Part 3 – Hungry like the wolves

In this, the first RotaryBlogger post of 2016 we wonder what the New Year will bring in terms of the good, the bad and the ugly of Rotary International, particularly in the Great Britain and Ireland territory.

So as we left 2015 embroiled in the RotaryGBI Presidential Campaign it seems we move into the New Year with the same topic still in the minds of many. As the Clubs return after the festive season break they will start to consider where they will put their ‘X’ in the ballot paper in terms of electing the individual who will become their leader in three years time.

In the interest of fairness it is appropriate to name all the eligible candidates. So the runners and riders are David Ellis (Salford and Swinton); Graham Jackson (Irlam) and Mukesh Malhotra (Hounslow).

However, readers of the blog will be well aware that the remaining candidate Debbie Hodge from the Rotary Club of Ware is the candidate who has effectively been put forward as the ‘preferred’ candidate by the RotaryGBI Selection Advisory Committee (SAC) under the chairmanship of former Rotary International Director and National Past President Mike Webb.

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Has the festive season meant the whole Presidential Election debacle has slipped from the radar? It would seem not – the wolves are circling ready to pounce

There also remains the issue whereby many believe the SAC have actually breached Rotary’s own rules and regulations by naming Debbie Hodge – with some seeing this as overt canvassing [by the SAC] on behalf of one candidate over the others. Having reflected on the way things have been done – it seems difficult to establish how naming one candidate before the others doesn’t actually breach the non-electioneering rules. But again, this remains to demonstrated at some point in the future by the Committee who clearly believe it to be otherwise.

In previous years the ‘preferred’ candidate has always won through to victory and become national President. However taking into account the anecdotal information and comments being received by RotaryBlogger.co.uk from across these islands it is not Debbie Hodge who appears to be out in front; but one of the other names seems to be continually coming to the fore. So could this be the year where we see the apples from the cart rolling down the street at the end of January? Only time will tell…

The other issue that remains a talking point is the disallowed joint application from Nick Corke and Mike Jackson aka ‘Corkeson‘ – where both had applied on a ‘job-share’ set-up to take the role on the basis that ‘two heads are better than one’ and far more can be achieved.

RotaryBlogger has obtained information that would have featured in Corkeson manifesto had their application been allowed to progress to the next stages and it makes for interesting reading.

In their ‘manifesto’ they refer to internal reform – perhaps the biggest and most noticeable being that of job-sharing the Presidency. And as well as asking for ‘fundamental change’ and full review of large-scale Assemblies they went on to say,

The continued use of the same broken model will not get us the reforms necessary.”

Corkeson were also looking to make big moves into the corporate sector seeing the benefits of pulling a Rotary ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ programme together on a nation-wide basis – as well as looking to maximise collaboration with other organisations where Rotary has a connection.

Their manifesto also went on to consider Rotary’s relationship with external charities. The Corkeson partnership picking up on a very current topic regarding how much of the charity pound is actually dedicated to being spent on the work of the organisation and not going towards administration or senior management salaries.

The Corkeson manifesto looked at other areas including; innovative ways to increase members; promotion of satellite clubs; the generation of a Rotary Football Fellowship and the creation of Rotary Members Health Benefits.

However, interestingly though it is not their policies but the previous RotaryGBI processes which seem to be giving the joint-application ‘doubters’ the licence to make their comments against having a job-share President at RotaryGBI. Comments being received,

Well if they can’t get the process right for one President – how are they going to manage it with two?” or “Club Rotarians don’t care that much about the Rotary President so why would it be any different if there was two of them?”

So whether or not as a reader you agree with the Corkeson application – the irony is that in what is probably one of the most forward thinking and radical challenges to the ‘norm’ – it appears to be the processes from the past that continue to dissuade and disengage individuals from paying attention to what Corkeson is proposing leaving the duo a potentially difficult challenge to persuade Regular Rots of their validity.

So we have a few more weeks to go in the Presidential election campaign for 2018/19 and it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. As a representative from RotaryGBI explained – they hoped individual clubs would vote with integrity and not in a way designed to give the ‘establishment’ a bloody nose – which is all very well and good.

