Contact Oct 2012


Vol. 10  No 10

October 2012


In this issue:


·         So you want to be a PIO  ?

·         Getting Good Press

·         New Tool –

·         JOTA Opportunities

·         SET Coming

·         Shorts

·         Dec. 20 – Zombie time!

·         One Last Time - references

·         Out of Time – brochure

·         Printing BIG Things

·         Make Your Story Interesting

·         ARRL Humanitarian Award

·         2012 Bill Leonard Award

·         The Last, Last Word



So you want to be a PIO?

Angel’s grinning was hard to hide.  The old car’s AM radio had relapsed back into outdated music, but for 30 seconds it had been the epicenter of his attention.  The public service announcement Angel had downloaded and given to the local radio station was really on the air!  Hundreds, maybe thousands of people had heard it and Angel knew the joy and pride of success as a PIO.  This was fun!

Suppertime conversation faded so Bill started to look at the evening paper.  Glancing past the headlines of political doom and gloom, he quickly thumbed through the pages only to stop short midway into the section.  In grainy black and white, a picture of his club members stared back at him.  The headline proclaimed “Area Hams Do Community Service.”  At first he thought it sounded like they were serving out a court sentence, but the text quickly went on to tell how Bill and his friends had helped a community park.  Bill smiled and passed the page over to his wife, Tammy.  She smiled too.  She had made it happen.

Nothing succeeds like success.  Once you score a media hit as a Public Information Officer there’s a “fire in the belly” that wants more and more.  The affirmation that comes with seeing your efforts show up in ink, electrons or on the airwaves is an addiction common to good PIOs.  Every plan, every action, every event triggers a thoughtful “How can I use this to promote Amateur Radio here?”   The entire basis of ARRL’s public relations strategy is based on this desire.

Over the past years, ARRL has built up a comprehensive arsenal of tools and information for public information officers (PIOs) and others to freely take, modify and use in promoting Amateur Radio.  Almost all of these are available for downloading from our website in the section.  Other items, such as brochures, are available for the cost of shipping them out.  (ARRL covers the development and printing costs, which can be substantial for glossy, color brochures.)   Hundreds of PIOs, club publicity appointees and just plain hams use them locally.  In addition, ARRL freely provides ideas and training in public relations with CONTACT! and PR-101. 

While the curmudgeons may growl and complain, ARRL is the source for promoting Amateur Radio in the USA and has done more than any other organization to promote all of Amateur Radio.  Even those hams that slander us freely use our materials.

But what we cannot do is infect people with that fire.  We can provide everything from fill-in-the-blank-and-go releases to situations such as Field Day and the annual S.E.T. drills. But until an individual actually takes the chance and makes a pitch to the media, it lies cold and lifeless.  Affirmation comes only with risk.  The fire comes only after taking a chance of being rejected. 

There’s not a lot of pride in simply hitting the ball in a game of T-ball.  But when you face a real pitcher who might strike you out in front of your friends -and hit a good one – then you smile.  In the same way, just annually taking the generic Field Day press release, filling in your club name and mailing it to the local paper in hopes they may use it,  is not going to cause a spark.  Sitting and waiting for a reporter to come knocking at your door will never bring you the smile.  But downloading and taking a public service announcement, putting it on a disk and actually walking into the local broadcast radio station to talk with people about it,  or arranging for an interview set up with a local TV station – that’s a risk.  If you score, the fire will burn brightly.  If you want to be a PIO then you have to take the risk of rejection, for only after that risk comes the warm joy of success and the fire sparks.   

Is it worth it?  I think so.



Getting Good Press for Your Ham Radio Club

by: Tim Carter - W3ATB

© Copyright 2012 Tim Carter used with permission


How would you like your ham radio club to be featured in a story in your local newspaper? Would you prefer your club to be on local television instead? Or perhaps you want the fancy exposure one gets with a full-color spread in a glossy magazine. You can achieve all these things, grow your club membership and build awareness of the hobby if you understand how these publications work.


Be aware that newspapers, magazines, and radio and television shows need content. Stories are the fuel that keep them operating. If you want a story done by a publication, it's best to approach them with your story idea in the format they deliver the content. If you're pitching a TV station, go there with a simple two-minute video telling the story you're trying to pitch. Take lots of fantastic color photos to show a magazine editor, or write up an outline of the story to pitch a newspaper editor.


The story idea needs to focus on what ham radio does for the community. No one likes selfish people, so your story idea can't be about your wonderful club and its smart members. Pitch a story about how ham radio helps the community during emergencies and provides invisible communications at public service events that help maintain a safe environment and you'll likely get the attention of an editor/reporter/news director in seconds.


Don't dwell on the technical aspects of the hobby. Everything needs to be so simple a sixth grader would understand and be interested in the story. Avoid all the fancy words like repeaters, transceivers, band plans, etc. If you have to spend ten seconds explaining a word, it's far too technical. 


A GREAT option for local publicity - PATCH

This is how a simple PIO can become a reporter for a national news network while working from home.

