Contact Dec 2012


Vol 10  No 12

December 2012



In this issue:


·                     Public Service Handbook

·                     Whaddya Ya Want fer Christmas?

·                     Santa Nets

·                     New DIY Website

·                     Speak for Yourself, John

·                     Ideas from the Field

·                                 Email addresses

·                                 Mailers

·                                 G290

·                                 New media

·                                 Ebay

·                     Success Story

·                     The Last Word



ARRL Public Service Handbook


I normally don’t endorse books, even our own here.  But I have recently gotten a copy of the new 1st edition “The Amateur Radio Public Service Handbook” and want to give it a very HIGH recommendation to anyone involved in PR and/or public service.  Yes, I know it is almost $40 – but I cannot do anything about that part.   I understand Amazon and some other sources have it cheaper.  Meanwhile, it is well worth that $40 in the info, tips and aids that it provides.  It’s excellently done. 


If you can’t buy it for yourself, be sure to put it on your list for Santa to bring!

(ARRL order #4845)



Whadda Ya Want Fer Christmas?


Ah, it is that time of year again when children of all ages start to dream of presents and write letters to Santa.  Even when you reach the age of skepticism and are not really sure the jolly old elf exists, you still write just to cover your bets – and “it can’t hurt.”   From the parental side of the equation, the Santa lists are a helpful insight into the children’s world and desires.  It’d not just a doll, it is a doll with RED hair.  Any other doll just won’t do.


So, as a PIO type child, what you YOU want for Christmas? 


The first thing you need to do is identify just what you would like to see happen.  Saying you are a PIO or you want publicity (generic) is not going to achieve anything.  You need to identify your target.  Do you want to expand the membership of your club?  Do you want to emphasize your ARES group’s activities?  Do you want to promote your Technician license classes?  Just what do you want? 


You may want to sit down with the officers of your group to discuss this.  What are the activities and areas of the group that you want to promote.  Get the list down to one or two (at most) topics.  These are the ones to work on in 2013.


OK... so now you have your Santa list.  Who do you send it to?  I quickly learned that leaving my wish list for Santa in a drawer somewhere, buried under the crayons, pointless pencils and dysfunctional ballpoint pens, was not helpful.  Santa was not going to get the message that way any more than the media would telepathically know about your target areas for 2013.  I needed to send it to Santa, just as you need to let the media know what you want to do.  So I would put my list in an envelope and give it to my parents for mailing.  You need to get your list mailed to your local paper, radio station and TV contacts just letting them know your targets for 2013. 


You can do this well with holiday cards.  Just add in a handwritten note wishing them a nice holiday and that next year you will be working on _____.  Something like:


“Just a note to wish you all a great holiday season and thanks for all you did this past year.  It’s appreciated!  Next year we will be promoting our _______ - and we’re good at it!  I will contact you about it when the time gets closer – probably in __month__.  Until then, have a very Merry Christmas!”


Add in a business card.  – You do have business cards made up, don’t you?



Santa Nets

Some groups have their own special “Santa Nets.”  Most groups do them in conjunction with another agency.  This could be a school, church or daycare of some sort.  While I suspect it is easiest and most effective to partner up with another organization that already is working with children, in either case these nets are a most pleasant way to do community service – and also gain publicity.  Local TV stations really love to show the pictures of kids talking on an HT to “Santa” at the North Pole (usually the next room over).  It’s a great way to make good friends with other agencies, parents and bring smiles to kids.


If you really want to do it up right, create a big “radio” out of a cardboard box with one of the little family FM radio hidden in it.  Lots of knobs, dials and blinky lights (made up of Christmas tree lights) with magic marker gauges drawn on it.  The kids won’t care as long as the box talks back and it’s all magic anyway.



A new DIY-Hacker-Ham Website


Diane Bruce,  VA3DB, happily reports “We are up and running.”


“Let me just say I personally am very happy to see the ARRL pushing the technical side of our hobby like this. The more the merrier is all I can say.


“A few of us have been disturbed for some time about the number of new hams who cannot do simple building projects. A recent look at some old 73 magazines brought to mind the simple projects this magazine produced. So our thought was to do something similar, but meant for the web instead of dead tree. We are not talking a full fledged magazine, but a website where we can put simple beginner type articles, with copious photos etc. A bit like maker magazine but for the radio amateur.”



Speak for yourself, John


If you remember your history lessons, this was the famous line in a Puritan romance.  It became an American icon as much as “Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn” but was two centuries earlier.  Today it is still good advice.


