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Hi BB members,

Just wanted to drop in and say high. I too am an Newletter Ed. of the Antique Automobile Club of St. Bernard Parish. My biggest problem is sometimes getting feedback from our members on events, news and article etc., Do any of you have this problem?

Jake

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Jake, Don't really know what to say except that all of us have this problem. I think some members are embarrassed to see their name in print. When you do have an article from a member to use, make sure they know you may have to edit the subject matter. At that point, clean up the spelling and grammar to make it all look professional without losing the original style of the writer. The point is to make the article appealing enough for other members to want to contribute. Does that make any sense? <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> Wayne

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Hi Jake,

Welcome to the AACA Discussion forum.

Sometimes it is just getting members motivated. They may think they do not write good enough, or think someone else (aka the editor) will do it, or sometimes just don't think about it unless asked. Like any other AACA editor, I had the same problem with getting articles submitted by members in the beginning but it has gotten much better over time.

One thing that I believe really helped me was improving the newsletter to a much more interesting and enjoyable read. When I first became an editor, I had a situation where people were not bothering to read the existing newsletter, so why could I expect people to contribute to it? If your newsletter is already enjoyed by the members, then you do not need to worry about it.

Take the initiative and be sure to ask. Some people may have just not been asked. After an event, be sure to ask the chairman of an event about getting a short write up of details. Make it sound more of a favor than a task.

I believe that the biggest helper in getting articles is making it worthwhile for the author to do it. When you do get a write up, be sure to make the best of it. Interesting title, prominent location. If you need to edit for readability, that is fine but do not significantly change the content. People won't bother writing something if they now its going to be completely different in the end. Leave it in the voice of the author.

Also, if you can do pictures, several accompanying photos that someone may have taken that go along with the text will enhance the story. If it is a club event, you may ask someone else other than the article author for photos because you don't want to make the article request a burden. Ask your club photographer. I also always take photos of events for possible publication even if I don't write the article.

Also be sure to credit the author. People love to see their name in print expecially if its a byline of something they wrote. Make sure their name can be plainly seen. I use Arial font for titles, and directly undeneath put "written by (name of author)". The written by (name of author) is always in italics so that it stands out to the readers separatly from the title. A photo of an author that contributes often, such as done in the Rummage Box, wouldn't hurt either.

Another thing I do in my "editors column" each month is to make sure I thank anyone that has made a contribution by name. In the thank you statement, I put their name in bold capital letters and identify what they contributed. I always try to make it at least a two sentence statement such as: "Thank you to JANE AND BOB BLOWFISH for their very interesting article on their recent antique car vacation. It sounds like a very fun trip that is worth making for anyone visiting Western Pennsylvania!" so it doesn't sound like some generic, one line thank you with no thought given,

Did the above things help me? I think so. Getting article contributions has gotten a lot better for me. Now event chairpeople kinda expect me to show up asking for a favor, or better yet they now often submit articles without being asked. Even members going on "out of club" events and tours will submit articles.

The above suggestions may seem "duh.. of course" but I believe they have improved the situation for me. Sometimes the simplest things make a difference.

Hope it helps.

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In the 10 years I spent as newsletter editor I learned one thing. You won't get anywhere with hints or invitations. It doesn't matter if you're looking for articles or people to fill Officer or Director positions, as Bruce stated, members will just read it and assume "somebody" will reply. crazy.gif

The only approach I've found that works is a direct one. You have to take a particular member aside and apply pressure. "Hey Joe, I see that you and Sally are signed up for our tour next week. I'd really like to print an article about the views of the tour from an average member's viewpoint. Could you please tell me your likes, dislikes and any other comments? I'll try to gather photos to go along with your article. I really think this would be a great article and hope you'll help me out!"

I think you can see that this approach would be much more effective than just printing a request for a review of the upcoming tour. Yes, the member you approach may turn down your direct request but a general request will almost probably go unanswered.

You really have to go out and get the articles that you really want. My experience has proved that members will NOT reply to casual hints and requests. frown.gif

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When I was the editor of the Beam, I approached the Board of Directors and told them that I needed their help if the Beam was to have good and regular content. The President was asked to submit a monthly column. The Treasurer's report was included in the minutes, which the Secretary provided on a monthly basis. The Activities Chair was expected to get a write up for any event, either by writing it himself/herself, or by getting a participant to commit to it beforehand. As Editor/Web Editor, I contributed columns for each also. We had one historian who loved to go back through the archives and report on what the club had done 10, 20 and 30 years ago. He called it "Through the Rear View Mirror." It was well-received.

I started up a column called "Behind the Wheel." We encouraged members to talk about the first car they ever drove, which may or may not have been the first one they owned. I provided a list of questions for them to answer, and worked the answers into a short article. Some people were even able to provide pictures.

We featured pictures of vehicles on the cover, but in order to be on the cover, the member had to provide at least a couple of paragraphs about the car, the event or something to justify it being the "cover story." Then, after publication, we provided up to a dozen copies for them to hand out to friends and relatives. Not only did this help our marketing efforts, but many of these cover story writers went on to be regular contributors. They had found out it wasn't that hard to do!

When we were low on cover stories I would go back to the Board of Directors. Of course, I told the new members (we have 9, and 3 change over each year) that one of the perks of being on the Board is to have their car on the cover. If they don't know where to start on the write up, I follow up with a list of questions for them to answer.

Here are a few of the questions I asked:

1. When did you get the car?

2. Why did you buy THIS car?

3. What do you intend to do with the car? (Drive it, show it, restore it?)

4. What's unique about this car? (limited edition? special owners? any special features?)

5. If you own more than one car, how is this one different from your other cars?

6. Who drives this car? Who works on this car?

7. If this is your first car, then what kind of car would you like to move up to?

8. What activities have you enjoyed with this car?

9. What stories have you heard from others about this car? (Every time we take our cars out, someone has a story to tell about a similar car they owned.)

As you can see, the list of questions could go on and on, and that's really all it takes to get people started. We even went so far as to print the list of questions right in the Beam, just to see what people would do.

We also asked for pictures of members from their younger years (most of our members are 60+) and put them in a special feature called, "Who's That Old-Timer?" Some were instantly recognizable, but others were difficult to pin down. But the members liked the opportunity to take a guess.

You're really only limited by your own imagination. Play to what the people in your region like and contributions will start coming in. Each region has its own flavor, and you're the best person to enhance it. Take some chances! And if someone complains, dare then to do something better! (They'll either help you out or stop complaining -- you win either way...)

Jan K.

Wis Region

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Hey Jan,

Your idea of supplying a list of questions to be answered by car owners is a great one. I knew that you didn't just inherit your ME status! I agree that most members would love to see their cars in print but shy away from the required written article. With your questionare, any member can supply the needed info and any editor can easily author the article. A truly great tool that ALL editors should consider implimating! laugh.gif

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