"We Do That" with Amateur Radio!
The third ARRL Public Relations campaign -- We Do That - with Amateur Radio -- celebrates the technology side of ham radio. According to ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, Amateur Radio means many things to many people. "What is it about Amateur Radio that arouses the interest of people?" Pitts asked. "You have the fun, friendship and hobby side. We showcased this side in 2006 with our Hello campaign. You have the emergency service side. We brought this valuable part of Amateur Radio to the public's eye in 2007 with Emergency Radio - Getting the Message through for Your Family and Community. And now you have the technology and creative side. In 2008, we are capitalizing on this third prong, getting word out to the public that there is tons of stuff you can do with Amateur Radio."
Unveiled at the 2008 Dayton Hamvention® this past May, this new coordinated public relations effort shows the world the technological activities and creative imaginations that Amateur Radio's people love. Like the previous public relations campaigns, Pitts said, this is a campaign with several interlocking parts:
Public Service Announcements
There are Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that can be played on commercial radio stations. Check these out on the ARRL Public Information Officer Web site; more will be coming out as the year unfolds. These mp3 files are easily downloaded and can be taken to local radio stations. "Many radio stations have a public service obligation they need to fulfill, and these PSAs are a great way for them to do so, while showcasing the neat things we do as hams," Pitts said.
ARRL has created an attractive brochure that celebrates ham technology. This brochure shows hams doing many exciting activities, from Green Radio -- Amateur Radio using renewable energy sources -- to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) through time and space itself. These brochures, in packs of 25, are available at no cost except for a small shipping fee.
A new special Web site has been created just for this campaign. "Maximizing the strong points of the Hello-Radio and Emergency-Radio Web sites before it, WeDoThat-Radio.org uses some of the newer technologies similar to the blog format, allowing for easy topic additions and changes, even providing a place for and visitors to ask questions," Pitts said.
Let's admit it, hams and kids like free things and stickers are fun. So we made up a bunch to share. If you happen to have a presentation to students, it's a nice touch. These are "free while the supply lasts," Pitts said.
Talk on a Disk
What began as an experiment in 2007 has since become a major success. The ARRL's Talk on a Disk was quickly snatched up and used by people making presentations to groups. This CD contains all the materials you need to make a good PowerPoint presentation before a non-ham group, including slides and supportive audio and video. "For 2008, we created a brand new Talk on a Disk highlighting the technology campaign and coordinated with the brochures. It can make almost anyone look good in front of a group. Just follow the script! Or, you can modify it to meet local needs," said Pitts. If you have a presentation to make and want to talk about the technology of ham radio, please e-mail Pitts about it.
Swiss Army Knife for PIOs
The 2008 Knife, Pitts said, is actually a CD with all the basic forms and information a Public Information Officer (PIO) should need -- all in one place. "Last year, we produced more than 1000 of these and they were all snatched up," Pitts said. With audio and video files, documents in computer forms that PIOs can modify to meet local needs, as well as hundreds of pointers and ideas, the Swiss Army Knife for PIOs has become a mainstay for public relations work. Disks are available for PIOs by sending Pitts an e-mail.
Every Ham is a PIO
"There is a saying," Pitts said, "that all news is local -- and it is true. If there is not a local or personal 'hook' to a story, it does not make it into the news. Because of this, the Public Information Officers in your area are critical to the local perception of Amateur Radio." When PIOs take these materials and modify them for local use, it affects everything from antenna regulations to club membership levels.
But it is not just up to the PIOs to achieve positive publicity for hams, Pitts said: "There is another saying, 'Every ham is a PIO.' When people become curious about Amateur Radio they turn to the first ham operator they find and that conversation is crucial to the future. All the brochures, TV ads, radio and news stories are of no benefit if that initial conversation with a potential recruit is not positive. PIOs can only 'bring the fish to the boat.' It is up to every ham to be ready to bring them in by taking the time and effort to make the initial one-on-one contact a positive experience. In the end, 'It takes a ham to make a ham.'"
There is a wealth of materials available for anyone to use. Here you can find background information handouts for media, as well as all sorts of helpful files and tips. Each month, Pitts puts out CONTACT!, an e-zine for ARRL PIOs that contains ideas, information and timely materials. The ARRL Public Relations Committee is also able to aid groups facing unusual problems or situations. These PR veterans have a wealth of knowledge you can draw upon. There is a public relations email reflector where PIOs from around the country share their problems, ideas and successes with other PIOs.
It's Up to You
The energies that your club -- and you as an individual -- put into positive PR work will pay off for your radio future in many ways, Pitts said. "Go show the world that 'It's not just your grandfather's radio anymore.'"