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May 2010

Contact May 2010

In this edition:

Vol 8, No 5
May 2010

  • Mc Gan Award Nominations due May 21
  • FCC Public Safety puts ham radio on website
  • 9 signs you should be in PR
  • Elmering Podcasts
  • Field Day planning
  • Twitter
  • TV idea
  • Morse attraction
  • Light up your clothing
  • The Last Word

Say “Thanks” for a great PR year with the

Philip J. McGan Memorial Silver Antenna Award

If you know of someone who achieved public relations success on behalf of Amateur Radio, nominating him or her for the McGan award is the perfect way to recognize their efforts and say thank you.

Have you seen the articles about Amateur Radio in the papers? Maybe it was on TV or over broadcast radio. Each week dozens of internet links come in to ARRL HQ showing where Amateur Radio was promoted in the news in some way. From magazine articles to local cable stations, Amateur Radio PR is very active and this year has been exceptionally good! But who made it all happen? Who has been spending the time and effort to not only say that we need more publicity, but to actually go do something about it?

Throughout the year hundreds of ARRL PICs, PIOs and other PR volunteers kept Amateur Radio visible in their communities by publicizing special events, writing press releases, creating media for radio, websites and television, and so much more. The McGan award will go to that ham who has demonstrated success in Amateur Radio public relations and best exemplifies the great volunteer spirit of Phil McGan.

Nominations for the 2010 must be received at ARRL HQ in Newington by 5 pm May 21, 2010. You can get more information and the nomination form at:

Send the completed entry form and supporting materials to:

Philip J. McGan Memorial Silver Antenna Award,

c/o Allen Pitts, W1AGP


225 Main St.

Newington, CT 06111

Website - FCC

Curt R. Bartholomew, N3GQ, Senior Emergency & Continuity Manager, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, Federal Communications Commission wrote us to announce that the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau updated their Amateur Radio page on the bureau’s public web page, where they used ARRL web input, and gave ARRL the credit at the bottom of the page: .

9 Signs You Should Be In PR

Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA, noted an article by Mandy Vavrinak from a friend of hers at Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. I wrote to Mandy about it and got a most gracious response:


I appreciate your interest! The article will remain online for at least the next several months, and I am happy to grant permission for either sharing in your newsletter or via a link. I'd appreciate a link to my main site & blog, also, which is at Please send me a copy of your newsletter or a link when you share the article, and thanks again for your interest!


Mandy Vavrinak

Crossroads Communications, LLC

Tulsa, Oklahoma


9 Signs You Should Be In PR

How to know if a PR career is right for you

By Mandy Vavrinak
I was recently asked for an overview of what I do in PR by someone considering the field as a career. After looking at my reply, I thought it was the start of a good post. Since the real question wasn’t, “What do you do?” but rather, “Do I want to do this, too?” my answers are a laundry list of the 9 signs that you will be successful and happy in the field of PR:

1. You listen actively – A big part of the job is figuring out what parts of a project, story, idea or personality might resonate with what audiences. You need to be able to hear, synthesize and analyze on the fly.

2. You’re always curious – I have a burning need to know. Always have. I thrive on information, ideas and how they all fit together. Good PR and marketing people have a deep knowledge base which helps them see new ways things might fit together.

3. You consume information for fun – watching the news, reading the paper, social networks, mags, books, blogs… all part of the job. How can you pitch what will resonate if you don’t know who covers what, what factors are important and what (right now) is making people’s hearts beat a little faster?

4. You like people – (well, most people, most of the time) Public relations is not about a nameless, faceless public. It’s about creating mental and emotional connections (a relationship) between individual members of the public and a person, place, idea or thing.

5. You communicate well both in writing and in person – Make no mistake. You will be writing, researching, interviewing and selling your ideas. Nothing kills a “maybe” pitch idea faster than a poorly written, badly researched release.

6. You thrive on finding connections between things – How does a roofing company get some press? Maybe they can talk about how to self-diagnose potential roof problems right after a major storm blows through. What does a demolition company have in common with Earth Day? What if they recycle all usable bricks or other materials through a local facility or donate them to a Habitat for Humanity project?

