There has been a great deal of opportunity, change and successes for bell ringing during 2012
I have written reviews at the end of the year for each year I have been running the bellringing.org set of websites. I feel it is a useful tool for me to evaluate the progress made over the last year and to show others the great stuff we’ve been doing. This year I have decided to take a wider view of the websites I look after, both here on bellringing.org (including the Bell Ringing Web site this post gets it’s name from) and the Association of Ringing Teachers and the Ringing Foundation.
Overall, this year has seen my personal circumstances change significantly, and whilst I have a new commitment providing the website for the Association of Ringing Teachers, I have less time available and have intended, wherever possible, to streamline the websites and processes I handle.
In the non-ringing world there have been a series of high-profile events where ringing has featured prominently. The Diamond Julibee and the Olympic Games in London were by far the most significant, and both had major projects connected with bell ringing – namely, the Jubilee bells barge and the All the Bells and Olympic Bell for the Games. Later in the year, we have also had the Ring for Fitness campaign launched by the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT).
Whilst bell ringing featured highly through these events, it was the events where professional PR representation was used that the greatest benefit was felt. All the Bells and Ring for Fitness produced very much greater spikes in interest, and in requests to learn to ring locally, than the other general ‘awareness’ of ringing. With BellRinging.org and ART’s Moodle leading the way, we are just beginning to see the benefits of using data in our recruitment analysis and I hope that this grows and continues.
Ringing needs better promotion, indeed that was the initial purpose of this website. It is clear that there needs to be a professional approach in order to get results. I very much hope that the groups and organisations responsible for promotion realise this and can act together to both make the most of external events and see opportunities, like the CCT did, for creating a ‘buzz’. I think we, as an Exercise, largely failed to capitalise on the opportunities 2012 offered.
Much has been said this year concerning the adoption of a new ‘brand’ for ringing. I have disagree with suggestions of the need for a new logo, I feel we have the bell icon as our strongest asset. We do need a positive perception of ringing to be disseminated, and every ringer should act as a proud ambassador for bell ringing. PR should be everyone’s responsibility in order for us to actively go out and attract others to join our hobby.
I believe a key part of our lack of a strong brand lies in the disparity and range of brands used by both the (ever growing) number of national organisations as well as local associations. Whilst many have a proud heritage, and I aim this suggestion not at local associations, I would like to see the national brands unified. As part of this a common website similar to that provide by swimming.org would be a great asset.
Now it would be easy to suggest that this year I have helped to do the opposite, creating another new website – for the Association of Ringing Teachers. But the integration process is not going to be imminent and this site acts as a valuable new information portal about ringing training, with some features already planned to integrate with the bellringing.org recruitment website.
The ART website been very successful, with frequently updated news items, reports on ITTS Courses and the publication of Learning the Ropes data. It was also our first move into integrating location services and mapping.
The Ringing Foundation website saw a re-vamp at the end of 2012, with a reduction in the number of pages to update the content that it is now relevant for the Foundation to provide. Major improvements to this website have included an online members register for Foundation members where they can update all their information securely online. Also, a comprehensive donations page and system is now set-up and is generating a small but stable income for the Foundation.
On BellRinging.org I took the decision earlier in the year to close the ‘Recruiter Hub’ site. This content was unnecessarily provided on a separate site, and it seemed logical to incorporate it into Resource Finder, helping to minimise the time requirements to maintain the site. Across all other sites, I have also acted to delete all excess pages, to streamline and to clear the clutter from the entire range of sites. Our main addition is the development of our Contact system for prospective recruits. Thanks to the efforts of Roger Booth from the Ringing Foundation, we have a database of 260 branches/districts – including officer contact details and website addresses. This powers the new Contact website and provides the easiest method yet for prospective ringers to contact local ringers and get started. In the next year more improvements will come to the recruitment facing part of the website, including further improvements to the Contact service – keep your eyes peeled!
Finally, thank you for visiting and using the services from BellRinging.org. I put in a lot of work to keep this all working and we’re always developing something new.
Happy New Year!