Each year the District-Governor Elects gather in San Diego, California (Starting in 2021, it will be Orlando, Florida) to be trained for their up-coming year four months down the road.

Although the use of the District website does get an honourable mention, there is no detailed presentation on how it can be used so as to advance the theme or goals for the incoming year.

Most good District websites update the Executive and Board of Directors for the year, the logo of the president’s theme and the buttons with links for the DG’s newsletter and the District conference. In my experience, this is more at the initiative of the Website editor then the District Governor. This is not the way it should work.

The District Governor should be in conversation with the District Website editor. District editors should welcome such assistance even for what they may have been doing without guidance because in the long run the DG’s will begin to think of other areas that need updating or projects that need promoting.

As a District website editor, only once in six years, did I work collaboratively with the year’s DG.

In my case, I learned I could get the next years ADG and Executive lists, from the Leader of the Trainers committee. When this person retired from the job for a two-year-period I received no information.  I didn’t ask for the information and purposely let the data lapse. In the third year, and seventh on the job, I finally got flack for the website being so out-of-date.

I considered that good. I took the opportunity to ask again for assistance. I was initially pleased when the DG at the time was willing to enter into a discussion on the website and its content. At the same time, two assistants were recruited. But things did not go well. The volunteers did not want to do work on the site; they spent their time critiquing the site. Eventually, with the past Trainer present, it was revealed that what was wanted was for the Executive list to be updated. That is all that was wanted, but I knew that there were many other areas in need of an update. One, in particular, was the whole area of grants.

I had earlier contacted the DG and the person in charge of grants that I needed the content in order to do an update. In fact, I had done so during each of the previous three years. None was ever forthcoming. So, when I found out all that was wanted was the Executive and Directors to be updated, I quit.

Why do I share this rather depressing story of failure? Because I suspect aloneness of managing a district website is quite common, perhaps even the norm. Those who have a committee in place have made a wise decision. But I wonder, of those, how many have the District Governor or future DG as a member and an active participant.

Ideally, the District Governor-Nominee, District Governor-Elect and the DG should all be part of the District Website committee. That way by the time a person is the DG they will have an excellent grasp of what is on the District website and a good understanding of how a website can be the primary portal through which leadership is extended to club leadership personnel. For example, other than Club president few mail-out lists are complete.

It would be far more efficient if the District Membership Chair could correspond with all Club membership chairs through the website’s e-mail portal. Ditto for each of the chairs of each Area of Service. Each of the commercially approved Club and District Content Management systems such as ClubRunner and DACdb has been designed with such a feature built in. In addition, other District personnel such as the Literacy Chair, Communications Director, Youth Exchange Coordinator would have the ability to easily communicate with their club counterpart.

The promotion of the District conference is a good example where the District needs to coordinate the distribution of electronic materials to club websites to achieve maximum penetration. It seems logical that either the District Website editor or Director of Communication (often the same person) should mail out to the Club Website editor’s a copy of the forthcoming District Conference advertisement/graphic with the appropriate link to be placed on each club website.  The DG could then ensure that another volunteer was tracking the implementation of this activity, perhaps the promotion chair of the conference committee.

Speaking of District conferences, I have never figured out why some Districts have websites separate to their District CMS for their conference. Again, in my experience, there has been little to no communication between the committee designing the Conference and/or its website and the District Website editor. Just as silos are to be avoided in a large business, the same should be true of a District.

I could go on however, I think I have made my point. Unfortunately, the problem is much bigger than just the website. Ultimately, the DG needs to be aware and give direction to the entire multi-media direction for the district. That includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other similar portals, the role of independent Rotarian bloggers, the use of video streaming and conferencing, and the role of local traditional news outlets such as radio and newspapers. It is one of the areas where I hope DG’s gather data as they make their Club visits.