ATA, DMA Cooperate on Setting Agendas

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Following up on pledges of cooperation made last year, the Direct Marketing Association and the American Teleservices Association are working together to draft policy papers that will help with lobbying efforts, the ATA said last week.


The government affairs groups of the ATA and DMA have devised joint statements to highlight policy positions upon which they agree, said Tim Searcy, CEO of the ATA. Jim Conway, DMA vice president of government affairs, and Mitch Roth, regulatory counsel to the ATA, will present the positions at the upcoming ATA Washington Summit April 17-20.


"This signals what we believe to be a new era in relations with the DMA," Searcy said. "We've found the new CEO, John Greco, to be somebody we can work with."


The documents also identify areas where the DMA and ATA disagree, Searcy said. The DMA represents the broader direct marketing industry while the ATA focuses on the teleservices segment, so differences on such issues are understandable.


The policy papers will provide guidance for when members deal with Congress, Searcy said. The ATA's annual Washington Summit is a chance for ATA members to visit Capitol Hill and meet with lawmakers personally.


The ATA and DMA also are co-promoting events for the first time, Searcy said. The ATA will promote the DMA Teleservices Council conference in June, and the DMA has promoted the Washington Summit.


Cooperation hasn't always come easily to the ATA and DMA. They clashed most visibly last year when the DMA dropped its constitutional challenge to the national no-call list while the ATA took its case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court later declined to hear the case.


Though the ATA and DMA share some members, there have been divisions between their memberships. In 1999, internal conflict over allegations of mismanagement by a former ATA executive director led some longtime ATA supporters to leave the organization and become more active in the DMA.


Roger Risley, chairman of the DMA Teleservices Council, said it has been his intent to change the sometimes-rocky relationship between the two groups. He noted that he and Searcy have known each other since at least 1985.


Like Searcy, Risley acknowledged that differences in the goals of the ATA and DMA sometimes would lead to differing agendas. However, the ATA and DMA share many interests and should support each other, he said.


"We're not always going to agree," Risley said. "But we should talk things out before going to the public."


Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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