Your chapter should have three email lists

Does your chapter have its own email list? I'd like to encourage each chapter to have not one, not two, but THREE different email lists! I'd recommend one for chapter leaders, one for everyone in the chapter, and one for fans.

"But I'm not a computer expert!" Before you give up reading this article, let me assure you that anyone who can use a word processor can create an email list. Running a mailing list may have required some special knowledge a decade ago, but now there are free web-based services like Yahoo that make it quite simple to set up and maintain an email list.

I can speak from experience, as I currently own and maintain FIFTY-SEVEN (57) different email lists! It's really not even that time-consuming, since people can manage their own subscriptions by sending blank emails to certain addresses, or by going to a web page.

Let me brief you on the three lists that I think every healthy chapter should have.

First, a list for chapter leaders would be very useful. This list would probably consist of the chapter board and the director, and possibly another key person or two in the chapter. For a small list like this, you could choose to make it unmoderated -- i.e., messages are distributed to the list as soon as they're sent out. I would envision a list like this to generate dozens of messages per week; even many per day on occasion if there is some hot discussion or debate going on.

The second list, for everyone involved with the chapter (singers and spouses or family members), could be moderated if you have a large chapter. That means that each message sent to the list must wait in a queue until a moderator can preview the message and send it out. Moderation is important for large lists, in my opinion, not only to help prevent spam and junk mail, but also to hold down excess "chit-chat" among members. The goal here is to prevent anyone from needing to unsubscribe due to too much traffic. This chapter-level list would be for general announcements concerning the whole chapter -- show preparation, rehearsal notes, etc. To keep everyone on a list like this, it might be best to try to limit it to just a few messages per week.

The third list would be for any fan of the chapter. This list could be managed similar to a mailing list for show tickets -- collect email addresses of anyone and everyone in your area who enjoys barbershop music! This list would be tightly controlled, so that only an official representative of the chapter can send email to it. Provide a link on your chapter web page for people to subscribe themselves, and publish the subscription email address in your show program and ticket mailers. I would encourage participation in this list by offering a head start on ticket sales via electronic email before snail-mailing the ticket order forms. I would expect a chapter fan list to see only a few messages per YEAR -- just major announcements about public shows.

You can even do lists like #1 and #3 above for a quartet! My quartet uses a Yahoo list for all four of us and our wives, and I just checked and found that we had sent 1155 messages to the list in the last four years. That's a lot of communication, but it really beats phone tag when setting up shows or rehearsals, or even in philosophysing or brainstorming.

My quartet also has a public list where we send out info about upcoming shows. We have only sent 14 messages to that list in four years, but every time we do a public singout, we see at least a few people who are there only because of the email we sent out, so I know it works. (And it's FREE!)

Detailed instructions about how to create an email list are beyond the scope of this article, but as I said, it's really not hard. Just go to the web page "yahoogroups.com", and click on "Start a new group." That will lead you through several web pages where you just point and click your way to email list ownership, and better communication both within your chapter and to the public.

by Tom Arneberg

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