Together we make a profound difference

BEST PRACTICE: Lodge rejuvenation

HOW-TO: Get your lodge in the local news

Partners in education

New Masters and Wardens Retreats

Resources

Question of the month

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BEST PRACTICE: Lodge rejuvenation

The Lodge Support Committee helps lodges identify challenges and create solutions. The committee partners with lodge leaders to assist with leadership development, financial planning, and community awareness programs, to name a few.

Big Bear Lodge No. 617 welcomed the partnership, and is thriving as a result.

Master D. Steven Combs explains:

Background

Big Bear Lodge is a historic lodge in a mountaintop community, isolated from our neighbor lodges by an hour in every direction. We’re very small - just 60 members - with only about a dozen active brothers.

Two years ago, the lodge was struggling with more than just numbers. I was master at the time. The chair of the Lodge Support Committee called me, introduced himself, and we began talking about how to turn things around. Our leadership team brainstormed a campaign to rejuvenate the lodge, and started communicating closely with Grand Lodge.

It’s working. Here are some of our tactics.

Use your support network

  • Lodge Support Committee: Bill O’Brien, chair of the Lodge Support Committee, reached out to us first. He spent a lot of time with me on the phone, and visited four or five times. He brought a member in to advise us on our hall association. He brought in another member to help present our first On The Level event.
  • Inspector and AGL: I’m on the phone almost every week with my inspector, talking about what’s going on in the lodge, and have a good line of communication with my AGL. They’re very accessible: All you have to do is ask.
  • Grand Lodge: When we needed press information, we contacted Grand Lodge and they got it to us right away.

Define your goals

  • Team-building: One goal was to develop our leadership team. In particular, I wanted to prepare the junior and senior wardens to take over. Along with our past master, we’ve worked together closely and had tremendous success. (For help building your leadership team, attend the new Masters and Wardens Retreats this spring.)
  • Emphasis on events: Another goal has been to do a community activity every month, whether it’s a Chamber of Commerce chili cook-off, a Halloween event, Child ID, or breakfast at the lodge. This keeps us active and out there in the community.
  • Member metrics: We set an ambitious goal to add two new members every year. We did it this year and we’ll do it again. It’s a major accomplishment for a lodge this size.

Draw on member strengths

  • Communications expert: Our junior warden is our communications expert. He prompted us to join the Chamber of Commerce. He also came up with a plan to promote our On The Level event in the local media.
  • Networking: Our junior warden is also a local TV personality. I’m a doctor. Because we’re genuinely excited about Masonry, we always find opportunities to talk about it. One of my patients works for the local radio station, and invited us on the air to talk about why we’re Masons and what we do. Another patient is a newspaper reporter. I worked with her to develop informational articles about Masonry (see “More media coverage,” below).

Promote the lodge

  • In the news: To advertise our On The Level event, we put together an eight-week series of articles in the local newspaper. (For example, this article ran the week before the event.) It was paid advertising, structured as informational stories about Masonry. Using information provided by Grand Lodge, I sat down with the reporter to develop the weekly blurbs. The paper also sent a reporter to On The Level, and ran an article after the event.
  • More media coverage: Lodge leaders have been on the local television station a dozen times or so in the past couple years, thanks to our junior warden; we also ran a commercial promoting our On The Level event for two weeks prior to the event. We made two radio appearances, as well.
  • Chamber of Commerce: We joined the Chamber of Commerce. Anytime we have an event, they advertise it through a news e-blast to chamber members.

Participate in the community

  • Form partnerships: Ski season brings a lot of tourism to the area. Our junior steward is working with local businesses to promote our town and host an information booth at an upcoming ski and snowboard show.
  • Reach out to other groups: Last year we invited speakers from other organizations - Rotary, the Elks, the school district, and the historical society, to name a few - to speak at stated dinners. This helped us learn more about them, and vice versa.
  • Sponsor programs: We have sponsored several community arts programs, such as a talent show and a musical review. We’re in discussions to add a summer theater festival, which will be widely promoted in tourism publications.
  • Grand Lodge events: When we heard our inspector talking about the Inspectors School of Instruction, we offered to sponsor it. We had a great time.

Bring it all together
The Lodge Support Committee gave us the tools to turn the lodge around. They flicked the switch; we got to work.

With the help of the committee, we held our first On The Level event in September. There were 22 attendees - a great turnout for a community this size. We already received two applications, and we’re planning another On The Level for November.

We’re starting to turn the corner.

For more information, contact Steve Combs: stevecombs459@hotmail.com.

 

Contact the Lodge Support Committee at bill_obrien@freemason.org. Please note: The committee can only engage a lodge with the approval of the grand master.

