No one saw the impact that the coronavirus pandemic would have on businesses around the world — or that many in the CI industry would be forced to shut down their businesses or greatly reduce their teams and workloads — but CEDIA was quick to respond to the growing needs of this industry and its 40,000-plus worldwide membership, offering its education content free to members — and at a reduced price for non-members — almost immediately. The association also started, and regularly updates, an online COVID-19 Resource Center.
And now that it is becoming painfully clear the toll the pandemic is having on the integration business, CEDIA is stepping up their assistance with a new initiative called CEDIASTRONG that is designed to help members get through the quarantine and get their businesses back on track once things return to normal.
CEDIASTRONG will provide free financial planning tools and services, technical training and webinars, career planning resources, online business roundtable discussions, and marketing content that members can use to promote their services locally.
“We want to be nimble,” says Tabatha O’Connor, CEDIA president and CEO. “As those opportunities come — or different challenges arise — we want to be able to pull these programs together really quickly.”
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The finance portion offers weekly online sessions with experts from companies such as Bernstein Financial Services and Faegre Drinker Financial Services, as well as free one-on-one consultations with financial advisors.
The CEDIA online catalog of training will continue to be free for members, and CEDIA is producing two new webinars each week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, that are free for all — even non-members. They also increasing the number of podcasts they produce and will begin hosting online regional roundtable discussions that will bring integrators and manufacturers together to share insights on how they’re conducting business during these unusual times, how best to prepare for recovery, and how to market services in this time of crisis.
The CEDIASTRONG marketing assets will help members spread the word and generate new business opportunities in their local markets, both now and in the post-pandemic world.
Another key area of CEDIASTRONG is the career planning resources, which will feature an online library of content that will assist displaced workers in resume creation, job search strategies, and interviewing tips and tricks for the jobseeker. CEDIA will also be providing an industry job board.
Looking further into the future, once we get beyond the eye of the storm, CEDIA plans to establish the CEDIASTRONG Fund to provide financial assistance to members in need with the goal of accepting donations later this year and awarding grants to individuals and businesses sometime in 2021.
“Today shows us that this is a missing program that CEDIA has to have,” says Susan Cashen, former CMO for Control4 who has volunteered to work with CEDIA on this initiative. “It took this to make us realize the gap, so we want to communicate our intent to deliver this fund to the industry. There could be a hurricane. There could be a tornado in local markets. Having a fund where we could award grants to members in need just seems so on brand and in the spirit of CEDIASTRONG that hopefully, once this is behind us, we can then aggressively define the parameters for that fund and generate dollars so that we’re in a position in 2021 to start helping our members in that manner.”
Though off to a strong start, with most of the platform rolling out this week, CEDIASTRONG is a work in progress. “It’s the beginning stages of a program,” says O’Connor. “We will work to understand and recognize some of the challenges that our members are having today and the challenges and some of the opportunities that they’re going to have as we come out of this.”
For more information on CEDIASTRONG, visit the website at cedia.net/cediastrong.