Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Following is an article by Brother Mel Astrahan, a member of the Grand Lodge Board of Directors, and an active member of America Lodge #385. Mel has been the driving force in the development of IOOF television, and he writes an article about the further development of an IOOF public relations program at the national and/or state level. I think you will find his ideas quite interesting.
Personally, I am a believer in public relations. But let’s make sure that the cart follows the horse, and not the other way around. Odd Fellowship is not about the national organization or even the state organization. It’s ultimately about the members and the Lodge. No one joins Odd Fellows because of the national or state organization. People join Odd Fellows because they want to be a member of a particular Lodge and because of particular people in that Lodge that they know. So, even the best and most sophisticated PR campaign will be ineffective if the Lodge they ultimately find and consider joining is moribund and boring. No one wants to join a Lodge if all they do is sit around in a meeting once or twice a month and recite passages from a book. So, it seems to me that the first step in the process of evolution and change is at the level of our membership and our Lodges. When the members get along with each other in friendship, love and truth, and when the Lodge is active in the community and is a fun and welcoming place where members socialize and enjoy each others’ company – then those statewide and national PR campaigns can be truly effective.
F – L – T
Jurisdiction of California
Odd Fellowship on TV
by Dr. Melvin Astrahan, America Lodge #385, Pasadena CA.
Brother Dave Rosenberg, currently Grand Master of the jurisdiction of California, has often expounded a sound formula for increasing the membership of a lodge, namely a combination of history, ritual and an open door attitude that promotes social activities and charitable community involvement. He refers to a lodge that provides these fundamentals as being a three-dimensional lodge. There is no doubt that lodges that adhere to such a multi dimensional model will be the strongest and most attractive to potential new members, but adding members to a lodge here and there is only the beginning of what we ultimately need to accomplish to revitalize the Order.
In my opinion, it is unlikely that the current membership of lodges that are not already multi dimensional will change in any significant way. Such members are likely to be too comfortable with the status quo. In my opinion the best way to revitalize a moribund lodge is to find, attract and empower new leadership who actually want an active, multi dimensional lodge and are willing to work for it, and the best way to find new people is through public relations (PR), the practice of managing the spread of information between an organization and the public.
Although any individual lodge can develop its own PR programs, the benefits will be largely constrained to that lodge and its local community. A more efficient path will be to create a PR infrastructure at the national level where the costs can be shared across as large a number of lodges as possible and in return the results would immediately benefit lodges everywhere. The primary goals of such a “sovereign” PR division would be to develop name recognition for the Order and to portray membership in a positive and compelling light.
We live in a video centric society. If you are not on TV, you are essentially irrelevant. We need to establish a television presence through which to promote name recognition of the Order. For the past 60 years, the only notable, sustained, television presence on behalf of the Order has been our float in the Pasadena New Years Day Tournament of Roses Parade. This event is broadcast both live and delayed on several networks and reaches hundreds of millions of TV viewers. We receive about 1 minute of TV exposure every time the parade is broadcast. This is all fine and dandy, and well worthwhile, but it is only a drop in the bucket compared to what we need to be doing.
The future of television is video on demand internet streaming. Network broadcast television is on the wane and cable TV is rapidly being replaced by video on demand internet services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. If we want to become and remain relevant to millennials and later generations, ie people born after 1980, we need to establish a sustained internet TV presence, and the most important aspect of TV is viewing content. Millions of millennials will have had ancestors who were Odd Fellows, and at some point this demographic group will become interested in researching their ancestry. When they do, they will turn to the internet for answers, and they will be most impressed by video programs.
There currently exists very little video on demand content concerning Odd Fellowship. Most of what exists will be found on YouTube, and much of that is historical in nature, describing the origins of the Order with static pictures of what lodges and members looked like 100 years ago. We need compelling modern content, and we need a lot of it. Modern video content must show what Odd Fellowship and multi-dimensional Odd Fellow lodges are about today, presented in a format that leads viewers to be impressed by what they see and to compel them to become a participant rather than simply a viewer. To this end I have established as a demonstration project the first IOOF centric internet video on demand TV station, www.iooftv.org, whose primary goal is the creation and broadcast of modern IOOF related public relations video content. New content is added regularly.
To access IOOFTV you will need a relatively modern computer, an iPhone or similar smart phone, or an iPad or equivalent tablet device with internet access. Personal computers will require HTML5 capable web browser software such as the latest releases of Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome and an operating system such as Mac OSX, Windows 7, 8 or later. I encourage everyone to “tune in” to IOOFTV at www.iooftv.org and see what we have created thus far, and to improve upon it by creating and submitting additional content promoting Odd Fellowship, your lodges and your activities. For further information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
in FL&T Mel Astrahan