However, that same establishment must realise that the patience of Regular Rots (albeit perhaps only those interested in the process) is now starting to wear thin. Undoubtedly something needs to be done to address the increasing concerns and views that it is merely hollow words and promises escaping out of Alcester in terms of the change and modernising agenda. And in no way should the current feelings be underestimated nor swept under the carpet.

The wolves are once again circling with an increasing hunger. It would be folly for those in positions of influence not to pay close attention to what could quickly becoming an every decreasing wolf-circle…

Images by Ronnie Macdonald by CC

 

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Does Rotary actually ‘get’ blogs?

4351730264_0728bbc2a5_oLet’s be clear from the offset this week – this post is not a whinge from a blogger not getting the just recognition he thinks he deserves – but once again relates to Rotary’s attitude to online communications.

Readers of RotaryBlogger.co.uk may not realise that many of the posts published online contain information and comments gleaned directly from the public relations departments in both Evanston and Alcester where necessary – and for which RotaryBlogger.co.uk is certainly most grateful.

However, on occasion I have been disappointed to have had to wait literally a number of weeks to get a reply to my requests for information. With this situation applicable on both sides of the big pond – albeit that the responses from Evanston have certainly become much better over more recent requests.

So, on the basis this blog has questioned Rotary’s understanding and buy-in to social media – the above begins to pose the question as to where the organisation positions itself with online blogging?

You see, I am pretty certain that if my email address had @telegraph.co.uk or @bbc.co.uk or @wsj.com at the end then I most certainly would not have been waiting as long as the three weeks I have had to in the past. Unfortunately mine just says @rotaryblogger.co.uk so perhaps is not as important to the press officers in the respective PR departments.

Now a quick google search of ‘Rotary Blogs’ places RotaryBlogger consistently in the top 3 after blogs specifically related to Rotary.org (Rotary International’s official website). A quick scroll down the page and you’ll come across the blogs of Jim Henry and Ken Solow who both write similar but slightly different blogs to RB. However, there are many, many other Rotary related blogs to be found that are associated with clubs and districts and appear to be written as an alternative, replacement or addendum to their regular websites.

Perhaps I may take this opportunity to reassure those working in the respective departments that bloggers such as myself, Jim and Ken are not simply individuals with nothing better to do with their time. We are serious online contributors who just happen to be writing about Rotary on a regular basis – isn’t that what we are looking for as an organisation? All of the blogs also serve as a virtual ‘water cooler’ for Regular Rots to chat around the topic for the day.

So perhaps treat our requests for information in the same way as you would for a request from any other media outlet – and not leave us hanging for weeks and weeks waiting on a response. Treat us the way you would if you got a telephone call from the BBC asking for information for this lunchtime’s Jeremy Vine show.

Therefore as online blogs continue to grow at the same time as traditional written publications seem to be declining it seems to be a fools game for the Rotary PR departments to ignore their potential impact.

RotaryBlogger.co.uk uses the WordPress platform to publish the site – and on a monthly basis 409 million people view over 19.8 billion pages purely on WordPress blogs. Just for clarity that’s 409,000,000 people viewing 19,800,000,000 pages each month and you are currently one of next months statistics.

Again on purely the WordPress platform is exhibits around 56.3 million posts each month with each of them attracting around 59.3 million comments. So this means that this post will be one of those 56 million and if you add a comment at the end you’ll be one of the 59 million people who do so. Remember, these figures don’t include the many sites located on Google’s free ‘Blogger’ site or numerous other blogging websites available on the interweb.

So if nothing else, these figures should demonstrate that Rotary should not and must not be underestimating online blogs and their role in the social media family.

From hereon the respective PR departments should perhaps extend a little more ‘media courtesy’ to the online writers as they would offer to the newsprint writers or broadcasters. Remember the ‘shelf-life’ and readership’s right to reply is far, far greater with the blogs than something that is going to find itself in the recycling bin in a matters of days or weeks.

 

Image by Alanmodestuff by CC