7. You build and maintain relationships – Good PR people understand that people are making the decisions on the other end about whether the story gets any coverage. It’s the flip side of seeing the Public as a collection of individuals. Remember the Media is also a collection of individuals. Get to know them.

8. You understand technology – We aren’t going to move backward. To be good in public relations, you need to understand how those individuals in your intended audience want to get their information, today. And be thinking already about what they’ll want tomorrow. PR practitioners must be on the forefront of information-sharing technology and platforms in order to remain relevant.

9. You’re ethical – You will, if you do your job well, affect what news and information gets shared with the public. Shouldering that responsibility firmly and recognizing your obligations to ethical behavior are critical both for your success, your company or firm’s success and for the long-term health of the field.

Elmering Podcasting

There are several Amateur Radio related podcasts available and most of them are very good. Jerry Taylor got our attention this month with this note and his specialization in Elmering people to try new things.

My name is Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, and I’ve been podcasting about amateur radio for almost 2 years. My podcast is called The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. My focus is to help attract new hams to our hobby and to help motivate existing hams to try different modes and to get everyone to share knowledge. My podcast motto is “The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast, Creating Elmers one Podcast at a time”.

I would like to share the attached press release with you. I’m extremely proud of this and would like to share it with you in the hopes you will print the info.

Thank you for your time.

Jerry G. Taylor, KD0BIK

The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast - Creating Elmers one Podcast at a time

Field Day Planning

It’s that time of year again, and your Field Day plans should be well underway. Field Day is the biggest public relations event of the year for Amateur Radio, but only if each of us takes part as a team. I hope that you attended the special Webinar done by the Public Relations Committee on how to make the most of Field Day (April 22). If you missed it, DVD copies can be obtained from Director Bill Edgar at

Press release template, audio and video, banner, logo and more are at:

Brochures and handouts are at

Other sites of interest are: is our FD video on YouTube and is a new YouTube promo done by Ryan Brooks, KC0WIR.

TWITTER and Field Day

New for us this year is the promotion of Field Day using Twitter. With more and more young people using this social medium, we need to “get with the program” and learn about it. So here’s the deal…

The PR account for ARRL’s Field Day actions with Twitter is ARRL_FD or you can go to . Sign up to create your own Twitter account (it’s free) and “follow” ARRL_FD. Or, if you already have a Twitter account, just follow us.

When a short message (called a “tweet”) is sent on the system it goes to all the account’s followers. You can send these short messages by computer or by texting with your cell phone. When you receive a tweet, you can also relay it on to your own followers (called “retweet”). They in turn can relay it even further and – well, you get the idea. It can keep growing and going.

Now where this gets REALLY interesting is that if you have the text #FIELDDAY in with the message, the system will keep track of it. If there is enough traffic with #FIELDDAY in the text then major blogs and news take note of it. So your taking part in this experiment, tweeting and using the #FIELDDAY insert in with your message (it is called a “hashtag”), will help bring all of Field Day to media attention.

This is new to a lot of us, but I found it is really not hard at all to learn and do. The more people we get on, the more tweeting we do, the more potential exposure we get to a new audience.

Simple way to get TV Coverage

We discussed this in the FD webinar, but it is such a good idea that it bears repeating. One of the simplest ways to get TV coverage of your Field Day event is to use a politician to do an opening ceremony. A simple ribbon cutting ceremony at the start of Field Day (or better yet, a coax cutting ceremony if you have big shears) with the politician saying something like, “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines – er transmitters,” is worthy TV news coverage. Just ask the politician if they will do a brief ceremony and if agreeable (most will jump at it) then contact the TV news people in your area at least 4 days before the event.

Morse vs Text still works for PR

Remember the club that took on all comers in text vs Morse code sending and got good PR and even a sponsorship? They invited any local cell phone texters to come out and see if their mastery of this type of communication can stand up against Ham experts’ abilities to send messages by Morse code.

