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January 2011

January 2011

Vol 9, No 1

January 2011


· ARRL’s Five Pillars

· A Video Goodie

· A PR Freebie from Joan Stewart

· Scary Science Claims

· When the Numbers Taper Off

· Social Media Numbers

· Looking Back to 2010

· Looking Ahead

ARRL’s Five Pillars

Sometimes things are so obvious that you really don’t see them. In this case, ARRL’s five pillar graphic is all over HQ here and also on banners and displays. So everyone knows about them, right? Well…. No. I spotted that there was nothing on the website that ever said what they were or explained them. So we fixed that PDQ. Together with Harold Kramer, our COO, we developed a short PowerPoint about them and what they mean for members. You can see it (and download it) at .


A Video Goodie

Kevin O’Dell put me on to “MPEG Streamclip” at

It’s a good video program, available for free, and has become a trusted part of my toolbox here. Look for the beta version that allows capture of videos off YouTube or other sites and saving it in a choice of several formats to your computer. How often have you spotted a Web-posted video and wished you could get a copy of the file. This will do it.

A PR Freebie from Joan Stewart

Joan Stewart writes “The Publicity Hound” which contains many tips and information in the PR world. It is one of the blogs that I follow. Now she has taken some of the best tips of the past year and put them all in one place – for free downloading!

She writes:

"The Best of The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week of 2010" includes the best 25 tips from
this year's ezine, or tips that generated the most response from readers. Feel free to regift my ebook to your own blog readers, newsletter subscribers, clients, customers, Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections. They don't even need to opt-in with an email address. Just pass along this link:

Joan Stewart
The Publicity Hound

Scary Science Claims

From: Randall Wing, N0LD

The following article: disturbed me that it made allegations (and included links that indicated) that RF was unsafe – primarily for cell phones. Her sources included women doctors that "have researched RF extensively for 28 years".
How does (or can) the ARRL or anyone combat science articles that are biased?

In the past few years there have been a rash of "scientific claims" made that we are doomed. If not from cell phones, then we all die of asteroid hits, Yellowstone volcano eruptions, plague, locusts, rivers turning to blood, frogs, plague and who knows what else. Writers looking for something to put into their columns or TV shows, and who have no ideas of their own, fill the void with "scare the H out of them" predictions. Then, one such claim is used as a basis to make the next claim and on it goes. This seems to be one more of the same.

The problem is not unique to ARRL, wireless communication, or even to technology overall. There's the same "scare-em" tripe published about all sorts of things, and I have even seen one warning people about the dangers of artificial Christmas trees (yes - they give off polycarbonate
gasses from their plastic needles!). Sigh – I am brain damaged. I just put my tree away for the year.

When the Numbers Taper Off

Amateur Radio has been going through a growth spurt here in the US. There are many reasons for it, but we all know this is a temporary situation. It can and will eventually taper off. What happens then?

Depending on if you see the glass as half full or half empty, some will cry that the sky is falling and we’re dying. Others will content themselves with the gains made and relax. Yes, we have hit new records for growth. Yes, there are more hams now than ever before in history. But if that number goes down, even by a little, will it mean our “number’s up” and we’re history ourselves? I think not, but it will be interesting to see how it gets played by media.

Social Media Numbers

Yes, I know “Social Media” is a headache for many of us older PIOs. It seems every week there is some new site or problem or format we are all supposed to learn. Then a few months later we see there are problems with it, or it is gone entirely. So where do you put your bet on this digital Mandela? Well, there is some stability out there on the Web. has done research and come up with some interesting numbers.

The percentage of Americans who use the following social media platforms:

62% Facebook

24% MySpace

6% LinkedIn

4% Windows Live

3% Twitter

Now that’s a couple of surprises -The high number on Facebook and the low numbers for Twitter and LinkedIn are unexpected. Given this, if you are going to use social media to reach out to others, it seems Facebook is where to put your nickel.

But don’t figure that is all you need to do. Another research organization, Harris Interactive, reports the findings that, of Internet users….

22% spend less than an hour on the Web per week

12% spend about an hour

7% spend 5 hours

13% spend 6-10 hours

8% spend 11-20 hours

I guess the other 38% of us are just hopelessly plugged in.

Looking Back to 2010

Wow! Was it really only a year ago, January 12th, that the earthquake struck Haiti? Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 21:53:10 UTC So much has happened since then. It was “all hands on deck” at ARRL HQ for a while as we tried to figure out what happened, who was where and what might be done. Compounding it all was the knowledge that this was an international incident which brought along a whole new set of problems. But with friends in very important places and the support of other IARU members, Amateur Radio once again played a very important part in saving lives.

