by Laura Doman
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
How would you rate the Georgia Chess Association’s ability to keep you informed on a timely basis about relevant chess events, competitions, and tournament results? When you have a problem or a question, have you been able to easily identify and contact the right person at the GCA to help you resolve it? If you would say that there is always room for improvement, then GCA President Fun Fong would agree with you. In late 2013, he created the new Director of Communications position with the intention to more quickly and easily deliver important chess information to our membership, promote chess to the larger community, and streamline communications within the GCA organization.
Fun tapped me for the position for my communications and organizational skills, which include corporate experience in sales, marketing, and information technology. As a member of the GCA Scholastic committee, I am a frequent volunteer at the Chess Control desk at scholastic tournaments, smoothing communications between parents, players, coaches, and the tournament coordinators. As a contributor to the GCA website (www.georgiachess.org), I’ve written the Scholastic content and several lengthy articles on tournament play and building a strong school team. I’ve authored the emails summarizing upcoming tournaments and I’ve pioneered the use of Twitter (@GeorgiaChess) at the larger Scholastic tournaments to help guide parents through announcements of pairings, results, and general information. I’ve also been the “team mom” for the Trinity School chess teams for the past ten years, helping them become one of the strongest competitive elementary school teams in the state.
My first immediate responsibility as Director of Communications was to oversee the successful transition of the Georgia Chess magazine to an online publication. We had been privileged to have highly talented and devoted editors develop the magazine to the point at which it has received national award-winning recognition for four consecutive years. We are very grateful to Mark Taylor for his years of service as Editor, and saddened that there was no successor when he opted to retire this year. Rather than have the magazine disappear altogether, the decision was made by the GCA board to transition to an on-line format, which would have the benefits of being immediately updated and available to an unlimited audience, without the restrictions in content, set number of pages, and production costs required in creating a bi-monthly publication.
GeorgiaChessNews.com went “live” on April 1 with articles, resources, book reviews, and recent tournament results, many by the same columnists who have contributed to Georgia Chess over the years. Many thanks to Editor Tricia Hill and Associate Editor Carlos Perdomo for all their efforts! They are dedicated to providing new on-line content at the beginning of every month and tournament results as soon as they are made available. The magazine also provides links to resources like the GCA calendar, which allows users to view and register for upcoming tournaments. (The GCA website, which hosts these calendars, is the primary vehicle for membership and event registration, as well as general information about the organization.) No change is easy or seamless so I’d ask that you give space and time for our editors and contributors to transition into their new roles and responsibilities. Constructive criticism and suggestions for improvements are always welcomed.
The GCA envisions GeorgiaChessNews.com to eventually evolve into a great online depository of interesting articles, photos, and tournament history over the years. To commemorate the best of each year’s work in a collectible form, we are looking into producing one physical magazine issue at the end of each calendar year that capsulizes the “year in review.” We have a volunteer to coordinate this effort, and hopefully will have an inaugural issue to deliver to our members in early 2015.
Ensuring the continued success of GeorgiaChessNews.com, however, is only one part of my responsibilities as Director of Communications. In my role, I envision the GCA as an umbrella organization dedicated to promoting and supporting chess throughout the state. I am reaching out to other chess organizations to see how we may support one another, with the purpose of maximizing the number of chess players who know about and play in upcoming tournaments, wherever they may be held. For our part, I invite all tournament coordinators to write articles about your competitions, so that we may tell our fellow Georgians about your successful events. (Submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Please drop me a line at email@example.com with your ideas on how we may work together.
While the GCA is moving increasingly online, I realize that not all of our members have access to or comfort with the Internet. Some will always prefer to have notifications, especially about upcoming tournaments, on paper. To that end, I am working with the GCA Membership Chair to identify those members who may require physical mail informing them of coming events. Please look for my letter in your mailbox later this summer and share it with anyone whom you know may be interested in being on a “snail mail” list.
In addition to facilitating communications with our members, I am expanding our outreach to the national audience, particularly through the USCF. Besides listing our events on their website, I would like to see the occasional article in their Chess Life magazine about our major tournaments or talented players.
Another one of my goals is to develop promotional materials to carry our message into our local communities – and to give a sense of fun in what we do! Perhaps you have seen the new GCA t-shirt with our tongue-in-cheek tagline:
We’re not just playing games here.
Great quality, and only $10 a shirt. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like one. No delivery charge if you’ll pick it up at a GCA tournament; otherwise, $5 extra for shipping.)
I’m looking to expand our message to pens and car magnets, with availability sometime in the fall. I’m also working on developing media coverage at some of our larger events, especially the major scholastic tournaments (like the team qualifier that hosted more than 1000 kids) that may be of public interest.
Finally, I’m working on providing bright, colorful GCA polo shirts to our Tournament Directors for a uniform, professional, yet easy-to-identify look. While they may or may not attract attention outside of a tournament, the polo shirts will certainly help our Scholastic players and parents who need assistance during or between rounds.
In addition to being named Director of Communications, I also have the distinct pleasure of becoming the newest member of the GCA Board. Thank you to all who voted for me in the past election! I am looking forward to working with the other Board members on key projects, particularly those to develop the GCA’s financial planning system (complete with budgets), and to becoming an integral part of the new long-term planning committee. Please feel free to email your ideas, suggestions, and feedback to my efforts. I look forward to serving the Georgia chess community.