Jul 122017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

I hope you didn’t miss a recent post on the website. Rod Hamel, secretary of East Sangerville Grange #177 described the round-robin weeding program they’ve started, referring to participants as “the fightin’ 177th.” Not only is it a great program, I particularly enjoyed the image of “the fightin’ 177th” battling weeds.

While we might not want to advertise and promote our Grange as a fighting Grange (at least without some explanation), I have often wished more Granges would adopt a nickname or slogan that would communicate what their Grange is all about. There are some resources on the Internet that claim to help with this, but why not make it a project (lecturer’s program?) and have some fun with it? It might take some time—don’t rush into a decision. Just remember to keep the slogan simple. Funny is great as long as it doesn’t cause confusion. You’ll want to think about your Grange’s primary purpose or interest. Focus on what makes you different. If possible, make your slogan timeless… businesses that have succeeded with this include Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (They’re grrrrr-eat!) and Doublemint Gum (Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun). Wendy’s had a good run with “Where’s the beef?” but younger people likely do not remember it. Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” seems less appropriate as cell phone technology has improved.

Slogans are best kept under nine or ten words. Where possible, a slogan should be part of your “branding” program, letting the world know what to expect from you. If you chew Doublemint Gum, you’ll double your pleasure. What will happen if you attend a meeting or program at “Anytown Grange?”

Some caution is in order before “piggybacking” on an existing slogan. For one thing, it’s a bit lazy. More importantly, we need to sensitive to intellectual property (copyright, trademark, etc.) laws. While it might be tempting, for example, to suggest your Grange Supper’s are “finger lickin’ good,” the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken may not be pleased.

Brainstorm! Jot down as many ideas and phrases as you can… think about the features and benefits of being part of your Grange. What makes it special? Use a thesaurus or dictionary to explore words and word combinations. Alliterations are wonderful in slogans or mottos. (An alliteration is the same letter or sound at the start of closely connected words—Best Buy, Life Lock are examples of names using alliteration. So is “Communications Column!”) You may have noticed that I’ve been playing with “advocating for agriculture” in one of the banners I developed for the Bulletin and Website.

Companies developing slogans or mottos know the importance of “market testing” their ideas. When you’ve come up with a couple of ideas for your Grange, run them by some folks (Grangers and non-Grangers) for a reaction. (If you come up with several, I can set up a poll for you on the Maine State Grange website to see which people like the best.)

On a different note, I’ve asked Master Rick for a small table space at the Maine State Grange Convention. I’ll try to answer your questions (we’ll call it “semi-technical support”) and you’ll be able to subscribe to the website immediately! I’ll also have some resources for you to take back to your Grange. If you have some ideas for items that would be helpful, let me know and I’ll try to put them together! The Communications Department is here to serve you! (Hey, that sounds like something that could become a slogan… “serving Grangers and Granges…” or how about something like “giving Grangers and Grangers great…gossip? gear?” See how much fun this can be?!)

 

Jun 302017
 

Have you completed and returned our Sesquicentennial Membership Census?

The census – which should take less than two minutes to complete – helps us understand our membership and your needs, best prepare products and services for members and better represent them in our advocacy.
Please complete this (only once per member). Feel free to gather information from your Grange friends who are not online and complete one for each of them with their details. We would love all members to complete these (even those who don’t often attend meetings or events) as soon as possible, but definitely before the 151st Annual National Grange Convention in November.

Complete the census here: https://form.jotformpro.com/71773113062954


And while you’re filling things out, don’t forget to subscribe to the Maine State Grange Website!

Jun 262017
 

By Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

As in the past, I am happy to publish a list of those who are heading up teams that are willing to assist Granges with the installation of officers. If you are heading up a team this year, please let me know! I just need a few lines of information including contact information. Since Rolf was first to let me know, you can use his listing as a model!

  • Rolf Staples is heading up an installation team again this year. They will travel any reasonable distance from the Bangor area. Just call 884-9339 or email Rolf  (swederolfataoldotcom)  .
  • Christine Hebert is also putting together an installation team. Call Chris at 743-5277 or email her  (christineherbertatoutlookdotcom)  .
  • Vicki Huff already has six installations booked even though travel and scheduling is limited because some members of her team work. You can reach her by calling 699-2830 (please leave a message) or by e-mail  (Granger1atmainedotrrdotcom)  . Please note that Vicki’s Team is now completely booked. A schedule is posted. keep reading!

I will also publish information regarding planned officer installations–if you are leading or hosting an installation, send the details for listing here. Very often Pomona Granges will host installation for all their member Granges. It’s a great idea not only because it’s efficient–it’s also a lot of fun! Continue reading for the dates we’ve been told about! Continue reading »

Jun 162017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

When I sit down to write this column every month, I usually scan back over a previous couple of months to review what I’ve written and posted. (Hint: if you go to the website and type “Communications” in the search box in the upper right corner, you can do the same!) This time I was a bit surprised at the number of posts my search produced. There have been a lot of “Communication Bullets” over the past couple of months.

