A word about marketing local Ruritan Clubs

From the desk of the Rapidan District’s Publicity Chairperson, Linda Bradshaw:

I’d like to discuss publicity for a few minutes with our Ruritan Clubs today.

Whether we like to think about our Ruritan Clubs as businesses or not, they are, in fact, a type of business.

Target Market (free clip art)

Target Market (free clip art)

The primary goal of any business is to stay in business! In order for our Ruritan Clubs to “stay in business,” we must increase and maintain our membership!  We must “market” our clubs to the right “target market” in order to do that!

In order for our Ruritan Clubs to grow, we need to appeal to the younger, more technologically savvy generations. Those generations are our “target market.”

One of the most effective methods to market anything in today’s technology-heavy world is by using the Internet’s Social Media platforms.

Social Media (free clip art)

Social Media (free clip art)

Ruritan National workshops held at conventions advised the attendees to use websites, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote awareness and membership in our local Ruritan Clubs!  There is little doubt that Social Media is THE KEY to the future of Ruritan membership!

I would like to encourage each club to have BOTH a website and a Facebook Page.

Facebook (free clip art)

Facebook (free clip art)

Consider this:  Everyone that reads Facebook uses the Internet, but not everyone that uses the Internet reads Facebook!  Only 25% of Facebook users are in the United States, and 25% of Facebook users are under the age of ten. Although Facebook is still a valuable resource, there have been several articles this year that suggest that Facebook’s popularity is waning.  Of my own personal circle of family, friends, and neighbors, the majority of them have Internet access but refuse to join, or use Facebook. Yet they all use the Internet’s Google’s Search engine to find information that they need.

Internet - man searching online (free clip art)

Internet – man searching online (free clip art)

Having a “real” website that has the proper keywords built-in will help people find the information they are seeking about your club quickly and easily without having to search multiple posts through a long timeline on Facebook. “Real” websites can have “search” features and multiple pages that Facebook simply does not have. Don’t get me wrong – Facebook is a valuable supplemental resource that can enhance the publicity and marketing of a club. A “real” website, however, is the keystone of an Internet marketing campaign.

Sharing options on WordPress websites

Sharing options on WordPress websites

One useful feature of some websites I’ve developed (using the free, easy, user-friendly WordPress platform) is that they can be set up to automatically cross-post to their associated Facebook pages.  This is done on their “Sharing settings” page under the “Publicize” option (see photo above.) They can also be set up to cross-post to other platforms as well, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and more! That feature eliminates duplicity of work.  You can publish a post to the website, and be done with it! The information goes everywhere you can possibly want it to go!

Calendar of events (free clip art)

Calendar of events (free clip art)

The websites can also have calendar of events features, so your club can use it as a resource to publicize upcoming meetings and events.

Now, I understand that some clubs may have concerns about the costs and technical difficulties of buying, creating, and maintaining a website.  Not very long ago, websites WERE expensive, and difficult to buy, create and maintain.  Today the annual cost is very affordable.

For example, GoDaddy is selling domain names (dot coms) this month for $2.99 for the first year. Their renewal fees typically are below $20 per year.  (The prices vary, depending on sales and promotions at the time.)

Internet (free clip art)

Internet (free clip art)

By having the local clubs purchase their own domain, the local clubs can maintain total creative control over their own websites, and can create as simple, or as complex, a website as the club desires. The WordPress platform is free, and easy.  The WordPress Platform can be used to create a static page website for a club that only wants to have one or two pages that don’t change, or it can be used to create a blog-style, dynamic web page that can be updated with posts about current news and events.

The Rapidan District Cabinet will purchase a “real” domain name for the District, and purchase the web hosting service plan that will allow the Rapidan District to host unlimited websites on their server. The Rapidan District is offering to host the websites of local clubs within the Rapidan District on the District’s server for free. This offer applies to both existing sites, and new sites.  Hosting the local club’s websites on the District’s server will save local Ruritan Clubs a significant amount of money each year. (GoDaddy’s least expensive web hosting plan is $84/year, although it sometimes goes on sale for 50% off.)

By putting the local Ruritan club’s website on the District’s server, the local club can then spend the money saved on some other important Community Service Project! That is a win-win situation!

workshop (free clip art)

workshop (free clip art)

One free workshop was held in July 2014 to help local club’s volunteer webmasters understand the basics of creating a WordPress platform website.  Another free “make-up” workshop will be scheduled in the near future for those clubs whose webmasters were unable to attend the first one.

