but if you have a specific design in mind, programs like Photoshop and InDesign will always deliver.

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