Public image coordinators help clubs and districts get more visible
Boris Crestia, Rotary public image coordinator for Zone 20, and and Ayoub M. Ayoub, coordinator for Zone 20B, during a training session in Nairobi, Kenya, in June. Photo by Janey Ball
As a district governor in 2010-11, Frank van der Meijden helped clubs use local media to increase Rotary's visibility throughout The Netherlands.
Van der Meijden, a Rotary public image coordinator for Zone 18B and part of Zone 13, is now using this experience to make clubs in his area known more for their community work than for their weekly meetings.
“Having developed a good relationship with the media, we can now use these connections quickly and with better focus,” Van der Meijden says. “The past campaign and its support from radio and TV was something never done before in The Netherlands.”
Van der Meijden is one of 49 Rotary public image coordinators (RPICs) working to enhance Rotary's public image. The RPICs work in partnership with their zone's RI director, regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, Rotary coordinator, and district governors to raise awareness of Rotary’s humanitarian efforts among the general public, media, and local government officials.
RI President Kalyan Banerjee says Rotary can't afford to simply expect its good work to speak for itself.
“The creation of the RPIC group is designed to help foster a consistent but regionally appropriate approach to Rotary’s public image efforts,” he says.
Publicizing action-oriented service is a goal of the RI Strategic Plan.
Van der Meijden has been encouraging Rotarians to use public displays like bus shelter advertisements to increase Rotary's visibility in the community.
He says Rotarians also should develop working relationships with local media, and buy radio and TV spots to plug their clubs' service projects and activities.
In addition, Van der Meidjen has been urging Rotarians to take part in community events in groups. For example, Rotarians signed up to walk in the International Four Day Marches in Nijmegen, one of the country's largest festivals. During the annual July event promoting physical education, more than 40,000 participants walk 30, 40 or 50 kilometers a day. The Rotarians planned to wear End Polio Now shirts to promote Rotary's efforts to eradicate the disease.
For World Polio Day on 24 October, Van der Meijden has arranged with a TV station to air a 40-minute film highlighting the participation of Dutch volunteers in a National Immunization Day in India. The station will also feature an interview with polio experts as part of the nationwide broadcast.
“The most important thing to remember is that when only a few Rotarians show up for an event, why would the press cover it? Rotarians need to go out and make themselves seen,” Van der Meijden says. “It’s all about participating in highly visible activities.”
Silvia Campos, an RPIC for zones 22 and 23A, agrees on the need to emphasize the promotion of community projects and activities.
“We urgently need to show that it is necessary to promote our activities. Only then will we have visibility.”
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