I love a good success story, especially when the story comes from my own experiences.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I work for a membership-based association. Over the past couple of years I have been contemplating ways to inspire engagement among our less active members.
As I noted in my blog post, The value of face-to-face meetings: They never grow old, I have been studying participation data from things like member surveys, event attendance, etc., and have been integrating the findings into the overall public relations plan for my association.
Last year I studied participation data for a very important survey that a certain segment of our membership (we’ll call them Group A) uses to plan their budgets. The problem has been that Group A must rely on another segment of our membership (we’ll call them Group B) to complete this survey. In that previous blog post I mentioned, we used our spring district travel season to visit those Group B members who had not been filling out the survey from year-to-year. And those visits worked because some of those Group B members did end up filling out the survey.
Fast forward one year later.
We are in the midst of spring district travel season again, and I analyzed a similar set of engagement data. This year we specifically were looking for members that have not routinely attended association events. Once again we are in the process of visiting those members as we head to our district meetings (we have six district meetings in which we provide association updates and hold officer elections).
Guess what happened? Some members who had not previously registered for those district meetings showed up at the meeting after we dropped by their offices on the way to the meeting. Face-to-face really does work!
I’m about to finish my master’s degree in public relations from Indiana University (I say that proudly despite what follows in this post). But, I often wonder that perhaps I could learn all I need to know if I could just go back to kindergarten for one day.
Never hog the toys
When I was in kindergarten we had a rule: whoever got to a toy first during play time got to play with it. Sure, our parents taught us to share everything but in kindergarten that was NOT the rule. It was every child for themselves.
I do remember being traumatized when a girl named Deanna W. framed me and said she arrived at the play kitchen first when, in fact, I arrived first. The incident led me to a very embarrassing visit to the principal’s office (for the record that was the ONLY principal’s office visit during my entire academic career).
What I learned from that experience was invaluable: No one likes a bully. You see, Deanna W. wanted the play kitchen all to herself, and that is what she got. No one wanted to be with her. She hogged the toys but she did not make friends. As a wise PR professor of mine once said, “choose people over stuff.”
When you are planning a public relations campaign, especially if it involves crisis management, the needs of people should outrank your organization’s concerns over profit. Never forget the lessons of Deanna W. who chose stuff over people.
Who knew you could be your own show-and-tell
When I was in kindergarten I broke my collar bone. Because I was in kindergarten during an ancient time in medicine they put a cast on me that was like a shirt vest. When I went back to class, with the cast beneath my shirt, my teacher said I should be my own show-and-tell object. At 5-years-old I was quite shy, and remember being mortified about the prospect. What followed was even more embarrassing. My teacher had each student line up and one-by-one each kid in the class was allowed to come and knock on my cast, which meant they were knocking on my chest.
The PR lesson here: Never exploit people even if it seems like a good idea at the time. Just don’t do it.
Connecting people through the power of public relations