10 The initiative group

10. The initiative group

I strongly recommend creating an informal working group on the ABC concept (an initiative committee), as soon as possible. Invite in the group the market players who have a positive attitude towards the initiative. Make sure that they are representative of the market (you should have advertisers, media agencies and publishers), and that you get as many as possible key (big, influential) market players.

Write an initiative group membership application form, and send it to your full contact list. Please do not forget to attach it to a cover letter, in which you describe the goals etc., of the ABC initiative. Have copies of the applications with you at all times – you will need them when you meet people.

10.1. The first meeting of the group

When you decide there are enough people who are ready to join the initiative group, call for your first meeting. Make a short agenda, and send it in advance to the group members. You may want to include in your first meeting’s agenda the following items:

• Presenting the members of the group.
• Brief introduction of the concept, background information.
• Clarify why did the group meet.
• Identify the goal and objectives of the group.
• Identify the tasks of the group.
• Assign tasks to the group members, and review the resources.
• Make a working program: next steps, tasks, resources, timeframe.
• Write and agree upon the first press release of the initiative group.
• Set up your next meeting: agenda, date and place.

It is a good idea to organize a press conference for the next day after your first group meeting. Wherever I worked with ABCs, this public exposure for the ABC concept opened up the market, big time!. The whole press was writing for weeks about the event.

Do not neglect any available opportunity to involve group members in a public event. Be prepared to give interviews to the press.

10.2. Goal, objectives, and tasks of the initiative group

The goal of the group is to establish an ABC, with these objectives:

• Discuss and thoroughly understand the ABC concept.
• Spread the concept throughout the market.
• Gather the maximum number of supporters for the initiative, and potential ABC members.
• Prepare the background to establish the ABC.
• Organize the first general assembly of the ABC.

The tasks of the initiative group:

• Agree upon, and state, the values of the ABC.
• Write an ABC mission statement.
• Design the ABC’s organizational structure.
• Prepare the ABC’s legal background.
• Discuss and prepare the principles of the audit system.
• Prepare the construction of the audit system.
• Discuss the issue of the audited data dissemination.
• Create the first business plan of the ABC.
• Prepare the selection and hiring of a managing director.
• Get potential members on the board.
• Communicate with the market.

Some of the tasks above were discussed in the previous chapters. Some of them are new; these will be discussed in the next chapter.

The initiative group is the platform where the industry discussions about the ABC, its role, etc., will be carried out. A lot of work will be dedicated to completely new things.

The initiative group may very well be the core of the ABC’s first board of directors. After all, these people will invest their efforts in this project. They will probably be the most educated about what an ABC can and should be.

10.3. Managing the group

The initiative group should focus on completing its work during meetings. These meetings will be very tough, spiced with a lot of arguments and tensions. One must be aware of these problems; therefore, the preparation for each meeting must be thorough.

Organizing these meetings will cover the setting agendas, disseminating documents and information, writing minutes, inviting new prospects, finding proper places for the meetings, ensuring catering, etc.

It would be very useful to nominate a group manager, who will supervise the work.

You may also need to have some kind of administrative or secretarial support because there will be a lot of telephones, e-mails, translation and multiplication of documents, etc.

Try to get some members of the group to sponsor these activities: the secretary, meeting places, catering, etc. This sponsorship will be more efficient than asking the group members for money to finance its operations.

An alternative is to find an exterior sponsor (for instance, a private or government organization that could offer a grant for such industry wide initiatives as an ABC that create infrastructure within the fledgling free market system). Remember that this effort is a project in itself, and this approach can be useful only if there are such organizations in your country.