'A powerful, effective voice'


Our new “Spotlight” column gives us a place to share information about talented NALPA members and success stories. Do you know a member or have a successful story you think should be in “Spotlight”?  Please contact us.


Meet John “Durk” Durkin of California, a member of The American Legion for 14 years and NALPA for eight years.


Priscilla Imburgia: I know your friends call you Durk, would you like us to call you John or Durk?


Durk:  I've been called Durk since grade school. No matter where I seem to go with a group of people there are always several “Johns” in the area, so the name just sort of stuck.   


Imburgia: Last year you won five prestigious NALPA awards. At the National Convention awards banquet you received both 2nd and 3rd place category B websites (CALPA and California SAL), both 1st and 2nd place Facebook (CALPA and California SAL)  pages under Social Media and you won top honor for Graphic Design. Congratulations, that is no small achievement. Tell us a little about why you devote so much time and energy to American Legion Family media.


Durk:  I determined a few years ago that many service organizations and charities, including The American Legion, did not know how to effectively market themselves over the Internet.  The Internet, if utilized properly, is the most powerful tool in increasing an organization's membership as well as generating higher revenues through online contributions. Being the owner of an Internet company since 1993 and working with numerous commercial accounts, I decided to "give back" and help my military family gain public exposure and increase their donations by concentrating on military organizations specializing in helping wounded heroes, military and veteran families in need, and spouses/children who have lost a loved one thru the war. Setting them up with an affordable website, social media pages, SEO and teaching them how to market their organization over the Internet while keeping the website up-to-date themselves.  Marketing was my major in college so combining my love in creating art, my training in marketing concepts and my desire to "give back," I saw the Internet as the perfect slot for me to work in.           


Imburgia: How long have you been webmaster for these websites? Did you start the Facebook pages?


Durk: The websites that won the awards were ones I had just started this last year and still maintain them; same with the Facebook pages. Some posts and districts prefer to pay me a nominal fee to keep their websites updated and post daily notices on their social media pages and some prefer to do it themselves. I've actually been building websites since 1993, back when everyone had 14.4 dial-up modem speed and you could hardly upload a photograph or graphic art rendering on the page as it would take forever to load. With graphic art being my passion that was very frustrating back then, but with today’s speed, one can get very creative with art work and allow the website to come alive. 


Imburgia: What are the most important objectives in websites?  How does it differ from your Facebook pages?


Durk: There are four important objectives in building a successful website: 1. The graphics: the site has to be pleasing to the eye so the visitor feels comfortable being there and staying there.  2. Ease of navigation: If visitors can’t find what they are looking for in two or three clicks, they get frustrated and leave the site looking for another website that is easier to navigate.  3. Written content: the text on your website must cut to the chase and directly tell the story of what you are all about without rambling on. Then it must, tell what you are offering and WHY the visitor to your site should get involved or contribute to your organization.  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): the search engines look for certain words in your page title, the meta-tags, and the body of content. These three areas must be consistent in verbiage that is relevant to the subject of the page. This factor along with some other programming issues is what is call Search Engine Optimization. One can now optimize each individual page so each page can actually show up and be linked on the search engines. 


Facebook is a stand-alone issue that must complement your website. First and foremost, it should have a continuity of flow with the artwork of one's website and print material so one maintains a positive effect of branding so one can easily recognize the organization by the logo, name, color scheme or artwork.  Facebook and the other social media portals cannot replace the website, but are instead the vehicles to drive traffic to one's website. Social media portals can reach more people more quickly than any other tool by posting and gathering friends. Simple posts that cause one to take a second look causes them to click on to see more, and photographs of events are key to exposing local posts outside their four walls and to the general public so they can see what The American Legion is really all about.  A key to gathering new friends and likes is asking those who like your page to invite their friends to like the page also; and they can ask their friends to ask their friends and so on.          


Imburgia: I noticed on your CALPA site that you have ongoing updates for posts across your state. Sharing newsworthy items/activities and even complete newsletters. How did you develop a relationship with so many posts to share their information?


Durk: Basically it has been word of mouth. I've offered my services to posts and districts at a very reduced rate, and now I've even done some state and area organizations as well as officer's election campaigns.  I try to help the organizations with various software products that I've tested, they are easy to use, very cost effective and can make life much simpler when building a website, designing a newsletter, integrating a database, or programming a unique module into a current website. Many individuals I've interfaced with now call back and shared how they have gained public exposure through the Internet, conducted fundraisers, found new products and how they have used their CALPA or NALPA card to gain access to various events as a ligament press agent.  I've yet to try gaining access to a Rolling Stones concert using my press card, but I think I will try. We as a family can share with each other and become a powerful and effective force in telling The American Legion story.     


Imburgia:  What advice do you offer to members who need help in today's world of media? Where can they start/learn how to promote the Legion Family?


Durk: The key is identifying your objective in having a website. Is it to expose the post to the public, increase your membership, generate online contributions or is it just to be a centralized information portal to communicate with your current membership?  Actually it can be beneficial to your post or organization in all those areas. In any case, the world of media is the road to success and in today's world, the instantaneous efficiency of the Internet is an absolute must for the survival for any organization in not just maintaining membership but in growth of membership.  The perfect starting place would be by joining NALPA and the department press association within your state. There you will find webmasters, graphic artists, photographers, videographers, copywriters, authors, journalists, and an entire family of American Legion press agents who will help and contribute ideas and concepts to achieve your goals.    


Imburgia: What do you see as the role of CALPA? NALPA?


Durk:  I see NALPA and the individual state press associations’ roles as the teams that can "tell the true story" and publicize The American Legion locally through each post, district, area and department with the same application applying to the Auxiliary, Sons and Riders. I find that the general public is more than willing to get involved and to donate if they understand why they should and to who the contribution is going to impact. The problem as I see it, is that the story of what The American Legion is really all about and who we actually help is well circulated within our membership, but little is known by the local citizens outside the four walls of our posts. The public wants to give, they just don't know where to give; and with so much fraud out there, NALPA can tell the true story and set the record straight that what The American Legion takes in is what the American Legion gives out.      


Imburgia: We have started, what we have referred to as a “new era” for NALPA.  Your thoughts on changes to date?


Durk:  I see a unified vision on working together with the strong leadership within NALPA who are very talented and have the same vision of accomplishing the objectives I've outlined above. Having a centralized portal to exchange ideas and learn the success stories of press agents in other cities and states and to have the ability to communicate with those individuals in the field only amplifies all of our abilities to accomplish the same success in our local areas.  I'm excited to be a part of it.     


Imburgia:  I would like to encourage others to visit your websites and Facebook pages.  Your graphics are high quality and I enjoyed your use of the California coast as a backdrop to the SAL site. Your winning graphics design of the Commanders Ball is impressive to say the least.  On behalf of all members, I thank you for your American Legion membership and your dedication to both CALPA and NALPA.  It is my hope you will share with our members across the country more information under our “Tips & Tricks” long into the future.


Durk:  I want to thank you for this note of honor and recognition.  I will be more than happy to share any information and will be available for anyone within the American Legion organization who may need help or advice on their websites, social media portals and marketing campaigns.  My personal websites are at:  www.connectavet.com - a site to help military charities and veteran owned businesses, www.globexmarketing.com - a site showing the various services we offer in marketing websites, and www.convenx.com - a site showing my portfolio of graphic art, website designs, print materials and logo designs.  I have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/convenx - there you can see some of my portfolio as well.