It is no secret that newspapers are cutting back costs by cutting staff.  The same goes with other media outlets.  Meanwhile, there is an explosion of citizen news reporting on networks such as .  Editors are looking for stories to publicize, but have few staff to write anything up.  That’s where you come in.


Write up your own story!  There’s no secret to writing a good story.  Just follow the outline who, what, when, where, why.  Create a good lead, make it relate to the readers in some way and go for it.  Add pictures with faces in them and send them to the editors.


We are seeing more and more ham related stories that were written by local PIOs being printed word-for-word or with only minor edits.  You can do this!


Just read it out loud before you send it in.  It’s amazing how that will show you any grammar mistakes.  Be sure to also use your spell checker on it.  Make it look pretty with neat formatting and go for it.



Ideas from the Field


It was a quiet month and so I saw there was going to be room here in CONTACT! for more materials.  I asked the PR email reflector folks if they wanted to send in ideas that would be helpful to PIOs – and they came up with several really good ones. 



Look for email addresses

When reading printed paper check if the author of some of the news have an email address, so that way you can have a way to contact them, and even to direct you to a particular department that would fit your activity, say an emergency or hobby column. And check your regional papers, they may need something to fill in their next edition.


Angel - WP3GW



Using a mailer

Increasing membership can often be a daunting task. However, creating a mailer to send to potential members can prove to beneficial in gaining new members while also creating public awareness of your group, club or teams existence and mission within your area.  Recently Wilson County Amateur Radio Emergency Service created a mailer that was sent to the HAMS in the county. A downloadable database of licensed HAMS was obtained from along with addresses. The mailer was very basic and straight forward. It was professionally developed complete with graphics. The mailer outlined WCARES mission within the county along with agencies served and levels of activation. In addition, the two levels of membership were outlined. Finalizing the mailer were complete contact details for the public information officer of WCARES. The website for WCARES was listed last as a resource for additional information,  Costs were shared by two members of WCARES. Approximately 100 mailers were sent with cost averaging around $35.00. Such an investment is an invaluable method for creating awareness and recruiting new members.


When it was decided to create the mailer a new idea arose from research of other nationwide ARES groups. The emergency coordinator and public information officer for WCARES decided after careful deliberation to create two levels of participation within the team as a means of increasing membership. Level one membership consists of members who are fully trained in all NC AUXCOMM required training through FEMA. Level two would be a reserve membership of all untrained members. Creating two levels of membership is thought to attract more members who might see the required NC AUXCOMM training as a deterrent from joining. All reserve members can participate in community outreach functions however during activation, these members would only be asked to man their home stations. All level one trained members will work with untrained members in helping lead them toward becoming level one trained members. These considerations of membership are hoped to attract new members. 


While brochures and mailers have been done by many groups, clubs and teams within the HAM world, such simple ideas still prove to be the most successful. Continuing to remind the HAM world of such simple recruitment methods will hopefully keep groups, clubs and teams reminded of the tried and trued ideas and allow them to continue to revisit and reuse these methods for getting their word out. 


Benjamin R. Gufford, Jr.  W4BRG



Basic Public Information Officer Training (G290)

 If you are an ARRL PIO who wants to continue your training beyond PR-101, the G290 Basic Public Information Officer course, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an option that provides formal classroom training on a professional level. According to the course material, “This course is part of a tiered training approach in that it provides the foundation for more advanced training that takes participants from the awareness level to the mastery level in their public information careers.”


G290 is a bridge between the G289 Public Information Officer Awareness classroom course (or IS-29 Public Information Officer Awareness Independent Study Course) and the E388 Advanced PIO and E389 Master PIO on-campus classes held at the Emergency Management Institute's facility in Emmetsburg, Maryland.


Please note that although G290 is a part of the FEMA curriculum, the classes themselves are actually conducted at the state level, so contact your state's Emergency Management organization to find out when and where the next set of classes will be offered and what you'd need to do to request a seat in the class. In addition to government workers, people from volunteer organizations are also eligible to take the course. I was the only Amateur Radio operator at the class I attended recently here in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but I had no difficulty in being accepted for the class, which filled up quickly. Perhaps my affiliation with ARES helped with that.


The class I attended required two and a half days to cover the program material, and it was taught by two professional-level Public Information Officers, one from the Charlotte NC Fire Department, and the other with New Hanover County NC. Each of these gentlemen had a wealth of practical experience to share with us.


