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Old 04-10-2007, 12:40 AM   #1
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Publication contest flawed

I just read the announcement in the most recent Blue Beret of the Unit Publications Contest at the upcoming International rally. I was dismayed to see the criteria for submission. Chair Bill Schrader, opened with the statement; "Communications within a unit is a vital factor in growing and retaining members. The newsletter and directory are the two most effective means of communications".

The gist of the article is that newsletters and directories can be entered into a contest and that there will be a seminar offered on these unit publications.

There was no mention of web based communication! What about websites and electronic newsletters?

For many units, the Internet is the fastest, cheapest and most complete way to communicate with members and potential members.

I would wager that our healthiest units have extensive websites and employ electronic distribution of club news, including e-mail. How is it that such a vital form of communication has been overlooked?
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Old 04-10-2007, 06:23 AM   #2
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Since only about 40% of the membership has E-mail or internet access, e-mail does not contact all the people and is not an universally available communication media. I think our unit is fairly typical, we have 35 families on our e-mail list out of our 100 members. We have one person who is available regularly and is given the responsibility to get the word out to the E-mail using members. To overcome the shortfall of not reaching all members, I instituted a phone tree system, to spread the word on fast evolving news.

The Newsletter is very efficient in spreading the news in monthly increments. The Directory serves the function on an yearly basis. The directory also should contain data for new members and a yearly reminder for long term members. The phone tree is published in the directory as well as the e-mail addresses.

Bill Shrader also has national responsibility for communications using the internet and is quite proactive in developing the WBCCI website and is in the middle of a major revision and expanding its usages. I think Bill is doing a good job.
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Old 04-10-2007, 07:44 AM   #3
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cleco girl - dwightdi is right in that we cannot assume that all members have web access. But there probably should be a separate recognition or contest among units for web based communications. Those can be awesome tools for communication and publicity and can do good things for WBCCI. May I suggest that you send National a letter or email with your great idea, presented as an idea. Make sure it is presented as an idea rather than a criticism and you should get a better response.

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Old 04-17-2007, 10:03 AM   #4
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I wouldn't go as far to say that the contest is "flawed". I would say that the WBCCI just needs to "catch up" with regards to integrating new communication channels that open up over time. A good place to start would be to embrace the internet/websites by offering a contest for websites. This will start the "buzz" and over time, more and more units will begin to build sites and embrace the new technology. An important factor in this transition is that the members all need to have access which they currently all do not.

I heard that the WBCCI is now working on providing webspace on the WBCCI website for units to build their own sites. This is a step in the right direction.
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Old 04-17-2007, 10:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yukionna
I heard that the WBCCI is now working on providing webspace on the WBCCI website for units to build their own sites. This is a step in the right direction.
There are many organizations that have built the resources into their main website for grass roots chapters to use for their newsletters, intra-mail and other much needed tools to function in todays fast paced world. The cost is very little to set such sub-sites up for each unit and everyone would benefit including those who do not use the internet because all publications created within the sites can be printed and mailed.
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Old 04-17-2007, 10:26 AM   #6
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At the Springfield International Rally (2005) I sat on a panel of "communication experts" at a seminar - each of us representing different means of communication - directory, newsletter & websites (I think there was one more person, maybe it was scrapbooks or bulletin boards, but I don't recall). Each of us tried to talk about how important club PR & communication is to making ourselves known to members & prospective members. Obviously, the website is the most effective of these as an outreach tool.

It was very difficult to convey the advantages of email & website-based communication, many in the audience didn't even have computers and some have never even worked on them at all. They had no idea what the heck I was talking about (I was the web person). The folks that did have a clue were generally not at the meeting - it was too basic & really wasn't a "how to" type format.

Some of the more progressive members do realize the advantages of the websites, however most don't know how to create them and just believe they cost alot of money to create & maintain so aren't worth it or their units can't afford it. If their isn't someone within the unit willing to manage it on a stipend or volunteer basis, this can be true. The other main (unwarranted IMO) concerns were that their personal info would be online and cultivating SPAM.

I understand there is a new pilot program being tested to create unit websites from a template - if this is implemented it will be a step in the right direction, however I do hope the template is not made into an "official" mandatory format and those of us with a creative bent can stay the course we have already set.

In 2004/2004 when I was our unit's 1st VP, I suggested that Unit websites should be a part of the "awards" given out at International - I was told it would be too difficult to judge them at International because it would take too many computers and how would the judges do that? I felt & still feel that websites are "big scary monsters" to most of that generation.

