Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HS Reunion communication in the email world

Five years ago I received a brief note about our High School Class 45th Reunion.  I responded immediately by email and waited for things to happen.  They never did.  If I ever got a reply, I didn't see it.  And the reunion festivities came and went without my giving it any further notice.  This year I was determined that that not happen again.

Of course there have been a couple of changes and events during the past 5 years to make some change inevitable.  Five years ago I had just barely retired and I was in the process of developing a schedule I felt I could live with.  Five years ago I made the assumption that the reunion committee's number one priority was to contact every member of the graduating class and try to persuade them to come.  Now I know that the contact effort is spotty at best and people may get dropped from further contact efforts if a mistyped email bounces back undelivered.

This time around I not only had more organized, free, time but I also had found a piece of inexpensive web-based reunion software that looked like it could really help us get organized.  Even though I had only received one phone call from the head of the reunion committee on December 1, 2011, I was already thinking of it as "us" and "our committee".  This time I wasn't going to let the reunion happen without me.

The first thing I did was to call the person back who had called me and said I was very interested.  I volunteered my help which I knew was going to be limited since I live 800 miles from the high school.  And I asked all sorts of questions about who was on the committee, what time lines were in place, what things were already underway.  I also wrote to the technology/science teacher at the high school who also appeared to be the school's webmaster.  Ideally, alumni functions such as reunions would be coordinated and supported out of that office.  I have yet to see a high school level alumni office capable of that level of support.

But the teacher/IT director was kind enough to announce the main reunion event, the guy in charge of this year's event, and the address of the website which has become our offficial web site.  For the next 2 to 3 weeks I learned the ins and outs of the website software called Classreport and started populating it with members of our graduating class, and telling Bob how it could make his life easier by organizing our emailcommunication with class members.  It was at this point we made a below sonscience decision to put a higher priority on communicating with people who have email.  That made all the difference in the world to emaillers.

We continued to call phone numbers when we didn't have someone's email address and we even followed up with snail mail notes and announcements. But where we had the email address, communication was 10 times more frequent.  Official Invitations to the reunion went out by email, phone, and regular mail on January 28, 2012 and if you didn't have email that may have been the last time you heard from the reunion committee.

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