The reason for those is there’s been a lot happening that deserves communicating! For example, in May we set a record for the number of visitors to our website in one day. That’s exciting stuff! There’s also been a lot of “stuff” added to the site and I wanted to make sure you knew about those resources. As information arrives, I also update the Conferences Page with information and, when I have it, conference packages, applications, etc. When we set the visitor record, I was not surprised to discover that the “Program Books and Information” page is the most visited. Grangers are finding and using the information there!

My goal for the communications department of one has always been to serve the Subordinate and Pomona Granges by communicating information that’s interesting and useful. I was going to include “exciting,” but let’s face it—not everything we do is exciting and fun. (We can, however, try to make it so.)

A recent change that IS exciting was a long time coming. We’ve always given you the opportunity to subscribe to the website—you could get an email when posts are made. Unfortunately, we lost control of that subscription service and, while it still works, we don’t know who our subscribers are and can’t control the process. So I have been looking for a process that is “user-friendly,” compliant with email regulations, and allowed us to do more than the old system. Subscriptions to the site are now being handled through a service provided by MailChimp. And, by the way, the service is costing the Grange nothing.

Initial reports are that it’s working great! There has been some confusion regarding the new versus old. One of the steps I’ve taken to help is to prepare a one-page, illustrated “how to” sheet (available on the website, of course!). If you were subscribed to the “old” system you may want to review it, because you’ll want to “unsubscribe” from the old system so you don’t get two emails every day. (One from the old system and one from the new system.) Because I do not have access to the old system, I cannot do this for you nor can I shut it down.

If you are tempted to just stay on the old system, there are at least two reasons you may not want to do that:

  1. I truly have no idea how long the old system will be maintained and continue to work.
  2. The new system is far more manageable and will allow us some future opportunities—including the fact that I will be able to help those having difficulty with their subscription.

Let me reassure you that you still have control of what happens and can unsubscribe at any time. Also, our privacy policy prevents us from sharing, selling, or renting your information.

If you are currently not subscribed, simply go to the website and click the “Sign me up” link. It’s a two-step process—don’t forget the second step! After you’ve filled out the short form and submitted, you’ll receive an email verifying that you want to subscribe. You’ll need to click the link in that email. (This is for your protection—it means someone else can’t sign you up for email you don’t want!)

As with anything related to the website, bulletin, or communications in general, if you have any questions, ideas, or concerns, I want to hear from you!

May 312017
 

By Walter Boomsma
Communications Director

After research and testing, we’re ready to roll out a new way for Grangers and friends to subscribe to the Maine State Grange Website. Here’s the why and how!

The Why

The subscription service we’ve been using (Feedburner by Google) has served us well but is not particularly user-friendly. More importantly, we have almost no access to the data—I truly have no idea how many subscribers we have and who they are!

Our new service is available through MailChimp. In addition to being very user-friendly, we gain some flexibility in how posts are sent–for example, you’ll now receive excerpts instead of complete posts. That’ll make your emails shorter and more manageable.

The How

If you are not currently subscribed, this is very simple. Subscribing is a two-step process. First, you click this link (also found at the top center of the Maine State Grange website) to open a form asking for some basic data. When you click “Subscribe” an email will be sent to the email address you entered on the form. You must confirm your subscription by clicking the link in that email. That’s it!

If you are currently subscribed, please subscribe using the new system as described in the previous paragraph. Unless you want to continue to receive two emails, there is one additional step required. You’ll need to “unsubscribe” to the Feedburner service. This is easily accomplished by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email you receive listing Google in the footer at the end of the email.

Optional Detailed Instructions

I’ve prepared a one-page document with illustrations that describes these steps in detail. You can access it with this direct link or by visiting the Program Books and Information Page. If you have questions, you can email the webmaster or comment on this post—chances are others will have the same question! (Click the comments button in the upper-right corner.)

Know also that once all the fundamentals are in place, we will continue to adjust and tweak the service. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.

May 282017
 

Just about a year ago, we posted a request for information:

Tim Wilson is seeking information and a photo of his great-great-grandfather, James A. Grover (1848-1932) who was for many years a member of Riverview Grange in Lisbon Falls.

Good things come slow… and with thanks to the Lisbon Historical and Mert Ricker, a photo has been found! But Tim is “lost” — the email address for him does not seem to be working. Tim, if you see this, please contact us… and, if anyone knows Tim, please let him know! (Understand that we’re dealing with a fairly common name–there’s a Granger named Tim Wilson in Bangor–this is not him!

Check the “In Search of…” Page to view all searches.

May 232017
 

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

by Walter Boomsma
Communications Director

Some important changes and notes:

The ODD (Officers, Directors, and Deputies) Directory has been updated… a current copy is available for downloading: ODD-Directory-05-17. There has been a minor change in deputy assignments to reflect recent changes in Pomona alignments and two positions are now listed as “TBD” (to be determined)–the chairperson of the Ag Ed Committee and a Youth Director.

