by Paul Kiser
Public Relations Chair
Rotary District 5190
Any organization must continue to grow and evolve over time and Rotary is no different. Rotary is a vital organization that has an impact throughout the world with Polio vaccinations; Health, Hunger, and Humanity grants; Rotary Youth programs; and community service projects. It is an organization that has a legacy of Service Above Self and as Rotarians we must do our part to fulfill the work done by those before us. Here are eight suggestions to use Club Public Relations and Membership as a team effort to maintain and promote the local Rotary Club.
STEP 1. SELF EXAMINATION
Examine your Club’s public image. What do non-Rotarians think/know about Rotary and your Club? Ask every member find three people who are business professionals (of every age, gender, and race) and ask them five or six questions about Rotary. Questions for a non-Rotarian like:
- What qualifications DO YOU THINK are required to join Rotary?
- What do you think is the purpose of Rotary?
- Describe your image of the typical Rotarian?
- Why would you be interested/not interested in joining Rotary?
- Do you have to belong to a political party to be a Rotarian?
Note: THIS IS NOT A RECRUITMENT EFFORT, ONLY FACT FINDING. Document the answers and discuss them at a Club Assembly. Determine what kind of public image your Club has among non-Rotarians. What issues keep potential Rotarians from being interested? Does the public image of your Club vary based upon the age/gender/race of the person asked? If so, what are the members doing that might cause that?
STEP 2. BRANDING
Armed with a better understanding of the public image determine:
- How you can respond to incorrect perceptions using various internal and external Public Relations tools.
- What, if any, negative perceptions are being generated by the acts of club members and how they can be made aware of their negative influence on Club PR (e.g.; telling political or religious jokes in club meetings)
- Discuss how members can raise awareness of themselves as Rotarians (e.g.; wearing Rotary pin, Rotary license plate holders, posting membership certificate on the wall at work, etc.)
- Review the methods that a person can find out more about the club (e.g.; Can the club website be found by a Google search?)
STEP 3. IMPROVE THE INTERNAL MESSAGE
Determine if club members are passionate about their Rotary club. If not, what internal communication tools can be used to boost excitement about the club (e.g.; speakers/programs, newsletter, website, Facebook, LinkedIn).
STEP 4. GET OUT OF THE BOX
Seriously review your Club’s ability to adapt and incorporate new and different ideas. The acid test: If a new member started suggesting new ideas would they be seriously considered, or would the current leadership tend to be offended by the brashness of the new member? Try anything and celebrate failure as the next step to success!
STEP 5. LET THE POTENTIAL MEMBER KNOW YOU CARE
Use three to five members to recruit one member. Make the recruit feel wanted by the club.
STEP 6. NEW MEMBERS AS A CLASS
Every month (or every quarter) inductee’s are a new class. All the members inducted in May of 2010 are the Class of May 2010 and they all work together to complete the New Member orientation and requirements to achieve their blue badge. Each class has a ‘Den Mother’: A Rotarian that is their advisor of all things Rotary.
STEP 7. FAMILY, FAMILY, FAMILY
Every member’s family to be involved in the club. The line between member and spouse to be almost invisible. Look for ways to communicate to spouse, children, and members. (Why shouldn’t a member’s children know as much or more about YES/RYE and RYLA than the member?)
STEP 8. ELEVATE THE CLUB PRESIDENT
Use a three-year succession plan to ensure the Club President plans for her/his year in advance. Create an atmosphere where the Club President is a respected leader, not the butt of member jokes during the meetings.
Rotary related blogs by Paul Kiser