BY KEITH KING, CHAIR
What started as a request from Harley Davidson to know more about our members, turned into one of the most successful polls of our membership. When the idea was first brought up, the Public Affairs Committee agreed, but decided to reach out to the Membership Committee and the Officers for their input. Everyone had ideas. Once the survey was opened, it quickly became a great way to find out about health issues.
Part of what my company does is public opinion polling and research. We use several companies to help us administer and tabulate survey results. The one we reached out to first is owned by a Vietnam veteran, who is now a VVA member. When we can combine what we do for a living with helping VVA, it’s something we really enjoy. And when the companies we work with offer to do projects for free or at cost, we know that we are really saving VVA significant dollars. That was the case with this survey.
Most people are used to hearing that a poll is plus or minus 5%, and that is usually preceded by another percentage for a reliability or confidence indicator. Many times you’ll read that a poll has a 95% ± 5% reliability factor. We only needed 345 completed surveys to reach that 95% ± 5% goal. We received more than 3,400 completed surveys, which created a 98% reliability factor at ± 1.7%, which is outstanding for any researcher and, more importantly, for anyone using the survey results. To every VVA and AVVA member who completed the survey, we want to thank you.
What are we going to do with the survey results? We already have begun using the results with our sales partner, Fox and Associates, which sells ads for us in The VVA Veteran, the www.vva.org web site, and our sponsored Web Weekly emails. Fox is reviewing the entire survey and preparing customized presentations to potential new advertisers and advertising categories. We were not surprised by how important “Made In America” is to us, but now we can prove it, and Fox is talking to companies that proudly promote their American-made products.
We already are using the results of the health questions to support the Veterans Health Council efforts. We are reviewing the responses to see what we can do to make membership in VVA more valuable. By the way, 51% of our members read The VVA Veteran cover to cover—an outstanding readership level and a tribute to Michael Keating and his staff.
On the other hand, we need our members to go to www.vva.org and register to receive emails from VVA. Ninety-eight percent of our members are on line and using emails, but we only have about a third of the members signed up to receive emails from us. What’s up with that? I hear all the time about how we have not adapted to the new technology, but the survey disproves that.
Speaking of new technology, the Public Affairs Committee has several key issues that we want to accomplish in 2010. The key one is the “flip-page” Veteran on www.vva.org We want to be able to present The Veteran in its print format on the web. It is our intent to use this new technology to provide web readers with expanded and new material that we simply do not have the space for in the printed version. We are looking at various software programs and formats and hope to have something posted before the Leadership Conference.
I want to thank the members of the Public Affairs Committee for their support and involvement on the committee. Steve House is our new vice-chair. He has several projects that we’ll be reporting on over the year.