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January 2013

Vol 11 No 1
January 2013

In this issue:

Where are you?

Some of you may remember the TV show “Car 54 – where are you?” Toody and Muldoon did a lot of good things amidst the chaos of New York, but were always missing in action. I think they were hams.

For a specialized population of “communicators,” it is curious that radio amateurs are often some of the least communicative people when it comes to reporting their activities. Many helpful actions go unnoticed because no one told others about them. This applies to public service actions, emergency actions and also to publicity actions. When pressed for answers on why they never reported their deeds to regional and national leaders, we get many replies. Some say they did not know they should let ARRL leaders know. Others just do not want to be bothered with any “paperwork.” But most respondents simply say they were not looking for any glory. While education, job descriptions and holding folks responsible for the jobs they volunteered to do will help with the first two reasons, the third one is more problematic.

When Amateur Radio representatives do presentations to government groups, they need hard data. It is one thing to generically say we helped in mega storm Sandy or in the Joplin tornado, etc. So did a lot of other people. We need to be able to accurately present information showing how many hams helped, what did they do, for how long and what were the results. Without this information, reports of Amateur Radio’s usefulness are nothing more than hearsay.

But leaders and representatives cannot just make up “facts” like so many politicians. They need your timely reports! Yes, we know modesty is a virtue, but in these things modesty is also one of our worst enemies. We hurt ourselves repeatedly because of it – and we hurt ourselves badly. ARES and public information appointees need to be especially mindful of the responsibility to report their actions into their SEC, PIC or Section Manager.

Reporter Connection

Sherri Brower, W4STB, sent in a good idea and possible resource for you. is a website which links up “experts” in the field with reporters and other media outlets looking for people who are literate on many different topics. For example, a January 3rd posting of “PR, Social Media & Marketing Experts Needed For Punch! (Radio)” is looking for PR people to talk on a West Coast morning radio show. This specific posting does not quite fit Amateur Radio as they are looking for small business applications, but you get the idea.

You can also register with them and get email alerts when something comes up that may fit your area.

It is definitely worth checking out.

Easy, free animation for outreach

This past month I received an email from Benjamin R. Gufford, Jr. W4BRG asking me to check out Wilson County Amateur Radio Emergency Service’s new Public Service Announcement at

While it could use some polishing, the concept was very good and I saw potential for much more use of the many animation programs now freely available on the Web. So I asked him to write up how he did it. Ben writes:

To create the PSA I used the site The site allows you to pick characters from a wide selection of genres. After selecting the type of characters you wish to use, you can then select the background for you skit. The site is fairly simple to use. It offers several voice types to choose from and allows you to choose facial expressions and body movements to accompany your characters as they speak. To make you characters talk you simply type in what you want them to say and they will speak in the voice selection you have chosen. Xtranormal also allows you to add background music, which I selected the blues for our PSA. I created a simple in prompt to script and had the video completed in about a half hour. Once the video is complete you can click on publish and your video can be downloaded. Once I downloaded the video I changed to format to an AVI file that could be edited in Windows MovieMaker. In MovieMaker I added some text to follow the script and added the ending with the Wilson County Amateur Radio Emergency Service logo and Wilson County Emergency Management logo. Once I completed the additions in MovieMaker, I saved the movie as a WMV file and uploaded it to our website. It took about an hour to hour and a half to complete the video.

If you need any more details on the creation of the PSA just let me know.

There are many animation programs available. Several are completely free, and many of the more advanced ones allow you a free trial period. (Just check to see if they put in their logo over top of your work during this trial period as that won’t help you.) This may be something you can use in your local outreach actions.

About the ARRL Public Relations Committee

The ARRL’s national Public Relations Committee (PRC) is the place where major events and strategies are hammered out, plotted and planned. It is a hard working bunch of volunteers whose passion is promotion of Amateur Radio. In laying out their plans for the coming year in their January 2013 report to the Board of Directors, the following text was included. I believe it is informative and helpful information not only for the Board members, but all PIOs. With the ARRL Centennial coming up, we’ll be looking for volunteer people to work on and with the committee in may activities.