If your Rapidan District Ruritan Club is interested in participating in a future  free (yes, free!) workshop, please use the contact form below to express your interest and to advise when your volunteer webmaster would be available to attend a workshop!

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July 13 2014 Update on Ruritan National President Elliott Hogge posted on “I am Ruritan” Facebook Page

Taken from the “I am Ruritan” Facebook Page, originally posted by Sandra Hogge on July 13, 2014 approximately 8:42am:

Thank you all for your continuing prayers and outreach to us. Every single day a card, a phone call, or a visitor has arrived to show Elliott some love! Elliott has made a remarkable physical recovery in the last 7 weeks. He still has three sessions a week with a speech therapist, and he is doing his speech “homework” as well. He is working very hard! Sometimes I get tired just watching. The stroke caused two speech-related conditions: aphasia and apraxia of speech. His intellect is intact, he can read, he can do math, and his thought processes are fine, but the problem is the spoken word, in that he sometimes has difficulty saying the word he wants to say. He is still early in the healing process, so please continue to pray for his complete recovery.

Update on Ruritan National President Elliott from the I am Ruritan Facebook Page 6-27-14

Original post by Chris Pugh:
Your Ruritan staff just had a wonderful phone call from 2014 National President Elliott. He ended up talking with everyone here before the call was over. He sounded great, upbeat, and definitely on the mend! What a fabulous Friday gift for us! Thank you Elliott!

Recap of 2014 Summer Leadership Conference by President Elect Bobby Burton

Posted on “I AM Ruritan” Facebook page on 6/21/14 by Ruritan National’s President Elect Bobby Burton

LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE encourages us to WALK THE WALK for RURITAN . . . .

Bobby Burton's photo.

The 2014 Ruritan Leadership Conference concluded Saturday morning after two days of informative information for the approximately 90 Ruritan leaders in attendance. The events started with an open house/reception at the Home Office on Thursday afternoon.

Bobby Burton's photo.

The Conference was opened on Friday morning with a special greeting from President Elliott and First Lady Sandra read by Mike Chrisley. A picture of them was projected on the screen – they were wearing their conference t-shirts – and it was great to see their smiling faces!

A patriotic theme was carried out at the Conference with an emphasis on honoring Veterans and everyone was encouraged to Revitalize, Get Excited, and WALK THE WALK for Ruritan.

 

Bobby Burton's photo.

 

Speakers for the conference included Julie Hopkins from Smithfield, VA., the 2013 Top Recruiter, who gave a fun and excited talk on how to recruit new members. Jon Hatfield, Executive Director of the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, VA. spoke on Friday about the War Memorial, Veterans, and Ruritan. Jon had recently returned from a trip to Normandy for the D-Day 70th Anniversary.

Bobby Burton's photo.

On Saturday morning, we heard from April Cheek-Messier, President of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. She gave interesting facts about the D-Day Memorial and she also talked about the recent D-Day 70th Anniversary and how they celebrated in Bedford. There were events for the Veterans at the memorial and a parade through downtown Bedford.

All three of our speakers, Julie, Jon, and April, are Ruritan members and we were privileged to have them participate in the Conference. Everyone enjoyed a picnic on Friday night at Randolph Park, provided by the Pioneer Ruritan Club, and music by a local band, Buck Nelson.

My hope for the conference is that everyone had a good time and that you learned at least one new thing from the information we offered. As I said in my opening remarks, “there is always something new to learn about Ruritan”. And no matter if we are a past, current, or future leaders, we need to keep up on the changes occurring in Ruritan. Giving out the wrong information is a sure way to injure our organization.

Bobby Burton's photo.

Thank you to Perry Marshman, Lorene Reece, and Sarah Kelly (Leadership Committee members) AND to the Home Office Staff. This Conference would not have been a success without their hard work in putting it together. Thanks to all the workshop presenters, the Growth, Development and Retention Committee, the Youth Committee, the Publicity and Public Relations Committee, and the Ruritan National Foundation for their part on the program.

Keep up the good work in your communities and Thank You for all you do for Ruritan.

Yours in Ruritan,
President Elect Bobby