Trade bodies do well but connections may be key

So what makes up a successful media industry trade body? For such a small number of organisations, the phrase covers a really broad church of different types of business, of different sizes, with different remits.

Like their sectors, they are no strangers to change. Look at the situation that radio is in with the RAB and the CRCA; it's clear that the two bodies are coming together to reflect the consolidation, digitisation and other changes to the industry. On the agency side, the changes at the IPA's digital group (see page 17) are more straightforward, as they simply reflect its growth and digital's status as media's flavour of the month.

This might lead you to believe that such organisations are, at the very least, responsive - and they do, of course, have to listen to their members. The big question there is how quickly do they respond and do all get their fair say?

Well, our straw poll of members comes up with some pretty high marks, which is, on the face of it, quite surprising. Yes, many, many good things come out of industry bodies, but in a media industry that is facing more challenges and changes than ever before, you might expect there to be more carping.

Even so, the paradox is that the highest praise for industry bodies often comes from other sectors. And, this is not simply a sense of the grass being greener on the other side, but perhaps a question of balance. After all, who would have noticed the IAB's work more than one of the sectors, say, that had seen some money disappear into the coffers of an online pureplay?

The RAB is certainly facing some criticism at the moment from some of the smaller players in radio (see page 24), and this is after our straw poll, but if you want to hear some praise for its achievements over ther last 14 years, then talk to someone in television, in online or in outdoor.

But maybe this perspective is helped by an acceptance that an industry body cannot provide a panacea for all ills. However, it may be a valuable marketing weapon for a particular sector, or it may be a great driver of research, or a lobbying power.

But, if, as a media business, your own proposition is failing to connect with advertisers and consumers - or, indeed, clients - then you have no-one to blame but yourself.

The question that the bodies which represent different sectors might ask themselves is - in a world of collaboration and the blurring of some barriers between different media channels - how they can work better to connect those different media and jigsaw pieces they represent together?

Philip Smith is the editor of MediaWeek.

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