Welcome to the latest edition of BimmerLife’s Chapter Newsletter Showcase–a series that highlights outstanding BMW CCA chapter publications. This week we’re traveling to sunny Florida to check out the Florida SunCoast Chapter’s eWeekly. As the name implies, FSC eWeekly’s subscribers enjoy its carefully curated content on a weekly basis.
Before we dive into FSC’s newsletter, let’s learn a little FSC history. FSC was created in 1983 when the Central Florida Chapter, which had been started in 1976, split into two chapters: FSC and the Sunshine Bimmer Chapter. Within the last five years, there was a Florida chapter consolidation in which FSC took on the areas and responsibilities of the First Coast and Gulf Coast chapters. FSC’s mission has held strong throughout, “bringing enthusiasts together through information and activities for fun and fellowship” that enhance the BMW ownership–dare I say lifestyle–experience.
To learn more about FSC’s newsletter I reached out to the multi-hatted FSC member Carol Villar, whose email signature reads “Secretary, Governor, and WebMeistress, FSC BMW CCA.” She’s also the Editor and Creator/Publisher of FSC eWeekly.
In a given issue of FSC eWeekly, you’ll find interesting and relevant BMW-related news and articles, video blogs from FSC President Stan Dale, technical questions answered by BMW Master Tech and shop owner Gil Neves, upcoming events, and more. There’s even a link to BimmerLife’s weekly newsletter. (Thanks, Carol!) It’s a great place to stay up-to-date on your favorite marque and fellow chapter members’ stories while brushing up on your mechanical knowledge.
Without further ado, let’s chat with the BMW CCA member behind FSC eWeekly, Carol Villar!
BimmerLife: When was your chapter newsletter first published?
Carol Villar: The first chapter newsletter, Der Sonnenfleck, was published on paper in February 1976. We also have an April 1976 issue. We don’t have any further records until 2010, which is when the Die Sonne Küeste quarterly newsletters began to be published in PDF format. See our Die Sonne Küeste archive here.
BL: When did you transition to your current format? What are the benefits and challenges of the current format?
CV: The PDF newsletter continued quarterly through the beginning of 2019. Meanwhile, a more frequent email-based newsletter started in June of 2016. We did have an interim format that was similar in concept produced by our website, but that software was cumbersome and time consuming. I wanted something that was automatic with minimum work so I researched MailChimp, which was our email system at the time. MailChimp has the ability to use our RSS feed from our website, so I just have to add categorized articles to our website and they are reflected in the newsletter.
BL: How often is it currently published?
CV: FSC eWeekly is published every Friday at 7:00 a.m.
BL: Do you have any regular contributors you’d like to spotlight?
CV: Gil Neves, from our “Ask Gil” series, is a business man with a busy shop and our on-staff BMW Master Tech that finds time to find the answers to our subscribers’ technical and mechanical questions.
Stan Dale, our FSC President, is a YouTube rock star that engages our members while keeping them up to date with a weekly video message called “From Your President.” This includes updates and highlights on events, member interviews, and more.
BL: What content and regular features do you include in your newsletter?
CV: FSC eWeekly’s format includes the following sections:
- A “From Your President” video with FSC President Stan Dale.
- “Upcoming Events” which contains FSC events, BMW CCA national events, and non-FSC events. We further group them by area so it’s easier for the reader to determine what’s in their area.
- “What’s New This Week” lists curated e-articles from various sources as well as “Ask Gil” technical Q&A with Gil Neves.
- “FSC Member Classifieds” is a section where our members can list items for sale or list wanted items at no cost to members.
- And in case you missed it, there’s a link to the latest BimmerLife weekly newsletter.
We like to include online articles that may be interesting to our members, new vehicle recalls, and member stories. Our members contribute content through events they have attended or restorations they have done. We receive pictures from events and we highlight these by uploading them to online Flickr albums for our members to see. We then create a related article. We highlight the Foundation Forum newsletters as well.
BL: How is the newsletter distributed?
CV: FSC eWeekly is automatically distributed through MailChimp. We have a subscriber list, which includes both members and non-members. Members are added monthly and automatically sent a “Welcome” letter. Members can unsubscribe at any time.
BL: As editor, what is your favorite part of working on the newsletter?
CV: I like getting feedback from members at events that they enjoy FSC eWeekly, looking for articles that we think may be interesting to our readers, and working with and encouraging members to tell their stories.
BL: How did you get involved?
CV: In 2014 I moved to Cape Coral in Southwest Florida from Reno, Nevada. My husband and I were very active in the Sierra Chapter (I am still their webmaster!). My husband got in touch with Stan Dale to determine if there were any events in our area. We attended a sim racing event and the rest is history. From that event, I quickly became submerged in the club. I redesigned their website and we re-launched it in January 2015. I also became Secretary of the chapter and Co-Area Governor for the Ft Myers/Cape Coral area with my husband.
BL: Do you have any advice for CCA members that would like to get involved with their chapter newsletters?
CV: Don’t be afraid to contribute. With our FSC eWeekly, it can be as simple as forwarding a link to an interesting online article you read, telling your experience at an event, or a restoration. You’d be surprised how captivating your story may be. We need everyone’s help to keep the readership up.
BL: What do you think sets your newsletter apart from other chapter newsletters?
CV: Everyone’s time is precious and there is an abundance of information out there, so we strive for a clean, simple look that is easy to quickly skim over and determine if anything in it is interesting to our readers.
Thanks for producing such an awesome publication for your readership, Carol! I love the video blogs, technical Q&A, and tie-ins with other BMW CCA publications such as BimmerLife and the Foundation Forum. It really is a great one-stop-shop to find out what’s happening on any given week in our great community of enthusiasts. As I see on FSC’s members page, FSC’s community of members extends beyond Florida’s boundaries, across the U.S., and even Canada!
If you’d like to read the latest issue of FSC eWeekly check out FSC’s website: https://fscbmwcca.com/. If you’d like to conveniently receive it in your mailbox on a weekly basis, subscribe here: https://fscbmwcca.com/get-in-touch/. If you’re not yet a member and would like to join the Florida SunCoast Chapter, click here. —Mike Bevels
[Images courtesy of FSC BMW CCA.]