By Jennifer Jones, a member of the RI Communications Committee
Over the past two years, Rotary has undertaken an unprecedented amount of research to study the effectiveness of how we communicate with each other and also to look at perceptions about the organization from the community at large.
What’s likely not surprising is that we determined we have all of the strengths necessary for greatness in our second century of service. However, when we looked at awareness about our organization in the greater public arena, they quite simply don’t know about us. It is very easy to ask the question – how can this be true?
Global research shows that when asked – four in 10 people have never heard of us, another four know us in name only, and the remaining two only have some familiarity, which is often colored by misconceptions. How can we attract and engage new members and partners when they don’t know who we are?
Personally, I think that in order to keep Rotary relevant and enticing for the next 100 years, we need to be innovative, forward thinking, and adaptable to ensure that the rest of the world views us the way we view ourselves. Here’s what I like most about the Strengthening Rotary initiative:
1. It helps us explain who we are, what we do, and why we matter.
Through this process, we have introduced a new framework to help Rotarians better define who we are when asked the inevitable question – what is Rotary? We Join Leaders – Exchange Ideas and Take Action. Of course each Rotarian’s story is different but if we could highlight the common ground, it begins to form a compelling call to action. We are leaders who act responsibly and take action to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. When we are all singing off the same song sheet our message is amplified and it becomes much easier to engage people in Rotary.
2. It helps us present a strong, unified image to the public
For so long we did our good work quietly and not for recognition. While this was noble it made it difficult for people to understand the good work of Rotarians. Now that “telling our story” has become a priority, we need to make sure that we have a united voice.
An exciting new visual identity kit and guidelines have been launched and they provide tools for individuals, clubs, and districts to create a look that begins to introduce continuity across the globe. Of course, there remains room for personal creativity but a unified look and feel will propel Rotary into a very bright future. Everyone will know who we are, what we do and why it matters!
If you’ve visited rotary.org within the past few months, you’ve probably noticed evidence of this initiative in the form of simpler, more action-oriented words and visuals. I am also so heartened to see the materials that Rotarians are creating with these new tools. They are stunning and I have heard from countless Rotarians that they love the fresh new look and feel.
3. It will help us attract new members and supporters
Strengthening Rotary is essential to Rotary’s future. As we share our story in a more clear and compelling way, like-minded people are going to want to be part of our great organization. This really is one of our best membership opportunities. In the end, if we can elevate awareness and attract and engage new members and partners, our good work will spread and “doing good in the world” will not only remain our organizational compass but it will help us soar to new heights.
Read more about how to strengthen Rotary’s image through words
Pingback: Voice lessons: strengthening Rotary’s image through words
Well image of Rotary in the communities and even among the members is a cause of concen,
It is because in many Clubs the activities are designed for publicity , awards , fun and fantasy, which some-where gives a wrong message in the community . We mostly deviate from the core issue of Service to the Community .Our moto of Service above Self is becoming secondary, primary is how to get publicity and awards , I personal think we will have to change our attitude towards Rotary . Small plants and creepers needs recognition, the tall tree and Big Banyan Tree
is tall and Big enough to get recognised on its own . Let us make Rotary a Big Banyan Tree , and the Community will bound to say THIS IS ROTARY>
I do agree that our first priority should be doing a good job and serving the communities well to make a difference rather than too much focus on publicity. There is a potential danger of not doing a job well when we give more priorities to publicity- with possible negative impact on superficial community service and more interest in showing the face of Rotarians in media. But in view of the large percentage of the population still not aware of What Rotary does and What Rotary does make a difference, it has come to realize that we should tell the good stories of Rotary and Rotarians in real action to media through which not only the communities served but general public at large including influential people and people in power and authorities can see the significance Rotary works for them.
Pingback: Partner with others to tell Rotary’s story | Rotary Voices
Excellent comments, Jennifer. Reading all the comments, though, it is rather obvious that, particularly in North America, we still face a major challenge at reversing our membership decline. We join leaders – exchange ideas and take action is a key tag line because it defines who Rotarians are. In North America for twenty years we have been emphasizing what we do and we have not reversed our membership decline. If anyone reads this and wants to go a bit further, consider reading this Rotatorial http://zone34retentioncentral.blogspot.com/2013/03/rotarys-why-factor.html
Personally speaking, I think the focus on RI’s global polio vaccination efforts, while incredibly important and laudable, tend to crowd out the other projects Rotary is working on. For example, I was very fortunate to have been selected as a Rotary Peace Fellow and spent two wonderful years getting an MA in Peace Studies at ICU. Yet, the number of people I have met (including actual Rotarians) who have ever heard of the Rotary Peace Fellowship is almost zero. Why is this, after more than 10 years of this very successful academic endeavor? My advice would be to promote the Rotary Peace Fellowship a LOT more, especially through social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This highly-esteemed Fellowship should be spoken of in the same manner (and with the same recognition) that Rhodes, Fulbright, Boren and others are…it’s such a wonderful opportunity that really deserves a greater degree of strategic focus from RI.
Jenifer, I agree with you, I believe it’s the right time to link our publicity with past events. This is time to promote the value of Rotary. God bless Rotary.
Ex. Rtn. Shafaat Rasool
In Jennifer’s ‘3 Reasons’ , one section talks about “ a strong unified image…….”. and includes a comment on creating a “look..to introduce continuity across the globe.” Unfortunately this is precisely what will not happen. There are no plans to change the colors or style of the present lapel badges, and ties, banners, sweaters etc. with our traditional logo will continue to be used while present stocks last, which may be many years ahead.
