Whether you’re a large LMSC that needs newsletters to keep everyone in your entire region up-to-date, or a small workout group in a rural area that needs to connect about practice changes, you have options. This brief overview might give you some ideas on what methods will work for your LMSC, club, or workout group, and help you communicate with your members and directly with U.S. Masters Swimming. For connecting with your local media outlets to get publicity for your club, see Working With Your Local Media.
Finding volunteers who have strong writing skills and who are tech savvy can be challenging. Your club communications don’t have to be perfect, but the better they are, the more effective they’ll be. For anyone wanting to tune up their writing and editing skills, helpful information can be found in the USMS Publications Style Guide.
If you have either a knowledgeable and willing volunteer or a budget to hire someone to create and maintain a website, it’s a great place to park information about your organization—you can post practice times, calendars, event results links, technique articles. Websites can house photo libraries and preserve club history, celebrate swimmer accomplishments, and much, much more.
WordPress, one popular platform for creating websites, has advanced club management tools and features that enable the tech savvy coach or club admin to keep track of everything from dues to RSVPs for social events. There are also services such as Club Assistant, TeamUnify, and others that offer complete club management and event support, including a full website.
Some clubs use their websites for static information and complement it with a Facebook page for frequently updated information.
For more in-depth information about websites, see Effective Web Content.
>>>Please add the approved USMS logo on the front page of your website!
For small workout groups or clubs that might be unable to invest time or money into a traditional website, Facebook provides an excellent platform to communicate with your group. Most of your members probably already have individual Facebook accounts.
The coach, president, or other organizational leader should oversee the creation of the page and maintain administrative control. Other Facebook users can become administrators with varying degrees of access and permissions. Encourage all your members to like the page. Some clubs use Facebook as a way to highlight a “Member of the Week,” organize social events, or share images taken at their events.
With the Facebook Groups feature, private groups of coaches, support teams, or event organizers can also communicate with one another.
If you have a Facebook page and you’d like to share content with U.S. Masters Swimming, please feel free to post to USMS’s fan page.
>>>Please like U.S Masters Swimming on Facebook!
Twitter is a great way to interact with your surrounding community. Media outlets, city and county governments, visitors’ bureaus, sports teams, local businesses, and many other types of community organizations interact with each other on Twitter. Jumping into this mix might mean that your club gets more publicity. Engaging on Twitter can also lead to partnerships or introductions to potential sponsors, such as local restaurants. It’s also a great way to thank your local sponsors.
If your swimmers use Twitter, it can serve as a quick way to let them know of a last-minute practice cancellation. If you have news of local or national interest or just something fun to share, call out USMS @MastersSwimming
>>>Please follow U.S. Masters Swimming on Twitter!
Large LMSCs and clubs often use newsletters to keep their members up to date about events, results, clinics, and other information. LMSCs can help clubs and workout groups publicize their events to the swimmers most likely to attend by including this type of information in monthly or quarterly updates. Some LMSCs solicit updates from all their clubs and use that as additional content.
Coaches can contribute technique articles or workouts as well. Some clubs and LMSCs have regular columnists with subject-matter expertise who contribute articles on health, sports medicine, fitness, dryland training, etc. And member profiles are always a nice way to recognize your members.
Although some clubs still prefer to email PDF attachments or print and mail their newsletters, newsletters are most effectively distributed using an email service such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. These and others often have low- or no-cost plans for small organizations.
A Word About Copyright
Websites, newsletters, and other marketing and promotions collateral are great for communicating with your members and recruiting new members. But it's important to remember that even in this age of freely available content on the Internet, copyright still holds power and violating it could land you or your club in hot water.
Copyright sounds complicated but it's actually a rather basic concept: Creators of any piece of writing, art, or photography hold the copyright to their creation upon its creation. So what does that mean for volunteers working on club and LMSC communications? It means you always have to get permission from creators before you use their content. Some content creators may request payment for use of their materials, others may not.
In addition, it's never a good idea to simply copy an article or image you find online. If you do, you or your club could find out the hard way how scrupulously some content creators guard their copyrights.
For online articles or blog posts, most authors would prefer that you provide an introductory blurb to their content and then send your readers to the original article or post. Never copy and publish someone else’s written intellectual property on your site or in your newsletter without getting permission to do so.
If you find an image online that you'd like to use, you must first secure permission from the content creator and then you must properly credit their contribution in your publication.
That said, there are a few sites online that offer freely available content. Wikimedia Commons is a great one that offers guidelines for attribution for a range of different uses for each image uploaded to the site. Pixabay is another stock photography site that offers free, high-quality images to users under Creative Commons licensing. There are also paid image sites such as BigStock and iStock where you can purchase professionally produced photos and illustrations at inexpensive rates.