Chapter editors learn to focus on relationships
and members to ensure successful publications
During the Chapter Editors Session at the 2010 GCSAA Education Conference and the Golf Industry Show in San Diego, chapter newsletter editors discussed effective communication strategies that focus on members and the chapter-member relationship.
Trent Bouts, editor of Carolinas Green magazine, shared his ideas on how to create a chapter newsletter/magazine that is valuable to the membership. Bouts is the longtime editor of the Carolinas GCSA magazine, and his talents have helped create the magazine that Carolinas members enjoy today.
Trent explained that chapter publications are a unique animal – there really isn’t competition for readers’ attention when it comes to the chapter’s newsletter. The chapter is the source of information for all things related to the chapter. However, chapter publications can still be challenging to produce. Bouts outlined his strategies for keeping the Carolinas Green content interesting and a valuable member benefit.
- Have an editorial philosophy when it comes to the publications. Ask: What is the mission of our publication? Bouts decided early on that the Carolinas Green was going to be about the members of the Carolinas GCSA and their achievements.
- Do not write about specific products or services in the magazine.
- Share regional research updates.
- Remember that the niche is chapter members.
- Keep highlighting relationships: Studies show that while people are continually bombarded with more and more information through various media outlets, they are still responding well to their local community newsletter. Chapter newsletters are the local town paper for members.
- Don’t leave any questions unanswered for the reader.
- Write tight.
- Always have someone else proofread your writing.
- Consider a Q&A format: Members can be apathetic when it comes to writing articles. Send them a series of questions to answer and then share the answers with the readers.
- Pictures of members are always good to use in the publication. Use captions and identify who is in the photo. Bouts offered a tip to ensure you can correctly identify individuals in each photo: Take a wide shot first, trying to capture name tags in the photo.
- When taking pictures of people, focus in on the faces, and remember that the tighter the shot, the better.
- Ask people to put down the beer or cigarettes while the photo is being taken – remember to keep it professional.
- Be mindful of the background – is the sun causing a glare?
- Ask people to remove their hats or anything that might obscure their faces.
- Set up a photo contest: One editor suggested a strategy that has been a win-win for the chapter and members – members send in shots of their golf courses, and the winning photos are used in the magazine and on the Web site. The winning photos are framed and presented to the members at the annual meeting.
Bouts ended his presentation by reminding editors that chapters are like small country towns. The newsletter acts like that town’s diner, bar or coffee shop. It’s the place people come for information and to learn what their friends and neighbors are doing. Remember to keep the newsletter focused on relationships.