Monthly Archives: July 2016

Interview of an Executive Responsible for Communication

Frank Hayes
English 3134 R 50
Instructor: Lydia Carter
July 17, 2016

 

Section I – Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to interview the senior leadership personal who is responsible for planning, implementing and coordinating the communication of all public or external relations and communications of the Middle Tennessee Council- Boy Scouts of America.  The purpose of this assignment is to also learn more about the history of marketing   and communications and how it relates to this real life experience

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Section II- Background Information

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was modeled after Britain’s Boy Scout Association. In February of 1908 W.D. Boyce, Edward S Stewart, and Stanley Willis applied for a congressional charter. The BSA grew rapidly, quickly, becoming the largest youth organization. But with growth comes growing pains. Some of the early problems where racial issues and “younger boy” and “older boy” issues. Inclusion of African Americans was an issue from the beginning, but the board took a quick stance not to discriminate on the base of color, but that local communities follow the same policies of their local school system.  The forming of the Cub Scouts solved the other issue of the age range problems. The core age of scouting was 12-18, but the scouts wanted to have activities and training for boy’s ages 6-12 years old, hence the birth of the cub scouts.

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The mission of the BSA is “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law (http://www.scouting.org)”. Over the past 107 years, over 114 million young men have involved with the BSA.   But sadly, the number of young men involved with scouting has declined dramatically over the last ten years. In 2013 alone Cub Scout membership dropped 7.3%, the Boy Scouts 2.4% and leaders and volunteers 3.7%. (http://www.scouting.org).   You can’t have Boy Scouts without boys! This is a major problem facing the BSA today, keeping boys (and their parents) interested in scouting. That is one of the major task the marketing director faces daily, keeping the Boy Scouts relevant to the boys of today.

On January 29, 2016, I had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Danny Sutherland who is the Director of Marketing and Exploring with the Middle Tennessee Council – Boy Scouts of America. He has been in his current position since September of 2015.

cub 3Mr. Sutherland started his career path when he attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where he obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. After graduation, he took his first job as a social counselor for the Tennessee State Foster Care field. He provided foster care case supervision, court interaction and family welfare. Mr. Sutherland also acted as court liaison for DCS and worked directly with children and families in the state child care system. Mr. Sutherland has always had a passion to help children.

 

When his son began the Boy Scouts, Mr. Sutherland became a very involved parent. Through his involvement with the scouts, he made many acquaintances. It was though one of those acquaintances a board member, who suggested that Mr. Sutherland go to work for the Boy Scouts. Mr. Sutherland said he laughed because he didn’t realize “that the scouts had full time employment because they were a non-profit.”

Mr. Sutherland was first hired in September of 2008 as the Senior District Executive which was responsible for selecting, training and inspiring volunteers to become adequate leaders for scouting. Soon, Mr. Sutherland was promoted to District Director which is over two regions in which the district executives reported to him. Mr. Sutherland’s excellent work did not go unnoticed. He was promoted again to serve as the Central Area Field Director. Here, his work focused around the Middle Tennessee’s endowment development and financing programs. Finally, he was promoted to his current positon as Director of Marketing and Exploring. This is a Senior Leadership position. Mr. Sutherland reports to Larry Brown the CEO of the Middle Tennessee Council- Boy Scouts of America.

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Section III- Information Leaned in Preparation of Interview

When preparing for this interview it was important for me to not only understand Mr. Sutherland’s role as Marketing Director, but also the history and dynamics of the Marketing and Communications industry.

Communication is “the imparting or exchanging of information and news (www.dictionary.com )”. People have always had the need to communicate with each other. As our country was forming, the government believed they had the right to dictate what was allowed to be published but the freedom to express ones opinions won out. From Federalist like Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine to visionaries like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays, it took many futurists to develop today’s concept of Marketing and Communications.

 

 

Corporate communication as we know it today stems from a time of revolution. As big businesses and the economy grew the public opinion of these industries was less than favorable. Enter William “Wolf” Smith who created a public relations agency in 1919. He realized that public perception, i.e. relations, was the key to preserving and building a corporate image.

Looking at the corporate structure of large corporations today, we see that many companies have not only a marketing and advertising side, but a separate communications area as well. That is because communication does not only deal with how the outside world views their company but also how the companies own shareholders perceive what is going on. Marketing on the other hand, promotes your organization and generates sales of its products and services.  Public relations is one element of marketing.

When looking at the Boy Scouts, Mr. Sutherland oversees both the public relations as well as the marketing of Middle Tennessee Council. “Now is the time for councils to engage a strong marketing plan to attract adults and youth to Scouting. With the challenges youth face today, there is a greater need than ever for the Boy Scouts of America’s values-based program. To help the public better understand the mission and benefits of Scouting, every council must communicate to them. When community organizations and parents understand that Scouting is a resource they can use to enhance their developmental programs and teachings, the more apt they are to become involved in Scouting and to encourage youth to take part in the program (http://www.scouting.org).” In this role Mr. Sutherland uses marketing alongside of relationships to gain new scouts and leaders.  His best marketing tool is the relationships he creates.

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Mr. Sutherland’s responsibilities include being the editor of the quarterly magazine, posting on all social media outlets, press releases, billboards, and all advertising. Through years of experience Mr. Sutherland says “you have to be careful of the pitfalls of using social media”. The scouts have found that Facebook is not a good way to promote events. Mr. Sutherland still likes direct mailings of literature via mailing lists. Recently, Mr. Sutherland has started using thirty second video presentations to promote scouting. Mr. Sutherland said “you have to keep your YouTube videos under thirty seconds because if not you will lose your audience”. He would like to more on the cutting edge of technology, but the matter of fact is the Boy Scouts are a non-profit organization and as he jokes, “at least 10 years behind in technology”. The Boy Scouts are still an organization of tradition and word of mouth. After all, the reason Mr. Sutherland was drawn to the Boy Scouts was because they were a youth serving organization who are trying to make boys of today into leaders of tomorrow. He was very proud to point out that his son is well on his way to earning his Eagle Scout badge.

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Section IV- What did I take away from this assignment

It takes a lot of time and effort to grow a business to not only be popular but much respected. Business like Chick- fil- a, Coke,  and Home Depot, the Boy Scouts they have spent a lot of time and resources to be “the brand” they are  known as  today, However, the fall can be quicker than the climb just look at Chipotle. Just a few months ago, Chipotle was one of the fastest growing fast food chains. Known for their heath consciences, planet-saving  way doing business, it was a quick fall from grace as 100+ Boston College students and numerous customers out west became ill with e coli related illness after eating at various Chipotle restaurants. Chipotle is now having to do major public relations damage control. The public has lost their trust in Chipotle and they are having to gain it back. They are using various marketing campaigns to get customers back in the door.

Even corporations that have been around for over a hundred  years are still continually have to market and keep themselves relevant in order to thrive and continue to gain consumers trust and earn their business.

 

Works Cited

  • (2015) Retrieved from Boy Scouts of America: http://www.scouting.org/
  • (2016) Retrieved from dictionary.com htpp://dictionary.reference.com/browse/communication?s=t

 

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