By Stephanie Gibbons, Membership Chair
In the October newsletter the Membership Committee made a commitment to re-engage with our members. We did this by talking with you one on one, establishing a dialog with you. We also wanted to update your contact information and know that you and your appropriate officials are receiving information from JAG. Finally we wanted to remind you of all the benefits your membership in JAG entitle you to and to ask which benefits you were using and if they were of value to your media facility.
The good news is that with dedication and persistence we achieved a 73% member response. Thank you all for participating. It was revealed that several members were not receiving information from JAG due to either outdated contact information or a change in the personnel at their facility. This included not receiving meeting notices, the newsletter, or the ability to attend meeting and webinars. This needed to be our number one priority.
We also found that members didn’t have or no longer remembered the password to the members only section of the website. Over the last several months the External Relations Committee has been working very hard to update and add more information for members to use at their convenience. Little did we know that members didn’t have the password to all these assets. The password has since been provided to all paid members. If you do not have the password, please contact JAG’s Treasurer Linda Besink at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the pandemic changed how JAG functioned these past 14 months, it resulted in the organization making sure members were not left behind because of not being able to meet in person. JAG’s general meetings are now being offered virtually. This resulted in more members being able to attend meetings since the impediment of travel time no longer existed. We learned through the survey interviews that many members were happy to hear of this change and plan to attend more regularly.
Members who couldn’t attend meetings were also asking if recordings could be made. While we always provided informative vendor/product demonstrations at our meetings these have now become more accessible because they are now recorded and made available to view on the members only section of JAG’s website. You can watch them or re-watch as your schedule allows. Another benefit that was implemented was JAG Webinars. These informational presentations on legislative or operational issues are recorded and posted for members that could not attend. Another idea emerged because of the isolation of the pandemic. JAG began having Social Hangs which are informal networking opportunities for members to participate in roundtable discussions with other members.
The majority of the members who were interviewed had some awareness of most JAG benefits and they are using them in varying degrees. After more explanation of these benefits, most said they planned to make more regular use of them.
Here is just some of what the members had to say about the benefits of JAG:
• Fair Lawn – Dimitry Mikhaylov- “The vendor presentations and membership shared experiences are most important.”
• West Milford Twp. – Bob Nickleson- “The monthly meetings are valuable and I enjoyed networking with members, demos are informative when looking to buy products.”
• Bloomfield Township – Bob Duthaler- “Great tool for reaching out to membership when you have a question or need help.”
• East Brunswick Twp. – EBTV- Dave Ambrosy- “We can post product questions, announce a program we would like to share once it’s on the shared server.”
• Old Bridge Township OBTV – Mary Grahahan-“It’s a great value to be able to get such a variety of content; it’s the biggest asset of JAG and what I use the most.”
• Princeton Community Television – George McCullough- “I post & draw programing from Connect; it’s the single most important benefit of membership.”
• Oakland Communications Commission – Ryan Schwertfeger- “I read it almost every month and find it helpful as we can’t make meetings.”
• South Orange/Maplewood – Dustin Dumas- “It’s a good way to see what is happening in the organization.”
• C-Net – Cindy Hahn- “I have posed questions and have gotten answers.”
• Glen Ridge – Rich Waters- “I would be particularly interested in webinars on pending legislative matters.”
• North Brunswick TV – Craig Yesko- “Absolutely, seeing and touching the products helps immensely.”
• Ventnor City – James Pacanowski- “I have found them helpful in the event that my station needs those products later.”
• Edison TV – Mike D’Amato- “its great option when you can’t make the meeting.”
• South Orange/Maplewood – Dustin Dumas- “A good way to keep in touch and cover important topics on a casual basis.”
• South Brunswick – Ron Hoffman- “I know JAG can have answers if I need them.”
• Montclair State University – Adam Goldberg- “I attended the last one and found the trade show very useful, doing business with My Case Builder and working with Telvue to use AI bused CC system for the University.”
• George Bumiller – Independent Member- “A valuable benefit of membership, I learned about equipment at the trade show and enjoyed the workshops, I found it very informative.”
• Summit/Hometowne TV – Amanda Olsen- “I love the JAG awards, we have won many over the years. I’ll be happy to enter again.”
• East Brunswick Twp. – EBTV-Dave Ambrosy- “As part of the municipality we are always trying to save on expenses. JAG membership helps us do that with conference discounts and vendor pricing.”
• North Brunswick TV – Craig Yesko- “Who doesn’t like stretching our small budgets.”
• Piscataway Community Television – George Fairfield- ”It’s always a good idea to honor those who help make our industry better.”
• Perth Amboy – Dave Garb- “We desperately need to know what is going on in the Capitol that will affect PEG’s future.”
• South Brunswick – Ron Hoffman- “I’m personally impressed with all that JAG does!”
One of the final questions that was asked was, “What other benefits do you want or think JAG needs?”
Some of the requests were: More benefits for the individual producers, a resource database of JAG members who can help others with specific things (technology, etc.), a place for reviews of products like a mini version of yelp for vendor equipment and organizations, help with finding grants, a list of freelance production people throughout the state, and help with the recruitment/retention of volunteers and successfully engage with local HS volunteers. The Membership committee plans to review these requests in the upcoming months and present recommendations to the JAG Executive Board at their annual retreat.
Most recently we have addressed how to increase the communication within JAG to ensure every member is receiving emails from the board, has the ability to communicate with the membership using the JAG Listserv, are receiving JAG’s monthly newsletter, has access to JAG’s Members Only section of the website, receive reminders of JAG Connect for sharing programs, and that contact information is correct. Working with the Finance and the External Relations Committees all contact information has been updated, all members email contacts have been added to both the listserv and the newsletter, and all members will be made aware of JAG Connect that allows members the ability share their content.
We have also added two new member benefits: The Members’ Only section was enhanced with content and JAG recently launched a YouTube Channel for members to post content.
I want to again thank all those who participated in this important initiative and we continue to work on reaching out to you. I want to thank our committee members and volunteers who spent significant time emailing and making calls trying to reach the members, then conducting the interviews and finally providing me with the responses. They are Dustin Dumas – SOMA TV – who volunteered to help and committee members Bob Duthaler- Bloomfield, Dave Garb- Perth Amboy Schools, George Fairfield- Piscataway, Linda Besink- Oradell and Geoff Belinfante- West Milford.
One of the most important lessons the committee has learned from this vital outreach to the membership is the need for more communication with each other. JAG has to stay in touch with the members and as members you must tell us what you need from the organization, including both our successes and where we fall short. But we must continue to talk to each other. If we were not able to reach you for this survey, know that we still want your input. If you want to be interviewed, please contact me at email@example.com.