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The Advertising Organizations You Know, and the Ones You Don't
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We are all about advocacy, especially when it comes to the importance and honesty of marketing and advertising. When reports come out about how people in the marketing industry — yes, our fellow colleagues — think that our industry is doing more harm than good to society, that is a serious problem. When the public thinks advertising and marketing professionals are lower than lawyers, that is a serious problem. When getting a job in advertising has lost its "sexiness," that...is a serious problem.

So what do we professionals do? We look to the organizations that support us.

It is interesting; when we were on the national committee for the Public Relations Student Society of America, one of PRSA's future presidents related how only 5% of the nation's practicing public relations professionals were PRSA members. How disappointing! he exclaimed. We shared that belief.

Now, in the marketing strategy realm, we see a similar situation. As America continues its shift toward less manufacturing, a statistic found by the Association of Career and Technical Education stated that almost one out of every four jobs has a marketing function. At first that sounds ridiculous, but when one remembers how the high school marketing education environment defines marketing functions, it is quite easy to believe.

So when we hear all this hate against our industry, we wonder why our advocates are so silent.

In any case, here is a chance to learn who they are. You might find a few you weren't previously familiar with.

1. American Association of Advertising Agencies (The 4A's)
Oh, yes; the granddaddy of them all. When it comes to agency relations, the 4A's are the folks who seem to be stepping in the most. They've thrown their weight in with Advertising Week in NYC, and are really positioning themselves to be the foremost thought leader in adverting.

2. Association of National Advertisers (The ANA)
If the 4A's had a twin, the ANA would be it. Though not as loud as the 4A's, the ANA is definitely a force to be reckoned with if you are a marketer on the brand side (corporate side). The ANA and the 4A's are working together to figure out how their members can, once and for all, play nice.

3. American Marketing Association (AMA)
Though not the newest kid on the block, they are definitely one of the more accessible ones. With a huge resource library and its connection with high school marketing education, the AMA is growing into being one of the largest marketing advocacy groups around.

4. International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
One of the few other professional groups that offer certification in business communications (in case a degree isn't enough) the IABC continues to reign as one of the largest advocacy and professional groups in the world for our profession.

5. The American Advertising Federation (AAF)
The AAF claims to be the oldest advertising trade organization in the nation, and the only one representing everything that deals with advertising. We're not entirely done with the research, so we'll follow up with that claim, but with that being said, out of the "Big 5," the AAF has the more impressive way of organizing its national presence at the professional and collegiate levels.

And now for some of the academic organizations.

6. The Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF)
This group is awesome. Not only is it teaching advertising fundamentals, but it is taking on the important issues in advertising, notably the absence of representation of minorities and women in the industry. It also provides videos and lesson plans for teachers to make sure they portray advertising in the best light.

7. National Marketing Education Association (MEA)
This group is tied in with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and is populated by high school teachers in the marketing education and entrepreneurship cluster. This group (especially in North Carolina) has been working on rebranding and ways to make membership more important.

8. Marketing Educator's Association (also MEA)
Though this group has the exact same acronym the two groups are completely different.

Why? Beyond us.

This MEA is filled with college professors, the same people who should be wondering what kind of information we are providing our future students. Why don't we spend time trying to collaborate?

Beyond us.

9. American Academy of Advertising (3As, or AAA)
This collegiate-heavy academic group is the curator for the Journal of Advertising, the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, and the Journal of Interactive Advertising. This group has compiled enormous amounts of data and made applications for the learning advertising professional or student.

Of course, there are more: The Direct Marketing Association, the National Retailer Federation, and the Product Development Managers of America (PDMA). But we wanted to name just a few that have real relevancy to the growth of advertising, and who you should go to in case you have any questions about the advertising industry.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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