What Good Is ERA?


As Chairman of the association, I ask you: What good is ERA? What would your world look like if your company operated without a trade association? To answer this—and I invite you to send your answers to me at [email protected]—requires some history.

Prior to the foundation of the National Infomercial Marketing Association (NIMA, now ERA), Congress was investigating the leading companies in the direct response industry, and was looking to regulate them. DR companies needed to come together to respond to this threat; they needed a voice and a face.

Thus, if ERA didn’t exist today, your company and every other company like it would be on its own. It would be vulnerable to unreasonable regulation from governmental bodies and perhaps a complete shutdown.

Many people don’t realize that ERA advocates for the DR community in Congress and in front of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These efforts include the annual ERA Government Affairs Fly-In event (to be held this year on May 24–25, 2016), when association members visit Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and other officials.

Over the years, ERA has also submitted comments on proposed legislation and regulations, and has helped the industry self-regulate its advertising practices through the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP), which—while independent—was formed by ERA to show the FTC and Congress that the industry can police itself. ERA’s efforts, collectively, make your company less vulnerable to overzealous regulation. At the Fly-In last year, for example, ERA invited speakers from the FTC and provided opportunities for association members to offer their perspectives in person. To do this as a trade association rather than as individual companies lends credibility and belies the industry’s strength in numbers.

ERA’s efforts make your company less vulnerable to overzealous regulation.

FTC has commended the ERA and the ERSP program on many occasions. I have counseled many of you personally on FTC regulations and other legal matters in which your participation in ERSP and ERA has been cited favorably.

We know that ERA offers invaluable support in business development, with The Great Ideas Summit and D2C Convention delivering education that focuses on emerging topics such as online, mobile, and social media. But what many of us don’t realize or don’t remember is how valuable it is in government relations.

Greg Sater
Chairman, Electronic Retailing Association