Yesterday, we took a look at some problems SPJ chapters are currently facing. Today, we’re offering some tips that can make the chapter revamping process run more smoothly:
Examine your leadership.
It may be time to take the reins again and restructure your executive board.
Are there officers currently in place that, gulp, don’t do anything? Talk with them. See if they are willing to put in the work and the hours needed to make your SPJ chapter a great one. If not, perhaps it’s time they stepped down to a less-demanding role. Being tactful and professional about this goes without saying.
How many officer positions do you have? You can’t expect to restructure an entire chapter alone. You need people by your side and putting in a fair share of work. Examine how many officers you have right now. You may want to look for a few more enthusiastic people to hold a leadership position. (For campus chapters, a lot of that enthusiasm comes from underclassmen.)
Examples of officer positions: President, Vice Prez, Treasurer, Secretary, Historian, Webmaster, Fundraising Chair, Social Chair, Publicity Chair, Membership Coordinator
Each person has their role within the organization, but you’re always lending a hand to one another. SPJ togetherness!
Come up with a programming game plan. Think fun! Think flashy!
Once you have a solid exec board in place, now it’s time to sit down before things get crazy and come up with a six-month plan. This includes speakers you want, panels, social events and fundraising events. Put everything down on a calendar with tentative dates. That way, you can start contacting speakers early and getting the details together.
For campus chapters, think fun and flashy. You want interactive programs. Colorful, modern fliers. FREE FOOD. Enthralling speakers. And did I mention free food? Perfect examples of fun and flashy programming can be found on SPJ national board member Michael Koretzky’s website. He has created such events as the First Amendment Free Food Festival and Ethics Hold ‘Em. This kind of programming usually sends campus SPJ involvement through the roof. Contact national SPJ headquarters if you need help finding speakers.
Make sure to meet on a regular basis with your exec board in order to discuss the calendar you guys come up with. This makes sure jobs get done. And if someone is struggling with their SPJ duties, it’s up to everyone else to lend a hand.
Tell people about SPJ!
How do you communicate with SPJ members and potential members? If people have been apathetic before, then it’s time to be really aggressive when it comes to making your chapter’s mission public. Come up with a publicity strategy that you can stick to each time a meeting or event rolls around.
- Design fun fliers you can post in the journalism/communications college.
- Send e-mails out over your chapter listserv/the JOU college’s listserv.
- Send a PowerPoint slide or PDF to all journalism professors (whether they’re in print, broadcast or online) so they can show it during class time.
- Update your Facebook and Twitter regularly.
- Set up a table in a high-traffic area with SPJ information, flashy fliers and candy.
- Send out information over your updated chapter listserv.
- Update your Facebook and Twitter regularly.
- Find local news organizations that you can mass e-mail about SPJ events and meetings.
- Hang up fliers at local libraries when you have events for the public.
Is there a way for people to routinely check in with your chapter? Set up a website. Get a webmaster to routinely update it for you. Make sure all your social media avenues remain updated, or people won’t trust them anymore.
Last but not least…Be the life of the SPJ party.
Once people come out to your events, engage them! Make them feel like they’re part of something great. Camaraderie is a big deal here, so when that person walks through your door, make them feel welcome. Campus chapters especially need to be good at this…students want to make friends, and if they make SPJ friends, they’ll have one more reason to attend meetings.
With pro chapters, you’ll have a group of people you can share journalism stories and woes with! It’s invaluable, especially during tumultuous times such as these. Set up a network of people who respect each other.
We hope you’re pumped like we are. And if you need any resources or advice, don’t hesitate to contact your handy-dandy SPJ headquarters. If you have advice to add or want to bring up chapter issues that weren’t mentioned, post them below!
April Dudash is the summer 2010 Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and does the bidding of SPJ Headquarters. She graduated from the University of Florida in May and has been an SPJ member since 2006.