Update: AMA communication

After blogging about my experience joining the American Marketing Association, I wanted to share the latest update.

Shortly after my blog post, two things happened:

  1. I was contacted by Jim Dawson, my local Dallas chapter president. Very nice guy who has now roped me into helping add some online social functions to the organization. (Be careful what you say in public is the lesson here!) Kudos to Jim for following the blogosphere, and acting on things he found. (Although Jim, I’d love to see you in the comments rather than in my email inbox!)
  2. I received an email from the AMA national organization in Chicago. Apparently my blog post had been forwarded to them from Jim. We arranged a call and that went OK. We had a frank conversation about my post, and why I wrote it. I got the distinct impression that she was trying to pawn responsibility for the lack of communication off on the local chapter. I didn’t get any answers about how I was automatically subscribed to their 4 mailing lists (or why I continue to get mail at work and home even though I’ve completely unsubscribed).

To make absolutely sure this is clear, I have/had no issue with the local Dallas chapter. These are volunteer organizations, and they do their best in the free time they have to spend. I think they can certainly do better, but as Jim so effectively pointed out, it’s as much up to me to help make that happen.

My real beef was with the AMA national organization itself. There’s a staff there whose full-time job is helping to support and growing the marketing industry and when you accept money for membership, you have an obligation to reach out to new members/payees and make them feel like something larger than an email list. Founding WOMMA president, Andy Sernovitz always seemed to know everybody in the room personally, even when the room was 400 people. (Whether he did or not, he clearly made the effort)

Organizations like the AMA are inherently social, gathering practitioners of a subject for shared conversation and learning. Remember how the college experience was, by design, as much about learning how to socially connect as it was learning subjects? Yet the organization is about as impersonal as it can get. Perhaps they’re turning to their local chapters for such things, but I’d like the larger organization to have a more personal feel too.

But to me, the bigger issue is the fact that the AMA, one of the largest representative body for marketers doesn’t seem to understand the new realities that marketers are facing, or how to overcome them.  Yes, perhaps I’m expecting too much from this organization; perhaps change happens not in the organizations but on the frontlines with the organization rushing to catch up.

But a boy can dream, can’t he?