Thought Leadership Sourcing, Media Relations and Magazine Layout Design for Massachusetts Society of CPAs

Thought Leadership Sourcing, Media Relations and Magazine Layout Design for Massachusetts Society of CPAs

Client: Massachusetts Society of CPAs

Situation Analysis

Founded in 1900 and joining the national chapter in 1913, the Massachusetts Society of CPAs boasts 11,000 members and serves 1,759 public firms and 1,781 business and industry organizations. Through its advocacy, continuing professional education, peer review, membership, communications and academic and career development departments, the Society provides services that allow its members to learn, connect and prosper in the accounting profession.

Despite its role as the leading certified public accountant professional organization in Massachusetts, the MSCPA’s narrative was not being told. MSCPA engaged SA to develop a comprehensive media relations strategy to establish CEO Amy Pitter and other MSCPA staff and members as thought leaders in the industry to drive brand awareness and garner media attention surrounding the Society’s accomplishments. A major goal of the campaign was to identify the key messages for the organization broken down by audience type, as well as story lines, target media outlets and other insights to aid in marketing messaging, media relations, influencer outreach and thought leadership sourcing to attract new members.

MSCPA also engaged SA to re-design the layout of its membership magazine to communicate the Society’s leadership in the industry and elevate the MSCPA brand. In order to retain existing members, the new magazine required a complete redesign of the current layout. The new magazine branding and layout needed to solidify MSCPA as a vital resource to CPAs across the country.

Campaign Objectives

  1. Deliver on the organization’s mission of serving its members by: increasing the value of CPAs; safeguarding the CPA designation; and, ensuring that the Society’s pro-CPA agenda is advanced.
  2. Outline the key overarching and supporting messages that will serve as a vital reference for all media relations efforts to effectively communicate the benefits of the organization.
  3. Establish MSCPA and its members and staff as thought leaders in the industry, garnering multiple placements in key outlets to increase brand awareness and attract new members.
  4. Re-launch MSCPA’s membership magazine in the form of a new design and layout that is both visually compelling and informative to drive membership engagement, share industry insights and promote the thought leaders of the organization.

Strategies and Execution

The first step in SA’s campaign was to conduct a discovery session to identify key messages to re-define MSCPA’s brand message strategy. As part of this process, SA interviewed select MSCPA staff and members to uncover the unique value proposition for MSCPA members.

Following the discovery session, SA developed an audience-specific message guide, which would become the foundation for each of the campaign components, including: marketing messaging, media relations, influencer outreach and thought leadership sourcing. The message guide ensured that there was a singular voice throughout all facets of the campaign, serving as a vital resource for all media relations efforts.

Media Relations

SA’s ongoing media relations process involved developing pitch angles based on news trends and inserting MSCPA into the media dialogue. To secure coverage across all outlets, SA capitalized on the association’s local market knowledge and customized pitches for business, finance and accounting media. Coverage included Boston Business Journal, Insights Magazine, Banker & Tradesman, Accounting Today and more. In addition to our editorial approach, we developed a series of bylined articles, op-eds and guest blog posts for print and online media. These topics were a direct result of our intake sessions, ideation sessions and finance trends that we uncovered from monitoring business news and vertical trade media.

Influencer Relations

During SA’s engagement, the MSCPA welcomed a new Chief Executive Officer, Amy Pitter. SA worked with Amy to establish her as a thought leader in the industry and garner media attention for the organization’s agenda by penning blog posts and other contributed articles that were placed with notable accounting trade publications, magazines and news opinion websites. Her professional background and extensive industry relationships with MSCPA members helped to promote the organization’s mission.


Re-launch of the MSCPA Magazine

SA audited the existing brand and magazine layout and conducted an intake session to outline key content themes, assets, and guidelines and to determine goals for the new design. From the intake session, SA then began the process of conceptualizing an improved magazine layout in the form of two cover designs and interior concepts following the content themes.

Following development of the new layout design, SA coordinated the production of two issues of the SumNews magazine that:

  • Featured an updated graphic style, fonts and color palette to positively impact the MSCPA brand while showcasing its leadership in the industry.
  • Leveraged white space and creative accents to make the publication more appealing and visually impactful.
  • Highlighted content that was on-message, member-centric and promoted the organization’s mission.
  • Encouraged existing members to engage with the content by displaying articles in a layout that is both visually compelling and digestible.
  • Integrated branding that aligns with the newly identified core messaging in order to reflect MSCPA’s mission and values.

Measurement & Results

During the engagement, SA secured 14 regional and national stories in print, online and broadcast outlets. Among high-profile placements included The American Institute of CPAs Insights blog, a top industry news source. SA developed a short narrative focusing on the fact that one-third of accounting students who intended to sit for the CPA Exam fail to take it. The story idea presented the challenges students face in taking the exam and what could be done to turn educated students into inspired employees in the accounting profession. SA offered Amy Pitter, CEO of the MSCPA, and former Commissioner of the Department of Revenue, as an accounting expert who could explain why people failed to commit to the accounting profession and what could be done to change this situation. This combination of creative thinking, good timing and leveraging the industry expertise of Amy and the former commissioner, resulted in a highly trafficked blog post that was shared extensively on industry social media channels. The AICPA Insights placement alone, reached nearly one million industry professionals.

Additionally, SA successfully re-launched the SumNews magazine that:

  • Communicated an updated brand identify for MSCPA that resulted in an improved magazine content layout and design.
  • Highlighted CEO Amy Pitter and other MSCPA staff as thought leaders to establish leadership in the industry.
  • Provided the framework for future issues of the MSCPA magazine following a more vibrant and impactful design.

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