The Family of NFPW

I woke up this morning eager to start the day. I would be spending the day with a group of friends — life doesn’t get any better than that.

I am at my NFPW board meeting — hard at work. So how can I be spending time with friends?

The board members are my friends, and that is the value add of NFPW — the friendships one forms. The members may start off as peers or colleagues, but over time and through conferences and phone calls and yes, now through Facebook and this blog, they become friends.

Many of us went to dinner together last night and we all laughed as the waiter asked each of us if we were alone. To provide context, he was trying to determine how many people to put on each check. “Yes, we’re alone in a crowd,” we said.

And we looked at each and busted out laughing. How could we be alone when we were sitting with our friends?

These past few weeks I’ve learned of members battling cancer, recovering from a broken hip, coping with an ill husband. I worry about each member as if she were a family member.

And that’s what NFPW is really about. It’s more than conferences, contests, networking. NFPW is a family. And this family I picked. How fortunate I am!

I can’t wait for our next reunion in Chicago!

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I Am a Proud Member of NFPW

I am a proud member of NFPW!

That’s the theme that emerged from an afternoon that focused on membership. Why did we join? Why did we stay? How do we recruit and retain members?

We broke into four groups and listed ideas and then collectively shared them. They’ve all been placed on a list, and then we narrowed that list. Each of us had six stickers that we could place on any of the items.

In first place was “proud member.” We should be sharing our membership on our Facebook pages, we should join the NFPW group on Linkedin. One thing I do is to include in my e-mail signature that I’m president of NFPW.

Several of us are wearing our NFPW logo wear. If you want a shirt, you can go to the Web and  purchase one.

Here are the other membership items we have agreed to focus on between now and the conference —

1) Develop an on-line calendar so all affiliate and national events are known by all members. Why? If I happen to be traveling to Idaho when a conference is being held, I may just attend. But I can’t, if I don’t even know about it.

2) Tout our national speakers. Our Vice President spoke to us in 2003 in Delaware. Best-selling novelists Adriana Trigiani and David Baldacci both spoke to us in 2007. Heloise spoke to us last year. If you were considering joining or attending a conference and knew you could hear from this caliber of speakers wouldn’t you want to get involved?

3) Recognize milestones with graphics to use on personal Web sites. This suggestion came from Sherry Stocking Kline. We recognize membership milestones at the national conference, but these banner graphics will allow members to post them on their Facebook pages, Web sites or email. It’s a way to recognize milestones and another way to say, “I’m proud to be an NFPW member!”

4) Offer buddy mentoring. At the Chicago conference each first-timer will be paired with a member who can provide them with information about NFPW, making the most of the conference and introducing them to other members.

5) Reach out to communications programs at universities. This will include several facets, including inviting professors to speak at affiliate and national conferences, recruiting members, sharing our expertise with university claases, featuring college students who place in the communications contest in the newsletter and developing internships during the conferences. We have more work to do in developing this one.

6) Get personal! Social media allows us to communicate quickly but it’s not always personal. You’ll be seeing a lot more handwritten notes in the coming months. We want our members to know they are valued and not simply a number.  

Taking the “Get Personal” approach one step further, we’re going to change how the conference is organized. You’ll find that the head table will be much smaller because your board is going to “Get Personal.” We’re going to sit with our fellow members so we can hear first-hand how things are going for you.

7) Schedule more events and include younger and newer members in the planning. When you get involved with an organization and have a role to play, you are more likely to stay active. Just ask any one of us on the board. We also want fresh ideas so we’re going to collect some of the great seminars from affiliates and post them so that other affiliates can steal the idea for their seminars.  

This is just the beginning. Once we get these ideas implemented we’ll move on to others. And if you have more suggestions, send them our way.

We’re not done. Tomorrow we’re going to talk budget, conference and contest. Stay tuned!

What Is Your Value?

A new year brings a flurry of introspection and portfolio shifting. The business magazines write about where to place your money in the new year and what the trends are. They write about last minute tax savings.
One thing each of us can do as a member of National Federation of Press Women is invest in ourselves. We do that by renewing our membership. It’s an investment in yourself for today and for tomorrow.
For some the amount is a hardship, but if you think of the dues in terms of a monthly payment it’s about $10 per month or about $2 per week. Each of us is worth that much.
What will you do in 2010 to increase your professional value? Renewing your membership in 2010 is a valuable investment in yourself. Don’t delay. (And if you’ve entered the communications contest — another valuable investment — your 2010 dues must be paid to be eligible.)
As a good financial planner will tell you, invest in yourself first.
 

