One of the most common frustrations our chapters face is getting the word out to their community about who they are and what they do. While it certainly is a challenge, making sure your chapter has the following tools in place will take you a long way towards your marketing goals. Pair that with mission-based activities that change lives in the community and soon you may find your chapter has become a household name.
Having an online presence is absolutely vital but having a website is not. We recommend new chapters start out with a facebook page (more about that below).
Many chapters feel purchasing and maintaining a website is worth the funds and time. You may have a savvy member or a friend of the chapter willing to build a website for you for free or at a low cost. Or you may choose to hire a web design company or local freelancer.
Regardless of who builds it, be very sure your chapter owns the rights to the website and can access the back end freely without the help of the builder. Even if you never intend to make changes yourself, you still need to know how to access it so if something unexpected happens, you can pass maintenance of the site on to someone else.
You may want to research a free website building tool like Wix.com or WordPress. I do recommend, if you can, paying the fee to get a custom url that does not include the name of the builder in it. For instance: www.ambucschaptername.org rather than www.ambucschapter.wix.com/ambucschapter
You can choose to take online donations several ways. You could use PayPal on your website or a crowdfunding tool (see Crowdfunding discussion under Fundraising) or another proprietary third party processor (there are lots of them out there). Please research carefully.
In a word: Yes! Choose one or two platforms and commit to posting regularly. Ideally, at least once a week but certainly at least once a month. Our favorite platforms are Facebook and Instagram, but you may find success on Twitter, Tik Tok, or another platform!
- Create a Page (as opposed to a group or a personal profile). This will ensure your information is public and easy to find, and will give you extra tools like post scheduling.
- Always try to include a picture or video with your posts. Red River AMBUCS is a great sample page.
- Post at least once a week, but rarely post more than once a day.
- You can set your Facebook page to automatically feed to Instagram if you’re posting photos or videos under 60 seconds.
- You can set up multiple administrators if you want several people to be able post to the page. Be sure to agree on your chapter’s rules for conduct or content before making someone an admin and giving them posting privileges.
- Encourage your members to engage! This will help you reach new people who could be volunteers or donors. Here’s a quick hierarchy of engagement:
- Biggest impact: when someone shares your post to their own feed. This instantly helps you reach new audiences.
- Second biggest impact: someone comments on your post. This tells the algorithm this post is generating a conversation, and shows it to more people.
- Third biggest impact: someone reacts to your post (like/love/hug/etc). This tells the algorithm this post is generating engagement, and it may show it to more people.
- Create a business account, or convert your account to a business account. This will give you access to extra tools like analytics.
- Use a generic email like firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your account, and be sure login information is stored and can be handed down to future leaders.
- Post at least once a week. Experiment with Reels (videos) and Stories, in addition to Feed posts.
- Use hashtags! #forreal And tag other accounts, like @ambucsnational or local organizations you partner with. This will help you reach new audiences.
- You can set your Instagram to automatically feed to Facebook.
Want to drill down further into Social Media? Here’s a Social Media PowerPoint.
Getting media coverage can boost chapter membership and donations. It’s not the silver bullet though. Public reaction is generally very short lived but can be strong while it lasts.
- Read the paper and watch the news. See who tends to cover human interest stories and focus your efforts on that specific reporter. Does anyone in your chapter have a connection to that person? If so, use it!
- Be very choosy in what you submit for coverage. Make sure it is timely (very new or not yet happened) and the impact on the community is clear. Include the warm fuzzies! If you can’t think of how your story impacts the community, don’t share it.
- No Spaming! Repeatedly sending them with stuff they’d never print will just annoy them. If they don’t choose to cover several stories, ask them for submission pointers. If nothing else, it will open a conversation.
- Submit press releases as Word documents not as pdfs. This seems counter-intuitive but the Word doc makes the process easier on them and that makes them more likely to choose your story.
- Be clear about what you hope they’ll do for you. Are you hoping they’ll show up at an event or simply run a version of a story that you’ve already written? Whatever it is, say it specifically. Be respectful. There are a hundred other people clamoring for their attention…all convinced that their story is the best and most important.
- Understand that they have time, space and formatting restrictions. They will not run your story as you wrote it or show everything they filmed. They can’t.
- If you are submitting a story, include high resolution images. Submit images that focus on the person benefiting or that puts the event in context of the larger community. Submit 1-5, not 300.
- Emphasize what’s new and the impact on the community, especially if it’s an ongoing event that they’ve covered before.
- If the media attends your event be very gracious but not oily or desperate. Again, media coverage is great but not the end-all.
- Consider involving media people in your chapter. Maybe ask someone to serve on your board?
Free Marketing Downloads. Don’t miss this whole page of great free tools that will make your chapter look sharp and clearly communicate your mission – Marketing Downloads under Members on the website. You will find logos, images and videos as well as customizable flyers, letterhead, press release, business cards and vinyl chapter banner. Please see the Branding section for official colors, logos, terms, etc.
Get the word out to other chapters. Share your good ideas and successful ventures. We print a quarterly magazine, AMBUCS Magazine, chronicling the great work of our chapters and exciting things coming up. Don’t ever see your chapter in the Magazine? That’s probably because we’ve never heard from you! Please send in stories and images of the ways you’re putting the mission into action in your community. All members automatically receive a copy. Once you make it into the magazine, buy some extra copies and take it with you when you request funds and explain your mission. Shared stories could be shared on facebook or the blog, instead.
Amtryke Catalogue. Make sure a copy gets in the hands of your evaluating therapists and anyone that fits or displays trykes regularly. We print an Amtryke Catalogue (roughly) annually. You will find the most recent Amtryke Catalogue here. We’d be happy to send you a copy (or copies) of the most recent printed version for .50¢ each plus the cost of postage.
Brochures. We print and sell a General AMBUCS Brochure, a Veterans Initiative Brochure, Friends Brochure and Wish List Club Brochure. They are available for .15¢ or $15 for a pack of 100 in the AMBUCS Store or by calling or email Amtryke Customer Service. We do have customizable versions of the brochures. They are in InDesign and would need to be professionally printed and cut.
Banners. Need to make your marketing mobile? We can print custom vinyl banners for you. Stands are also available. We have banners advertising AMBUCS, Amtryke, Veterans Initiative, Scholars or Ramp Building. You can add your chapter name and/or website to the AMBUCS banner.
Chapter Logo. Need a simple chapter logo? We can make one up for you. See Logos in Branding.