Contact Jan 2012


DIY launched


Vol 10  No 1

January 2012

In this issue:

·         Happy New Year – what’s your plan?

·         DIY launches

·         Mike Baxter, KAØXTT

·         33 things

·         Looking for a newsletter?

·         How to make a poster

·         Who do you know?

·         Top 10 PR blunders of 2011

·         PRC plans for 2012

·         The Last Word


Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2012.  So what are you going to do this year in PR? 

Send me your PR plan for the year 2012 – what you are going to do, why, when, and your target population.


I will pass these on to the Public Relations Committee and together we’ll pick out (and publish) the best ones.  Winner will get both a new ARRL Handbook and Antenna Book.  2nd will get one book of their choice and 3rd gets the other.  We’ll look at creativity, use of resources, use of volunteers, identification of target populations, motivations, linkages to others and effectiveness.

Submit your plan in electronic format (use Word, Excel, pdf, jpg, gif, ppt or most common files).  If the files are more than 5 megs my email will not take it -In that case snail mail a DVD or CD disk.  Get them to me no later than midnight Jan 31st.  “Let’s see what you got.”



DIY launches

The ARRL Public Relations Department has released the DIY suite of interrelated promotional materials aimed at exposing the growing Do It Yourself / Maker community to Amateur Radio opportunities.


The Do It Yourself or “DIY” movement is nothing new to Amateur Radio.  For just over a century, hams have been working in basements and attics, taking things apart and putting them back together in new ways for the fun of it.  Meanwhile, there has been a growing population of Do It Yourself hobbyists that do not know about the opportunities of Amateur Radio.  “Makers Fairs” have popped up in several areas of the country, from New York to Los Angeles, and look suspiciously like ham radio conventions. 


The DIY crowd is as diverse as hams.  Many are into computer programming, using new computer chips and open-source electronics prototyping platforms like Arduino that are based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. They are artists, designers, hobbyists, and people interested in creating interactive objects and applications. DIY people work with everything from wood and clothing to energy and chemistry projects.  Robotics is a great favorite.

To reach this growing group, the ARRL Public Relations Department has created an entirely new set of campaign materials for PIOs, groups and individual hams to use in reaching out to the DIY/Maker community.  Your can find information about such groups and activities at


Bill Pasternak and Dave Bell were recruited to create the new video. They found other volunteers throughout 2011 and shot over 65 hours of HD video then edited it down to 8 minutes.   Titled “The DIY Magic of Amateur Radio,” it shows ham-makers projects from around the country.  It can be seen at and


But a video alone cannot accomplish the goal of linking the viewers with ham radio, so an auxiliary printed flier was crafted to go along with the video as a hand-out.  In addition, “Ask me why I DIY with Ham Radio” buttons were made as a way to encourage the non-hams we encounter to begin informal conversations about our hobby.  A contest was held resulting in a scripted 30 second answer to the question, “What is Amateur Radio?”   


A Power Point presentation and speaker’s notes also are available on the /DIY page.


The video is available on DVD disks  along with the printed handout from the ARRL.  For information about ordering or downloading these materials, go to .   High Definition, MPEG versions of the video are available for download – but they are over 480 megs.  The buttons will be made available to ARRL members for free at larger hamfests and conventions while supplies last.



Looking for the other campaigns?

Remember that we have three full sets of campaign materials available for you at .  Hello is about the fun and fellowship of ham radio.  Emergency is about our ARES and emergency communications work.  We Do That is about our technologies.



Mike Baxter, KAØXTT

January 17th

If you have been following events in the past months at all, you know that Tim Allen stars in the TV show “Last Man Standing” on Tuesday nights on ABC.  His character, Mike Baxter, works at a sporting goods store and copes with a female-dominated home.  If you really looked hard, you might have noticed some Amateur Radio related things in the background of several shots.  That is not by accident.


As this time, on January 17th the show will begin portraying Mike as a ham!  Thanks for this go to John Amodeo, the Producer,  NN6JA.   He was the sparkplug that lit the ham fires on the set.  Shortly afterwards, several more people working there wanted to become hams.  A fast bit of paperwork and several phone calls later, the ARRL’s VEC staff arranged the required VE coverage and 7 new hams were made on the set.  Real working radios were installed with the antennas in the rafters.  (Yes, they are careful about the non-pecuniary rules.) 


ARRL also worked with Amodeo in creating the callsign KAØXTT – which is an impossible callsign so that it can never be assigned to a real person, but still sounds right. 


We understand that Tim Allen himself has not yet gone for his license, but they are “working on him” and Tim has appeared at Makers Faires, so it is probably only a matter of time. 


In the meantime "Last Man Standing" now has a Facebook page to follow Mike Baxter's (Tim's Character) Ham Radio station!

As you see the show, take a look at the station.  There’s a good scattering of ARRL related items there.


33 Things

Lloyd Colston sent this in - 33 things that media people wish PR people knew.  It’s an interesting article.  Many of them you may know, but I will bet some are new to you too.



Looking for something to put in a newsletter?

