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PMA ‘will remain international’

Georgia McCabe, CEO of the Photo Marketing Association, responds to John Swainston’s observations last week in PhotoCounter:

GeorgiaCFirst, I want to thank John Swainston for sharing his thoughts and insights in the most recent issue of PhotoCounter, and I’d love to respond to the points he made.

John is quite correct that PMA has been very busy defining what we will be doing going forward. As has been widely reported, we announced in May our new, four-pillared defining strategic initiatives as an organisation.

It is not accurate, however, to say that PMA ‘will have to look after its own back garden first in the US.’ PMA has always been an international organisation, and it will remain so. We have just appointed two new vice-presidents in Europe, Wolfgang Abendroth and Marion Knoche, in addition to Don Kennedy in the UK; and we have been working extensively with Australian members Paul Atkins, Rob Tolmie, and Alan Logue to determine and implement the most relevant and needed initiatives for our members Down Under. In fact, Paul visited us here in the States last month for a time of intensive, face-to-face strategy meetings, and was a guest in my home.

I’m happy to share a new development that will provide a rich opportunity for our Australian members. In August, we will launch a brand new website at (a new interim website is in place right now) that will offer communities of engagement. Our members will be able to select communities by subject matter that is most relevant to them – photo retailing, for example – or by location, such as Australia and New Zealand, and connect with other members of that community. These interactive forums will present an opportunity to share insights, ask questions, gain new knowledge and ideas, forge partnerships, and more. They are just one aspect of a robust, resource-packed new website that will hold enormous value for our members all over the world.

You can read more about many of our efforts in recent articles appearing in International Contact and BPI. All PMA members are also now receiving our new, bi-weekly newsletter that details the work we are currently doing all over the world. For example, the most recent issue had an article on Don Kennedy’s extensive work with the government in the United Kingdom to prevent the passage of legislation that would allow ‘selfies’ to be used as passport and other ID photos — including the design of an alternative system that delivers all the objectives of the government in terms of digitising the process and reducing red tape, while correcting significant security weaknesses and protecting the interests of PMA members who earn profits from passport photos.

I was also very interested to read John’s comments regarding the behaviours of photo consumers that he recently witnessed in Europe. Having just returned, along with PMA executive vice president Amy Lestition Burke, from holding a series of meetings in Europe, I observed similar behaviours and struggles consumers have in managing and using their images. We ourselves had a frustrating fiasco attempting to use a kiosk. The fact is, as an industry, we have got to address this problem in a united front. PMA is challenging the members of the photo industry with a call to action, to develop industry-wide, standardised tools and technology to simplify the process involved for consumers in both managing and using their images to make photo products. Consumers need this; our industry depends on it. We appreciate John shining a bright light on this critical issue, as we are doing as well.
Georgia McCabe


  1. John Swainston John Swainston July 14, 2015

    Good to hear from you, as I am sure it is for our other PMA members in Australia (and New Zealand!) It’s of course encouraging to hear there are plans ahead, and well advanced by the sounds of things.
    I hope you’ll be able to take the opportunity to come to our IDEA show in October and get enough time with a broad cross-section of the industry, Pro’s, Resellers, Online and CE as well as Specialty, and of course consumers.
    The fact is members paid their annual dues at the end of last year, we were told PMA Australia was functioning in March, but in fact the office was already closed and still is. Paul Atkins is doing sterling work trying to elicit what it is we need going forward and his report here in PhotoCounter is timely and encouraging. But it’s now the seventh month of the year. PMA in Australia has had no active operation all year and if much more time passes it will be hard to motivate people to re-engage, unless it’s a clearly different operation for very different times. Finding a way to add value to the largest sector of the industry, CE and online reatilers, while also providing education to consumers will be a core capability. The networking experience is always stated as one of the key benefits, but it’s an ever-declining base. We need new blood and we need something for the people who generate today’s and tomorrow’s value and dollars in the industry.
    However: The dialogue has started, and that’s a positive. The spirit is willing I think, but the candle has just a bit too little life in it at the moment to ensure a burning success without fuel now and lots of it. Many of us are happy to give time to try and rekindle a purpose that people can identify with. But we need some specific tangible evidence and tools with which to work.
    John Swainston

    • PG PG July 16, 2015

      Georgia “working extensively with Australian members Paul Atkins, Rob Tolmie, and Alan Logue” well with Paul Atkins I agree. I would love to think that there is a future for PMA in Australia but the reality is that there is hardly enough funds for the US. I know there is a lot of work on a new PMA but internationally there hasn’t been a $ spent since the offices were closed. In the UK and Germany work is being done gratis, like here.

      There was no attempt to keep things simmering here, like organising state run networking events, everything has gone dead cold.

  2. Robert Heim Robert Heim July 16, 2015

    When all else fails, call in the women. Best wishes to Ms McCabe & team. Years of hard work by Les Brener & Richard Robertson, amongst many, has been squandered. It is very, very sad.

  3. Paul Curtis Paul Curtis July 17, 2015

    While there is great strength in international collaborations and is a very desirable outcome, Australia should be looking to its own solutions and should not be dependent on any overseas organisation for its mere survival.

    As the original founder of the Australian dealer organization, and as an honourary life-member, (although since the collapse of the Australian PMA office I no longer directly receive any communication) at the time of my retirement I was careful to see that as long as we had a successful show there would be sufficient funding to keep a healthy dealer association going in Australia.

    At the time of my retirement it was obvious that PMA International was in desperate need of a total revamp. And it is encouraging to see that process is now under way and should have the support of all of us.

    But Australia should have no lead to tug on the coattails of the U.S. We started with purely voluntarily workers and I can’t see why in this time of need we cannot do the same again.

    Over the years, many Australian PMA supporters have poured their unpaid heart and souls into keeping the organisation strong.

    The unpaid workers in this field covered all the presidents from Ken Peters and John Paxton to Richard Robertson and Paul Atkins.

    In short, I believe the need to keep the organization alive should be an affair of the heart rather than a lean on overseas financing.

    The coming Digital Show should be able to provide the venue, the timing and indeed some financial support to kick start the Australian dealer organization. Lets hope this opportunity is not squandered in some round of rumour and politics.

    • PG PG August 10, 2015

      Paul I agree with you on this, having been on PMA committees and boards both local and international non stop from 1986-2015 any future will have to be locally formed and operated as it did in the 70’s.

      PMAI should be part of it if possible but that is not essential.

  4. Keith Shipton Keith Shipton August 11, 2015

    There’s a risk in waiting around to see whether Georgia and Gabby’s heroic efforts to revive and remake PMA are successful. If they aren’t, then we have wasted a year or so. I can’t see why we in Australia and New Zealand can’t begin to ‘do our own thing’ and then if the PMAI project proves successful, we can deliver a cohesive group from this part of the world to add to its strength. If we want to. If it isn’t, we are 12 months or so ahead of where we would have been otherwise.

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