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November 2009


Nominate your favorite journalist for the Leonard Award

– deadline is Dec 11.

Was there a great article about you this past year? Or were you interviewed for radio or TV? Was something good posted on a blog or website that really showed off your group and Amateur Radio? Here’s your chance to say thanks and also encourage more positive media.

The BILL LEONARD, W2SKE, PROFESSIONAL MEDIA AWARD is a national level, annual award honoring three professional journalists whose work best reflects the enjoyment, importance and public service value the Amateur Radio Service. The award is divided into three categories:
Audio formats
Visual formats
Print and Text formats

The award is sponsored by the ARRL – the national association for Amateur Radio. Nominations are judged by members of the ARRL national PR Committee, and the final decision is made by the ARRL Board of Directors at their meeting in January 2010. The winners each receive an engraved plaque and a donation of $250 will be made in each of their names to the charity of their choice.

The deadline for nominations is Dec 11, 2009.
Full information is

What are your PR plans for 2010?

– vision, goals, strategies

What would you think if you elected a new club president and asked him/her for their plans, only to be told, “I don’t know… I’ll just see what happens and maybe something will come up… or not…”

Here at ARRL HQ we are well into planning for 2010. It’s part of being PROactive and not just reactive to events. Without a plan and goals people float on the tides like driftwood, moving in and out but never going anywhere. So what are your PR plans for 2010? Now is the time to make them.

Take a look at the past year. What do you want to repeat and what opportunities were missed? How can you make 2010 better?

The simplest way to start is with a new calendar. This is the time of year when folks start getting new calendars, so take the main one you will use and mark it up.

Let’s start with January. This is the time of year that people will be watching more television and PIO's should try to get their local video outlets, especially cable advertising systems, to run their PSA's. These systems are always running more ads this time of year, but if you can get them to air them, you will have a larger audience that is indoors for the winter looking for something new to pique their interest. PSAs are available at Media and Public Relations or by writing us.

When do you need to put out preliminary info about Field Day? Mark it down!

What’s your announcement schedule for a club hamfest? Mark it down!

How about scheduling yourself to send at least one press release a month to your local paper or TV station? Set dates to call your local radio personalities with information about some upcoming event.

ARES® 75th anniversary is 2010. What are your plans for it and how will you focus coverage on our modern capabilities and prevent trips down the “old radio memory lane?”

What skills do you need to improve? How and when will you learn them? Mark it down!

Each of you is in a slightly different situation, but everyone needs to set plans and goals.

How to deal with an “unfortunate incident”

To call the deaths of four hams in a plane crash an unfortunate incident is an understatement. Actually, Amateur Radio lost several good people during October from various causes. What’s the role of a PIO in such a situation? How do you handle the death of someone?

Simply put, the people in charge are the family! Their needs and feelings come before anything else. Amateur Radio may have been a key part in the deceased’s life, but it is only a part. The family calls the shots. If you do not have some form of contact with them, the best thing to do is simply write a personal, handwritten note of condolence and publicly stay quiet. The news will circulate through the amateurs via phone calls and emails within the community, but it is up to the family to make decisions about any public statements to any media.

The LAST thing you ever want to happen is an incident such as happened following the crash when the family of one victim became aware of the death when an Associated Press reporter called for a statement! (Ouch!!)

If you have a communication channel with the family, you can offer your services or ask if they would mind if you write up something. If possible, be sure to pass it by them before sending it out to anyone else. Often a relative will take over the role of “net control” for all the messages coming and going to the family. If this happens, give them plenty of time to do their work – there’s usually a lot of messages and the family may just not be up to talking for a while.

Sensitivity to feelings and emotions is more important than a story in these situations.

PR Go Kits

You're at work or away from home when something happens. A reporter calls you unexpectedly or is “on the way over. Perhaps there is call up for amateur radio support in your community. You may not have a radio with you and yet as a PIO you are responsible for promoting amateur radio's role to the news media.

What tools should you have with you in a PIO Go-Kit?
What tools might be available to you?

There are about as many go-kit lists as there are hams themselves, but a basic go-kit for a PIO can be fairly simple and compact. The nice part about it is that most PIOs materials are able to be put into electronic form and there are now finger sized flash drives that plug into computer USB ports. The prices are dropping and 2 Gigabyte sizes are now only about $10. That makes it easy! Add in a disposable or (better yet) digital camera and you’re in good shape.

Having a laptop computer is a definite advantage, but if you don’t have one you can still be functional with just the following Things to have On Hand:

1. Any credentials you may have been given or needed to enter JIC
( JIC = Joint Information Center)
2. Camera
3. Business cards
4. Computer CD/Flash Drive pre-loaded with:
A Ham Radio background releases
B List of key hams for your region with contact info,
including Section Staff, DECs, ECs
C Sample photos –
EOC, Ham with hand held radio, Field Day,
ham working with served agency official
D List of ham radio media outlet email addresses such as:
ARRL PR, ARRL News, CQ, Newsline, QRZ, etc
E List of local area public news media contacts and their emails/phone numbers.
F ARRL Swiss Army PR CD

5. Don’t forget the usual pad & pens/pencils. Even in an electronic age, scribble notes are often critical.

All of this can easily fit in to a small “fanny pack” or belt pack and kept in your car.

