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Seize the opportunity for a serendipitous alliance.

When a Rhode Island-based board member of the National Perinatal Association, Tampa, Florida, offered to look into partnership opportunities for NPA's annual clinical conference, slated in November 1998 for his home city, then executive director Julie Leachman was all encouragement.

Before she knew it, Leachman was put in touch with The Providence Journal Company to talk about coordinating the conference with the New England Health Expo '98, an event that opened the day before NPA's preconference workshops. Because of the serendipitous timing of the two events - and the compatible nature of their goals - the partnership between NPA and The Providence Journal benefited both organizations. NPA mailed Health Expo brochures (and details about the newspaper's advertising opportunities) along with its conference materials, and The Providence Journal - which provided a $10,000 educational grant in support of the conference - also sent NPA conference brochures to its mailing list of physicians in the New England area.

Leachman, who retired in December, and successor Judith D. Burke agree that the partnership served one of the association's main goals: to expand to other geographic areas an awareness of what NPA - an organization of multidisciplinary professionals working together to improve health care outcomes of mothers and babies - does. And Burke is already thinking ahead to NPA's next conference, scheduled for Milwaukee in October 1999.

While the Rhode Island experience can't be duplicated, she has this to say about partnerships:

* Don't overlook the obvious. Be sure to tap the network of board members and volunteers to locate partnering opportunities.

* Keep the partnership as simple as possible by identifying mutual goals and making it clear from the outset that the partnership will not influence in any way program content or subject matter.

* Look for collaborations that are truly business ventures - not charitable contributions. That better defines the goals and priorities of the participants.

* When choosing event venues, seek out opportunities to tie in with local promotions and events.

The National Perinatal Association has a staff of 3 1/2 and an annual operating budget of $308,000. E-mail:
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Title Annotation:strategic partnership between the National Perinatal Association and the Providence Journal Company
Publication:Association Management
Date:Apr 1, 1999
Previous Article:The influence of organizational culture on strategic alliances.
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