London Communications: What’s next?
By W Bro Omaid Hiwaizi SLGR
It’s been a busy and unpredictable year since I was invested as Metropolitan Communications Officer. A year when communicating has become more critical than ever before. The team has worked hard to promote the work of Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter during these unprecedented times, and I thank them all individually for their creativity and tireless effort in engaging our members through to inspiring the public.
Arena enhanced with Arena Online
With the suspension of Masonic activity and the closure of our centres, our distribution channel for the printed magazine disappeared. Fortuitously, the Hermes membership data cleaning project took place in London, which provided an accurate email address for the majority of our members. This set the scene for the launch of Arena Online, a mobile-friendly email version of the magazine, with full articles placed on the website. These emails attracted a staggering 50% open rate, with many thousands of clicks through to articles. As a result, the email version will continue alongside the printed magazine after the present restrictions end.
The Arena editorial team, led by W Bro Rod Glyn-Thomas and Bro Seb Giroux, also had to think differently to continue to produce engaging stories, as a large part of the regular copy had disappeared as a result of the suspension of Masonic activity. They achieved this by covering the practical assistance given by Freemasons in their local communities and reporting on the financial support to large and small charities. Thanks in particular to W Bros Adrian Fox, Tony Shepherd and my deputy Trevor Koschalka for ‘shaking the tree’ to create this content.
Our stories have been brought to life with striking photography by W Bro Daren Lewis and wonderful, emotive video footage shot and edited by W Bro Eddy Kirk. This is a key objective as we return to some sort of normality.
Local Media coverage
Our Media Manager, Bro Adrian Hodgson, has built a good relationship with the Local Media, promoting our charitable contributions in London – ranging from large grants from the London Freemasons’ Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, through to local initiatives like the Meals Initiative undertaken by the team in the West London Masonic Centre.
London local media is very fragmented and therefore challenging to engage with, but we are focusing on this as an area we plan to develop further.
Coverage of the West London Masonic Centre’s meals initiative in the Ealing Times
A focus on digital: Social Media and the Website
With the retirement of Porchway, our primary channels for sharing news have been through the website, social media and Arena Online, which of course means that all our ‘stories’ are now in a public forum, which demonstrates that we have nothing to hide. The website is managed by W Bro Chris Alderson, our webmaster, with the support of W Bro Phil Elder to update content. We are developing a new website, with the objective of maximising engagement and ease of updating, that will function well on both mobile and desktop devices. Watch this space!
Our social media platforms, managed by Bro James ‘Macca’ Macdonald (Facebook and Twitter) and Bro Adrian Hodgson (Instagram), are very active and viewed by a vast Masonic and non-Masonic audience. They have now all been consolidated under the “London Masons” banner to make them clearer and easier to find. We have a lively Facebook Group in addition to our Twitter and Instagram accounts – which I encourage you to follow and engage with. In addition to this, we are building a YouTube channel.
The London Fire Brigade arial platform post on Facebook has reached over 540K people
Thank you to the whole team, whether named above or not, for their tremendous efforts. We have achieved a lot.
Looking forward: What’s next?
As a marketing strategist in my ‘day job’, I always start planning by setting some objectives:
- 1. More engaged membership: Inspire current members to make the most of their membership.
- 2. More members: Increase interest amongst suitable prospects.
- 3. Normalise Freemasonry: Create a positive impression in broader society.
Creating content that engages
Ongoing, we will generate content with these objectives in mind to create pride amongst the membership and be positive and exciting to prospects and the wider community. The key to this is endeavouring to connect the story to the bigger cultural context, whenever possible – for example, Freemasons volunteering to help with the vaccination programme.
As part of this, we need to increase the number of photographers and videographers in the team. If you would like to make an impact and have experience in these areas, please get in touch with me at email@example.com.
We’d love to hear more about what our members and their Lodges and Chapters are doing – whether a charitable donation, someone volunteering or fundraising through to a son initiating his father or people from different religious or cultural backgrounds joining in together. Please take some images with a phone or digital camera and email a summary to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Focus on key channels
This year we’ll focus on a critical channel that will “up the ante”.
- – Local Media – further engaging the broad selection of local papers and websites, generally run by part-time staff. How can we get their attention more often and create more coverage?
- – Social Media – we have an extremely strong presence on Facebook in particular. But how can we push the envelope and achieve more?
- – Discover Freemasonry – build on the success of the February 2020 social media campaign and event, using paid advertising on Facebook. Repeat this successful occasion to attract 100s of potential members.
The Discover Freemasonry event on 6th February 2020 with 300 members of the public is introduced by Sir Michael Snyder
How to make an impact in London
To achieve our goals, we need to expand the
team with people who have expertise, time and a wish to make an impact in London Freemasonry.
- – Media Relations – Do you work in PR, or are you a Journalist with experience with local media? Could you help our Media Manager get more coverage in London?
– Photographers – Are you a professional photographer or a skilled amateur? Could you help us capture major Masonic events or important moments?
– Videographers – Do you make and edit videos? Could you help us tell emotive stories about London Masonry and the work we do?
– Social Media – Do you have experience in actively managing and leveraging social media channels? Could you help the team grow their reach and engagement?
– Secretary – Could you help organise team meetings for this busy and exciting group?
– Arena Contributor – Are you a journalist or a copy editor? Could you write articles on what is happening close to you, or report on special events?
Please email me at email@example.com – I’d love to hear from you if you can get involved.