The course manual included seven units, which were:

1.            Introduction

2.            Communication Tools That Work

3.            News Interviews

4.            Practical Exercise—On-Camera Interviews and News Release Writing

5.            Media Relations at the Scene

6.            Public Information in Expanding Incidents—Introduction to JIS/JIC

7.            News Media Panel


We all had the opportunity to experience what it was like to stand before a television camera and answer questions from “reporters,” which was a very revealing and constructive exercise! The News Media Panel unit had three members of local newspapers and television stations who took questions from us as to the most effective ways for us as PIOs to work with the media.


Since this class requires several days' commitment, it's certainly not something that every ARRL Public Information Officer will want to undertake. On the other hand, I would never want to risk having to stand before media representatives as a spokesperson for Amateur Radio, especially in an emergency situation, without the knowledge and experience gained from this course.


Raymond "Woody" Woodward K3VSA




Effective Use of New Media (internet)

From time to time successful PIOs should take a moment to assess the effectiveness of their Publicity Programs.  Web sites offer a unique view of how those we serve use our web resources.  The only way that we get any feedback on traditional printed media is the occasional comment that begins, I read your article and....!  These comments are infrequent, usually come from an energized reader and often represent a minority view.  Remember that minority view when the next comment is a compliment.

The statistics associated with a web site offer a picture of how visitors in a given time period used and viewed your web site.  The web statistics can be very complex but, are  loaded with significant information.   The statistics tell you what the visitors were looking for when they visited.  The number of visits are normally logged by the day and are displayed as averages for the hour or day visits occur.  The section web site for Alabama ( indicates that we have a number of Hams that suffer from insomnia.  The visit trends will quickly tell if your visitors have discovered value in your site.


An analysis of the search words or phrases that led visitors to your web site will tell you, quickly, what visitors were searching for.  Match these words to you site content and freshness and you should be able to determine if you have an opportunity better serve your visitors.  The three most used search words for the Alabama Section site are, “Alabama, Hamfest, and Classes.”  The analysis of these words tells us that we have an opportunity to improve not only the way we display upcoming Hamfests in the state but, points to the need for improved communications between the State Section Officers and local clubs sponsoring Hamfests.  The “Classes” search word tells us that there are many people interested in becoming hams that are searching for needed study resources.  


Ed Tyler  -  N4EDT



EBay and PR

Think about Classified opportunities for your Club events.  For example, EBay has a classified section that is localized to the area.  Craigslist <> and Bookoo <> do also.


The EBAY site allows one to set up an event page, print flyers, and promote the effort on Social Media to include Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. is an example of one group's effort.


Lloyd Colston KC5FM




A Success Story


I wanted to report back that the event (Student Leadership Training Program) went well and the ARRL handouts I ordered were great.  They had 380 attendees.  Most were high school and middle school age with their teachers.  The staff were teachers and college students who were prior attendees as students.  The video was kind of drowned out by the crowd noise in the auditorium, but I had a tri-fold display with PowerPoint charts attached along with QSL cards from various countries.  I had a FT-817 set up, but the indoor hamstick antenna was not optimal.  However, it at least gave people an idea of the equipment. I have attached the PowerPoint to give you an idea about what I spoke about as people went by the table.  I made a pitch of about two minutes to each group passing by.  I focused my comments on "the three worlds of ham radio."  I started with the "world of helping" on the left side of the tri-fold; then "world of learning" (students and teachers were the attendees), and lastly "world of communicating."  I explained the QSL cards this way: you know how when you go away on a vacation trip, you might send postcards to friends and family?  Well, talking to a fellow ham in another country is somewhat like visiting the country so hams exchange these cards, called QSL cards, when they make a radio contact with each other.

I was right next to the Red Cross table so it was good placement.   

Thanks for your input!
Dick Bean, K1HC



The Last Word  (sorta)


I have been doing some thinking on the success and also problems of the “When all else fails” slogan and sign.


There’s no denying that it has been VERY successful in promoting ARES work.  But I also know it can tick off some of the people whose careers depend on EmComm facilities.  (Hey…if they worked as well as their sales reps claimed, they would never need us…but that’s another topic)


Anyway, I wanted to come up with another catchy phrase, simple and to the point with as little changes as possible.  I think I have one here.


Let me know what you think. 

If enough of you like it, I will talk to our Graphics Department ahout updating the whole thing into a new, usable graphic.


-Allen   w1agp