Video Resources on a Shoestring Budget

By: Steven R. Jones

How the Association of Cable Communicators found cost-effective ways to deliver members the professional development opportunities they wanted.

Developing and delivering member benefits is a challenge for all associations. Smaller organizations find this task particularly difficult due to limited dollars and staff. At the Association of Cable Communicators (ACC), aligning our mission to provide professional-development opportunities for our members with our website became an ideal, cost-effective method to deliver benefits.

With 73 percent of our members listing online and electronic dissemination of information as an asset in past membership surveys, our staff of three made a major push to update the website in 2008. As part of a multipronged approach, new content or topical areas were added to the site with an emphasis on adding video resources as a key component.

The association's budget could not support spending for travel or a dedicated crew to make the videos, so the staff leveraged board meetings, award judging, and annual meetings to tape interviews with executives on a variety of topics. ACC also uses an outside consultant for the majority of the video shooting and editing services.

Staff leveraged board meetings, award judging, and annual meetings to tape interviews with executives on a variety of topics.

Coordinated by Associate Executive Director Michelle Butler, CAE, this ongoing video program involves developing questions and lining up volunteers to be recorded in 15- to 20- minute interviews. These segments are then edited down to two- to four-minute videos that are categorized and posted on the website.

Because career advancement is extremely important to our members, many interviews are centered on each executive's career and what specific events or skills the executive says had a significant impact on personal advancement. These videos are then uploaded to the "Career Connections" area of the website.

Prior to our 2008 annual meeting, one of our members offered (at no cost to the association) to bring a film crew down to the conference and record sessions or other events as determined by the staff. This was a golden opportunity to record a broad range of senior executives attending the meeting and to create a large number of videos for the website. A total of 15 new interviews were shot during the meeting, which were then categorized into three specific topical areas as they were posted to the website. Now, the site includes 32 videos with additional videos added monthly.

Small-Staff Stats

Name: Association of Cable Communicators
Location: Washington, DC
Staff size: 3
Members: 500
Budget: $630,000

It's important to note that this video content was created by staff using low-cost electronic gadgets. At an association-sponsored function, a digital camera was used to videotape a luncheon speaker with edited segments later posted online. A staff-delivered webinar that utilized video and still images from a handheld, portable, high-definition video camera (under $200) highlighted innovative products that may affect members' business practices.

The second leg of our approach centered on the rise of social media and its implications for executives in communications. We recently developed a new web resource titled "FAQs on Social Media." This area incorporates videos with two social media leaders in the cable industry. It also includes a social media white paper, videos from panels and keynote speakers on Web 2.0 topics, and archived online chats and webinars produced by ACC. Currently, more than a dozen items are hosted on this area of the website. By adding these resources, we hope to educate our members on how to utilize and leverage social media tools for their specific company needs.

Utilizing the webinars and online chats mentioned previously represents the third major push the association has made to deliver affordable professional education. Each month an online chat or webinar is offered by the association for members only. Topics range from professional advancement to industry-specific subjects based on member research. These sessions generally last 60 minutes and are posted within 72 hours on the website. These sessions rely on members as speakers or other presenters who volunteer their time and expertise. Contracting with low-cost, customer-service-oriented providers has helped make the chats and webinars affordable and well received member benefits. All chats and webinars are available live as well as on demand on the website.

Incorporating relatively low-cost digital technologies has allowed ACC to stay focused on its mission and offer members an increasingly robust choice of professional-development opportunities on a very limited budget.

Steven R. Jones is executive director of the Association of Cable Communicators. Email: [email protected]