PIO Job Description
Public Information Officer
ARRL Field Organization
ARRL Public Information Officers (PIOs) are appointed by and report to the ARRL section Public Information Coordinator (PIC) with the approval of the Section Manager (SM). ARRL PIOs are usually chosen from club publicity chairpersons and must be full ARRL members and are recommended to have completed the ARRL’s PR-101 course or its successor. Additional training for PIOs should be provided regularly on a sectional or regional basis by the PIC and/or other qualified people.
Good "grass roots" public relations activities involve regular and frequent publicizing of amateur activities through local news media plus community activities; school programs; presentations to service clubs and community organizations; exhibits and demonstrations; and other efforts which create a positive public image for Amateur Radio.
Recruitment of new hams and League members is an integral part of the job of every League appointee. Appointees should take advantage of every opportunity to recruit a new ham or member to foster growth of Field Organization programs, and our ability to serve the public.
Specific Duties of the Public Information Officer:
1. Establishes and maintains a list of media contacts in the local area; strives to establish and maintain personal contacts with appropriate representatives of those media (e.g., editors, news directors, science reporters, etc.). Understands how stories should be submitted to media outlets and knows the rules for successful media submissions by media type.
2. Be a contact for the local media and assures that editors/reporters who need information about Amateur Radio know where to find it.
3. Keeps informed of activities by local hams and identifies and publicizes those that are newsworthy or carry human interest appeal. (This is usually done through news releases or suggestions for interviews or feature stories).
4. Attempts to deal with and minimize any negative publicity about Amateur Radio and to correct any negative stories which are incorrectly ascribed to Amateur Radio operators.
5. Generates advance publicity through the local media of scheduled activities of interest to the general public, including licensing classes, hamfests, club meetings, Field Day operations.
6. Helps individual hams and radio clubs to develop and promote good ideas for community projects and special events to display Amateur Radio to the public in a positive light.
7. Keeps current and familiar with available materials including ARRL Public Service Announcements (PSAs), knows appropriate websites and social media to post viral media, brochures and audiovisual materials; contacts local radio and TV stations to arrange airing of Amateur Radio PSAs; secures appropriate brochures and audiovisual materials for use in conjunction with planned activities.
8. Seeks to constantly improve their skills by attending regional training sessions, PR Forums and other training activities endorsed by section PICs.
9. Submits articles and photographs to ARRL for QST and online applications.
Working with others:
1. Works with Local Government Liaisons to establish personal contacts with local government officials where possible and explain to them, briefly and non-technically, about Amateur Radio and how it can help their communities.
2. Works with the section PIC to identify and publicize League-related stories of local news interest, including election and appointment of local hams to leadership positions, QST articles by local authors or local achievements by amateurs.
3. Keeps the section PIC fully informed on their activities and places PIC on news release mailing list.
4. Assists the section PIC in recruiting hams for public speaking engagements and promotes interest among community and service organizations in finding out more about Amateur Radio.
5. Quickly informs the ARRL Media and PR Manager of any issue or significant event noted which may either enhance or damage the reputation of the ARRL.
6. Networks with other PIOs to facilitate coordination.
Work in Emergencies
Note: It is highly recommended that the PIO should not also be the Emergency Coordinator.
1. Is familiar with local emergency protocols and establishes relations with the lead governmental response agency in their home area and their requirements for the PIO’s participation in a Joint Information Center in an emergency.
2. Helps local clubs and/or section designated ARES-PIOs (PIOs who are specifically trained and tasked by the SM and/or PIC to work with ARES units) prepare emergency response media plans.
3. Provides aid to section appointed ARES-PIOs or assume that role if none is available.
4. Working with the PIC, aids clubs and others involved in emergency response operations in the preparation and contents of PR kits containing vetted information about Amateur Radio in their local area which may be distributed in advance to local Emergency Coordinators for use in dealing with the media during emergencies. During emergencies, these kits should be made available to reporters at the scene, the JIC or at a command post.
5. Maintains contact with the local Emergency Coordinator and/or District Emergency Coordinator and League officials (local stories often can quickly turn national).
6. Summarizes Amateur Radio activity in an ongoing situation, and follow up any significant emergency communications activities with accurate and prompt reporting to the media of the extent and nature of Amateur Radio involvement. They should NOT speak or give information for our served agencies.
7. Takes free online FEMA courses in the National Incident Management Structure/ICS/Disaster PIO or seeks similar training from the state emergency management office.