WASHINGTON: Hill & Knowlton debuted a new practice last week, The Association Specialty Group, which will focus solely on the unique needs of trade associations. Lindsay Hutter, who spent the past 15 years at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), has signed on to lead the effort.
"There are about 150,000 trade associations in the US, and about 3,500 of those are based here in Washington," said Hutter. "By themselves, they are a $50 billion industry. Nine out of 10 Americans belong to associations."
The new practice, which will overlap the agency's existing public affairs function, will concentrate on member communications, strategic planning, media relations, event marketing, and industry positioning.
Hutter stressed that trade groups offer a unique communications challenge by virtue of the diversity within their ranks. "The NACS' largest member is 7-Eleven, which operates 6,000 stores in the US," she offered. "Our smallest member has one store, but we have to speak for everyone."
The NACS represents more than 2,000 retailers worldwide, which combined sell 80% of America's gasoline. The group chose not to replace Hutter, but instead to divide her duties among existing executives.