The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is well known as being one the most "aggressive" marketers of Freemasonry. They've run advertisements locally, and created "recruitment" videos that end up on YouTube.
They've also, apparently, mastered the art of press releases for local lodges to use. I think I've figured out their template. Wonder if it actually works?
Have a snappy headline, such as "Learn about the Masons."
Paragraph 1: Announce a local open house.
Paragraph 2: Tell readers there will be refreshments. Mmm, cookies! Appeal to the stomach and to the desire to get something for nothing.
Paragraph 3: Mention the Grand Lodge, like that means anything to the reader. It's a weak use of the propaganda technique known as "Appeal to Authority." Add in how many members there are, shooting for the "Bandwagon" effect.
Paragraph 4: Combine the propaganda technique of "Appeal to Authority" with "Beautiful People," and invoke the names of famous dead Freemasons, being sure to list only Caucasian ones, even during Black History Month.
Paragraph 5: Brag about the amount of money "the Masons" give to charity each day. Inflate the amount and make it sound like all Masons are involved in this Masonic giveaway that's really a Shriner, not a Masonic, thing, blending the propaganda techniques of "Half-Truth" and "Intentional Vagueness."
Paragraph 6: Brag about more charity work the Masons do.
Paragraph 7: Brag about even more charity work the Masons do. I guess devoting three paragraphs to talking about charity is a use of the "Repetition" technique.
Paragraph 8: Mention "the children," a tangential use of the "Flag-Waving" technique, since children are "America's future."
Paragraph 9: Tell who your target market is, and throw in a few "Virtue Words" for good measure.
Paragraph 10: Provide a link to even more exciting "information."
While I admit the news article/press release is well-written, I think it's a terrible marketing piece. What are they selling? Why should I want it?
An old marketing rule-of-thumb is this: "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." Tell me the benefits, not the features.
Invoking the Founding Fathers has little effect on today's consumers, other than maybe using George Washington's image to sell furniture and automobiles at Presidents Day sales.
Telling how much charity work you do doesn't impress anyone. If you're of a charitable nature, you've got a zillion other ways to donate your money to good causes. Churches, youth organizations you know something about, environmental causes — you can even just sign a form at work and have a portion of your income donated to the generic United Way.
Nothing in this "news story" would create a desire in me — nor in very many other men, I suspect — to learn more about Freemasonry. Nothing in this story would make me want to go to their open house, even if I lived just down the block.
Would it you?
Is this all Freemasonry is? Is this the image we've decided to present to the public? Freemasonry wasn't even in the charity business when Washington and Franklin were alive. Is this all we've become?
Where's the sizzle in this story? What in it inspires the reader to want to become a Mason?
Link: Wikipedia article on propaganda techniques
Image: An old Russian propaganda poster, just 'cause it's interesting artwork
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