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Friday, August 14, 2015

Rotary's Public Image - Why isn't Rotary Marketing its Network?

Is it because Rotary doesn't know the value of its public image?  Or perhaps Rotary isn't interested in re-learning the principle upon which it was founded and how to market it. 
    Seriously, contemplate about Rotary's founding principle as you visualize Paul Harris setting up a law practice in Chicago, a boom town loaded with other men doing the same.  He knew the value of networking long before New York Times columnist David Brooks said, "We all think we choose what path we take in life, who we socialize and mix with, what views we hold.  But those decisions are actually shaped by networks of people."  From this basic concept, Rotary was born and grew to be the international organization it is today - a network of Rotarians, shaped by the Object of Rotary, who have made, and continue to make, their families, businesses, communities, and the world better; by-products of the influence Rotary's worldwide network of business, professional, and communities leaders has had on them.
    What seems to be lacking in marketing the network's collective value is a worldwide acceptable public image position statement.  For example, the Rotary Club of Sarasota created this statement:

Rotary clubs do not make communities,  
Rotary clubs make communities better. 
(Since changed to:   Rotarians make the world better. . . One community at the time)

    Subtle, but it can deliver a public image wallop!  (Remember, a club's prime public is its members; its secondary public is the few that may be interested in joining a local Rotary club.)  All the club had to do was center on answering "Why does the Rotary Club of Sarasota make Sarasota better?"  To see how the club puts this thought process to use in its internal and external public image efforts, browse these web sites - Rotary Club of Sarasota and its charitable arm, Rotary Club of Sarasota Foundation.  (Oh, yes.  The most important details - the club has 96 members, and this past year it had a 98% retention rate, sponsored a new club, and last week added two new members.)
    In this BLOG's Marketing Rotary for Non-Professionals series, this Rotatorialist suggested that Rotary International should develop a position statement that would be acceptable worldwide similar to Rotary Makes the World Better - One Community at the Time.  Building public image initiatives around a similar positioning statement could work in virtually any social fabric.  Its most important asset is this: it would encourage the Rotary network, particularly its leaders, to critically examine why Rotary makes the world better - one community at the time.
Most likely the network would come to understand that its public image value lies in its social capital - Who Rotarians are.  Then it would be easier to respond to "Why Rotary?" and to create more Rotarians.

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