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.

Rotary Speaker
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.

Free Content for #Rotary and NFP Use
Please use any posts for Rotary District or club Newsletters. Include the profile at the bottom of each article, Robyn's headshot and a link to this blogsite. Let him know and he'll promote it to his social media followers.

Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Saturday, 25 October 2014

An Easy Way to Market Rotary! Harness the Power of Emails

 Written by Robyn T. Braley

I know what you are thinking. You don’t like emails! In fact, even though it may be against your nature, you may even use THE four letter word; HATE! 

You hate them period! You mutter something about seldom looking at them before hitting the delete button.

However, I'll wager you check your inbox more often than you realize. There are emails from companies, associations or people you know, like and trust that you make note of when they come into your inbox. 

An electronic newsletters (eNews) will engage readers by offering relevant information that motivates them to engage with your brand. And, get this! eNews are the most used form of social media tool for business.

Easy Way to Connect

Many not-for-profits have made eNews a key way to keep in contact with donners and other members of their constituency who care about what they do. Many Rotary Clubs underutilized the potential of eNews. So, what exactly am I talking about? 

Let’s be clear. I am not referring to the weekly eNews circulated to club members that are full of Rotary acronyms and inside jokes. Nor am I referring to the deluge of project emails that are forwarded and re-forwarded so many times the original meaning is lost. 

You know the ones. They usually have one word in the subject line referring to an event or project. Each message has different content but the same one word subject line. To find key information you have to check each one. 

Why this is Important

An enews program will become a membership tool by helping your club stay in touch with people who have visited and expressed interest in joining, but not at that particular time. It will also help to stay in touch with funding partners or sponsors who participate in projects. 

Leaders of not-for-profits that your club has done service projects with are other people to stay in contact with. Karl Herzog is the cofounder and Executive Director of the Motive-Action Youth Training Foundation. Karl received a Rotary Integrity Leadership Award which led to him becoming a Rotarian by joining the Calgary West Rotary Club.

Karl has served as the club President and led 38 Rotarians and others to the base camp of Mt. Everest. They raised $150,000 for a school for Sherpa kids and generated national media attention.  


eNews provides a simple way to reach outside of your club 3-4 times per year to connect with contacts who have been exposed to your club in recent years. 

How many contacts does your club make each year? Put together a guestimate using the categories below as a guide? Now, multiply that by 3 years and you probably have a substantial list.

Check your countries  Anti Spam Laws that may require you to get written or email permission to include them. Because it is Rotary, most will give it. 

      Non Rotarian guests
      Event sponsors
      Business, government leaders
      Personal and business networks
      Club website inquiries
      Collaborative NFP partners
      Funding/grant partners
      Service project contacts
      Children of former or deceased Rotarians
      Former members
      Past outbound students
      Social Media  

The road to membership is a journey. Membership decisions are influenced by time of life and circumstance. Someone who says ‘no’ today may say ‘yes’ tomorrow. Prospecting members is about planting seeds and nurturing growth.

Content is Key

Past District Governor of 5360 Pat Killoran observed in an eNews that people join causes not clubs. 

Writing emails that effectively tell your story requires thought and discipline. The message must be carefully crafted. Short is always good, but not at the expense of meaning. Dynamic photos attract attention.

Link to the RI website, your club website and the District website. Link to your YouTube, Facebook, Pintrest or Flickr accounts to profile photos or videos of recent projects. A photo and brief description of the difference your project team made at the Food Bank or in a village in India adds value and increases the time readers will spend with your brand.

Management Systems

While you can use distribution systems like Outlook or Excel, I recommend using free email services like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or SendBlaster. If you are comfortable with Clubrunner, then use it. Clubrunner uses Google Analytics to track information. Click here.

Management systems eliminate formatting headaches. They automatically size photos and provide professional templates. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. The important thing is to make a positive and lasting impression when recipients open your eNews.

These systems also provide valuable marketing feed back and unsubscribe functions. Distribution can be automated for specific times of designated days.  

The Creepy Part
The next part is not for the squeamish. Ten years ago a Rotary buddy, who is also in marketing, greeted me before our club meeting quivering with enthusiasm about his company’s new email management system. 

He gave me a play-by-play report about when I had opened his first email, which links I had clicked on, the websites I had visited, and then recited to a ‘T’ how much time I had spent on each page.

To be honest, it made me nervous. Nervous, that is, until I started thinking about the marketing potential for my own business.

Tracking recipients that open your club’s eNews will remind you to renew conversations about rotary membership. It’s all about building relationships.

Quick Tips
  1. Grab attention with a concise, well crafted subject line
  2. Bold paragraph headlines, use a different color
  3. Include interesting photos
  4. Engage the reader with as strong first sentence   
  5. Limit each line to 5-6 words
  6. Use a positive, engaging tone – friendly does it
  7. Never use all caps – ever. That is the equivalent of shouting
  8. Write at a third or fourth grade reading level (General rule, not just for Rotarians).
  9. Stick to one subject per paragraph, 3-4 sentences max
  10. Break up key information with bullets or numbers
  11. Include contact info 
Robyn T. Braley is a member of the Calgary West Rotary Club. He served as the District PR Chair and was the marketing team leader for two projects awarded the RI Public Relations Award. Robyn is the President of Unimark Creative which focuses on web design, video production, media relations and graphic design. He is a business writer and speaker and blogs about various marketing topics. 

Contact Robyn

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