Editorial: DMA seems strong after show

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I'm back from the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference with a stack of business cards as big as my head. I always return from DMA Annual exhausted, but with a renewed sense of vigor and great story ideas.

I also took home several press kits on thumb drives. The thumb drives were a nice touch, saving me from cramming unwieldy press kits in my suitcase. Even the Echo Awards gave out a thumb drive version of its award book. Nice digital delivery, DMA.

DMA had its share of drama within its board leading up to the show, but in the end, dissident board member Gerry Pike was re-named to the board and several new board members were appointed. They include digitally-minded executives such as Matt Blumberg, chairman and CEO of Return Path; David Verklin, CEO of Canoe Ventures; Arjan Dijk, director of global acquisition marketing at Google; John Kahan, GM of business and customer intelligence of the online services division of Microsoft; and Nicholas Staheyeff, VP and CFO International of eBay International AG.

"We are pleased that this was resolved cooperatively," Greco told DMNews at the show.

Most of the people at the show that I spoke with said they were glad the matter was settled and felt in the end that the questions raised managed to elevate important issues. In fairness, the need for some soul-searching at DMA was already being discussed by the trade group and was the genesis of forming its iDirect committee in June.

Brian Fetherstonhaugh, global CEO at OgilvyOne Worldwide and a DMA board member, told DMNews the fact that issues have been raised is a good thing and will accelerate the pace of change. "We've ended up with a healthy shared agenda for change," he said.

Donn Rappaport, the CEO of Zumbox who also is a DMA board member, agreed that the turn of events will accelerate change.

I didn't hear much about or from the iDirect committee at the annual conference. The board brouhaha was distracting, and I think the iDirect folks missed an opportunity to hold a forum or town hall-style session to give the committee and the membership at large an opportunity to interact and share ideas.

What is most important is that the DMA serves its membership. Advocacy and education are its two most important functions, in my opinion. When DMA brought together digital and direct marketing experts from across the marketing community in June to form iDirect, it said its mission and focus would be educational programs, research, and advocacy issues that increasingly impact digital marketing.

If that is the thinking, then DMA is on the right track. Now comes the hard part: execution.

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