Normally I don’t talk about pr stuff on my author website. But something has crossed a huge line. And that something is RWA.
So pardon me as I put on my publicist’s hat for a moment and climb up on to the soapbox. Speaking from professional experience in corporate environments, it doesn’t matter what your company or organization are doing behind the scenes. That’s not how you are perceived. What people see out front, what your “image” is in public, is how people in the general public think of you.
Right now RWA has an image problem. They are perceived by a big chunk of their publics (one being their membership, another being editors in the industry) that they are not supportive of e-publishing and falling behind current tech trends in the industry. Doesn’t matter if they are or aren’t as a matter of course, or if they are working on it. The perception is still there and actively becoming worse, which in turn lowers the perceived value of membership in the organization. This is a huge problem. This is how companies and organizations slide down hill and start to dissolve.
I’ve been a member of RWA since 1993, worked as a chapter president and board member for many years, worked on task forces for the national board and generally been around long enough to see a lot of hoo-haw come and go in the organization from year to year. The difference is, this is serious. This could cleave the organization in half and leave it a shadow of its former self. I’ve seen it happen often enough in chapters to know the signs, only this is a tsunami compared to the waves I’ve experienced.
If RWA wants to pull out of this perception model, then they need to address this in a major way, publicly. I’m talking have the president write an article in RT Bookreviews or Publisher’s Weekly or Writer’s Digest, or even all three! A blog tour, twitter posts, a multitude of things that reaches out to a vast majority of their publics and reforms their perception.
RWA’s mission is education and advocation, not regulation. You can say it all you want, but you need to have the actions, the perception, to back it up to make your members and the industry believe it.
How do you turn it around? The same way Tylenol did when people died from cyanide in their products and had to rebuild consumer trust.
Stop being defensive is step one – that’s reactive instead of proactive and gets you no where in reforming your perception.
Step two, start telling exactly what you are doing to remedy the situation – actions behind the scenes mean nothing to your perception. Be public about how you are approaching the issue and update your publics often.
Step three, involve your publics so they see and feel part of the change – start an official survey, do an open call for a task force involving major players like Angela James, Deidre Knight and others who are experienced in the e-publishing portion of the industry and can get well-informed opinions and insights into what the big issues are and how to address them.
Create an e-column in the RWR that on a monthly basis addresses something of concern to educate members on what to look for in clauses, contracts, promotion, marketing, publisher support, etc. for this segment of their book sales.
If you happen to be on twitter, start posting at #RWAchange so we know you’re actually alive and concerned rather than hiding under a rock fuming about all those authors who don’t see all the hard work you’ve done.
We know you work hard. We want to trust you. We want to feel like the organization we love is going to survive surgery to fix this problem. Give your membership some hope and information and they will rally to you.
That’s all I’m saying.
Climbing off the soapbox now to return to my keyboard and work-in-process. If you want to leave a comment, please, feel free. If you want to become part of the process go to RWAChange