DESPITE THE SEARING AUGUST HEAT AND OBON holiday we had a lively month, with progress on important issues, popular “Nights” and a history making PAC luncheon with a Hollywood rebel.

Business first. After months of interviews and heated debate, the board of directors agreed on a final candidate for general manager. Now the GM Search Committee, including Kurt Sieber and Masaaki Fukunaga, will hammer out details on a financial package. His goals will be made clear, and we are determined to maintain oversight and closely evaluate his performance.

Increasing membership will be one our GM’s biggest tasks. We’re already moving quickly on membership marketing efforts. After my July email to members, I was delighted to receive many offers of help. Journalist Eric Johnston from Kansai sent me a 10 page report full of suggestions. Marketing guru Burt Blume enlightened me on ways to expand our internet and website presence. Cookware expert and foodie Bill Shinn offered tips on attracting and keeping members through high quality cuisine and hospitality measures. The expertise of our membership is extraordinary!

The Membership Marketing Committee’s first meeting was a good brainstorming session. Joining us was Tokyu Hotels Senior Marketing VP Yoshiaki Miyajima and International Marketing Manager Kenji Itakura. Lot’s of ideas were shared. The next step is implementation. We’re just at the start and really need your input. Please contact me anytime.

IRS/Tokyu is also pitching in with event marketing. IRS President Masaichi Nakauchi and Etsuo Miyata, Director of Business Development at Tokyu Hotels, presented three proposals to the board. One long term proposal, in collaboration with JTB, involves student tours of the Club and talks with journalists. Each will help increase our presence, revenue and public koeki status.

Fun events that drew big crowds included the Aug. 8 “Hawaiian Night” with 189 attendees enjoying the island music, dancing and great food. The all you can drink “Draft Beer Night” on August 23 pulled in 84 who swilled the night away. I learned that our very popular “Bingo Night,” (a big revenue pull) has lost its mojo. It seems there are no sponsors to donate prizes. Surely this could be remedied. Please let me know if you’re a Bingo fan and would like to revive those enjoyable evenings.

Surely the biggest hit of the month was the PAC luncheon with film director Oliver Stone and “radical” historian Peter Kuznick, here in Japan to promote their book and TV series titled “The Untold History of the United States.” Over 200 members, guests and media attended, making it one of the top three most popular PAC events in the 68 year history of the Club. (#1 Hashimoto, #2 Dalai Lama.) They squeezed the Club into their hectic Japan schedule with a riveting talk. “Obama is a snake” was my favorite Stone quote, which unfortunately the big media did not repeat.

Their appearance catapulted the Club into the realm of live streaming. Despite the last minute notices and last minute technical glitches, the Stone Kuznick event was watched live online by over 40 people. I was told this is a good start. There’s lot’s more PAC live streaming to come, so stay tuned.

The dynamic duo’s talk also hurled me into Twitter land as Club president. I’ve been tweeting daily, with a focus on challenges and dangers facing journalists, freelancer hell, media issues, language quirks, communicating the printed and spoken word, upcoming FCCJ events, and much more. You can follow me @fccjapan.

— Lucy Birmingham