Do you belong to ACES?
ASNE's release of employment numbers has sparked conversation on the ACES board and at Prints the Chaff: If there are 10,708 copy editors and designers out there, why are 10,000 of them not members of ACES?
The idea that rings most true with me is "tangible benefits." I'd venture that most copy editors think ACES is a great organization. But we all do a quick cost-benefit analysis before we pay a membership fee.
ACES lists the tangible benefits of joining on its Web site: the quarterly newsletter, the annual directory of members, access to the discussion board, reduced fees for the national conferences, and reduced conference fees with organizations such as the Society for Newspaper Design and the American Press Institute.
It was the reduced fees for the national conference that eventually spurred me to join. I think that's the biggest lure of the list.
The quarterly newspaper could be more a must-have if it was less person-driven and more issue-drive (see Copy Editor). The membership directory has been fun to browse through, but it doesn't help me at work every day. And the message board is easily accessible to nonmembers.
So, what is ACES to do?
We need to come up with great benefits besides the yearly conference. Although the conference is first-rate, from what I hear, we will never be able to get everyone to go -- because of money, because of time, and because someone always needs to stay home to put out the paper. (It's also interesting to note how many people attended the last conference compared with overall membership: 390 attendees, 700 members. And how many members have never attended a conference? It could very well be that the conference discount drives ACES membership.)
I like Vince Tuss' idea of discounts and incentives. Copy Editor offers two-year subscribers a copy of "Lapsing Into a Comma" by Bill Walsh. (And, at $128, it's still more expensive than ACES membership.) Vince also suggests discounts on items not exactly tied to work, like Apple, Starbucks, The Onion.
Any other ideas?