Blogs used to be called newspaper columns. During the 1990s web logs, blogs, sprung up as computer networks developed, and soon anyone with a coherent thought and spell check started ‘sharing.’ So this ‘new’ concept here at the Chamber is far from new. But it is necessary.
Back in the day, Chambers of Commerce would mimeograph X number of newsletters once per month, make enough copies for each member, and dozens for the archive (for which us history lovers are most grateful); then fold and stuff into envelopes, dash off to the post office and spend incredible amounts of staff time and chamber resources to keep membership informed. It seems a bit archaic today, but it wasn’t that long ago when the printed newsletter and regular meetings were the only methods to communicate with members. That was also a time when impromptu meetings at the granary, evening meetings of the Kiwanis Club, regular Sunday dinners would augment the news and information of the day. Those were slower, simpler times for sure.
Today, we take for granted the ease and speed at which information is shared. I’ve often called my generation, the tail end of the Boomers, the ‘tech tweeners.’ We learned to type on a manual or maybe even an IBM Selectric, stepped into our first real job in the late 1980s or early 1990s only to find out we had to learn to use a computer. (I have my first computer story for another time). We taught ourselves to click, scroll, surf, download and upload. We learned to cut and paste, post, crop and photoshop. We are now able to text, tweet, bluetooth, Skype and selfie.
One of my instructors at The Institute of Organizational Management, the US Chamber of Commerce academy for nonprofit professionals, summed it up most succinctly. He said,
“Nonprofits must be there for the members…at their point of need.”
What does that mean? To me, it says that we must have choices for our Members as to when and how they receive information and interact with the Chamber. Some might not be as tech-savvy, so a Chamber mobile app wouldn’t be appropriate, but it might work for others. For some, a printed newsletter is preferred, for others it is inefficient. For other members, a twitter feed and facebook posting is all they require to stay in touch and informed. And many still appreciate the human touch, the personal visit or a chat over a cup of coffee, or a business after hours networking event. The important note here is that it’s the member who dictates the method, not the organization. We have to acknowledge that fact.
This blog is just another way to communicate with Membership of our Chamber, and it serves to augment all the other information options we offer to members. The Chamber has undergone some significant changes the past few years, but so has the City of Williston. It’s our job to keep up with those changes, and in some cases help push forward past barriers that have prevented progress.
I’m a reluctant blogger, but my staff is rejoicing as my ramblings will now take up less space in the Chamber Update weekly newsletter. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback the past eleven months on my columns. We’ll keep it tight and on target.
Have a great Chamber day.