By Megan McKoy-Noe, CCC
Member meetings in 2021 may once again need to opt for online or drive-by meetings instead of traditional in-person events. Need inspiration? In addition to our online voting portal, we’ve been busy innovating new magazine-delivered meeting solutions. From drive-thru meeting materials in Louisiana to bangtail envelopes for ballots in Washington, communicators and Pioneer Utility Resources editors are teaming up to adapt member meeting communications to a post-pandemic world.
See what works for your peers, then create your own member meeting plan!
Member-Driven Meeting Materials
Claiborne Electric Co-op serves about 17,400 members over 4,000 miles of line in Northern Louisiana. Members are taking the wheel to ensure the democratic process stays strong despite the pandemic.
Members will drive to either the co-op office in Homer or a charter school 50 miles away in Farmerville. Multiple drive-thru lanes will be open from 9 a.m. to noon at each location on the meeting day. By registering at the event, members are eligible for several prizes, including five drawings for a total of $15,000 cash.
To help the co-op get the word out, Pioneer Assistant Editor Chasity Anderson, CCC, worked with the Claiborne Electric staff to design a custom magazine cover, a ballot and a 16-page annual report inserted into the magazine to reduce mailing costs.
The co-op’s January/February issue of Louisiana Country introduced the drive-thru meeting concept. The co-op’s annual report and meeting guide was mailed in the March/April magazine, with the theme Member Driven. The ballot was inserted into the magazine, perforated so members can easily tear it out and vote at the drive-thru meeting.
“Soon we hope to be back in our big venue, shaking hands and hugging friends,” says Claiborne Electric Co-op General Manager and CEO Mark Brown.
“For now, we will make necessary changes and try something completely different. We need to take care of our co-op’s business, so we innovate,” says Mark.
Save with Ballot Back Pages
Several of our members are turning the customizable back page of their magazines — often used for manager messages or safety notices — into ballots.
For example, Tanner Electric Cooperative, Washington, used their back page as a ballot to reach almost 5,000 members last year (see example). A return envelope was included in the middle of the magazine.
“I always find this to be a fun use of resources and a way to not have to print extra materials,” says Pioneer Assistant Editor David Herder.
As Big Bend Electric Co-op, Washington, got ready for their virtual member meeting, they needed an effective way to print, distribute and receive ballots from members.
David worked with their team to design a bangtail envelope, an envelope with a detachable ballot and voting directions for members. The envelope, marked business reply mail, saves members from adding postage.
In addition to the bangtail envelopes, David designed registration cards and pages in the January and February issues of Ruralite magazine explaining why members should register. Download the materials here.
Mailers Meet Changing Needs
In Florida, Peace River Electric Cooperative needed a quick and economical way to send out new information about director elections when a meeting was postponed.
The 51,000-member co-op works closely with Pioneer Senior Editor Pam Blair on their Florida Currents content, tapping magazine pages to share annual meeting information. When their annual member meeting was canceled, they needed a way to conduct essential business in two districts.
Pam quickly designed a four-page district meeting mailer for Peace River. The piece, printed in black and white to save printing costs, includes a unique QR code linked to each mailing address for easy registration. Voting still must take place in person, but voting hours were extended from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.