Last week I was talking to Jason Molinet of .   I have seen many articles come past my desk with as their source, but did not realize the extent of their growing network of Internet based news sites until now.  While they do not yet cover the entire country, they already have a good hunk of it. -- See their network here.


They divide the country into sections and each section has their own “edition” as well as linkage to national news.  They are looking for subscriber submissions of local news events.  <That’s where you come in.

I asked Jason for the basics our team would need to know.  Here’s what he sent me:

Patch has several free tools you can use. 

You would use your own section’s page, but we’ll use Northport as an example.


Be A User: It begins with signing up as a user:   Upper right hand corner, click: Sign Up.

Publicize Events: Once you do, you can add events yourself.  Simply go to:     On the right side, click: Add an Event.

Let The World Know: Do you have an announcement? Someone you want to recognize?   On the right side, click: Add an Announcement.

Share Photos And Videos: Do you have a photo you'd like to share with the community?   Click: Upload Photos and Videos.

Share Your Thoughts: Most importantly, we'd love it if you signed up as a blogger. This gives weight to any issue you'd like to bring to the community. See our bloggers:

Get News Delivered To You: Finally, get Patch breaking news and daily highlights delivered to your email and cell phone. Once signed in, click on "Alerts" under your name.

These tools are all free to use and help bring the community into focus.  If you are in one of the sections that they cover, this is an excellent and easy way to get information out to the public.



Don’t Forget JOTA Opportunities

Jamboree on the Air October 20-21, 2012  --and you still can register your station at

Worldwide participation last year reached about 750,000 Scouts operating from more than 6,000 amateur radio stations, across 150 countries.  A participant patch is available, as is a certificate/log sheet that can also be used to fulfill a Radio merit badge requirement. The official hours are from Saturday at 00:00 hours local time (right at midnight Friday) to Sunday 24:00 (midnight Sunday evening).   A great deal of supporting information for your local event is available at   Of particular interest for PIO’s will be the sample news release at  JOTA in the News at  and the graphic files at


JOTA video

Jim Wilson, K5ND, made up a video about Jamboree on the Air that is directed toward amateur radio operators that addresses what it is, why they should care, ways they can get involved, and provides them a source for further information. You can see it at



PR opportunities abound in SET

October is also the month when many sections hold their annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET).  The ARES groups often do this in concert with other organizations and response groups.  This makes for good news stories. 


If you just tell a reporter that your group is holding (another) drill, you probably will get a polite yawn.  But the hook that gets attention is “Hams and __group__ team up for disaster in __town__”   That should get you a few column inches and mentions or better.


Information about SET, the national links through ARRL and much more is at:


I came across an excellent (and brief)  article about giving a speech and the use of stories. Good points for any PIO.


Dec 20 The end of the world? 

NASA’s website comments:

Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?
A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then -- just as your calendar begins again on January 1 -- another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

I am not sure just where the current “Zombie” fad began, but like I’ve been saying...”They just ran out of rocks!”



One last time....

web references for PIOs

Overview of the ARRL Public Relations program –



For presentations:

Presentations -

HD video files –


Brochures -  see the multiple pages at



Just about anything else you may need is available via one of the many links you can find at                


Give to reporters:

General info - 

PSAs -              


Being PIOs or PIC

General Job description -

PR-101 training -

PIOs and ARES -     see video at


McGan and Leonard -

ARRL Public Relations Committee




OUT of time

There are many projects going on all at once here.  But, to put it bluntly, I am out of time in working out all the text and parts to this one.  With the current solar cycle about as high as it is going to go, the options for Technician Class licensees are as good as it is going to get on 10 meters.  So perhaps we can get a few more people interested in getting licensed this way. 


Here’s two files of a brochure I have been working on for a while, but just ran out of time.  If you have MSPublisher or Acrobat you  should be able to modify them to suit yourselves and your own local situation.

Brochure for new Techs


Right click on the little red and white logo and choose "save as" or whatever your system uses to download a file



Big printing on 8x11 printers

Raymond "Woody" Woodward, K3VSA, writes:

 Here's a useful, free internet app that you can use to create giant banners and posters from photos and stuff using your own home printer:

It's an answer to prayer for me!


What makes a story interesting?

According to Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute (who knows these things well!) there are 5 main motivators and 2 ancillary ones.  If you are writing up a story, be sure to link to one of these.

1 money

2 family

3 health

4 safety

5 community


I   moral outrage but needs to link to one of the above

II  curiosity

Looking to craft a good story?  Check out




Nominations are open for the 2012 ARRL International Humanitarian Award

<>. The award is

conferred upon an amateur or amateurs who demonstrate devotion to human

welfare, peace and international understanding through Amateur Radio. The

League established the annual prize to recognize Amateur Radio operators

who have used ham radio to provide extraordinary service to others in

times of crisis or disaster.


Amateur Radio is one of the few telecommunication services that allow

people throughout the world from all walks of life to meet and talk with

each other, thereby spreading goodwill across political boundaries. The

ARRL International Humanitarian Award recognizes Amateur Radio's unique

role in international communication and the assistance amateurs regularly

provide to people in need.