The American Legion now has an Amateur Radio linkage.  While it is still very new and many details are yet to be developed, this national outreach to other hams (and getting legionnaires interested in radio) is worth noting.


The American Legion Amateur Radio Club
700 N Pennsylvania Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204


The American Legion Amateur Radio Club is open to wartime military veterans who are both members of the Legion and FCC-licensed amateur radio operators. Members of The American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of The American Legion who are licensed are also eligible.

The club station, K9-The American Legion, is located at Legion National Headquarters in downtown Indianapolis.  For information, or to join:



How to make a recruiting poster

In the past two months, we’ve been asked to help and comment on several posters that groups wanted to create to go with recruiting displays.  So perhaps some general  guidelines would be a help if you are thinking along those lines for 2012.


Start with a headline that causes a reaction.  Examples are “Upgrade to Ham Radio,” or even a passive-voiced one such as “I want you” (from WW1)  It needs to be as few words as possible, readable with only a glance so it catches the peripheral vision and causes a head turn.

Keep graphics simple and uncluttered.  If it takes more than two seconds to see all the pictures, that’s too many.  If you have to “really look” to see what the pictures are, that’s too cluttered.

A good example is nothing more than a black backdrop with a lit HF radio and D-104 mike with caption


“We’re waiting for you”


(The D-104 is an example here because it is instantly recognized as a mike by almost everyone and chrome looks good against black)


Color is good – but get someone with a sense of style and color to help you.  Face it, most men have a poor sense of color coordination.  We’re good at lots of things, but that is rarely one of them.  Color coordination helps gain attention.


The bottom has your call to action.  You need to be very clear what you want them to do and how they can do it.  You’ve probably been hammered by commercials ending in “Call NOW!” over the pre-Christmas weeks.  They’re annoying, but they work  – it is clear and an action.  So do the same in writing whatever you want the reader to do.


Include a phone number so they can make a 1:1 contact with a real person.  It is very hard to walk into a room full of strange people you don’t know.  But if there’s a phone call first, they can look for Harry or Mike or Charlie and have a relationship established beforehand.  (It also is harder to chicken out at the last minute when Harry is waiting for you.)  Just giving an address and “2nd Tuesday each month” probably will not do anything at all.  A phone contact with a “real, live ham” is much more effective.


If you have a good one, give them your website address to look at between seeing the poster and your  meeting.  Or you can use  .



Who do you know?

One of the ways to make friends and good relationships within the amateur community is to recognize and reward positive actions.  Do you know a really good ham operator?  If so, the A-1 Operator Club is an option.  To be nominated you need the agreement of two A-1 members, but take a look at this honor as a possibility.  There’s also the Elmer Award for the people who help get us started right, and the First Contact Award for those starting off.  You can find out more about them at .



Fineman’s List – top 10

PRNewswire/ -- The 17th Annual Top 10 PR Blunders List, compiled by San Francisco's Fineman PR, features blunders by organizations that were unprepared, undecided, unconscious, unfair and uninformed, and all of them preventable.



Public Relations Committee plans for 2012  - Webinars!

Late in 2011, the ARRL Public Relations Committee tried an experiment by hosting the first webinar designed for PIOs and working on the topic, “What does the media want from hams in an emergency and how do they want it?” Over 200 PIOs and interested people attended the session.  While there were a few technical glitches, it was very well received.  So of course the PRC is going to do it again!


At this time the topics expected include “How to write a good press release that gets used” and “Preparing for Field Day.”  Keep an eye out for announcements about them.  If you have any suggestions for other major topics, please send them to us along with the names and contact info of who you think would be good presenters for that suggested webinar topic.



The Last Word


Well, we hit the end of 2011.  From tsunamis to blizzards and earthquakes to Irene, it has been quite a trip.  From the June QST: “If you remember the AOL blog from a few years ago in which Amateur Radio was listed as one of the things ‘Disappearing from America’, you might chuckle...”  The shoe is now on the other foot.  Just as media once piled ashes onto our grave, the same media now is reporting a very much alive American Amateur Radio service with 700,000+ licensees, recent significant growth and a firm place in the culture.  In just the last few months, NPR, Fox News, National Geographic, and others had a good laugh at AOL’s predictions.  But the reports of our death might only have been premature –not incorrect.   While we  have turned around most of the negativity, the percentages of older hams and the coming actuarial “cliff of death” still is a major, unresolved problem.  The new DIY campaign, targeting younger audiences, will be a help but is not a solution.  Barring a 2012 end-of-the-world catastrophe, normal emergency related communications will continue to harden, limiting the hams’ role there.  The future of Amateur Radio may well be as a tool used in other pursuits and a return to the niche, “geek” activity that it was for so many decades.  The good news is that being a “geek” is now “cool” and there are a lot of them. 


If my crystal ball is correct, the future of Amateur Radio is very much in your PIO hands.  Headquarters can provide the materials, but it takes a ham to make a ham, and only you can do the local, personal relationships that are needed.  So we’re back to the beginning of this issue.

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2012.  So what are you going to do this year in PR? 


Allen   w1agp