By John Ensslin | March 23rd, 2008
The SPJ Membership Committee is looking for a few good ideas.
The committee met recently to discuss some new strategies to recruit and retain members. We brainstormed on ideas that might work but haven’t been tried before.
Below is a summary of what we’ve come up with so far.
Do you have an idea that might help us grow SPJ membership? Send it along to me at email@example.com.
The Gardener will award a $25 Starbucks card to the person who submits the best idea.
Meanwhile, here are a few ideas to get you started:
My SPJ…Let’s create a series of 12 print ads modeled on the old “Dewar’s Whiskey Profiles.” You may recall, these ads usually featured a portrait photo of a prominent person accompanied by a brief formatted set of biographical questions.
But instead of asking for their preferred whiskey, our ads would ask how long they’ve been SPJ members and a quote about why they belong.
Trade Ads…To extend the reach of our ad campaign, let’s approach some of the other popular journalism magazines such as Columbia Journalism Review and American Journalism review and offer to trade ad space in the Quill for the ability to place ads in their publications.
Got Ethics?…Our code of ethics is one of our strengths and something that helps define SPJ. It also contributes to our ability to attract and hold onto members.
What if we were to undertake an ad campaign where we traded ad space with other journalism organizations like Poynter and IRE? An online banner ad that read “Got Ethics” could link to a site at spj.org that would highlight our code and make a pitch for SPJ membership.
Membership Week…We shameless stole this idea from public radio stations and their periodic membership fundraising drives.
What if we were to designate one week out of the year, most likely in the fall, where recruiting new members would be a priority for both pro and students chapters. Perhaps we could also offer a slight discount for new members who sign up during this period.
Premiums…As an added incentive, what if we were to build a bank of items that could serve as gifts to the first say 100 new members who signed up during membership week. These premiums could include autographed books, SPJ gear, or other items that individual chapters could help generate.
Reward the Recruiter…Add a line to the membership application that asked “Recruited by.” This information would enable us to members who sign up new members during Membership Week. Incentives could be awarded on a sliding scale.
Thus someone who signs up one new member that week could be eligible for a coffee mug. Someone who signs up three new members might get an SPJ t-shirt. Someone who signs up a dozen members could be eligible for free registration to our annual conference.
Show the Flag…Let’s see if we can trade exhibit space at our convention this fall with that of other journalism conventions such as the Unity gathering in Chicago or the annual IRE convention. We can involve local chapters to help us staff those booths while showing the SPJ banner to prospective members in those other organizations.
Show the Flag, Part II…Encourage local chapters to make similar trades with local journalism groups such as press clubs and press associations. Swap tables at award banquets or exhibit space at conventions.
Scout High School Journalists…Committee members were not keen on actively recruiting high school journalists, however, we thought it would be wise for SPJ to secure a booth at the annual high school journalist conventions, such as the one scheduled for this November in St. Louis. Tap the local chapter for the volunteers to staff the booth.
A Hybrid Brochure…Have a graphic artist designed a desktop publishing document that would feature reasons for joining SPJ on several panels while leaving one panel blank for a local chapter to fill in with details specific to that chapter.
Track Graduates…Enlist the help of local student chapter advisors so that local pro chapter officers can know in advance who is about to graduate from their college journalism program. Actively retain these post-graduate members by staging a job resume/clip evaluation clinic around graduation.
SPJ by the numbers
Membership this week 9,212
Membership one month ago 9,119
Membership one year ago 9,046