The Journal of Proceedings 2016 has been updated with a minor correction at the request of MSG Secretary Sharon. Action on Resolution #12 was missing from the original copy posted. A corrected copy is available for downloading: Journal-of-Proceedings-2016-Convention

Several “In search of…” requests have been added recently… please check the page and see if you can help!

Over the next few days, I will be testing a new method for subscribing to the website and you may notice some “weirdness” at the tope of the home page. Once testing is complete, I hope to announce a major change that will be of great benefit to everyone!

Remember to check the Conferences Page occasionally for information about upcoming national, regional, and state events. Those responsible for events should especially check the page when scheduling events to avoid conflicts. Also, those responsible please make sure you email me information about the events you are planning.

May 152017
 

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

You’ll definitely want to read a comment made on the May Communications Column.  (Subscribers do not get these–you’ll have to visit the site.) What an interesting outcome from the recent Bangor Daily News article regarding Granges that are making a comeback! By the way, website visitors should feel free to comment on any post–it’s really quite easy to do. Just look for the word “responses” in the upper right corner of the post (just below the headline) and click on it. Note that comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

There have been several requests posted to the “In Search of” Page… please take a look and see if you can help these folks.

Also, the MSG Bulletin May 2017 has been uploaded to the site… you don’t have to wait for a printed copy!

Keep those cards and letters coming in!

May 142017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

Are you ready for some great news? Your Maine State Grange Website hit a new record in May – in terms of visits to the site, the best day ever (since October 2010) was May 6, 2017, when there were 257 site visits! This record day also means that as of this writing, May 2017 is the month with the highest daily average of site visits – 114 per day. Naturally, I could resist a quick look at what might have caused this. (My experience suggests that data often raises more questions than it answers.) So I took a look at which pages/posts were the most popular in the last thirty days. In descending order:

  1. Program Books and Information Page (forms, books, etc. organized by function)
  2. Our History (a short history of the Grange)
  3. 2017 Directory of Granges (a recently published directory/list of active Granges in Maine)
  4. Update on LD 725 and LD 835 (information provided by the Ag Education Committee regarding bills under consideration)
  5. Our Officers (a “who’s who” list of state officers)
  6. Joining the Grange (includes a link to a membership brochure and application)
  7. Bangor Daily News Article About Exciting Granges (article headline: Maine Granges Are Making a Comeback!)
  8. About (a general page with links to other pages)
  9. I’m seeking… (a page where people can post requests for information about Granges and Grangers)
  10. Conferences (a list of state and regional Grange conferences and meetings)

Since the best day record was set the same day the Bangor Daily News Article was posted, there might be a correlation. The tempting conclusion is that folks are hungry for good news about the Grange. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that other highly visited pages and posts are reference pages with officer, membership, and Grange location information.

How do they find it? Well, the data suggests that most of our “referrals” are coming from search engines. In other words, people are searching for information using Google and other search engines and the Maine State Grange website comes up in the results.

While it’s important to stay focused, one undeniable conclusion we can draw from this is that we attract people to the Maine State Grange Website by making information readily available. This is one of the reasons I’ve started the “Resources for Grangers” posts—obviously, those resources are not just for Grangers. They are also for people who should become Grangers!

I’ve recently become interested in a communication phenomena called the “echo effect.” An echo chamber is “a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system.” In short, repeated messages sometimes take on a life of their own and get reinforced by nature of the fact they are heard often. Another term we can apply is “tunnel vision.” We become so subconsciously focused on something we are hearing constantly we only see what’s at the end of the tunnel.

That’s one reason I believe we need to stop analyzing and discussing why getting members is hard. I do not deny it is challenging. But I also know that the more we talk about how hard it is, the more firmly we will believe it can’t be done.

On May 6, 2017, at least 257 people were interested in the Grange: our programs, our beliefs, our halls, and our events. Did we give them enough information to at least maintain their interest?

After the Bangor Daily News article, one person emailed me and said that she and her husband plan to join the Grange when they retire. What do you think of that? I know several Grangers I told replied, “How old are they? Will I live long enough to see it?” I wish more people had just said, “Wow! That’s great!”

May 062017
 

By Walter Boomsma,
MSG Communications Director

Check out this feature article in the Bangor Daily News Homestead Supplement! Granges featured in the article include Halcyon in Blue Hill, Fairview in Smithfield, and Valley in Guilford. I might be a little biased, but I think it is one of the most positive and well-documented articles we’ve seen recently. How cool is it to see a headline announcing that Maine Granges are making a comeback?

Grangers in the BDN coverage area may want to pick up a copy of the weekend edition, including the Homestead Edition. You can also read the entire article online. Feel free to add a comment to the article, letting folks know what your Grange is doing–several Grangers have already done that! (Make sure to mention the name of your Grange and community!)