Some of you may have heard about the meme that was posted on the Cigar Rights of America Facebook page yesterday, maybe you even saw it. While it wasn’t overly offending, it shouldn’t have been posted. The post was somewhat negative towards female smokers suggesting men smoke cigars to get away from their women.
In fact, the real problem is that this isn’t even about just that post or the others like it that CRA has posted to social media it is about all the ways CRA has failed to step up to the plate, act a bit more professional, work a little harder at promoting itself to new members and to be more transparent to communicate better to everyone what it is working on in Washington and what threats are currently looming from the FDA and state legislators.
If you scroll the social media pages on the CRA, you will find infrequent activity. However when it does post, it is usually memes or jokes that some might say “is no big deal”. The fact of the matter is as a paying member and a member of the cigar industry, it is disappointing to see that the CRA isn’t better presenting not only itself but cigar smokers as a whole. They are what some call “the last line of defense” for cigar lovers and aficionados against the likes of the federal government and the FDA. They should have a more professional approach and presentation for an organization that is involved with Washington.
The other thing that the CRA has failed to do is communicate better with it’s members and the non-members who it should be targeting to join. The Premium Cigar Association has done an amazing job of improving its communication and shines bright over a dark and dim CRA. When is the last time you got an email from the CRA? When is the last time you saw them post an article that wasn’t written by Cigar Aficianado? When is the last time they even checked their new member welcome email that is still signed by Glynn Loope who left for PCA over a year ago? Don’t worry i’ll wait. Manufacturers have even commented on this behavior and other issues that they feel disappointed in.
The PCA on the other hand who has faced it’s own criticism, has done an amazing job working on itself and continues to work in the right direction. They regularly keep in touch with the public and its own membership internally. Time will still tell how they fix the issues they face with the trade show but on other fronts, I feel that they have a strong leadership and have made enough small changes thus far to feel hopeful for the future.
On a media note, I would like to see these organizations promote more articles from us online media and bloggers from time to time instead of just kissing the ring of Marvin Shanken. But such is life. It is time for CRA and the industry as a whole to wake up and realize we are making fools of ourselves to the feds. It might not be too late, but things need to change for an industry who is letting the FDA take more control of them by the day because they can’t sort our their own problems.
After the controversy of the post made yesterday, it was taken down followed by a small and poorly written apology from someone at the CRA. I suspect it was the same person who posted the meme in the first place. This isn’t a quick hit piece to get people riled up about taking things too seriously, its a note of disappointment from someone who loves cigars just as much as you. I ask the CRA to please address its issues and work on itself better and shine brighter for all of us. We pay for membership and manufacturers donate money to these organizations, lets see our money put to get use and be more than just some jokes and a membership card in the mail.