Direct Marketing Club of New York board members announced a new recruiting strategy and new leadership at its monthly meeting yesterday that came in the wake of contention over the organization's future.
The board has been divided over the issue of whether the club should become a chapter of the Direct Marketing Association. A vote on whether the club should explore the possibility came out 7-6 last month. However, attendees of yesterday's meeting said board members on both sides of the issue left the table feeling positive about the club's direction.
Board members agreed to pursue the club's educational mission with greater vigor, with more educational events and opportunities for members, said club president Vito Fortuna. The board also segmented its target audience for recruitment purposes into three groups: “students,” including those studying direct marketing for the first time or who are engaged in continuing education; industry members in the first five years of their careers who likely would provide the bulk of the club's new membership; and senior industry members, who tend to provide the club with valuable corporate memberships.
“We actually broke them down by lifestyle,” Fortuna said. “What we're going to do is mentor them through their educations and their career paths.”
The club would seek to support the three segments equally, but with events and benefits geared for the specific segments, he said.
Two board advisers, Christy Karl of DM agency CC3 and Ron Sichler, publisher and vice president of sales and marketing at DM News, became new members of the club's board of directors, Fortuna said. Also, DM News will assist in the redesign and production of Proof, the club's newsletter, Fortuna said.
Karl replaces Harvey Markowitz as treasurer, who in turn will replace Ruth Stevens as first vice president. Stevens will remain on the board, Fortuna said.
Board member Andy Calimano of Integrated Direct will lead efforts to acquire new members, Fortuna said. Board member Carlos Torres stepped down for personal reasons, and other are expected to follow, though Fortuna declined to name them.
Also at the meeting, the DMA announced it had given the club five full passes and 75 exhibit hall passes for the DM Days New York conference, scheduled for June 2-4, for distribution to direct marketing students. The package of passes is valued at $8,000, Fortuna said. The DMA also volunteered space at the conference for the club to have a planned membership meeting, Fortuna said, but the club needs space for at least 300 people and it does not appear that a large enough room is available at the Javits Center, where the conference is being held. Fortuna has said that he wants to have a full membership meeting to discuss the club's potential DMA chapter status.
The DMA has long been a partner and silent supporter of the club, said John Van Achen, immediate past president of the club and board member. Van Achen, who opposed the club becoming a DMA chapter, said he did not suspect the DMA of trying to influence club opinion with its donation of space and DMDNY passes.
“How this whole thing came about, why people thought they were being pushed this way or that way, I think was a lot of emotions,” Van Achen said. “I think it's all behind us now.”
Past presidents of the club, many of whom voiced opposition to the club becoming a DMA chapter, have urged the board to focus on revitalizing the club and building membership. They have formed a coalition dubbed the “Council of Prior Presidents” to suggest ways to renew members and improve the club's finances.
One past president who observed yesterday's meeting said he thought the board had begun to get back to the business of running the club.
“They have a long way to go,” said Lee Epstein, past president of the club and current board adviser. “But all the board members are interested in making it happen. I walked away from the meeting with a good feeling.”