At 5 p.m. on Saturday June 27, texters will take on the coders to determine which is faster, modern technology or 100 year old code. The contest is free and open to anyone who thinks they have the technique to beat the old timers. Bluefusion Entertainment has donated prizes for each contestant who gives their texting skills a try.

Mike Floyd, W1HAT, of MARC/ARES reports that their actions got coverage in the Marion Star and also resulted in phone calls for more information.

Light up your clothing

While it is not Amateur Radio specific, Diana Eng recently posted a “how to” of ways to make your clothing light up in the dark using “EL wire.” Diana is KC2UHB. Two things come to mind…

I can immediately see some of the more ingenious people at a Field Day site using this idea and getting attention through Saturday night. The novelty of it would make for good TV video. I also can see it being shown at Dayton! Take a look at

The Last Word

We all like freebies. “White Elephants” aside, getting something for free is nice when it is something you need or can really use. But problems arise when people come to believe they are “entitled” or when the real value of the items is not appreciated. Entitlement issues have been a regular topic in the national news for the past months and there is a lot of emotionality surrounding those issues. Meanwhile the actual value or cost of something can be an issue we all need to recognize – even here as a PIO.

Let me use three examples. The PR-101 course cost time and money to produce, but the ARRL is taking a loss selling it at $19.95. For years we were able to provide the Hello, EmComm and WeDoThat brochures for free, and we sent out tens of thousands of them. With the economy now, the ARRL is asking for at least the cost of the postage and handling to send them out. The brochures actually cost us over 23 cents each. Third, I just got done uploading the Field Day materials to the Web at and there are a lot of free materials there for clubs, PIOs and others. Just for fun, I went looking to see what an equivalent cost would be if your group had to actually pay for these freebies. I found which is a major electronic publication and PR organization that prides itself in being as economical as possible for their customers and has a good reputation. So I looked to see what might be an equivalent to our Field Day materials. had a Press Kit Creation & Marketing Guides for $1,450. The Service included:

A press release for you to send out

One-page bio you can share

Sample media questions

Trade information sheet

A social media guidebook

A guide to media contacts and appearances

I don’t know about you, but it looks to me like each of you was just given a lot more and all for free. The ARRL wants to promote Amateur Radio. In that regard, thanks to our members’ support we make available to PIOs as much as we can for free or minimal cost. But that doesn’t mean it is valueless.


Field Day Logo 2010

Field Day Release

“Hams” go radio-active June 26-27

Thousands of Amateur Radio operators, often called “hams,” will be showing off their wireless capabilities June 26-27. Erecting radio stations in community parks, campgrounds, schools and emergency centers throughout the country, they will hold a “Field Day” to show their emergency communications abilities while having fun talking to friends all over the continent with their radios.

Amateur Radio activity is growing in the United States. In 2009 over 30,000 new people became “hams.” The technical skills of hams also has improved as almost 50% of American Amateur Radio operators have gone beyond the entry level licensing requirements and passed the more difficult testing to earn higher class FCC licenses. There are more than 680,000 Amateur Radio operators in the US, and 2.5 million around the world.

In the past months, the news has had many reports of ham radio operators providing critical communications in emergencies world-wide. During fires, earthquakes, tornados and other crises, Amateur Radio was often the only way by which people could communicate. Amateur Radio operators are often the first to provide critical early information and observations to responders in crisis situations. FEMA, DHS, the National Weather Service, and emergency management offices have Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES®) operators in their emergency communications plans. On June 26-27, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with the hams and see for themselves what the Amateur Radio Service is about. Using their digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications, radio and even Web hybrid systems along with historic Morse code, they prove “It’s not your Grandfather’s radio anymore.”

Using only emergency power, ham operators will construct temporary radio stations around the country for the weekend and send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, internet or other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. More than 35,000 amateur radio operators across the country participated in last year's event.

To learn more about Amateur Radio, go to The public is most cordially invited to come, meet and talk with the hams. See what modern Amateur Radio can do. To find out where the Amateur Radio operators will be set up in your area, go to They can even help you get on the air!


Be sure to add your contact information and your FD location!

FD Email Tag


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