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Progress and Plans

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by Carlene Sippola


Progress and Plans

Our most recent quarterly board meeting was held February 1–2. Instead of meeting face to face as we usually do, we met via teleconferencing. Yes, we missed the advantages of meeting in person—continuing conversations over dinner, seeing the smiling faces around the table, feeling the energy in the room, catching up with each other professionally, and much more. But we didn’t let this inhibit our productivity, creativity, and camaraderie.

Terry Nathan, executive director, and Florrie Binford Kichler, IBPA president, began the meeting with their “State of IBPA” addresses. Even though they didn’t receive as many standing ovations as President Obama, their messages were just as important. I’m happy to report the state of IBPA is good. We are still experiencing the effects of a slow economy; but Terry, his staff, and Florrie are taking the steps necessary to get through this rough time and make the adjustments to stay healthy.

The meeting continued with a report from our treasurer. I would be remiss if I said that everything is just fine. However, I can say that we have taken steps to ensure the financial stability of IBPA. As everyone in our country is doing, we are tightening our belts. We have made necessary cuts without compromising our commitments to our members. We are also looking to increase our revenue.

This is where you, the members, can help out. While many members are cutting their expenses, I urge you not to let your IBPA membership lapse. I also urge you to encourage your publishing peers to become members. This is one investment that will pay off for them during these troubled times.

Reports on Five Fronts

Our meeting continued with reports from our various focus groups. I will share some of the highlights from each group.

Education Focus Group. During the past year, an in-depth telephone/online survey was conducted with a portion of our membership. If you were involved, thank you.

The education focus group has begun to study the results, and its members reported to the board. Here is a sampling of their observations:

Our membership is a very diverse population; thus members require a large


variety of education programs.

IBPA needs to provide education on specific topics requested via the survey and

needs to explore ways of presenting the topics, again, to meet the needs of

a diverse population.

Mentoring, peer learning, and support emerged as prominent themes in

the interviews.

The task force offered a list of goals and action steps with the clear statement that we need to act quickly to demonstrate a “You asked . . . we answered” attitude. We have already begun work on two items on the list. The first is an IBPA Mentor Program, which I will touch on briefly later in this report. The second involves using the information gleaned from the survey to guide our planning for this year’s Publishing University.

We continue to strive to meet the education needs of all our members.

Membership Focus Group. As I mentioned above, an IBPA membership is a wise investment. The education and networking available with your membership can help you get through this challenging time.

Our membership represents many different levels of publishing, from fledgling startup to established midsized companies. The challenge is to make sure IBPA is serving the needs of this wide range of publishing operations. We address this challenge through all our various focus groups—education, communication, marketing, and membership.

However, right now the membership focus group is concentrating on recruitment and retention of members. Ideas that we are moving forward with include creating a new membership category (watch for the announcement), working even more closely with our Affiliates, creating new educational opportunities for our midsized publishers, contacting lapsed members, and supporting a mentor program.

Remember, we can all be recruiters. Spread the word.

Marketing Programs Focus Group. This group is continuing the arduous process of reviewing all our marketing programs. Again, the challenge is to offer programs that meet the needs of our diverse membership.

Terry and his staff have already made some changes, and we are very close to testing a few new programs. We believe we will soon be partnering with a vendor that will provide a tremendous facelift to all our programs. You will hear more about this before long.

As always, we are eager to hear from you and learn what your particular needs are so we can work on providing the marketing programs that will help you in your publishing program.

Communication Focus Group. The activities that fall within this group include our monthly publication, the IBPA Independent; advocacy issues, social media marketing, and the general promotion and branding of IBPA.

The report from this group was very positive. The Independent continues to be the most popular benefit among our membership, and Terry and Florrie serve as excellent advocates for us throughout the publishing industry.

In the next few months the focus of this group will be to promote and increase awareness of the Ben Franklin Awards, take the next steps on establishing the IBPA Facebook and LinkedIn pages, launch an e-newsletter, and expand the use of the IBPA logo. Let’s all help spread the word.

IBPA Mentor Program. When our focus groups presented their reports during the meeting, virtually all of them mentioned the idea of a mentor program. It can help our membership on so many levels. Since it’s been a personal passion for me, I agreed to take the lead and form a subcommittee to start the program. My goal is to get the program under way by May 1.

The main objective will be to pair up mentors (more established and experienced publishers) with mentees (those looking for guidance) within our membership base. This can be such a powerful way to learn and a very rewarding experience for the mentor. Watch for details.

Till We Meet Again

As you can see, a lot of great work gets done by your board. Our meetings provide the opportunity to report to each other, share ideas, brainstorm, wrestle with current challenges, and formulate plans to carry out the mission of IBPA. But that’s only the start. In between meetings our board, Florrie, Terry, and the IBPA staff work to make IBPA the leading association for independent publishing.

I’ll be waiting to hear from you. You can reach me anytime at carlene@wholeperson.com.

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