About the Author

Who is Robyn
Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

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Robyn draws from his experience as a Rotarian and as a Communications Professional to share ways to more effectively tell the Rotary story to your community. He starts by asking the questions, "Is your club ready to grow, and why does it matter?" The ultimate focus is on attracting new members.

He is available to speak at District Conferences and Rotary leadership training institutes. Content also applies to other not-for-profit organizations.

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Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Are Your Rotary Meetings Visitor Friendly

Des DesFeitas talks to crowd at a Signature Program

By Robyn T. Braley

Rotary clubs put great effort into PR initiatives to attract members through raising awareness in the community. But, what is the visitor’s impression the first time they visit your club? Are your meetings visitor friendly? Do they feel welcomed directly and indirectly? Are they embraced or do they feel like an outsider?

New members are the life blood of Rotary and each year we grapple with how to attract them. The question is not what will happen if we DO attract new members. Rather, the question is what will happen if we ------DON’T do everything in our power to grow our membership. It’s all in he details.

Rotary Has It

Rotary has a strong brand. Marketers use words like quality content, trust, value, and relevance. We talk about telling brand stories and creating brand experiences. Rotary has it all and then some.

Well run meetings with meaningful programs are key
But, to get to Rotary story, prospective members must get past first impressions. Meetings are often the first point of contact for new members.
1.     Do your meetings offer a positive, upbeat, quality experience?
2.     Are they well organized and smooth flowing?
3.     Is there assorted types of clutter?

Impression Audit

Imagine you are visiting your club for the first time. When you walk into your meeting room, what do you see? Is there a sense of order? Are you greeted by welcoming Rotarians or grumpy old men and women? Worse still, do they seem indifferent?

Is the sign-in organized and easy to follow for visitors and guests? Is there a natural flow or is it a frenetic scramble of Rotarians trying to pay, find name badges, and have 2-3 simultanious mini-committee meetings while doing all of the above?

1.     Is the room configured for energy and efficiency?
2.     Does it look cramped or is it too big for the size of your group?
3.     Is the podium and head table crisp and clean looking or are there strings of banners and other Rotary paraphanalia plopped here and there?
4.     Is your PowerPoint professionally produced to promote the club and not just provide “insider” information?

Finally, is there a positive buzz created by Rotarians engaged in conversations with people they like spending time with? If you were a first time visitor, would you be drawn to this group of people?   

Programing the Program

When I use the term “programing,” I mean being intentional about how you order the content in your agenda. Radio programers know that changing the order of five fast, medium and slow songs can subtly alter the sound of their station.

Every meeting has a rhythm, pace, and tempo. They have a beat. The energy and enthusiasm exhibited by the way the President opens the meeting sets the stage for all that follows.

Thinking through the order of announcements allows you to influence the rhythm of the meeting. Starting the section with a strong speaker sets the tone. Ending with another strong speaker closes the section on an upbeat note.

Is there deadwood in your program? Do you include items just because you always have? 

Some clubs have the speaker right after the lunch with announcements to follow. Why not start with the speaker and leave the lunch until the end? Those who need to leave at the adjournment can while others fellowship over another cup of coffee without time restraints.  

Watch Your Language

Rotary is filled with accronyms; RYLA, RYPEN, DISCON, PETS and SETS. Visitors must wonder whether any of them require inoculations.

Link accronyms with descriptive phrases. For example, saying, “RYLA, our youth leadership conference,” explains what it is for visitors and reminds long-time Rotarians that it is an important program.  

Be thoughtful about using the word “service.” To a 55 year old anticipating a meaningful retirement, service means one thing. To a 35 year old, service means time away from career, family and lifestyle.

However, both clearly understand what “helping people” means. The Alberta floods found both age groups working shoulder to shoulder recovering homes.

I once heard a president say, “We need new recruits because our members are getting too old to handle the amount of projects.” Really! I’m thinking any visitors who may have been thinking about joining had second thoughts.

Putting It All Together

Strong meetings build member pride. They are motivated to bring family, friends and colleagues who may be potential members.

Event created significant media and new members. 
Calgary West recently produced an event with three high profile politicians. It was sold out attracting 150 people. With media, there were 200 people in the room. 

Our goals were to profile the club, to promote our new location at the Grey Eagle Hotel, and to create a premiere event to invite potential members to. 

The event dominated mainstream and social media for two days. It also became a positive talking point for networking. At least one member joined because of the event. Eight others joined during the following six months for a variety of reasons. 

Past President Mike Carlin wrote, “Wow. I am writing this while I am still pumped from today's meeting…It was well organized, well timed and had a well thought out program.

Today is an example of where we can take this Club into the future…At this moment, I couldn't be more proud to be a member of the Calgary West Rotary Club.”
Cain’t say it any better.

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Robyn Braley is a marketing specialist, keynote speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. Robyn has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360.

Contact Robyn

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