By Sonny Albarado | December 17th, 2009
LONG MESSAGE ALERT!!!! But trust me, it’s worth it J
We only have a couple weeks remaining in 2009, and you know what that means: 2010 is upon us. I’m not talking about the year 2010. I’m talking about our goal of increasing membership by 2,010 in the coming year. If you missed the November announcement regarding the membership campaign, it is pasted at the bottom of this message.
Over the next 12 months, please do your best to recruit new members at every turn. In the process, however, don’t lose sight of those who are already in your ranks. It may surprise you, but the real key to building membership is keeping the ones you already have. Need proof? Did you know that SPJ gets about 200-300 new members every month! That’s 2,400-3,600 a year. Yet, our membership is sliding. This is because we are losing members faster than we are signing up new ones. Given the state of the industry and economy, this is understandable. But we must refuse to accept it. If we simply retain the members we have, but continue to bring in new folks at the same rate, we would hit our goal with ease!
One of the best way to retain (and recruit) members is to provide them with programs and services they find valuable. Below is a sample of program ideas from chapters around the country. These ideas were gleaned from the reports that regional directors recently completed after speaking with chapter presidents. Hopefully you had a chance to speak with your RD.
Lastly, don’t forget to tout SPJ’s advocacy efforts to new and current members. Many folks, including those who may be leaving the profession, still feel very strongly about the First Amendment and the vital role a free press plays in our democracy. It’s why many of us entered the profession. And because it is illegal for SPJ to use grant money for legislative and lobbying actions, membership dues are the main source of funding for our advocacy efforts. Without your members’ dues, it would be impossible for SPJ to fight for public records across the country. It would be impossible for SPJ to lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill for a federal shield law. It would be impossible for SPJ to speak out against corrupt governments, within our boarders and abroad. So, the next time you hear one of your members tell you they aren’t renewing because they are leaving the profession, ask them: Do they no longer feel that a free and open press is vital to a well-informed public? Do they still believe in the important role journalists play? Explain to them: SPJ is more than programs and mixers. We are the leading voice of journalism. We help make our democracy better. Their continued membership, even if they are leaving the profession, is the only way we can continue that never-ending fight.
Off the Soap Box and onto the programs.
The D.C. Pro Chapter recently established a freelance group that meets monthly. They recognized that one of the fast growing segments of journalists is freelancers, and allowing them to connect with other freelancers through the chapter is a service that no other group in the area is providing. Does your chapter have a lot of freelancers? Better yet – does your chapter have a lot of “prospective” freelance members? Thanks to chapter president Andy Schotz for this idea.
The Chicago Headline Club recently launched a Media Training Institute to train journalists to work in multimedia. The training began in October and was conducted over three Saturdays, ending in December. When most chapters do training of this sort, they provide a steep discount for members. This is a huge member benefit, and many folks will join SPJ on the spot to take advantage of the discount. And current members will renew to keep the price discounts for all chapter programs. Thanks to chapter president Beth Konrad for this tidbit.
The Louisville Pro chapter conducted a program with the Louisville Bar Association on the First Amendment vs. the Sixth Amendment. About 50 people attended, with 60 percent being lawyers. Did you know that non-journalists can join SPJ as an Associate? The national dues are $90. Do you think there are any lawyers in your area who might have an interest in getting involved in your chapter? Which brings me to another quick point: When contemplating member recruitment efforts, think outside of newsrooms. Freelancers, lawyers, those working in non-traditional media jobs (such as alumni magazine staff, online journalists, those working for non-profits), etc. If they don’t fit the criteria of a “journalist” encourage them to join as an Associate. Shout-out to chapter president Steve York for sharing this great idea.
These three ideas only scrape the surface of some of the great programs going on out there. If you know of others, or want to know of others, drop me a note and I’ll do my best to share them.
I apologize for the long note. If you made it this far, I commend you. And I promise the next one will be shorter.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions. And remember, we are always here to help.
Society of Professional Journalists
2010 IN 2010
On Jan. 1, SPJ will launch its “2010 in 2010” campaign. As the name suggests, we want to recruit 2,010 new members during the upcoming year. To make this campaign fun, we have decided to turn it into a chapter contest.
Here are the contest guidelines:
1. We will have three categories: large chapter, small chapter and campus chapter.
2. You should recruit new members at every opportunity…awards, professional development programs, mixers, in the hallway, at the park, in the bathroom, etc. Just ask!
3. Anyone from your area who signs up during the year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31) will automatically be awarded to your chapter. Meaning, someone doesn’t have to sign up at a chapter event for you to get credit. We are going to assume that your chapter has spread the word and people came to us because of your great work.
4. We will track the results at HQ, but provide regular updates so all can see how the contest is going.
5. Membership applications and payment (mailed or online) must be received by Dec. 31, 2010 HQ to be counted.
6. To up the ante a bit, we will count new AND renewing members. After all, it doesn’t do us much good to sign up 2,010 new members if we lose 3,000. In addition to recruiting, we need you to focus on meeting the needs of those already in your ranks, and showing them value of SPJ.
The chapters who finish in the top three in each category will win:
1st place – three complimentary convention registrations for 2011 (no travel or meal costs included). A $555 value.
2nd place – two complimentary convention registrations for 2011 (no travel or meal costs included). A $370 value.
3rd place – one complimentary convention registration for 2011 (no travel or meal costs included). A $185 value.
Our hope is that you will all accept this challenge in the spirit that is intended. We simply ask that you do your best to help restore our ranks. We know everyone can’t win. And if you come across a program or idea that is successful, please send it along so that we can share it with other chapter leaders. We want you all to do well!
Society of Professional Journalists
Sigma Delta Chi Foundation
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
(317) 927-8000, ext. 216