You represent us all
Every Ham is a PIO
“We are our own worst publicists. We have to get out of that habit and get over our modesty. We have a good product, a wonderful hobby, we do wonderful things, and we go home and don't tell anybody. We have to sell the good product. The League has 168,000 members. Think about 168,000 people going out and selling this product. We got a lot of good press from the Von Tujil story, and it wasn’t difficult to do from the standpoint that we were just telling and selling our story and that’s what I ask you to do. Let’s crank up and put this machine in high gear now and each and every one of us start selling Amateur Radio to our public.” -- Jim Haynie, W5JBP, ARRL President at 2001 Dayton Hamvention
How many times has someone said to you “Who do you talk to on that CB radio?” Probably too often. We need to change that to “Is that a ham radio or is it a CB and who do you talk to?” To do this we need to know how to sell the product. Most of us are not born salesmen, but we can learn some easy ways to promote ham radio.
First, we need to understand that often the public does not know who we are or what we do. The first step to getting over our modesty is to have pride – in our radio service, our hobby, our club, our fellow hams.
Here are a few ideas for club members and club publicity chairs.
Know your local hams. Who is available to reporters and can speak clearly in layman’s terms? Who uses which modes? Send the reporter to the proper person. For example if you are asked about Morse Code and your personal opinion is that it should be outlawed, keep quiet and send the reporter to a CW enthusiast. If you’re the enthusiast don’t talk about your opinion of the 5 wpm requirement. Keep things positive.
List club and other Amateur Radio events in Happenings/Meetings listing in newspapers, local TV, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. New hams moving to area need to find you. Folks interested in a new hobby or in providing community service need to find you.
Letters to the Editor: Respond politely to a specific article or news item that has been published. Give facts, numbers and don’t use tech-speak. Keep it short and within the paper’s guidelines for length – you don’t want it edited.
Handling the Big Stories – Hurricanes, floods and other disasters: Don’t explain Amateur Radio, just explain what we are and will be doing for that event. Know the prioritization of NTS messages (Health & Welfare last). Speak only for the group you are representing and state facts, not rumors. Be familiar with ARRL Backgrounder regarding News Gathering and the Media (available online at www.arrl.org/pio). And most importantly, say ONLY what you are authorized to say. If you are providing emergency communications during a disaster the agency you are serving has a spokesperson handling the press and you should refer reporters to that person.
Magic, emergency assistance, history, technology discoveries, love of Amateur Radio – try to include these whenever you speak.