About a year ago I wrote a quick review-blast in A year in review: SEMPO and SMA 2005. I remember how frustrated I felt about the SEO clique / online community at the time, how these organisations had potential and that neither one was achieving it.
It's a year later. I'm slightly less frustrated about the clique / online community (not sure why, I'll have to find time for introspection later) but I still feel that there's a gaping need for a respected industry body. I'm afraid that neither SEMPO nor SMA-UK (or SMA-US) seem to have fulfilled that role.
I think SEMPO have had a better year, though. SMA-UK seems to have had a worse year. Having Search Marketing agency members run these organisations is a challenge. These are the CEOs, MDs, CTOs, etc of very busy and very competitive companies. If I had to decide whether I'd spend time on a client's campaign or some administration for an organisation chaired by a competitor then I know what I would do! Imagine being pushed for time to complete a tough RFP where you're going up against Company X because you're just back from a meeting with people from Company X.
I found an old blog post by Gord Hotchkiss back in October called Thoughts on 18 months with SEMPO helpful. Hotchkiss was one of the people complaining about SEMPO. He joined to make a difference. The blog post suggests he is making progress.
Press coverage, I think, is important. If SEMPO or SMA-UK are to succeed then they should be quoted by the press (or online community) whenever anything happens in the Search world. Did SEMPO comment on AOL's decision to publish search data? Dunno. Did SEMPO wade in on Did It's attack on Organic Search? I dunno. I suspect they wouldn't want to but I think they should have. Isn't that the role of SEMPO? To act as middle ground in the Search landscape?
2006 was a better press coverage year for SEMPO than 2005 was. It was a dreadful year for SMA-NA who are barely on the radar. Thanks to Google News' archives we can actually tally up the total number of references to these organisations.
Look at how low those SMA figures are!
A trip over to SMA-UK's website and blog also suggests an obvious slow down. The blog was started in June and has not had a post since August. That's a start in June 2005 and no post since August 2005. No posts for 16 months.
I don't know Andy Atkins-Krüger (SMA-UK President) in real life but what I've seen him write online has always been good and sometimes impressive. He's clearly smart. He is also the MD of Web Certain. That must keep him incredibly busy! I don't think SMA-UK can expect a few key names to push the organisation on. It's neither a fair nor wise tactic.
SMA-UK and SEMPO both need resources for dedicated staff. Resources come from members. Other than being able to say "We are a member of ..." I just don't see the benefit for being a member yet.
I think both SMA and SEMPO should re-double their efforts to get widespread recognition in main stream media in 2007. This year will be a success for them if the next time Google makes a search announcement that journalists respond by calling them. 2007 will be a success for SMA and SEMPO if they can play a critical role in sorting out one significant industry issue.