The story has been circulating on Rumour Central UK for several days now, but it can be confirmed that Paul Flanigan is out as the Executive Director and figurehead of the Digital Screenmedia Association.
He was formally there for 15 months or so, but Paul confirmed by email with me that he’s no longer with the DSA and looking for his next gig.
That’s a shame. Paul and I worked together via Preset for about a year, but he started developing a strong interest in speaking – something he’s very good at – and moved on, leaving the high glamour of endless airports behind.
I thought he was very well-suited to the DSA role from the perspective of ambassador and spokesperson and someone to rally the DS troops. But I also wondered how a guy not afraid to give his blunt opinion was going to do with an organization that is all about serving the diverse interests of a membership that ranges from end-users with no budgets to display giants with deep pockets, and related needs and expectations.
I assume Paul has some constraints on what he can say if he wants whatever financial off-ramp he got to continue, so his semi-official “I’m outta here” email note is necessarily elusive.
In the coming days and weeks, the DSA will change.
When I joined the DSA in 2013, I immediately saw the opportunity for the DSA to become something better, something stronger, and something more valuable to its members and the industry.
I spent 2014 talking personally with hundreds of members and industry veterans. I spoke at a number of events all over the world, and I listened to people. I forged relationships with other associations.
Toward the end of 2014, it was clear to the board and me that changes should be made. I ran focus groups with several members asking them what the DSA could do for them and what they could do in return. The responses were terrific and essentially a foundation for the future of the DSA.
My time with the DSA has come an end, and if anyone is interested in speaking with me about an employment opportunity, you can reach me through LinkedIn. It is my goal to get back into this amazing world as quickly as I can, and to help a company profit from the opportunities that digital engagement has to offer.
So it reads on one hand like the planets were aligning. but they apparently collided instead. I know from a private chat months ago what Paul was thinking about for the DSA, and it made sense – but based on his departure now I don’t know what’s up.
What I DO know is member organizations need compelling reasons to join, and the DSA and the DSF have yet to get me convinced. I do know the DSF has a very solid guy in Ken Goldberg now guiding things, and with all due respect to early DSF heads, Ken is the kinda smart, sensible and blunt guy you want in there every year.
There is some good, quite work going on with the DSF that’s FINALLY looking at the whole intellectual property issue that’s become a real problem for everyone from software companies to end-user customers.
The DSA, I’m afraid, still doesn’t get much more out of me than a shrug. It STILL looks, feels and smells like a marketing and lead generation organ for members, as somewhat underwritten by a for-profit publishing company. Which is fine, I guess.
But the top listed objective of the DSA, on its website, is this: To be the unified voice of the members for the betterment of the industry.
Not sure we’re there on that. Or close.
I was at a meeting last week where a branding agency talked about the importance of clearly conveying why a product or company matters – which aligned nicely with my own oft-used, inelegant line: “Tell me why people should give a crap?”
The DSA needs to get that sorted to truly be relevant.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.