Other notes:

Here is a form you can modify and should have already printed out and on hand (even if it’s neatly folded to fit into your pack). The PIO or an EC can write in the blanks and hand it to media as needed. It saves a lot of time and has the critical information needed by reporters.


The _____________________ Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) has been activated to assist with primary/auxiliary emergency communications for this event. The group is coordinated by _______________________(name of EC or acting EC).

_______________ ARES is working with the ______________ county/city/town Office of Emergency Management and the following agency(ies): _________________________

The group is providing communications links between: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Amateur Radio operators are stationed at the following locations to provide communications assistance:

_____________(#) of Amateur Radio operators are at the sites
_____________(#) of additional Amateur Radio operators are on standby for additional communications needs.

Insert paragraph about the local group

For more information contact
________________________ (name of acting PIO)
________________________ (e-mail)
________________________ (phone and pager numbers)


Email dangers, problems and considerations

Winter is almost here and more people will be spending any free time inside on the computers.
We’ve written on this before, but it is important enough to repeat… Beware of Email!
No, we’re not talking about the problems with spam and virus attacks. There’s a more insidious problem for PR people – email has an anger built into it that can be a problem. There is something about the communications form itself which makes people seem angry when they are not, terse when they mean to be friendly, and hostile when trying to be helpful.

This is not just a PR problem or a “ham radio” problem, but has been written up in serious articles by sociologists and others. You’ve probably had it happen yourself. You write something you think is neutral or just an opinion, and suddenly the person at the other end of the keyboard feels attacked or insulted.

How can you minimize this problem? Many people use “emoticons” – the little smileys " :) ;) " and other graphics in their emails. I personally often add the last line “Hope this helps” which is a real and true hope. Be careful to make it clear that opinions are only opinions and not being claimed as fact – that’s where a lot of problems lie and quickly leads to win-lose confrontations that you never wanted to get involved in to start with.

If things start to go sideways on you… stop writing and make a phone call! It’s amazing how a simple call often clears things up in a hurry just because you can hear tone and voice pitches.

Remember that “some people just don’t want to be fixed” and seem to have little to do in life other than argue and flame via a computer. Often the best you can do in these situations is to say, “Thank you for your unique opinion” and quickly move on.

When the PR Email reflector hiccupped

“I want to know what bank all these “time and labor saving devices” are using… I’d like to make a withdrawal.” - w1agp

Sometime in the past month or so, some people who were on the PR email reflector disappeared into the vast unknown as if they were never there at all. I believe there were about 12 of them.

The problem is that they were not taken off – they just disappeared totally off the database it uses and there’s no way to tell who they were. I have gotten emails from some asking if the PR reflector is unusually quiet – which keyed me that something was up. Whatever it was, it seems to have been a one-time thing and is gone now. But if you are reading this and believe you are on the reflector but not getting the recent postings, drop me an email just to be sure you were not vaporized.

Of course, if you would like to be on the reflector, all you have to do is ask.

Fast Stats

Looking for the numbers of hams? has good national statistics by KE6UZM has good localized information

The Last Word

Life seems to be full of balancing acts. As each of us tries to balance out time with family, work, personal issues, hobbies and the swarms of “look at this!” things that come up each day, I get a chuckle out of wondering where all these “time and labor saving” devices are banking – I want to make a withdrawal!

Balancing time and resources is also a major problem for anyone involved in modern PR too. How do you split yourself between traditional media, the internet and the latest “social media” fads? It would be easy to spend days just focused in on any one of these areas and still not cover it all. While Twitter and MySpace may now be becoming UN-cool, other systems such as Facebook and LinkedIn are being used more and more. Kevin Pauley, KB9WVI, found this interesting clip with information about their growth .

We may not be sure of the accuracy of all the numbers claimed, but the general thrust is very real.

Several sources claim that the biggest source of information of all is now the Internet and the first critical role of PR is to keep current, accurate and interesting information up on websites about your organization. (By the way, how long has it been since you checked the info on your own group’s website?) ARRL has a major HQ program going on right now involving all staff in creation of a totally new website along with updating and re-posting of information used by members. With thousands and thousands of pages, it is an “All hands on deck!” activity here and should be a major boost in presenting Amateur Radio and ARRL. But it takes time… Lots of time. We believe that it is important enough to warrant this expenditure of resources because it will become our face to the members and the whole world.

Unlike the past, the Web work will not be done once it is created. I included plans for it to have an audio blog page in which I can post a series of short, weekly “talks” for you to listen to – and I hope you will send in some audio clips for it yourselves.

Media Hits that I see here – all of them- will be posted to another special page in the order that they come in to me. Here again I will need your help. If you see a good media hit and it is not on these listings, let me know! Every now and then things can and do slip through my radar here.

Video clips will also be possible. Have a short clip of some event coming up or interesting fact? Drop it into Flash and send it to me with information explaining what it is.

The Swiss Army Knife for PIOs” has been a major resource to hundreds of motivated PR volunteers in the past. The new PIO part of the coming website will have not only the still-current materials from that CD, but in an even easier way to find what you need.

So, when does all this happen? We’re busily at it now and a “selective Beta test” will be conducted in January. The goal is for the entire website to be live by the end of January. As they say…”Stay tuned!”


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