All I Want for the Holidays

I’m making my wish list and checking it twice. It’s a simple list.

1) More Members. I’d like to see our current members recruit more members to NFPW. I’m not interested in reaching some arbitrary goal for membership. I am interested in helping others navigate the communications field. NFPW offers a great annual conference, plenty of networking and a professional communications contest (deadline is rapidly approaching). At the affiliate level there  is more of the same — all designed to enhance your communications skills and experience. So why not recruit a colleague? Membership in NFPW is the gift that gives back year round. To learn more about membership, please visit http://nfpw.org/joinus.htm.

2) A trip to Chicago. Illinois Woman’s Press Association is hosting the NFPW conference in Chicago, Aug. 26-28. I’m looking forward to the learning, the networking and the sightseeing. Information about the conference and the pre- and post-tours is available online at http://nfpw.org/conference.htm. You can book your hotel room now, too. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

3) NFPW gear. What better way to let people know what a great organization NFPW is then through logowear. We’ve got a great collection, including polo shirts and vests. Wear it with pride. Go to the NFPW Web site at www.nfpw.org, click on members only and scroll to the bottom you can shop until you drop.

Happy Holidays!

NFPW — A Reason to Be Thankful

I’ve been a member of NFPW now for a bit more than 20 years, which is hard to believe. I’m thankful for that relationship.

As you consider whether to renew your membership, recruit new members or join us, here are some reasons why NFPW is worth it and why I am so thankful for it —

1) Professional development: The national and state conferences and workshops expose me to the latest in communications and put me in touch with some of the best in the business.

2) Networking: As noted above, I’m meeting people from all aspects of the communications field. When I reach out later to them for advice, they’re always happy to help.

3) Friendships: I don’t know of any other professional group where I have developed such close friendships. I look forward to catching up each year at conferences. And now through Facebook, we’re communicating more regularly. How fun!

4) Pre- and post-tours: Each year the NFPW conference is hosted by a different state affiliate. It’s a great way to see the country because the affiliate always offers tours. I enjoy learning about a state as told by someone who knows where to visit.

I could keep going, but I won’t because I’ve got to start cooking for the big day. Just know that I will be saying thanks for NFPW!

The Power of the Ask

“Just ask.” That’s my new motto.

A few years ago when Pam Stallsmith and I were co-chairing the 2007 NFPW conference, we knew we needed to raise funds. I’m not really good about asking for money, but if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get anything. And so taking Pam’s advice to “just ask,” I began my calls.

And then, I asked.

And most everyone gave.

As I was preparing to become president, I needed to find members to serve on the appointed board. Pam reminded me, “Just ask.”

Our members want to be asked. More importantly they understand the power of making NFPW stronger.

I called Teresa Ford in Colorado and asked if she would design our newsletter. I had been impressed by the design of the NFPW conference program in Colorado, which she had designed. I gave her time to think about it.

When I called back she said she was busy but would do it because she, too, is involved with volunteer groups and it’s hard to get people to volunteer. She didn’t want to be the one who didn’t.

I asked Linda Koehler to edit the newsletter. Texas was only her second conference but we had spoken last year — we connected because she is from my home state of Pennsylvania. She said yes.

Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas offered several excellent suggestions during our general meeting on membership. So… I asked her to join the board spearheading membership. She was a tough sell because she wanted to be sure we (or should I say I) was going to do what I said I would do as president. But I asked, and she said yes.

And so I’ll continue to ask.

I hope you’ll answer.

One New Member

Times are tough, and one of the first areas to be cut are membership dues. Businesses cut the expense and members often do, too. But don’t!

Think about what you are getting. NFPW connects you with about 1,500 other communicators. I can’t tell you how often I’ve reached out to members when I needed to hire a freelance writer or learn how to do something. Members also have helped guide me through the often murky waters of a job hunt or a new job.

Leadership opportunities abound. I cut my teeth on a newsletter for my state affiliate. I learned event planning because I coordinated several state conferences and, eventually, was co-director of the 2007 NFPW conference. Those skills translated when I had to coordinate quarterly awards ceremonies, National Night Out events, and milestone celebrations as part of my “other duties” in my job description.

So I hope you’ll renew when it comes time in the next several weeks. But more importantly, I hope that you will bring in a new member. Carol Clark, our newly elected secretary, came up with the campaign of “One New Member.” Your NFPW board committed to it — each of us is recruiting one new member. And those who attended the NFPW banquet Saturday night in San Antonio also heard the same challenge. 

Bring in one new member next year. Let’s grow this organization and share our resources, know-how, and networking with others.

Are you up to the challenge?