Many of us have worked hard to present to the general public the emblems of Rotary and to change them now is likely to be counter-productive. Where it is appropriate, we add our name.. ‘The Rotary Club of….’ next to the badge so that the public can associate the badge with the group wearing it and what they are doing, collecting money, organising a concert, taking senior citizens for an evening out, whatever. Basil
Former member RIBI PR/Communications Committee
Our challenge is hove Rotary is organized. By turning over every year with new people in new positions, we will have problems with being seen because there is no continuity.
New people will may be have other priorities than earlier leaders. But there is some places there are continuity, and that is in Evanston and some service areas (secretary) for us members, as in Zürich. But seldom some PR activities from this places.
Districts should also have a secretary for several years, may be a paid one to do a job. Every country with several districts should have a “general” secretary for Rotary, with media experience and experience in hove to run an organization. Every year new club leaders then would have a team with experience to communicate with. In stead many districts leaders also are “brand new”, and some months are going before a new Rotary year is functioning. When being organized after a wile in the clubs and districts, it it soon a new Rotary year and new people that shall start new.
Paul P. Harris said once: “The world are changing, Rotary have to change with it”.
To be honest, what has changed the last 50 years in Rotary? We are constantly working for new members, in the same way they did before.
When having few in Evanston that are speaking about Rotary in public, some clubs are doing locally, but not often in a structured way, little Rotary history is told, so many of us Rotarians are insecure what to say to others. Because of little Rotary knowledge, it is a fact that we are struggling with public knowledge, what to say, and what to be proud of?
Some years ago I looked at some club programs in the district, and it seemed to be many very good speeches, but some of the clubs did not have a single program with Rotary stuff. Hove can then members be proud Rotarians, if they know little about the organization? They don’t, and therefore club members are getting older and older, not a single new club member in many clubs, and many clubs will die in few years, because they are not relevant anymore.
In my opinion it is very important to look at the way Rotary is organized before it is to late. This is a much more important question than only public knowledge. This is about the survival of Rotary and the memory of Paul P. Harris and his grandparents. The memory of this great people have made the world to a better place to live, for millions of people, both Rotary members and the people Rotarians are serving. That has to be told around the world, so people have a reason to join, have something to be proud of and work for. May be start with some media campaign world wide about Rotary’s role when UN was founded and the years in front?
Engaging with communities during festivals, fairs or even creating a Rotary Event can help showcase the century’s commitment through kiosks or pamphlets shall bridge the gap.
My names are James Kiprop Yegon from Nakuru Kenya and the Director of SOAR-Kenya academy,A school that is registered by the ministry of Education and offers learning opportunity
to the less fortunate kids in the society with the help of well wishers including; Rotary club of Nakuru,Rotary club of Wanaunkee in US, Rotary club of Fonta in and many other organizations and individuals.
I just want to thank Rotary club for what they have done.Be blessed Rotary and long life!!!!
James Yegon-Director SOAR -Kenya Academy.
Jenifer, I agree with you totally, Rotary had done several project with several years of not blowing trumpet and I want to believe it’s the right time to link our publicity with past events. This is not to promote ourselves alone but will also help to have more hands to join us to continue the good work. God bless Rotary.
Pingback: Today’s Links | Rotary International District 3040
Jennifer has expressed some great concepts, which need our attention. But in addition to sharing the Rotary image and story, each club also has to deliver on the promise. If we create awareness and expectations with our public than when they interact with us and our clubs they need to have their expectations met. So some of us need to brush up on our own Rotary awareness and the decorum of our club meetings when guests are participating.
Sadly I have heard many negative comments about the new visual identity both from Rotarians and the general public in my area. Personally I feel that moving from the traditional logo to one that is difficult to see on a white background if your eyesight is not generally100% may not have been the best idea.
Having said that, I agree that self publicity is something we are not good at and haven’t been in the 25 years since I joined Rotary, although the club I am now a member of is better than my first club – but that was in London rather than rural North Wales.
I totally agree with Jennifer’s sentiments but caution that we must not allow our efforts to promote our image to overshadow the actual work we do. Sometimes I sense that we turn away from worthwhile projects because their benefits may not be readily visible to anyone beyond the actual project beneficiaries.
Pingback: Three reasons to strengthen Rotary’s image | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540
To raise awareness of what Rotary is doing we constructed THIS IS ROTARY ‘poster’ and ‘pin’. It depicts Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus. The poster originally in English has been localized to: Arabic, Bulgarian, French, Greek, Serbian and Turkish. I hope to see it in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and other languages. The poster is now in public places in Egypt. RI P Ron Burton was pinned with it in his office, March 7, 2013. We need to show others what we are doing.
As an honorary Snow Goose my built in radar tells me that the Strengthening Rotary thrust has built – in value added. I endorse Jennifer’s summary of the situation and the way ahead, but Rotary must be vibrant, innovative and offering something special. We have the tools, the Showcasing mechanism and the expertise, but the Rotary Story must be consistent and compelling. We are leaders in humanity and service, our track record is second to none, self belief is critical, tell the story and we’ll get the listeners. Once they listen up they’ll join in.
Perhaps partnering in service projects with unrelated professional organizations iwould bring Rotarians and others together for the common good. Perhaps it would offer an exchange, open a few doors and provide a soft approach to building relationships with other community leaders.
We, in 1130 LONDON, are in the process of partnering with corporates, colleges and other charities, we have made a video, https://vimeo.com/75197569 showing a club, a corporate, and charities.
Partnering is not easy, it requires a lot of time, needs willing partners and always remember to work towards a WIN/WIN situation.
It will offer all and much more, as described by Robin C. Roberts.