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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why Rotary Clubs Should be Exclusive!

Many organizations are, for good reason, exclusive: they want to attract only those who can support their objectives.  Exclusivity and scarcity are key drivers behind their value proposition and often trigger people's desire to learn more about the organizations.  Rotary clubs are, or should be, such organizations, and Rotary International (RI) should prioritize and support their initiatives.  Therefore, the phraseology of written and spoken public statements (The New Focus) about RI and its member clubs is crucial The phraseology should stimulate key emotions and/or curiosity that:
·        Reflects appreciation and positive recognition for existing Rotary club members.
·        Triggers a desire in readers and listeners to want to know more about Rotary.

Graphic courtesy of
Ron and Glo Nethercutt
   Critically analyze these sentences from the reader's point of view.  "Welcome to Rotary." Ordinary, but the reader is at, or on, RI's website, not at, or in, Rotary.
   Next: "We are neighbors, community leaders, and world citizens united for the common good." First, according to its own messaging guidelines, Rotary refers to Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.  Most readers, including Rotarians, would not know this.  Second, the sentence appears to want to communicate that Rotary is one big family that includes virtually every person in the world.  Reading this, the doubt "I am a world citizen and neighbor.  Why should I become or remain a Rotary club member?" may creep in and haunt the reader's subconscious.
   Then the closing: "With you, we can do more."  These are recruiting, not attracting, words! These six words clearly say that Rotary wants them so it can do more.
    Is there any phraseology in these three sentences to suggest that the reader would derive any value if they associated with one of its member clubs; that arouses enough desire in them to explore Rotary more thoroughly?
  Maybe, but suppose the website's opening statement went something like this: "Rotary International is a worldwide association of almost 35,000 autonomous Rotary clubs.   Club membership is by invitation only and consists of local active and retired business, professional, or community leaders who, through fellowship and service, make the world better, one community at the time."
  These two sentences contain more words, but analyze the information they communicate to all readers.  First, they tell readers what RI actually is, something many Rotarians do not know.  Then they softly compliment Rotarians as they tell non-Rotarians:

  • Who Rotarians are,
  • With whom they could be networking,
  • That membership is by invitation only, and
  • What Rotarians do.

RI's objective is to advance The Object of Rotary.  To do so, it must charter new clubs and support all clubs in their efforts to attract and retain members.  Public messaging phraseology should create moods and trigger emotions in existing and potential Rotarians.  When developing taglines, phrases or elevator responses addressing What Rotary is or Who Rotarians are, writers must keep in mind that the goal is to stimulate the emotions and curiosities of the few who may have a desire to become a member, and remind existing members of why they are Rotarians.

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