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Field Reports

1 Sep, 2006 By: Thomas Haire, Courtney Beth Pugatch Response

Do you believe you achieved all of the goals you set out with a year ago? If not, which ones do you think need more work? And how would you like to see the association handle them in the coming months?

Knowles: While others may be in a better position to judge ERA's progress over the last year, I believe that we have achieved many of the goals that I set out at the beginning of my term. In addition to strengthening ERSP, ERA's self-regulation program, the launch of ORA, the work of the board and the government affairs committee on net neutrality legislation and the successful Asian meeting are just four of the achievements that I am proud of. However, I did want to hold our first meeting in Latin America this year. Although we worked hard to make this a reality, we were not successful in getting the support from the Latin American committee for a meeting this year. I hope that ERA will push ahead and hold its first meeting in Central or South America next year. ORA is still in its infancy and a great deal of work remains to be done to make it successful over the long term. Similarly, we worked hard on exploring alliances with other organizations that could propel ERA forward in terms of membership growth, influence and financial stability. Again, these efforts will carry forward into next year and beyond.

What should the core focus of the association be in the coming year?

Petry: We are an organization of volunteer members, so together we need to continue to ferret out where the opportunities are for direct marketers in this uncertain landscape. That's why you'll see ERA continue to focus on what we do best, which is creating opportunities for networking and the sharing of best practices and progressive thinking that will help members navigate change and prosper. At the same time, our government affairs efforts and self-regulation program will be geared toward ensuring a level playing field that will allow these ideas to be exchanged.

What was the biggest surprise during your term as chairman?

Knowles: As ERA grows, it takes more time and planning to build a consensus among board members and ERA staff to launch or expand new initiatives. In the early days of NIMA (National Infomercial Marketing Association, ERA's predecessor), when everything was new and we were working on a blank slate, it seemed easier to head in new directions and launch new plans. Today, ERA's agenda is much more crowded, and the demands on ERA's staff are much greater, making it imperative to engage in meaningful short-term and long-term strategic planning and to build a solid consensus in support of key objectives.

How will the association's image and mission have changed one year from today?

Petry: We will have redefined our mission and image to be even more reflective of today's multi-channel universe.

Where do you see the association heading in the next year under Rick Petry's guidance?

Knowles: Rick has worked very hard this year as chair-elect, and he will want to make his mark on the association. One of the initiatives identified through the strategic planning process was the need to better define, or perhaps redefine, the ERA "brand." As a result, Rick will undoubtedly focus on ERA's internal and external communications, which is one of his personal strengths, to make sure the ERA is sending the right messages to its core membership, to key industry segments, such as the Internet community, and to companies promoting new and emerging technologies. A central tenet of Rick's philosophy is to present ERA to the world as an "open tent" — big enough to hold and embrace all of the players in the rapidly expanding multi-channel universe.

What have you learned from Jeff Knowles about the position? How do you plan on using Jeff's expertise during your term?

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