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BY TONY DOLLE
Sometimes these columns are less about what an OWAA president has to say about a topic and more about what I call “housekeeping items” – items worth discussing, but not worth an entire column by themselves. While it is often hard to choose what to talk about, that’s not the case this month.
Growing OWAA’s member numbers has been a goal of mine since I joined this great group some 30-plus years ago. As president, it has moved higher on my priority list than ever before. That said, I think I have failed to make it as much of a priority during the first half of my term as I should have.
That will not be the case for the next six months. On a regular basis I intend to prod, poke, gouge, push, shove and drag, if necessary, qualified members into this organization. I challenge the Board and committee chairs to do the same. This is something we must all do to insure the secure future of OWAA.
This fall, Board members made phone calls to folks who had dropped out of OWAA, asking them to rejoin. If they declined, Board members asked why. This action, suggested by former Board member Jim Foster, was a new follow-up measure taken shortly after OWAA HQs sent out approximately 200 renewal packets. That was a great idea and the effort opened the eyes of Board members who made the calls.
OWAA’s Membership Drive was launched in October. Right now, based on the number of members entered in the raffle, the odds are in your favor to win any of the eleven prize packages (turn to page 12 for details). Deadline is Feb. 1.
Let’s face it: None of us are getting any younger. We need new blood in this group and we need it now! I challenge each of you to bring a new member into the organization.
We need to practice better transparency as an organization. I’m asking our Executive Director to publish our board meeting agenda on OWAA’s website at least seven days prior to the Board meeting, earlier if possible. Our membership should know what topics we plan to discuss.
I’m also instituting measures to make sure critical changes to larger, popular programs within OWAA are published on the website, allowing our members to comment before the changes are made.
Two recent program changes – switching OU to a digital format and the EIC overhaul – probably should have had better member input. The fires that have to be put out because of members’ reactions to these changes are large. Being more transparent with these changes would have likely alleviated many members’ angst. Even if it wouldn’t have, there is no reason for OWAA to operate in a vacuum. While we don’t intend for that to happen, unfortunately it often does.
But that’s easily rectified with better transparency, and that starts today.
In recent discussions with some OWAA Supporting Groups, I was surprised by a recurring topic: OWAA members don’t send tear sheets, hardcopy or electronic, like they used to. And, one supporter told me, that’s not cutting it with his boss. A lack of tear sheets makes it harder each year to sell his boss and others at his company on the value of renewing their support of OWAA. I thought sharing tear sheets was a no-brainer. Everybody always does it, right?
Apparently, it doesn’t matter if it’s about a Supporter or location; tear sheets have become as rare as Bigfoot sightings. Tear sheets from our members appear to be nothing more than a fabled myth these days.
When OWAA HQs presents tear sheets as part of the bidding process for a conference location, potential bidders see the amount of press coverage generated from hosting an OWAA conference. Sharing tear sheets is paramount to the availability and affordability of pre- and post-conference trips. The value of potential tear sheets encourages a conference site, the respective CVB and other businesses to provide more perks to OWAA conference goers.
Long-time friend Bill Vanderford tells me that sending tear sheets is a ritual for him. I believe it. Bill sends tear sheets no matter how large the article or story. He sends them electronically these days – it’s easier, he says. In all the years I’ve known him, he’s never failed to get a tear sheet out within a reasonable amount of time. For him, it pays off with work assignments and invites to some pretty cool places.
When I was a newspaper editor at a small Missouri daily, my outdoor page consistently contained product information. Former Remington public relations guru Dick Dietz regularly sent me firearms to test and write about. I once asked Dietz why he sent them to me, since I knew I wasn’t influencing that many people (the paper’s circulation was about 15,000).
“It’s the tear sheets,” he told me at the SHOT Show one year. “You send them every time. Can’t say that about others.”
I’ve never forgotten those words and, like Vanderford, I’ve never forgotten to send tearsheets.
Whether hard copy or electronic, the form in which you send the tear sheets isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you send them. ♦
— Tony Dolle, OWAA President firstname.lastname@example.org