ASA Tagline One Product of 2010 Public Awareness Workgroup
Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? Why do we do it?
The ASA’s Elevator Pitch
While developing the elevator pitch, the ASA’s Public Awareness Committee answered four questions about the ASA:
The ASA is the largest community of statisticians in the world.
Our members work in industry, government, and academia, doing research and promoting high-quality statistical practice.
We support the development and use of statistics through publications, education, meetings, and advocacy.
Good use of statistics leads to better informed public policy and improved human welfare.
Who are we?
What do we do?
How do we do it?
Why do we do it?
Capture the essence of the largest and arguably the most diverse statistical association in the world in eight words. That was one of the challenges presented to the 2010 Public Awareness Workgroup at JSM 2009. One year, three surveys, many meetings, hundreds of emails, and thousands of words later, the challenge was met.
On July 30, the ASA Board adopted “Promoting the Practice and Profession of Statistics” as the official tagline of the ASA.
“In simple and straightforward words, this tagline expresses the core of what the ASA does,” said Sastry Pantula, ASA president. “It is the result of a process involving thousands of members. And it is even alliterative, rolling nicely off the tongue.”
The process of developing the tagline and other communications tools began last year when Pantula announced his strategic initiatives for 2010. The Public Awareness Workgroup was charged with making a comprehensive assessment of the ASA’s brand and image and developing a public awareness plan. The plan needed to address a variety of audiences and include a tagline and elevator pitch.
“From the outset, we sought to make decisions based on data,” said Ron Wasserstein, ASA executive director and chair of the workgroup. “Taglines, or slogans, are more difficult to develop than they appear, and without data, decisions would be made based only on personal preference.”
To illustrate the difficulties involved, Wasserstein asked workgroup members to imagine themselves as a business and try to come up with an eight-word slogan that would describe it. Workgroup members found it stimulating to consider the various dimensions of the task. The slogan needs to be recognizable (Would your friends agree it describes you?), understandable (Would others who don’t know you well understand you better as a result?), unique (Would others have the same or similar slogan?), and, hopefully, interesting.
The workgroup undertook this task by first asking a few ASA members—then many more—to say what they thought were the primary purposes and activities of the ASA and what aspects made the ASA unique. This was accomplished through two surveys. The workgroup then used the data generated from the surveys to develop categories or concepts for the tagline. Next, sample taglines for the various categories were debated and tested within the workgroup, and, finally, a small set of possible taglines was tested on a sample of the membership.
The workgroup used the same data and a similar approach to develop a longer, but still brief, description of the ASA. Such descriptions are often referred to as an “elevator pitch.” The idea is to imagine being able to answer during an elevator ride someone who asks, “What does the American Statistical Association do?”
Two versions of this description were created. The informal version, to be used in those moments of casual conversation about the ASA, is found in the sidebar to this article.
“We hope members will ‘memorize’ this description as a way of communicating consistently and effectively about our association,” Wasserstein said. “There is an enormous lack of understanding about who we are and what we do, and this is one small step toward addressing that lack.”
A formal version of the description, to be used in written communication, is available on the ASA website.
The workgroup’s efforts did not stop with the tagline and elevator pitch. Workgroup members described, in broad terms, two types of audiences for the ASA’s message. The “impact audience” is made up of those people who are or who eventually could be members of the association. The “influence audience” is made up of those who will not be interested in membership, but whose opinions and perspectives the ASA hopes to affect (the media, policymakers, etc.). Plans for how to use these tools and others to reach these audiences effectively also were developed and will be refined and implemented in the months ahead.
- Mingxiu Hu, chair of the Committee on Membership Retention and Recruitment
- Scott Evans, chair of the Development Committee
- Tim Keyes, chair of the Membership Surveys Committee
- David Marker, chair of the Scientific and Public Affairs Advisory Committee
- Jean Recta, Margaret Nemeth, and Jerry Keating, at-large members chosen by the president-elect
- Rosanne Desmone, ASA public relations specialist
- Ron Wasserstein (chair), ASA executive director