Posted by Robyn T. Braley
It’s back! From 2014-2018 I wrote 53 posts for Building The Rotary Brand. The District 5360 Learning Committee has asked me to bring back the series providing branding and marketing ideas for your club. BTRB will include relevant articles from before, plus fresh material addressing the challenges of today. Click to check out the topics that will be covered.
Written by Robyn T. Braley
From 2014 until 2018, I wrote monthly posts for a series called Building the Rotary Brand (BTRB). The series of 52 posts was packed full of ideas for growing your club.
The project evolved through conversations with Pat Killoran, who was our District Governor at that time. Each post was promoted through our District 5360 Newsletter. I also promoted the blog site with a dedicated Twitter account.
While it has been latent since 2018, you can still check it out. In the follower’s section, you will find people and clubs from around the Rotary World.
Some posts were promoted in Rotary International online media sites, and others were published in various Districts. Many Rotarians, clubs, and friends of Rotary engaged with the content by retweeting or commenting on it.
Something Old is New Again
The District 5360 Learning Committee has asked me to bring back the series. I will be updating existing posts and including relevant articles from my blog site, Brandit With Robyn.
Each post addresses branding and marketing ideas for your club. Some topics, like media relations or developing sustainable speaker programs, include 7-8 posts, enough for an eBook.
The content is drawn from my club, District, and career experience. Topics like these will be covered.
  • Developing a Sustainable Speakers Program
  • Social Media Basics
  • Media Relations in a Media-Convergent World
  • Public Speaking Tips
  • The Power of Sponsorship
  • Improve Your Zoom
  • Trade Show Marketing
  • Guerilla Strategies
The Importance of Rotary
Why is it important that we continue to Build the Rotary Brand? The answer is simple. To enable Rotarians to continue the important work of serving others.
Whether it’s building woodstoves in remote Guatemala, delivering clean water to communities in Honduras, Polio Vaccination missions, developing microfinance projects in El Salvador, installing toilets in the Dominican Republic, or funding schools in Nepal or Malawi, the work of Rotary is life-altering.
Local projects like volunteering at food banks, building parks, raising funds for literacy programs, providing scholarships for single moms living in poverty to finish high school, hosting refugee families from war-torn Ukraine, developing a hockey skills program for kids, funding a sophisticated communications system for a Domestic Violence organization, or building a backyard fence for an organization helping young women and men leave the street life, can radically change, and in many cases, save lives. 
No Magic Formula
In the post-pandemic world, the way to grow each club isn’t always straightforward. There is never a single element that will open the gates to healthy, vibrant, and energized clubs.
Every club is different. Every community is unique. The is no magic potion.  
As a Brand Specialist, I often tell clients that branding is a process of thematic thinking in which all parts contribute to the whole. In other words, the little things count as much as the big ones. It could be a smile and a welcoming handshake that leads to inducting a new member into your club.
The Challenge
Many thought we’d reach the end of the lockdown and things would snap back to the way they were before COVID-19. That didn’t happen.
In fact, in many circles, the needs are magnified! After the lockdown, some clubs resumed a full schedule of Rotary service without missing a beat.
Others have struggled and even lost members.
  • Meeting attendance is down
  • Volunteer engagement is down
  • Fundraising projects are curtailed
How is your club doing? Here is an unscientific measurement.
Have you noticed high volumes of emails pleading for volunteers to meet club commitments? Does the tone move from urgent to pleading? It’s the same with many organizations depending on volunteers.
The Opportunity
Where there’s a challenge, there is also an opportunity for Rotary. When you break it down, Rotary offers a beacon of light in a post-pandemic world.
During the lockdown, we were …
  • Isolated
  • Disconnected
  • Divided
  • Afraid
For each challenge listed, the Rotary experience offers an answer. Think about it! What do we do well that couldn’t be done during the pandemic?  
  1. We GATHER – For meetings, service projects, and committees.
  2. We TALK – About a variety of things. Sometimes even Rotary!
  3. We EAT – We do that well. When you eat together, you connect and build relationships.
  4. We DO – The act of ‘doing’ for others builds self-esteem, unity, and feelings of accomplishment.
An Experience to Remember
Last year was a year from hell for me health-wise. Literally and figuratively!
Between January and March, I was taken to emergency twice with heart issues. Both times I was placed in ICU and no one was sure I would be coming out.
I was in recovery until June. Then, my wife Meg and I both contracted COVID. She was sicker than she’d ever been in 50 years of marriage. Through the Grace of God, amazing medical care, a few miracle drugs, and Rotary engagement, I’m able to write this today.
An Unexpected Call
Allow me to explain the Rotary part. The first Rotary engagement came around 9:30 pm when I was in Calgary’s Rockyview Hospital. I was in a ward fresh out of ICU.
My phone rang! Who the heck would be calling me at that time of night?
It was my Calgary West buddy Orlin McMillan. The irony? Orlin was quarantined with COVID at the Peter Lougheed Hospital. His situation was complicated as he’d had a double lung transplant two years before.
He’d heard I was sick and was checking in to see how I was doing. That unexpected call meant a lot.
Hang Out With Positive People
The second Rotary experience was attending Calgary West meetings via Zoom. I like to say, if you want to be a positive person, hang out with positive people. Positivity rubs off!
Attending a Rotary meeting can cause you to see things differently. For example, you may have a huge career, business, or family problem! Attending your club meeting may be the last thing you want to do. 
That’s when it happens! The speaker, or someone at your table, may say something unrelated to your issue. But it triggers creative ideas that lead to solving your problem.
Rotary Conversations
I believe a third Rotary experience triggered the final stage of my recovery. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a committee that produces a program called Rotary Remembers, held each November 11th
Calgary Rotarians, families and friends gather to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and honour those who returned from Canada’s wars broken in body and spirit.
The first planning meeting was held in September 2022 in a local pub. We spent about a half hour talking business, then another 2 hrs. talking B.S. … errr … about other things.
That was the first time I’d participated in a live group conversation since January. I was energized and motivated. I believe engaging with my Rotary friends Jim, Doug, Anthony, Brian, Greg, and Roger - played a huge role in my recovery. We are all from different clubs.
When discussing Rotary with potential new members, we often focus on the big things and forget to discuss the personal side. I call those the soft benefits of Rotary.
Wrapping It Up
It will be fun reviving and revising the Building the Rotary Brand series. But, I’d also like your input. 
Last fall (2023), after presenting a District Learning Tutorial about social media, I was contacted by several clubs asking for insight into marketing their projects. I was happy to help.
Don’t be shy. Please contact me if I can help your club.
I’d also like to hear about unique marketing ideas implemented by your club. I will also welcome feedback to BTRB posts.
Phone: (403) 829 3349