PR-101 Course Introduced at ARRL National Convention
The ARRL Public Relations Committee unveiled the new ARRL's PR-101 course today at the 2009 ARRL National Convention at the Dayton Hamvention. The course -- designed to give hams a quick course in public relations activities -- was quickly snapped up by ARRL Section Managers, Public Information Coordinators (PIC) and Public Information Officers (PIO) to bring home to their home sections.
According to ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, the ARRL Public Relations Committee conducted a formal survey in December 2008 that confirmed what had long been suspected: Almost half of the people acting as PIOs have no training at all; others had "some training" or "very little training." Because of the importance of public relations to the future of Amateur Radio, Pitts said that the PR Committee felt it needed to do something to raise the level of skills and training of these volunteers.
Using the skills of experts in various aspects of public relations, Pitts, assembled a team to create a basic course that will provide volunteer PIOs with the basic skills and expectations that a PIO needs to know. While remaining a basic level course, PR-101 covers everything from the basic news release to Web sites and video work.
"This course is geared toward PIOs and others interested in Public Relations," Pitts said. "While the course is voluntary, all ARRL PIOs are strongly encouraged to take the course."
Overall goals for the course are:
- To clarify the role of the PIO in the Field Organization.
- To establish a base set of expectations (job description) for a PIO to fulfill, and peer pressure to do the job well.
- To establish, teach and verify that course graduates have the common basic skill set needed to accomplish expectations set forth in the PIO job description.
- To create a pool of trained PIOs who can be confidently called upon to represent Amateur Radio in their region during breaking news events.
- To create a spirit of pride in being a trained and active PIO.
- To increase the productivity of PIOs and resultant positive media coverage.
"There is a critical need to offer public relations training that addresses the 21st century media landscape," said ARRL Public Relations Committee Chairman Bill Morine, N2COP. "Since the last revision of the ARRL PIO Handbook in the mid 1990s, domination of coverage has shifted from newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations to cable, satellite and Internet media outlets. The decentralization of media means there are many more ways and formats from which the public can access information. The PR-101 course will point ARRL PIOs in the direction where they can best take advantage of opportunities in both traditional and emerging media."
The course is available on CD-ROM. People can complete it on their own schedule; when finished, it guides them to the Web for the final exam. "Participants who successfully complete the exam will be directed to a special area where they can create, print and save a certificate of completion," Pitts said. "It also automatically notifies ARRL staff with the name and call sign of the graduating student, allowing a list to be kept of PIOs with known skills."
PR101 course contributors include Bill Morine, N2COP; Don Carlson, KQ6FM; Walt Palmer , W4ALT; Kevin O'Dell, N0IRW; Jim McDonald, KB9LEI; Ted Randall, WB8PUM; Harold Kramer, WJ1B; Jeff Beiermann, WB0M; Brennan Price, N4QX; Pat Mullet, KC8RTW; Mike Langner, K5MGR, and Kent Sievers.
PR-101 is available on the ARRL Web site for a cost of $19.95.