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Persuading Members to Write.

A few years ago, while I was working on a 20-page monthly newsletter, I realized that I was doing the majority of the writing and editing. While the newsletter covered upcoming conferences and other general association-related matters, it lacked specific how-to or content-driven articles. It was, in my opinion, quite boring.

The newsletter was missing input from the very group of people that received it. Therefore, my mission that year became that of getting our members to write articles and to suggest content they wanted to see in the newsletter. The following practices helped me accomplish that goal.

* Create an editorial calendar. We created an editorial calendar that included each month's theme. We distributed the editorial calendar not only to vendors for advertising, but also to members. This way, they knew what to expect--and we could solicit articles months in advance.

* Involve the entire staff. With a small staff, there was only so much that could get done. But when the entire staff pulled together to help achieve the goal, the results were much better. For example, the staff person working on conferences started asking speakers at conferences and meetings to write preview articles on what they planned to address. Someone involved in membership kept an eye out for good potential authors.

* Convince members to write. Members are busy people. So how do you convince members to write for you? I tell them that they are experts. I remind them that members don't want to read what I have to say about an issue. They want to read specifics that tell them how to get things done, and that information is often best conveyed by another member. Once a member has agreed to write the article, make sure you provide him or her with clear guidelines regarding article topic, length, and deadline. Volunteering to help with the outline can also move the process along. (See sidebar, "Promoting Member Authorship," for specific methods of attracting writers to your publication.)

* Build an article reserve. Keeping a reserve of articles will save you if someone backs out at the last minute.

Usually, general articles about industry developments, methods of problem solving, or human resources issues work best.

Submitted by Kimberly Kight, communication manager, Mail Advertising Service Association, Alexandria, Virginia (staff size: 10.5 full-time equivalent; annual operating budget: $2 million). E-mail: kkight@masa.org. This article first appeared in ASAE's Communication News, April 2000.
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Author:Kight, Kimberly
Publication:Association Management
Date:Jul 1, 2000
Words:401
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