By Cheryl A. Wenzel, PP, PLS, President-Elect Texas ALP, San Antonio LSA
You have many duties as president of your association but one may really make you shake with fear—writing a President’s Message for your newsletter. You think to yourself that you need to be inspiring to your members but the last time you checked, you did not find yourself all that inspiring, at least you do not think so.
You would be surprised at what you have inside that you can share with your members that will ignite a spark in them. I would think to myself, “I do not know why I am writing these articles because I am sure no one reads them.” I thought that until someone made a comment on something that I wrote. I thought. “Hmmm, someone actually read that article.” It was a nice feeling, too, because we had something similar in our lives, both personal and professional, and then your audience can relate with you on the topic.
I have some suggestions for you that might help you write your article when you become stumped. I found that it helps if you use one of the following:
- Theme. If you have a particular theme for your year, then you can look up quotes to start off your article and then work from that to make it pertain to your association.
- Western. You can use quotes from wild west poets, western writers, even old western movies. Tie those quotes into your association’s activities.
- Recipes. Give out a recipe each time and tie that into something meaningful to you that you remember and turn that into something meaningful for your chapter. Eating a hot bowl of soup that your mom made for you while doing your homework and tie that into education opportunities in your area or through NALS Online Learning Center.
- Traveling. Pick a location around the world or a city in your area and highlight that location. You can tie the location to the idea of traveling and the journey to get there. Do you see where I am going with this? The journey—everything is a journey, especially within our chapters. Each step is a new learning experience and helps us to grow and become the person we are and will be.
- Event. If you have an event coming up such as Court Observance Week, a local seminar, a great speaker, a charity event that your chapter is volunteering at, or a local/regional news article that affects the legal field and which you feel is important to your chapter, use this information to bring it to your chapter. Let them read about it. Ask for their help with sharing ideas and thoughts about how to make something better or work better for your association.
- Corporate Vendor/Member of Your Chapter. You can take this opportunity to welcome a new sponsor of your association and tell a little about them and what services their company offers. This is great if they offer some new software or services. Just think of the dawn of electronic filing—we all needed every bit of information we could get from those providers.
- Outstanding Member. I know you have to have at least one member in your chapter, small or large, who has done something outstanding. It is a great chance to spotlight another member and his or her accomplishments. You may have someone passing one of the certification exams or who has been accepted into a paralegal program or law school. You may have a member who has taken over a committee that has been dormant for a while, and you want to tell everyone about their plans for the committee.
- Song. I am sure that everyone has some favorite songs and some favorite lyrics. The lyrics can be especially touching or moving or just make you laugh. Those lyrics can also help you have a base for writing your article. You just never know what will strike you. The one that always sticks in my mind is Janet Jackson’s “What have you done for me lately?” That is one that really strikes fear into members because they know that you are coming for them to help keep the association going and that you need their help. If you did not need their help, then it would be a one-person association. We all need each other, and in order for our chapters to survive, we need the members to step up and volunteer.
- Other Chapters. If you hear of something going on in another chapter and you think it would be beneficial to your membership, this would be a great time to write about it and share with your members.
- NALS. There is a multitude of information on the NALS website that you can share with your members. This would be a great time to spotlight something happening at NALS or an upcoming meeting that you feel would be beneficial to your chapter. NALS is there to back us up and we need to share the information with our membership. Not everyone reads everything that comes from NALS, so little reminders locally can go a long way.
I am hoping that some of these ideas will help you when you get bogged down and cannot get something going for your article. I know most of these were very helpful to me for writing my President’s Messages. Believe me, I wrote a lot of them. I was local president FOUR TIMES. Let’s see, let’s do the math, 11 President’s Messages (we do not print our newsletter in December, thank goodness) times 4 years equals 44 articles. Okay, now that is really scary. You see, you can write your articles with a fair amount of ease and they do not have to be a dissertation. Oh yes, and we do not want to forget Clip Art. Those little pictures can help fill up space in a small article as long as it pertains to what you are writing about.
By the way, if you are writing an article on stress, this can help you out.
Most of all, try to enjoy the writing. You will be surprised at how cathartic it can be.
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