More About the BSA National Marketing Seminar (8 Aug 14/21 Aug 14)


Two weeks ago today (21 August 14), I left here (Tennessee) to take part in the BSA’s National Marketing Seminar which was held in Dallas, Texas (the same event was held in Chicago on Tuesday of the following week). The majority of the seminar took place on Friday (8 August 14). Much of the information I was aware of and validated what I have been posting here and elsewhere; but there was some elements new to me.

I drove as opposed to flying because I participated in a Tradeoree (Scouting memorabilia trade show) the next day in Dodge City, Iowa and wanted to try to get there before the event started to set up my Scouting displays and things to sell. I was glad I did.
Allow me please to back up a week or so before… My Scout Executive, Vince Cozzone, contacted me via Skype(tm) and asked if I would attend the event, representing the Transatlantic Council. “Of course!”, I told him.  I am always looking at ways to promote the overseas Council and to remind people that we and the Far East Council serve American youth and the American Scouting program. It is a part of our youth recreation programs; a part of our morale boosting programs; and a definite “add on” to having people come work and live in Europe, the Near East, and northern Africa for two to four (or more!) years.
Then Vince told me that the BSA is reimbursing those volunteers for attending the seminar for their time. They won’t pay the cost of the hotel, but they’ll pay back the travel expenses to and from — in my personal case, it’ll come to a little over $300 in gas. Everything else — the food and coffee, and the registration fees — were picked up by the BSA. Sweet!  It really did bother me, however, that the BSA was picking up the costs for attending. Am I being set up for something?
I spent the rest of the week trying to find someone — ANYONE — who attended the Seminar in the past couple of years. Crickets. I reached out to my social circles, my Scouting training circles, my International activities circles, and to those on Scouts-L and LinkedIn. Nobody.  So I was going cold into this one-day event.
I sat in the relatively back of the room and prepared my exit if anyone approached and asked me to leave.
I was really surprised — and relieved — that what I’ve been talking about here online, in different forums and in different manners — was EXACTLY what the scope of this one day session was about!
In the room in Texas were fourty or so volunteers and about ten or so professionals, all working elements of marketing in their local Councils. Most of the participants came from the Southern Region, seeing how the conference was an hour or so away from the BSA’s national offices in Irving. There were, however, those who came from the northeastern part of the nation, some from the Boston area, others from upstate New York and still others from St. Louis and Denver. It was a good mix of experienced volunteers, “hey yous” and “newbies”. The professionals didn’t overpower the room either.
The morning session started with the BSA’s National Director of Communications and Marketing, a guy I’ve been in touch with off and on since he assumed the position, Steven Medlicott. Steven explained the scope of the session, introduced his team mates, and then told us that we’re not going to “fix the BSA’s image problems here…” that this was a way to share the BSA’s best ideas with all of us; more importantly for us to share our best practices and efforts — even the ones which failed for us — with each other. Another Council may use it and make it work in their area of the nation.  I felt a lot better in knowing that this was NOT going to be “death by PowerPoint(tm)”, with the national team telling us “this is how you need to do things — go back and do it!”  We were told that we don’t need to take notes, because all of the slide sets — even those from those outside the BSA — will be posted to the BSA’s Marketing slice ( and available for us to share with our Councils — and those outside of the BSA. Steven did re-emphasize that the 2015 marketing materials are available NOW (since May) and we should use what feels best for us to use.
Those of you following me on Facebook(tm) and Twitter(tm) know that I’ve been using some of those materials in talking with you about Scouting today.
Again, a new approach. Gathering the best from the field and making THAT the “optimal solutions”, noting that “there would be more than one “optimal solutions” — pick the one(s) YOUR Council feels most comfy with”.
After a break, the first of three presentations were offered.
Tom Rugh, who used to be a senior guy at Verizon and now working for the BSA as a Marketing Strategist, talked about “Experience Oriented Scouting” — the latest buzzword among professionals. It hasn’t caught on to volunteers like me, although I like the concept. He explained that we have a “authenticity gap” between what “we promise” as an outcome of Scouting and “what was delivered”. That gap can be huge, and explains why some units are really successful in recruiting and retention of their families and youth…and most are not. There’s also some reasons why this gap exist — we don’t provide more local (unit) experiences, for one. That big issue — we have never ASKED people to participate.
They still don’t “get it” however, with regard to African-American families and Scouts.
Howard Olsen, bless his heart, tried to talk with us about the Voice of the Scout (VOS) and provide some metrics showing how we can use VOS to improve our programs. VOS doesn’t address Venturing volunteers. Email addresses are not current and therefore we don’t reach many families. To me, VOS won’t be effective until the BSA’s information technology loops and resources are fixed. My comment is that we should not be forcing our Registrars to finger input hundreds of email addresses — we should allow those families to input them as part of a BSA online application.
(Something the US Scouting Service Project has been pushing for 12 years — the BSA does need the paper application, true dat; but by having the parents to input key data gives the parent more of a buy in and less of a “drop off” –“I’ve filled this out for you…just sign here…”
VOS is conducted twice a year, and is a component of the unit/district/local Council’ Journey to Excellence key metrics program.
Finally, Stephanie Shaw with Ketchum (a PR firm contracted by the BSA three years back), talked about things I’ve been talking about online — about the relationships between Mom and Grandma — and that of Scouting. I won’t bore you with that but it was good to know that the things I’ve been reading and applying to the Scouting experience was right on the money. If you get a chance, take a look at her presentation!!
Cooper Monroe (a national marketer) reinforced some things to me and enlightened many in the room with his presentation before lunch. I know that some of you who follow me electronically or have heard me talk, remember these lines or information:
– the web was “created by men but was taken over by women”
– the old “primary communication method” (word of mouth) is now executed and communicated through blogs
– we think about things in “before” and “after”
– we still tend to talk things through during dinner (or other meals) 
– social media is a key — but not the ONLY key — in communicating effectively
The next entry centers on lunch and afternoon activities.

About Settummanque

Take your standard Oliver North. Add strong parts of Bill Cosby and Sir Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of Scouting). Throw in Johny Bravo without the "hurhhs!" and his pecks. Add a strong dose of parenting, the sexuality of a latin lover, and Mona Lisa's smile. And a 40 year old's body frame. That's me basically *grinning*
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