The famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson once went on a camping trip. They pitched a tent, went fishing, ate their dinner and prepared for bed.
As they lay down for the night, Holmes said: “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see.”
Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.”
“And what does that tell you?”
Watson, knowing his friend’s amazing power of observation and deduction, thought carefully before answering. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets,” he said. “Theologically, it tells me that God is great and we are small. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?”
Holmes answered calmly. “Watson, old friend, it tells me that somebody has stolen our tent.”
Sometimes we as Kiwanians fail to acknowledge and appreciate the most obvious things that have enriched our lives and those of others. Through my endeavors to be your International Vice President, I have observed one salient common denominator amongst my fellow Kiwanians. While Kiwanians do so many good deeds for so many people in need, we do not spend enough time letting the world know of our actions. We take it for granted that our altruistic efforts are noticed by the general public within our communities. While we should be humble in our humanitarianism, we should not hesitate to tell the Kiwanis story, for if we do not let others know how great it is to be a Kiwanian, we will not be able to carry on our rich heritage and future kindnesses.
“Kiwanis is a global organization dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time.” That defining statement not only identifies who we are, but is an ever watchful reminder of the challenge that we have undertaken to help our fellow man, not only now but also in the years to come. But we cannot accomplish those goals without scores of hands and minds dedicated to the Kiwanis ideals. Raising and keeping new members into our ranks is vitally important to maintaining our vibrant organization. That is why I pledge to earmark a significant amount of my focus toward getting the word out about Kiwanis through a public relations campaign that has been unequaled in the history of Kiwanis International.
In an earlier era, when the world seemed smaller and life simpler, Kiwanis was widely recognized in countless communities. Today, while the organization is still in many communities with strong and active clubs, the communications media has expanded dramatically, and a growing plethora of worthy causes and special-interest groups have risen to compete for the public’s attention and support.
The role of Kiwanis public relations is, therefore, more vital to a club’s success than ever before. If the communications explosion has made the job more challenging, it has also created a wealth of new opportunities. There have never been so many ways and opportunities to tell the Kiwanis story!
Public recognition of Kiwanis will benefit our clubs in a variety of ways. In the community, it will help to introduce prospective members to the organization and make it easier to solicit public support for Kiwanis service work. Within the club, it will help build pride in membership that leads to better meeting attendance, greater participation by members in fundraising and service projects, and stronger retention. Thus, public relations’ responsibilities fall naturally into two categories: external and internal.
External public relations is often equated with publicity, but it’s more than that. The basic purpose of external public relations is twofold: to increase recognition of the Kiwanis name and to increase public understanding of Kiwanis’ community-service role.
Internal public relations includes all those aspects of club life that create a positive attitude about Kiwanis among members. We must ensure that new members are recognized and made to feel at home, the Kiwanian who wins an honor is complimented on his or her achievement, and the Kiwanian who is ill is remembered with a card or visit.
Utilizing the Formula’s and the I-Plan’s objectives are winning strategies which will go a long way in enhancing Kiwanis awareness around the world. In these next few months and at the convention in Las Vegas, I look forward to sharing with you and learning from you, more ideas toward making our beloved Kiwanis International an even better organization.