An organisation has to employ every means at its disposal to communicate with members, clients and the wider community about its programs, services and events.
No doubt still the very best strategy, whether in person or by telephone.
If such a suitable person can be found, why not engage someone as a Club Liaison Officer. If they must be volunteer (unpaid) provide them with significant benefits such as free membership, club clothing, relief of fees for their own children, a reasonable monthly telephone allowance or rental cost of a mobile phone. Even if the total cost of the benefits reached $1,000, the club would still be well in-front provided they were a suitable person.
So who would be a suitable person? They would need to be a 'people person', who is very committed to the club and enjoys talking to people and making friends.
If you can find the right person they will constantly spread news about events and activities internally, thus bringing in greater income while saving on other promotional costs.
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter is a fast and good communication strategy for general promotion communication. If you want your organisation membership to be talking about a new event, then Facebook is the way to go. However, it does not reach all sections of your membership. Many people either refuse to have or use a social media account, or do not have the technology or skills to access social media.
Social Media does very easily allow repeat promotion or carrying updated news to your community. This strategy has to be a serious aspect of any communication program nowadays.
A newsletter is an excellent communication strategy, and one which is employed by most clubs and association. Newsletter are a good external communication strategy. They can be made available to anyone who calls at the club or mailed out to various community organisations and representatives, including members of parliament.
There are three main problems with newsletters:
Problem 2 is potentially more troublesome than 1. Volunteering time as a newsletter editor is a reasonable prospect for many individuals but it becomes unreasonable when the editor has to chase people to write material, or worse still, write the editorial themselves.
Problem 3 is about cost and time. Members of a club would like to have newsletter mailed out to them on a regular basis but probably accept that this too expensive. Therefore Newsletters must be copied in sufficient quantities ready for distribution when people arrive at the club. You'll never be sure who has or has not received the newsletter.
The other issue is the time involved in copying newsletters. It depends on the availability of fast and reliable copiers.
A mail-out is probably necessary once or twice per year. Clubs and other non-profit organisations are required by law to notify members of the Annual General Meeting and to call for nominations for office bearer and committee positions. Such a notice should, to ensure everyone receives it, be mailed out. Other forms of communication such as email are too unreliable.
If a mail-out to all members is required, then ensure you get the maximum value. A DL envelope can take 8 sheets of A4 paper, and so, with some planning, it is an opportunity to send a variety of documents e.g. membership application forms, annual report, committee nomination forms, newsletter, and a calendar for the forthcoming year.
Email is a preferred form of communication due to the substantial ease with which emails can be transmitted to a large number of people, at virtually no cost. However, there are some important issues.
Although we are living in the 21st century, many people cannot be securely reached by email, even when they provide an email address. People often don't know their own email address well enough, or check their email accounts very infrequently. As a result emails are returned "The following addresses had permanent fatal errors".
It's very frustrating! It is the simplest and least expensive form of communication but not suitable for the most important communications.
Email communications can also be dangerous on two accounts. Firstly, emails are often misconstrued and misunderstood. People then reply to emails and say things which they would not say in a face to face communication. Electronic communications of this nature must be worded very carefully to ensure people's motives are not misunderstood. The lack of non-verbal language is the main cause of the problem.
The second reason why emails can be dangerous is that information can be accidentally transmitted to the wrong person. The following diagram illustrates the usual mistake:
Bill sends an email to a group of people (for example, a committee). As a result, when the email arrives in each person's inbox, it contains the email addresses of everyone in the group. If Bob replies to Bill's email with some personal comments which he does not want to share with others, he must NOT click on the "Reply All" button. If he does everyone in the group will get the message.
Despite these problems, email is a form of communication that must be used. It is just a case of being careful and not relying on emails as the only form of communication.
Putting up a poster in a prominent place is a useful and sensible form of communication. The poster won't be seen by everyone but those who do see the poster will assist in relaying information to others by word of mouth.
Posters would be a suitable means of communicating:
If you can, put up the poster in more than one location in places where it will be seem by many. Don't leave the posters up after the event has past.
A noticeboard can be a useful form of communication provided people ar encourage to have a look at the noticeboard and someone is managing the noticeboard on a frequent basis.
If the noticeboard is not managed well, people will not bother to look. The information on the noticeboard must be current. Old information must be taken down as soon as possible.
The noticeboard needs to be in a prominent place, and important messages can be put up on coloured paper to attract attention.
Every organisation ought to have a website, but having said that, there are many problems, issues and complications to be faced.
Firstly, websites don't have to cost much. Around $100 per year (or less) will enable a domain name to be registered, and for the web hosting fees. (Web hosting is the space you effectively rent on another computer to make your web site available to the whole world).
Secondly, websites don't have to have beautiful graphics to be successful. When people visit a website they come looking for information, and they want that information to be up to date.
The secret of success is therefore in how a website is managed rather than how it is designed. A website is like a noticeboard but it can be read by anyone outside the organisation, as well as from within. If the website cannot be relied upon to provide up-to-date information, then people will no longer visit.
Therefore if an organisation is prepared to spend money on a website, the money should be allocated to ongoing management and not up front design.
Many organisations have a website that is run by a volunteer. If the volunteer is passionate then the website will be well-managed. After a while, however, the volunteer will be less passionate and the website is in danger of becoming obsolete.
Therefore if a website is deemed to be a vital strategy, it may be a sensible course of action to pay a contractor to manage the website. The contractor can still be someone who is a member of the organisation but the financial reward will ensure greater diligence in keeping the website up to date.