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10 Revelations from the Fraternal & Communications Sections Meeting

April 21, 2009

Last week’s Fraternal & Communications Sections Mid-Year Meeting continued a series of well-attended Section meetings that featured enlightening speakers, engaged audience members, and enthusiastic roundtable discussions that didn’t just recite the long list of problems facing the fraternal system, but generated ideas on how participants – that’s you and me – can work together to stabilize the system in 2009 and expand the fraternal footprint in 2010.  Here are the ten revelations I took away from the meeting:

  1. People base their purchases of products and services on “word of mouth” marketing – information provided by their friends and family – more than anything else.  What are your members saying about your society’s products and fraternal activities?  Are your current members providing the “best advertising money can’t buy” for your society?  Click here to learn more.   

  2. Relationships are still the most important factor in successful media relations.  Do you know the local reporters in your most important markets?  Might be time to make a few calls and tell them your story over a cup of coffee.  If you’re relying on news releases sent through “snail mail,” your chances of generating media coverage of a fraternal event are slim.  Try electronic releases or media kits with embedded photos or video of your event.  Make it as easy as possible for reporters to get the full story in one place.  And here’s another thought: put reporters on the distribution list for your blog!  More tips on how to reach the media.

  3. Do you know what folks are saying about you on social media networks – Facebook, My Space, and Linked-In to name a few?  If not, it’s time to find out and the best tool for conducting a “social media audit” is Google.  Here’s how to do it... Go to: http://www.google.com/alerts  There you can enter your search terms (your society’s name, etc.) and frequency of notification.  Google Alerts currently offers 6 variations of alerts - 'News', 'Web', 'Blogs', 'Comprehensive', 'Video' and 'Groups'.

  4. Here’s something every member society can do to raise its profile with at least one major media outlet: post a “feel good” story about one of your fraternal activities on the Web site of NBC Nightly News (nightly.msnbc.com).  Anchor Brian Williams selects one story per day to be read on the air, and it just might be yours.  NFCA staff will be scouring the media for other similar outlets.  But if you know of one off hand, please contact us so we can pass it along to the rest of the members.

  5. NFCA Vice Chair Terry Rasmussen, senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, challenged members of both the Fraternal and Communications Sections to do more to enhance the quality of our fraternal projects and increase the profile of the fraternal system in a dynamite speech at the closing banquet.  Click here to view the text of Terry’s remarks.

  6. We learned that according to author Fred Reichheld, “The Ultimate Question” is “How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend?”  Rudi Pakendorf, Divisional Fraternal and Marketing Director, explained how Thrivent Financial has been using this method to redefine measuring their success.  How many of your members are promoters of your society?  How many are just passive or even detractors?  Rudi suggests reading The Ultimate Question to determine your net promoter score.

  7. With blogs and social networks, there also are some legal risks with publishing content and user-generated content.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) creates a safe harbor for online service providers against liability for acts of infringement by users of the service.  Basically, every society should have a policy for removing content from its site, and should have the notice and takedown procedures posted somewhere on the site.  Click here for more details.

  8. Speaker Daphne Woolf had us brainstorm in groups how fraternals could come together and expand on the synergies that we share.  Many common themes arose including a national volunteer project, reaching out to local school and/or colleges, an overall public relations campaign for fraternals, and utilizing a more structured social media network.  Daphne took notes and will share the findings with the group.

  9. In a new initiative by Royal Neighbors of America, the society is focusing on increasing members and member involvement first, selling products second.  This member-engagement program includes increasing chapter involvement, expanding member benefits, educating members on member benefits, and then leading to a product purchase.  Since they began efforts to grow new chapters last year, they have opened 56 new chapters in strategic locations.

  10. For my part, I briefed members on the financial state of the system reiterated by belief that expanding our footprint is more dependent on attracting members through our fraternal activities than on the sale of financial products.  Members responded well to the concept of NFCA working with several major charitable organizations – Habitat for Humanity, Second Harvest, Special Olympics, American Red Cross, etc. – to conduct meaningful fraternal activities throughout the entire system that engage members and prospects, deliver societal impact, operate cost effectively, and enhance the reputation of the participating fraternals.  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions as to how we can make such a concept work for your society and the fraternal system.

    Click here to see photos of the meeting, courtesy of Judit Zambo, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.