Nominations should include a summary of the nominee's actions that qualify

the individual (or individuals) for this award, plus verifying statements

from at least two people having first-hand knowledge of the events

warranting the nomination.  All nominations and supporting materials must 

be submitted in writing in English to


ARRL International Humanitarian Award,

225 Main St,

Newington, CT 06111 USA.


Nomination submissions are due by December 31, 2012.

See for

rules and more information.




2012 has been another good year for Amateur Radio in the media.  Our emergency actions were praised and there were many stories about the joy of do-it-yourself communications. We even had fewer “old radio” comments.  Did you spot a good, ham radio Media Hit?  Was a reporter helpful to your club or group?  Now it is time to say “Thank You!” to the professional media people. The way to do that is to nominate them for the Bill Leonard, W2SKE, Professional Media Award.

This is a national level, annual award that honors three professional journalists whose outstanding work in audio, video and print formats best reflect the enjoyment, importance and public service value of the Amateur Radio Service.

The Award is divided into three categories, each with its own award

a.    Audio formats

b.    Visual formats

c.    Print and Text formats

The award is sponsored by the ARRL – the national association for Amateur Radio.  Nominations are judged by members of the ARRL national PR Committee, and the final decision is made by the ARRL Board of Directors at their meeting in January 2013. The winners each receive an engraved plaque and a donation of $250 will be made in each of their names to the charity of their choice. The deadline for receiving nominations is 5pm on December 9, 2012.

The award was created as a tribute to the late CBS News President Bill Leonard, W2SKE, an avid Amateur Radio operator.  Full information, rules and entry forms are at .  Recipients must be professional journalists in print, electronic media or multimedia. The term "professional" refers to full time, part time, stringers, freelancers and contract journalists.  In the case of a group project, the recipient may be the group, but only one prize will be awarded.   We’re looking for media pieces that are truthful, clear and accurate, and reflect high journalistic standards. The award will be granted to the works deemed the best reflection of the enjoyment, importance and public service value of Amateur Radio.

If your group got a good news hit or article, what better way to respond than to nominate the person who publicized it?  Media professionals can submit their own work, but it is best when hams themselves show their thanks, action and consideration.  Amateur Radio emergency services, educational stories, space stories and ham technology – all of these topics could be winners.  If a reporter covered your activity well, nominate them!  

Audio format:      Submit CD with audio file(s) in mp3 format with name of candidate written on each disk.

Visual format:     Submit CD with mp4 file or DVD of the work with name of candidate written on each disk.

Print article:      Submit clear, easily readable copy of printed text, any related Web addresses, and 8.5x11 sheets  displaying the writing in situ as it appeared to the public. (Photocopies are fine)

All entry forms and supporting disks and documentation must be received by 5pm on December 9, 2012. 

Mail the packets to:

Manager of Media Relations

American Radio Relay League

225 Main Street

Newington, CT 06111


Each of the award winners will receive a plaque and a donation in their name of $250 will go to a recognized non-profit organization of the recipient’s choosing.

For more information about the award, full rules and to obtain a nomination form, go to   Or contact ARRL's Media & Public Relations Department,  860-594-0328.

The Last, Last Word - Confessions of a PR man

Some folks knew about it, most did not. But the rumor is true. This is my last CONTACT! as I am “retiring” this week. To use a famous quote, “It’s been a long, hard road and some of it wasn’t paved.” Time to slow down. But before you rejoice, you are probably not totally rid of me yet. I hope to continue to work on projects for ARRL – especially Centennial things.  So if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I will still be lurking in the background. But my regular work load in supporting the many promotions of Amateur Radio (and also keeping us OUT of trouble) comes to an end.


A few things I know at this point:


·         Whoever comes in next will have one incredible boss.

            Indulge me a moment or two.

Some of you know I have a medieval persona and take it quite seriously.  In addition to honor, courtesy and chivalry, fealty, both up and down, is important to me and I have never had a more intelligent, nurturing and loyal boss than Dave Sumner.  He gave me freedom to be creative and was there for me whenever I needed his support.  His personal work schedule would kill most people and his driving desire to see, not just ARRL but all of Amateur Radio, continue and grow is evident to anyone who works with him.

·         As I sit here with the clock winding down, soon it will be time to go home.  I know I will get to play with my mastiff, Tiggr ,and chat with my wife.  I will do some chores, but they will be at my own speed.  I probably will turn on the radios for a while tonight and see what the world is up to.

·         I do not know who may come in as the new Media & PR Manager.  But I know that you will have both high expectations and also give him/her your full support.  That’s a good thing, because in the end I was never kidding when I said “It does not happen here – YOU make it happen.”  If there have been any accomplishments, you --all 530 some PIOs and countless other volunteers-- are the ones who made them happen. I just provided the supports. 

Some time ago I shared my thoughts about the best benediction possible.  And now I say it to you.....”Y’all dun gud!”