Melissa Thornton, WebMaster, presents new website as part of the new Communications Group 5.10.23
Melissa's Speech about The History of BRGC Communications 5.10.23
A New Communications Group Including
Website….Public Relations…Social Media…Yearbook
How did this evolve? I am no historian, but my research shows that for most of 90+ years, the Boothbay Region Garden Club relied on internal communications via newsletter and yearbook.
Seven years ago, Kathleen Marty was a pioneer into the Internet, and set up a basic website of about 9 pages to update yearbook data and inform members about upcoming events, contact information, etc.
Four years ago, I volunteered to take over the newsletter from Sandy Gillespie, who had been creating beautiful, informative Word documents...and I researched newsletter software.
I had built about 15 websites earlier in my career and I was known for 3 things…
a) capturing interest through bold and colorful visuals,
b) telling “the story” of the group represented by the website and attracting people to join or buy…and
c) building it with thorough navigation, so that it’s easy to get where you want to go…in multiple ways.
So I thought the newsletter software would be easy…I was very wrong...but that's another story.
In building 16 newsletters over those 4 years, I realized 5 things:
I got better at the software! :-)
The pandemic isolated us and we turned more and more to the Internet to keep us connected…email, a bit of social media, etc.
The number of members who didn’t have email or Internet connection dropped to TWO last year (from 12 when I started)
Our WebMaster, Kathleen Marty, moved away and our new Public Relations expert, David Applegate, joined our Club
…at the same time that I reached high frustration levels with the limitations of ‘telling the story’ of our Club, only 4x a year, without space to keep all members (both local and transitory) up-to-date on Club activities and on chances to gain new horticultural knowledge.
So, last Fall, I began speaking to the current and incoming Presidents about our Club…getting the word out about all that we do for the community…all the fun we have doing it…all the learning that happens in our programs...and all the camaraderie that grows out of working together in a meaningful cause. I wanted the website (and later the Communications group) to make the BRGC better known locally so as to attract new interest from current members so that the activity and responsibility for running the Club was spread across more shoulders…and I wanted it to attract more members, of a wider, more diverse group of age ranges, genders, etc. to ensure that the BRGC continues to grow and evolve and make a difference in the world. THEY AGREED and so did the Board!
So we confirmed that the January, 2023 newsletter would be my last, Gloria and I met once, via Zoom, with Kathleen to determine whether the current website software would meet our expanding needs. She walked us through the basic software, we ultimately decided an upgrade would likely do what we needed, Kathleen organized the upgrade and then handed it over to me.
Since March 7th, I’ve spent over 100 hours learning new software and building a new, 40 page website with (hopefully) all of the components I knew were needed…racing to get it done in time to send it out to you on April 1, the date that you might have been expecting the April newsletter.
I still have a lot to learn…and more to add, and am open to your suggestions. It is my gift to the Club…and it is a gift to me...
And that’s something that so many members have experienced. Whether we’re still using our talents and expertise in our career or not, we can keep them tuned up by volunteering them for the Club. Examples: Sandy Abernathy and her amazing business and accounting skills. Abbie Shaw and her endless talents with food, Sandy Leonard and her floral arrangement and judging expertise…each of the Club Members who have given presentations to the group throughout the years…to name a few.
And as you know, David Applegate, our Public Relations expert, has been doing remarkable, professional work keeping the BRGC in the news…a continuing commitment that he also does as a gift.
Gloria is our Social Media facilitator, and she and Kathleen send photos to our Facebook page and I hear that we are going to have a more active Instagram account this year. And Kevin Bowler, among her many other contributions, has been working endlessly, with Gloria, to pull together the Yearbook for 2023-2025.
And, as a result of all these Communications members working together to increase our Marketing visibility, we’ve already had an increase in website inquiries about our membership and events. Hurrah!!
Now…let me introduce you to the new website…and show you how to find what you’re looking for. All questions and suggestions are welcome!
Now that you've seen what's available on the website, here’s what I need from you:
Each Committee Chair has sent me a short article about each of their events, along with photographs for the quarterly newsletter. Please make that more frequent now, as timely information is key to the value of our Communications Group.
Laura Blake has agreed to join me in taking photographs of the events we attend. I could use a couple more ‘regulars’ to offer photographs for the Communications Group to use...and it helps if our photographers know the basics of resizing, cropping photos, etc.
3. And if everyone would keep their ears open for interesting garden-related events, or horticulture-related news, and send that information to me, we will have an endlessly evolving, more-and-more useful website, filled with
fascinating and important information.
Thank you all!!