On 28th August John Isles introduced us to James Lovatt who is the online marketing specialist for Rotary International Britain and Ireland (RIBI). He is also a Rotarian and member of Click4Action. Their conversation continues here.
John: Welcome back James, let me start now by asking apart from work and your interest in charities what other interests do you have?
James: As well as my interests in protecting human rights and international development, I come from a very sporty background and am passionate about Motorsport and football – primarily Wolverhampton Wanderers. My Dad was an apprentice for seven times Isle of Man winner Tony Rutter so I’ve grown up with motorbikes….and it makes commuting a bit more fun!
John: In your role within RIBI I would love to know your views on how we communicate and are we in fact diluting our message by having and using so many different channels. For example Websites, Facebook, Twitter etc., etc.
James: When considering how to communicate to potential members, I ask myself one question – where do potential members spend most of their time? If the answer is social media, mobile or on their smart tablets, then that is where we need to be sharing our message. We want working people to become part of our membership and the likelihood is those people are either travelling or behind a computer, or both.
How do you drive traffic to your website (which I believe is a vital resource)? Online/social media plays a big part and what many people in the business world have realised with online media you can be on all these communication channels with a simple click or two. If the website is set up correctly, it can automatically populate social media for you requiring little or no effort on your part. A website is so important nowadays, but an outdated website can do even more damage than good hence the recent need to undergo the renovation of the www.ribi.org website. In fact, the website can provide the key tools to convert a conversation into a member. Rotary isn’t as well-known as it used to be, and those that do know quite often don’t understand what Rotary does. So the more we can educate and use online media to get other organisations or our partners to help the better for us.
John: That’s great but what about those members who don’t use the Internet and Social Media?
James: We have a number of members who aren’t computer savvy, so this is why we have offline forms of communications like Rotary Today, to complement the over 75%* of our membership that are online (*qualified by them having an email address). Whilst we need to make sure we have effective communications with our members, we have to continue to think of those that are coming into our organisation too. eClubs offer a fantastic alternative but like communications they are there to complement the existing “product”. eClubs are still Rotary clubs in their own right they just use a different methodology to get the same results. Critically for Rotary they offer the flexibility required of today’s world meaning just 2-3 hours free hours a month can be used to great effect. Social media is part of that process and it’ll keep evolving beyond Facebook or Twitter one day. We just need to stay on top of the game and make sure we continue to drive the community development we want to see by making Rotary as accessible as possible. The “Y generation” are now predicted to give more to charity than any other age group in 2015, so we mustn’t kid ourselves that they don’t want what Rotary offers – they do. They just need to see Rotary as the vehicle to amplify a simple donation or voluntary hours into something that can do so much more when people come together.
John: Finally let me ask you a couple of ‘off the wall’ questions. What book and piece of music you would take on holiday?
James: Given that my holiday of choice would be somewhere in South East Asia, my choice of book would be the heart wrenching story of my friend Zoya Phan who was until recently a refugee in this country having escaped war in Karen state, Eastern Burma. I had the great pleasure of inviting her to talk to my Rotaract club in early 2012 and got to know her as a friend whilst I was in London.
The bit of music I’d take has to be “I Giorni by Ludovico Einaudi” which prior to our documentary music being created was the backing music during a couple of scenes. Very reflective music that has a lot of meaning attached to it for me. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with Don McLean (which I realise makes me sound 57 not 27!).
John: And lastly, If you could invite one celebrity to a dinner party who would it be and why:
James: John Pilger. Having been the first western journalist to arrive on the scene after the Khmer Rouge were defeated in Cambodia, and on the scene in countless other disasters, I’m sure the stories over the dinner table would be jaw dropping. I visited Cambodia in 2012 (when my Mum had become the national equestrian coach for them) and found the human behaviour bewildering.
John: Thanks so much for sharing your story and insights with us and we look forward to seeing developments within RIBI over the coming months and years.
Look out for next month’s speaker Mary Cohen Chamber Orchestra member bringing life enhancing experiences to children. To be published 2 October 2014.