Then there was the new website. Love it or hate it, it gives us a whole new range of options. These include pdf files, audio, video, downloads, text options and so much more. As the Media & PR Department, I was determined that these new options were going to be used to the fullest potential I could do. If anyone says that they needed material for a broadcast station, interview, newspaper or presentation and didn’t get it – they simply never looked! The new website is so loaded with good materials that it is being used as an aid and example even by other organizations. But that took hundreds of hours.

A major time saver was the inclusion (at last!) of a file server allowing PIOs and others to download even the high definition videos directly. is a big help here, but it has also caused a problem. You see, in the past when someone wanted the files and was in contact with a TV station, we would know about it because they wrote to get the files. Now, downloading them directly, we’ve lost that 1:1 communication where I often was able to talk to people and made suggestions to help their unique needs. I really hope people are using them and doing it well.

The national PR Committee re-worked the job descriptions for ARRL PIO appointments. This was not an easy task. Because of all the changes in media, the rise of electronics and “citizen journalism” options, the need for pro-active PIOs was evident. These folks also needed to have training in many forms of media work. Gone are the days when you can sit back and wait for reporters to come to you – there are not that many reporters anymore! Most stories are now created and sent in by observers via the Web. To really get any notice, they need to have accompanying video. These realities needed to be reflected in the new descriptions. The PRC did a good job at it.

The ARES vests were another good PR move in 2010. For years hams did many good things, but were not recognized. That is already turning around as more and more groups are recognizing the importance of their appearance and using the new, standardized vests.

The outreach opportunities to schools were enhanced by the creation of a new school brochure and even a PowerPoint on how to use it. “10 good reasons, 3 ways to do it – Amateur Radio in Education” speaks directly to teachers and school administrators about ham radio options for the classroom.

Presentations about Amateur Radio were made at the annual conventions of the RTDNA and the Aid and International Development Foundation. PR-101 up to 80 graduates, which is good, but then only 80 out of 512 ARRL PR appointees is not so good. ARRL appointments need to be taken seriously and PIOs need to be active, not passive. This was reinforced in the PIO webinar for Field Day that the PR Committee did in April.

Several New audio PSAs were created in 2010 with the help of friends in the field. We also started the “Now Hear This” audio series.

Finally, we noted the 75th anniversary of ARES ( ) and cards, letters, stickers, releases and more were created and sent out.

Looking ahead 2011

So what’s coming? In short – a LOT!

We expect there will be a new Public Service and Emergency Communications book that actually splits out the two functions. One will deal with the traditional emergency communications issues while the other part will work with the NON-emergency services we do - All those parades, ‘athalons and other activities hams do to help their communities. There will also be a special flier available just to point out this second role.

Click here to see the flier

There will be changes made to the PR-101 course as media relations are always changing and we need to keep up with it. We expect that the new job descriptions for ARRL PIOs will also come into force and require new appointees to have training much like the OOs and some other major appointments.

The biggest activity will be the creation of a new video to take up the reins of the now aging Amateur Radio Today film. That will take time and a lot of help.

Of course we never want to see anyone hurt, but we also know that 2011 will have its share of emergencies. The role of the ARES PIO – a specialist who is both a PIO and also knows emergency operations well - will be expanded and reinforced. We can no longer sit back and simply send in “after action reports” to the media days after an event. They need to be contacted about ham operations as part of the initial call-up. News is now.

Finally, I want to publicly say “thank you” to some special people. Each year the President appoints the members of the ARRL Public Relations Committee. These people keep me informed of what is happening, spot trends, do a lot of work behind the scenes, help out at Dayton, are my “sounding board” for ideas that come late at night and also do a lot to bring Amateur Radio to the public in their own home regions. For 2010 the Committee included:

V.Dir. Jim Boehner, N2ZZ

Chairman Bill Morine, N2COP

Walt Palmer, W4ALT

Don Carlson, KQ6FM

Kevin O’Dell, N0IRW

Diana Eng, KC2UHB

Gordon West, WB6NOA

Kevin Pauley, KB9WVI

Peter West, VE6HG, of RAC

Please join me in giving them thanks and a “well done” for another great year in PR.

73 and have a great year!

Allen - w1agp

Allen Pitts, Media & PR Manager, ARRL


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