The committee has been working on a brochure to describe its charge, makeup, and activities. A draft of the proposed text is below, and comments are welcome.

Formal Description:

The ARRL Public Relations Committee (PRC) is a national-level committee which reports to the ARRL Board of Directors via the Board Liaison. Members are appointed by the ARRL President for one-year terms, with options for reappointment. The PRC has two primary missions. The first is to provide guidance to the ARRL PR staff in presenting the story of Amateur Radio to the public at large, the press, and to the amateur community at the national level. This includes recommending strategies for attracting new hams, and for recruiting and retaining ARRL members. The second is to support and encourage the development of the local Public Information Coordinators and Public Information Officers in the field by providing PR education, guidance and public relations tools to assist them in their efforts. The PRC also from time to time undertakes special projects as assigned by the ARRL Board of Directors and/or the ARRL President.

How ARRL’s PR Program Works

The ARRL Media and Public Relations Department has a paid staff of one (currently vacant). Obviously no one person can do all the things needed to promote such a magnificent hobby and service throughout the country. The solution is that there are three levels of passionate volunteers scattered throughout the country whose work makes Amateur Radio as we know it possible. Each section (there are 71 sections in the USA) should have a Public Information Coordinator (PIC) appointed by the Section Manager (SM). Each PIC, with approval of the SM, recruits and helps local ARRL Public Information Officers (PIO) in promoting Amateur Radio in their home area. This gives us about 450-500 volunteer PR people scattered throughout the country. With an army like that, how can we fail? The key to success is in continuously providing the PIOs with the very best materials, information and tools that we can. They are the “boots on the ground” that turn abstracts into local news items. So, in addition to basic news releases and messages sent out, the ARRL provides them free access to a host of tools. Audio Public Service Announcements for broadcast radio, Video Public Service Announcements for TV/Cable, “Talk on a Disk” presentations for speaking to groups and clubs, Coordinated campaigns aligned with the primary interests in Amateur Radio including Hello (hobby/fun), Emergency Radio (ARES), and We Do That (technology, D.I.Y. and experimentation). There is also CONTACT! – a monthly electronic magazine for PIOs, and a special PR email reflector to keep up with breaking events and ideas. Public Relations forums are regularly held at major hamfests and conventions to listen and learn of new ways to help PIOs in the field. A new development is sections trying appointments for an “ARES-PIO“ – a PIO specifically tasked and trained to work with and in an emergency setting, joint information center, or similar situation.

The Public Relations Committee, then, is a national level committee of about 10 people appointed annually by the President of the ARRL. Comprised of people with extensive experience in different areas of public relations, media work, news and social issues experience, this committee is the “go to” group for PR. They provide support, advice and skilled help to make things happen. The Public Relations Committee has two primary missions. The first is to provide guidance to the ARRL PR staff in presenting the story of Amateur Radio to the public at large, the media, and to the amateur community at the national level. This includes recommending strategies for attracting new hams, and for recruiting and retaining ARRL members. The second is to support and encourage the development of the local Public Information Coordinators and Public Information Officers in the field by providing PR education, guidance and public relations tools to assist them in their efforts. The PRC also from time to time undertakes special projects as assigned by the ARRL Board of Directors and/or the ARRL President.

This is very much a working committee and appointees realize that it will take time and effort. But it also pays off handsomely in feelings of accomplishment for those whose passion is Amateur Radio. The individual committee member is asked at a minimum to lend his or her expertise and advice to the collective wisdom of the committee. Online committee meetings and email are the primary methods of engagement. In addition, each member is asked to lead at least one special project. The project may be a webinar, publication, production, research initiative, or other activity.


Develop and disseminate information to support and expand the ARRL and Amateur Radio.


Support the President and the Board.
Support and motivate PICs and PIOs.
Expand the pool of trained PIOs.