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HOW-TO: Get your lodge in the local news

Newspapers, radio, news blogs, and even television are tools to increase your lodge’s visibility in the community. Plus, positive media coverage helps cultivate an accurate perception of Masonry among the general public.

Here’s how to approach your local media outlets.

1. Have an angle: Think of a lodge event or story idea that connects to the community.

2. Contact the media: Try one of these methods.

  • Media alert
    • What it is: Requests a journalist, photographer, or both to attend your event.
    • How to create one: Do research about which media outlet (newspaper, radio, TV, or blog), section, and journalist are best for the story. Email a brief description of the upcoming event or story idea and follow up with a phone call.
    • TIP: Most media outlets are flooded by story ideas, so keep your description short and to the point. Start with a catchy subject line, then put major points in the first paragraph and background information in the second paragraph. Use bullets to highlight important information.
  • Press release
    • What it is: Notifies local media about an event that has already happened.
    • How to create one: Download the template and do your research about which media outlet and section is appropriate. Email the press release (include a photo, if possible), and follow up with a phone call.
    • TIP: Include two to three quotes from event organizers or attendees.
  • Ad
    • What it is: Purchases space in print, on the air, or online to advertise a lodge event, celebrate an accomplishment, or show support for the community.
    • How to create one: Contact the media outlet’s advertising department.
    • TIP: Good public relations can be as simple as buying ad space in the local high school’s yearbook.

3. Provide background information: The Masons of California Press Kit was designed to educate the media about our history, charitable services, and other frequently asked questions. Link to it every time you email a media representative.

4. Prepare to be Googled: The first thing a journalist may do is search for your lodge online - yet another reason to have an up-to-date website. Include the following on your lodge website:

  • Photos and videos of recent activities
  • Lodge history
  • Calendar with public events highlighted
  • Reliable contact information
  • Links to freemason.org and the Masons of California Facebook page

 

Have we forgotten something? Email suggestions to communications@freemason.org with HOW-TO: Get your lodge in the local news in the subject line.

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Partners in education

Until recently, limited academic research and coursework was devoted to the subject of Freemasonry. That changed in 2008, when the Grand Lodge of California partnered with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The partnership sponsors research and the development of undergraduate courses at UCLA - and accelerated courses for the public - on the history of Freemasonry.

You’re invited
Next month, for the first time, Grand Lodge and UCLA will add another dimension to the partnership: They will co-sponsor an international conference.

International historians and Masonic scholars will examine Freemasonry’s influence in America and Latin America in historical and contemporary contexts.

International Conference on American & Latin American Freemasonry

  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 3
  • Time: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Location: UCLA Faculty Center, 480 Charles Young Dr. East, Los Angeles
  • Registration: The event is open to the public. A $20 registration fee includes coffee, tea, and lunch.

Register online here. For more information, contact Adam Kendall, collections manager, at 415/292-9137.

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New Masters and Wardens Retreats

In response to the strategic plan’s initiative to improve leadership and management throughout the fraternity, the wardens retreats have been restructured and expanded to include masters.

Formerly, the retreats were offered in separate segments for junior and senior wardens. The new retreats are designed for masters and wardens to attend together, and will focus on developing a stronger, more integrated leadership team for each lodge.

For the most productive experience, your lodge’s master, senior warden, and junior warden are encouraged to attend the same retreat, along with their wives or significant others.

Save the date for a retreat near you:

  • March 9-11: San Ramon
  • March 23-25: Newport Beach
  • April 20-22: Sacramento
  • May 4-6: Ontario

Look for registration information in the coming months. Contact Kim Hegg, program manager, at 415/292-9111 with any questions.

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Resources

By educating members about Masonic Assistance, you can make sure that your fraternal family knows where to turn when they need support. This section is designed to help.

The support services provided by Masonic Assistance have aided hundreds of vulnerable brothers and fraternal family members. California Masons who live out of state often don’t realize that they are eligible for these services, too.

This month’s resource is a special reminder to out-of-state members, and to all California Masons, about the support services they can access.

Trestleboard ad: Out-of-state member benefits
Run this ad regularly in your Trestleboard to remind brethren and Masonic widows - especially those who live out of state - that they are entitled to support services.

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Question of the month

Last month we asked if your lodge uses the Basic Education for Candidates booklets created by Grand Lodge. Of the 113 who responded:

52% - Masonic relative/friend
21% - Lodge website
15% - Freemason.org
11% - Events (sponsored by the community and/or lodge)
1% - Lodge Facebook page

 

Here’s your next question.

 

 

 

 

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Please email questions to communications@freemason.org.

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