By Herbert Chatters, Rotary public image coordinator, Zone 17
What started as a visit to see how the media presents the nation’s news brought about a seismic change in ‘Telling the Rotary Story’. In an attempt to bring Marketing, Public Relations and Communications district chairs (MPRCs) together to engage in bonding and strategizing prior to the new Rotary year with their district governor nominees, I organized a weekend together at MediaCity UK in Salford, Manchester, UK.
MediaCityUK is the new news hub of the UK. It is the home of the BBC, Britain’s largest media company, the commercial ITV Granada news hub and the a variety of regional and local newspapers. It has recording studios, event space, and offers shopping opportunities for visitors. High on the agenda for the weekend was to work with the group to develop their consistency in communicating the achievements of Rotary to an internal and external audience.
To make sure all the attendees were engaged in the planning process, district governor nominees were asked to contribute their ideas to the program. Originally, the trip was limited to just MPRCs and district governor nominees. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, some MPRCs were replaced by district governor elects, district membership chairs, and district governors. This proved to be the magic formula.
The enthusiastic group visited the home of regional commercial TV (Granada), the BBC (both radio and TV) and a local evening newspaper. The mix and different focuses of the group kept everyone on their toes throughout the day as they asked questions covering the image and achievements of Rotary.
In addition to touring MediaCityUk, the formal program included a guest speaker, sharing of successful publicity campaigns, and social media tips. The guest speaker on Friday evening was the Business Editor of a daily newspaper, who gave us tips on how to attract the attention of media in general and news editors in particular. On Saturday, two highly successful district publicity campaigns were showcased. The first, an amazing End Polio Now awareness programme, was followed by the story of how to obtain a weekly, half page slot in your local newspaper. Both projects led to a lively discussion within the group about engaging audiences. Social Media was also high on the agenda, with three sessions focused on the good, the bad and the ugly. A summary of best practices, pitfalls to avoid, Social Media at work, areas of concern, and mechanics of management tools to reassure users was shared. Delegates had an opportunity to quiz the new editor of the RIBI magazine in a lively session where they presented their ideas on content, style and focus. The event concluded with an update on Strengthening Rotary and the new image.
The attendees made strong contacts with TV, radio and the local newspapers. One of the quickest outcomes is a paper from Friday’s guest speaker, ‘How to get published’, aimed at presenting the quick route to catch a journalist’s attention. The weekend was an incredible success and I will absolutely run this event again. Because of the mix of attendees, it was a great bonding opportunity and there were a raft of ideas discussed. Next year, I will invite a wider variety of Rotary positions to join the district governors, district governor elects and district governor nominee team. This will keep the conversation fresh and interesting. The outside visits proved so attractive that a new group is visiting the BBC in May!
What are some innovative or creative ways that you have involved Rotarians or district leaders in your public image, Rotary Foundation, or membership efforts?
Head of news Lucy West and weather girl Kerrie Gosney tell Rotarians how it’s all done.
A breakaway group visited the BBC Radio studios.
Kevin Walsh x 3 as he presents on getting Rotary news in his District’s papers.
This is an excellent idea and thanks for sharing it. I think I’d like to try this in a few countries in Africa. Thanks again.