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Old 04-17-2007, 10:57 AM   #7
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It's kind of hard to believe that 60% of the WBCCI membership doesn't have, or regularly use, E-mail access! If that's true - and I'm not questioning the data - that means that a lot of people lack a balanced view of what's going on with reference to the motorhome issue - as well as other issues. The only place they're getting their news is from the Blue Beret or their club newsletters. Further, if anyone thinks that E-mail is primarily for the younger crowd, I believe that there is a sufficient number of us old f---s in airforums to disprove that theory! Maybe we need to get more exposure in Airstream Life to encourage the WBCCI members to participate herein?
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker
It's kind of hard to believe that 60% of the WBCCI membership doesn't have, or regularly use, E-mail access! If that's true - and I'm not questioning the data - that means that a lot of people lack a balanced view of what's going on with reference to the motorhome issue - as well as other issues.
That is so true which is why the NEU publishes important information not only in the forum, on their website but also in our snail mail newsletter. By publishing in the newsletter, we reach the entire membership base on important issues.
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
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if anyone thinks that E-mail is primarily for the younger crowd, I believe that there is a sufficient number of us old f---s in airforums to disprove that theory!
I agree 100% anybody can learn...IF they want to. It's not an age thing...my 4 year old niece surfs the web - supervised of course!

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Old 04-17-2007, 11:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut
I agree 100% anybody can learn...IF they want to. It's not an age thing...my 4 year old niece surfs the web - supervised of course!

Shari
Well...I've found that learning and grasping technology topics can be challenging for some folks. Case in point...my Dad's 65 year old girlfriend purchased a laptop last year solely because she wanted to be able to email to her friends. Over the course of a few weeks, I taught her how to navigate around the computer and email. I even wrote up a "cheat sheet" for her. To this day, I still receive phone calls asking for assistance on the same topics that I covered during the training and are covered in the cheat sheet. IMHO, the earlier a person learns about computer topics, the easier it is for them to grasp and retain the knowledge enough to utilize it.

Then, when I asked my Dad if he wanted to learn, he said no way! His thoughts were that he made it through life this far without a computer, so he doesn't need one now that he is in his seventies. He prefers to pick up the phone or write me a letter when he wants to talk with me.
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:33 AM   #11
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Based on my experience, I firmly believe the contest is flawed, but not for the reasons cited above.
The first problem is that the judges don't have time to read all the newsletters, so apparently judge mainly on appearance.
The second problem is that only three issues are submitted for judging. Some strange stuff goes on here. The first year I entered, the previous editor recommended that I Laser print the submission copies in premium paper rather than submitting the real issues which were copies from one of the big box office supplies. I submitted the real thing, and won that year. One of the judges gave me full points for photos. There were no photos in any of the three issues I submitted!
The next year, though in my opinion we had a better newsletter, we didn't do so well. We and others were marked down for not having enough white space. The comment was that white space doesn't cost anything. What C**P. I have yet to find any place that bases copy costs on the number of words, it is the number of pages copied that counts. In my mind, a newsletter is about news, like a newspaper. Have you ever seen a newspaper with excess white space? After I heard the same white space argument being prorogated at the newsletter seminar, I didn't bother to enter again.
If WBCCI wants to make the contest meaningful, they would do it like SCCA. They appoint the judges over a year in advance so that they can be placed on the unit's mailing list. That way they can judge what the member receives, and have time to read it and judge for content and timeliness.
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker
I believe that there is a sufficient number of us old f---s in airforums to disprove that theory! Maybe we need to get more exposure in Airstream Life to encourage the WBCCI members to participate herein?
Cracker- its OK to say FARTS on the forum!
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmickle
The next year, though in my opinion we had a better newsletter, we didn't do so well. We and others were marked down for not having enough white space.
It sounds like the judging is being done using classic graphic design principles. Having graduated from art school with a degree in graphic design, I live and breathe these principles in all my work and white space is very important whether or not you like it or agree with it.

In the event you care to learn more about this, here is a primer for you:

White space -- the absence of text or graphics--represents one of the least expensive ways you can add visual impact to your newsletters, separating them from the competition and making them easier to read. Here are some of the areas where white space should appear:
* Margins. White space along the top, bottom, and sides of each page help frame your words and provides a resting spot for your reader's eyes. Text set too close to page borders creates visually boring, "gray," pages.
* Headlines. Headlines gain impact when surrounded by white space. Headline readability suffers when crowded by adjacent text and graphics, like photographs.
* Subheads. White space above subheads makes them easier to read and clearly indicates the conclusion of one topic and the introduction of a new topic.
* Columns. White space above and below columns frames the text and isolates it from borders and headers and footers -- text like page numbers and issue dates -- repeated at the top and bottom of each page.
A deep left-hand indent adds visual interest to each page and provides space for graphic elements like photographs and illustrations, or short text elements, like captions, quotes, or contact information.
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:57 AM   #14
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The first year I entered, the previous editor recommended that I Laser print the submission copies in premium paper rather than submitting the real issues which were copies from one of the big box office supplies.
From what I have seen in Region One, this is a highly controversial subject, i.e., submitting something that isn't what was originally sent out to the entire member base. But, until International clearly states the rules, one way or the other, the controversy will continue to fester.
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