Media and Communications Committee Report October 2017

LaDonna Seibelink, Committee Secretary

The ever-changing world of information technology influences how we keep Legion news in front of our members and the American people.  With so many tools at hand, there are more ways than ever to put the word out on the mission, the programs, and the various events held at all levels.  So many choices make it difficult to do justice to all generations.  

The Media and Communications Committee of the American Legion Department of Michigan is committed to their mission to continue to serve all of our members, each and every community, and to push the limits in reaching new members.  There are many communication tools already available, and more being developed.  The sources are the Legion, Department, and two of the press associations connected with The American Legion.  

The National American Legion Press Association (NALPA) elected Mark Sutton to be the 2017/2018 president during its meeting at National Convention in August.  Sutton has been a member of The American Legion for 11 years and began his Legion career with Post 32 in Livonia, Mich.  He joined NALPA six years ago, shortly after becoming the public relations director for the Department.   Sutton, a Marine Corps veteran, is also a member of the Michigan American Legion Press Association (MALPA). This three-pronged connection to Sutton poises Michigan to be an innovative force in Legion communications. 

NALPA was established in 1923 with the purpose of facilitating communications within the Legion from the national down to the post level, encouraging members to talk with one another about their ideas, and giving members the tools to write newsletters, press releases, and connect with community leaders to promote events and the Legion’s goals.  NALPA exists not to promote the Legion, but to help you promote the Legion.  

Many states have established their own press association to bring the national mission of NALPA to their own members in a more personal way.  Michigan has done this with MALPA.  

Michigan’s Media and Communications Committee Chairman Brian Czubak recognizes the membership challenges.  “Membership has been impacted by a number of factors.  We can’t continue what we are doing and expect those numbers to miraculously increase,” said Czubak.  He is concerned about a trend that he sees in both the younger veterans and the community members he comes into contact with: A lack of knowledge about the organization and its true mission.  As the nation’s largest and most influential veterans organization in the world, the Legion has a strong history of political influence and involvement in the legislation process targeted at protecting the rights of veterans and making life better for servicemembers and their families. “The American Legion has done and continues to do so much in regards to pushing legislation for the benefit of veterans and their families.  We cannot allow that to disappear.”    

“I certainly hope to see more involvement in either NALPA or MALPA at the department, zone, district, and post levels,” continued Czubak, a Marine veteran like Sutton.  “By joining, you can get the tools you need to help communicate more effectively to other veterans and your community.”  
Membership in each of these organizations is open to those who are involved in public relations type activity for the Legion at the national, state, district, or post level; and is inclusive of the Auxiliary, the Sons, and The American Legion Riders.  Those who would benefit from membership include newsletter editors and publishers, historians, and those who promote the events and mission of the Legion.  Every post should have a public relations person or committee.

Some of the tools Czubak refer to are already in existence, others will be made available in the coming year.  National has a number of useful links that can be found at https://www.legion.org/media.    These include a Publication Style Guide specific to the Legion;
Facebook links to many of the Legion programs along with other social media links such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest; an E-newsletter subscription page; logos for download and use in your Legion promotions; news releases; and Public Service Announcements.  These resources are available to help promote local, district, state, and national Legion news to your community.  For example, There are four Public Service Announcements available to download and share in a press release to your local television stations.  This free airtime is a great way to make the local community members aware of the real mission of The American Legion. There is also a link to NALPA where you can find out more about the organization and join. 

Plans at Department include an updated website, a more active Facebook Page, and basic journalism educational material made available to those interested in learning how to better promote the Legion. The MI Legionnaire newspaper will continue.  “This is not going away,” stressed Sutton.  

The success of the world’s largest veterans organization depends entirely on active membership. “Veterans want to belong to an organization that is moving forward, and the challenge is in communicating to the older veterans and the newer veterans at the same time. In 2017 we need to embrace the old ways and the new ways of communicating in order to accomplish our goals,” said Sutton.  “The American Legion, at all levels, needs to do better at doing both for our current members and those who are eligible to join.  We intend to make that happen.”


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