August 19, 2013
Associations can and often take successful leadership roles for their industries. One effective approach is to engage in public policy matters which can reap benefits for both the industry and the association. We recently demonstrated as much with a survey that successfully propelled the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) into the national debate over U.S. restrictions on portable electronic devices (PEDs) inflight.
In summary, a vast U.S.-based telephone survey conducted in December asked travelers’ thoughts on current restrictions. What we learned was that four in 10 flyers have skirted the rules at some point, and more and more people are using devices in the air. Further, many doubt that the current restrictions are effective as a safety tool. The timing was important, as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing current policies on the matter.
Here is what our efforts earned for the association:
Attention for Members
The PED survey garnered much national attention and put APEX directly into the spotlight. Articles appeared in major print and online publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Fox News, Forbes, Yahoo Travel, CNN, and others. As a result, APEX members enjoyed a great deal of national recognition as experts in the field.
In line with that goal, the survey served as a strong recruitment tool. To lure high-level members, an association must give them a reason to join. For many companies, a trade association’s ability to represent industry interests is a critical reason to join. If the group is widely recognized, even better.
Publicity like this catches the eyes of industry stakeholders – members, prospective member companies and individuals in senior management positions, which in turn adds to the organization’s reputation and value.
Credibility for the Association
To complete the survey, APEX teamed up with the Consumer Electronics Association – known worldwide as owners of the famous Consumer Electronics Show, or CES. We were able to pool resources for the survey itself and, importantly, APEX benefitted from a joint program with a well-established and reputable organization like CEA.
The survey spoke for itself. The methodology was sound, as questions suggested no bias or agenda. And the results told a story that was (and still is) important. APEX demonstrated that it could stay above the fray while influencing the national conversation in a meaningful way.
Influence over Industry Issues
With credibility comes influence.
The survey results gave APEX inroads into a crowded conversation about portable electronic devices inflight. Whereas groups with similar interests were overlooked, APEX had fresh data on its side and was welcomed to the table. In fact, APEX has two members on the FAA committee deliberating on the easing of current restrictions.
This marked an important step for APEX, which mostly had been relatively quiet on policy issues. With FAA deliberations underway, the climate was right to engage rather than observe. This survey and collaboration with CEA helped APEX do so.
APEX is now invested in the issue, with FAA committee deliberations to continue through September. We look forward to new opportunities to help APEX expand its role as an advocate and earn more recognition as a crucial industry resource.