Back when dinosaurs walked the earth, and Peter Kyle was our District Governor, I was asked to help create a District Communications Plan. Discerning RFA readers might ask, what is a District Communications Plan? And, why do we need one? I’m glad you asked. Here’s why.
If you have ever had the very good fortune to be a Rotary Club President, a position that I highly recommend, you would know that once Rotary gets a hold of your email address you become the target of an amazing amount of email. If the sender is hooked into our District’s database, DACdb, then the email is called “pmail” (for no good reason that I know of.) Either way, the avalanche of email or pmail is overwhelming.
Now, if you are a Club President who is incredibly organized and has every club officer and committee chair set up in the correct Outlook Groups, these messages are easily forwarded to the correct person in the club who immediately responds with a sense of urgency because they recognize that ALL Rotary correspondence is of high importance. The problem here is that when you are a Club President, as much as your heart wants to think that Rotary emails and pmails are not spam, after about the 5,000th mail your “delete finger” begins to move on its own accord. This is completely understandable because for many of us getting to the end of the day’s email is a matter of survival. In short, for reasons that have little to do with the brilliant content of the messages that Rotary wants to send to club presidents, in many cases, in the eyes of the recipient, they begin to look like spam. I suspect that we all know what spam is, but here’s a good definition, just in case:
The word “Spam” as applied to Email means “Unsolicited Bulk Email”.
“Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content.”
To be perfectly clear about this, there is NO SUCH THING as Rotary spam. We are not selling soap or soliciting for political contributions. EVERY single word put into print about Rotary and sent to our clubs is of earth shattering importance and should take precedence over all other email messages. (NOTE: OK…well….maybe not.) But assuming for a moment that the content being sent from the Rotary District to Rotary Clubs IS important and is not spam, then the potential problem at the club level is that the messages either don’t make it to the proper destination, or they don’t get passed along on a timely basis, because of the incredible email and pmail traffic aimed at Rotary club presidents.
But….that’s not all folks. Because District, Zone, and RI leaders know this is a problem, many messages get oversimplified and edited to overly short pieces that lack depth and explanations. And many other important messages don’t get sent at all for the simple reason that everyone is terrified that too much mail actually will result in spam, which as I’ve already stated, is impossible because Rotary news can’t be spam, by definition.
And, because we have a variety of messages for clubs about membership, Foundation, PR, scholarships, RYLA, Interact, Rotaract, PETS training, etc., etc., we ask that all of the District Chairs send messages through the District Governor, who hopefully has the best 30,000 foot view of how much pmail traffic is heading down to the clubs at any point in time. This leads to somewhat frustrated District Chairs, as well as frustrated DGs and Club Presidents. And did I mention that Area Governors are typically copied on all of the above? Sheeesh!
Now you know why we need a District Communications Plan. The very good news is that we are very close to putting the final touches on a plan that will remove the bottleneck of communications at both the Club and District level. The new plan will allow for more direct communications between District and Club Chairs, and allow for better communication…meaning the content will be meatier with more ideas, depth, and detail. We believe that the new Plan will ultimately have a positive impact on how Rotary Clubs are organized and how Club Chairs are empowered to get things done at the club level. Stay tuned for more details.
I can’t close this missive without a reference to one of my favorite examples of clear, succinct, and secure communications, brought to you by the geniuses who brought us the original TV series, GET SMART. The show was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry….nuff said. Here Don Adams, as Maxwell Smart, and Ed Platt, as Chief, demonstrate how to use “the cone of silence.” 3 minutes of nostalgia. Enjoy.
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