Objective: Increase number of PIOs
Add one PIO per quarter in each division.
Work with and through PICs and SMs to identify and contact individuals. Target state capitols and population centers.
[#] PIOs by [date] As of November 2012, there are about 450 formally appointed PIOs. Target: 500 PIOs by December 1, 2013
[#] PIOs as a ratio of all members by [date] Target: 1 PIO per 1000 members.

Objective: Increase number of PR-101 trained PIOs
Demonstrate/describe benefits of PR-101 training
Acquire testimonials from PR-101 trained PIOs
: Focus on current PIOs who are not trained.
Target one PIO per quarter in each division for training.
[#] PR-101 trained PIOs by [date]. As of November 2012, there are about 180 graduates of the PR-101 course.

Objective: Develop and implement plans to carry out the goals.
Regular PRC meetings to update, discuss, and develop consensus. Conducted via GoToMeeting or similar videoconferencing, monthly.
At least 12 PRC meetings.
Use the Section Manager email list to communicate with SMs when necessary.
Number of messages sent from PRC or ARRL PR Manager.
SMs are current, informed, and involved.

Objective: Provide continuing information and updates to PIOs so they stay current and motivated.
Strategy: Use webinars to educate and inform PIOs on specific aspects of amateur radio PR.
At least two webinars per year; one on Field Day, one on PRC’s choice (e.g. how to use video, what to expect in PR-101, social media for the ham, how to reach the maker community, how to present yourself to the media, how amateur radio can be used in STEM learning for youth, how a successful effort was done).
Output: Number of webinar viewers.

Use the PR Reflector to speak directly to PICs and PIOs and, in some cases, media.
Number of users on the PR Reflector (505 as of November 2012, including PIOs, volunteers, and media).
Number of messages sent from PRC or ARRL PR Manager
Use radio shows aimed at amateur radio operators.
Seek mentions or segments on existing radio shows.

Objective: Inform the public
Ensure complete geographical coverage of ARRL service area by PICs
Percent of service area under a PIC
Use any and all appropriate methods to reach the public and the media.
Use Facebook
Develop a Facebook Badge program
Use Twitter
Use Website[s]
Number of website hits per month
Number of unique website users per month
Number of Facebook followers
Number of Twitter followers (1000 as of Winter 2012)
Dollar value of PR as measured in Advertising Value Equivalents (AVE)

Top-Ranked Influential Technology Related Blogs

Blogging has become a new major force in news outlets. It allows specialty areas and interests to each have their own dedicated “newspapers.” It also allows much easier access if you have a good story to tell or announcement to make. But like approaching any other outlet, you need to have a good story or interst to the readers and have it polished and in good shape. Here are some of the most important, current technology blogs:

All Things D

ARS Technica

Mr. Gadget



Google Mobile

The Next Web (TNW)

The Last Word

Over the past months, hundreds of people have been invited to submit ideas and options for the coming ARRL Centennial in 2014. A lot of great thinking came out of it. One of the things that became clear was the need to get a good start on things well before 2014 itself. We will need to have not only plans, but the tools all made and the volunteers all ready to go a year from now. To achieve this we will need to build things up this year, 2013. So among the proposals before the Board this month are several PR opportunities and activities. Just which ones will get the nod and which ones may not get approved should be known by February. (Keep an eye out for next month’s CONTACT!)

But in any case, we will need YOU. Some of the volunteer types needed will include things such as scriptwriters, website and PowerPoint gurus, public speakers, forum presenters, hamfest booth staff, editors and social media activists. More info on just which ones and how many of them will be coming in February.

As things unfold, we need to keep in mind that this is not “my” centennial. It is not ARRL headquarters’ centennial. It is OUR Centennial. Either we all own a piece of it or it will fail. Recognizing this, we’ve proposed several activities which encourage members’ and local groups’ participation and others which could provide significant resources to local people making presentations. But once again, the bottom line will ultimately be YOU. I look forward to seeing what comes out in 2013 and will be counting on you to use the activities and tools we get.

Allen w1agp


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