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  1. 1. LEGIONPrepared by:The Royal Canadian LegionDominion CommandPublic Relations Committee359 Kent StreetOttawa, ONK2P 0R7Tel: 613-235-4391Fax: THE ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION PUBLIC RELATIONS MANUAL & SPEAKER’S GUIDE No. 800989 No. 800884
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS PART 1 YOUR GUIDE TO PUBLIC RELATIONSCHAPTER 1 EFFECTIVE PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR A HEALTHIER BRANCH............ 2CHAPTER 2 THE LANGUAGE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS.................................. 5 Chapter 2 - Annex A BIBLIOGRAPHY.............................................................. 10CHAPTER 3 BUILDING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE MEDIA RELATIONS.......... 11CHAPTER 4 PREPARING FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS..................................... 16 Chapter 4 - Annex A SAMPLE MEDIA QUERY WORKSHEET...................................... 21CHAPTER 5 WRITING A USABLE NEWS RELEASE: PRINT AND ELECTRONIC........ 22 Chapter 5 - Annex A SAMPLE NEWS RELEASE. .................................................. 29 . Chapter 5 - Annex B NEWS RELEASE CHECK-LIST............................................... 31 Chapter 5 - Annex C SAMPLE ELECTRONIC NEWS RELEASE.................................... 32 Chapter 5 - Annex D ELECTRONIC NEWS RELEASE CHECK-LIST............................... 33CHAPTER 6 WHEN AND HOW TO HOLD A NEWS CONFERENCE...................... 35CHAPTER 7 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: “DON’T GET INTO A WRITING CONTEST WITH SOMEONE WHO BUYS INK BY THE GALLON”. ....... 40 .CHAPTER 8 COMMUNITY RELATIONS................................................... 43 HOW DOES A BRANCH GO ABOUT BUILDING GOOD COMMUNITY RELATIONS?.................................................. 43CHAPTER 9 CREATING AND KEEPING A POSITIVE IMAGE. ........................... 46 .CHAPTER 10 ADVERTISING AND MARKETING: SOME BACKGROUND ABOUT THESE RELATED AREAS........................................... 49CHAPTER 11 PUBLIC RELATIONS IN TIMES OF CRISIS.................................. 51CHAPTER 12 SPECIAL EVENTS............................................................ 54CHAPTER 13 THE INTERNET.............................................................. 57
  3. 3. PART 2 YOUR GUIDE TO PUBLIC SPEAKINGCHAPTER 14 FIRST IMPRESSIONS. ....................................................... 60 .CHAPTER 15 TELLING THE LEGION STORY. ............................................ 61 .CHAPTER 16 BE PREPARED. .............................................................. 62 .CHAPTER 17 RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE................................................. 63CHAPTER 18 WHAT’S THE MESSAGE..................................................... 64CHAPTER 19 WRITING TIPS............................................................... 65CHAPTER 20 CONSTRUCTING A FRAMEWORK.......................................... 67CHAPTER 21 YOUR OPENING............................................................. 68CHAPTER 22 REAFFIRM YOUR MESSAGE. ............................................... 69 .CHAPTER 23 YOUR NOTES................................................................ 70CHAPTER 24 PRESENTATION POINTERS................................................. 71CHAPTER 25 CONTROLLING NERVOUSNESS. ........................................... 72 .CHAPTER 26 IMPROMPTU SPEAKING. ................................................... 73 .CHAPTER 27 THE MEDIUM OF YOUR MESSAGE......................................... 75CHAPTER 28 HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR VOICE..................................... 77CHAPTER 29 ATTITUDE COUNTS......................................................... 78CHAPTER 30 HANDLING QUESTIONS. ................................................... 79 .CHAPTER 31 SUMMARIZE. ................................................................ 80 .CHAPTER 32 CONCLUSION................................................................ 81 ii
  4. 4. PART 1YOUR GUIDE TO PUBLIC RELATIONS The Royal Canadian Legion
  5. 5. CHAPTER 1 EFFECTIVE PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR A HEALTHIER BRANCHWHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS?101. Perhaps the easiest way to describe what public relations is, is to start by describing what it is not. It is not “publicity”, it is not “advertising” and it is not “coverage”. In fact it is a little of all of those things and a lot more as well.102. As far as The Royal Canadian Legion is concerned, public relations is the active effort to provide Legion members, the public and the news media with accurate, timely information about Legion policies, programs and activities in order to create and maintain support and understanding for those policies, programs and activities.103. Another way of putting it might be to say that public relations is the active process of creating and maintaining a positive image of The Royal Canadian Legion.WHY WORRY ABOUT PUBLIC RELATIONS?104. These days we live in a world which some may think is approaching information overload. Governments, government agencies, corporations, retailers and even individuals all compete for our attention through a staggering variety of mediums.105. Each day most people living in Canada have the opportunity to get information from dozens of television channels, countless radio stations, newspapers (local, regional, national and international), magazines, flyers, brochures, telephones, facsimiles, e-mail, the INTERNET, regular post, briefings, meetings, conferences, seminars, workshops and, of course, face-to-face conversations with other individuals.106. This constant flow of information makes it increasingly difficult for an organization, like The Royal Canadian Legion, to get its messages to the public. It runs the very real risk of being “lost in the crowd”.
  6. 6. 107. Gone are the days when practically every adult Canadian, and most children, knew what the Legion was about, what it did and, more importantly, supported its programs and objectives. Nowadays, at least two generations have grown up without experiencing the horror of war. While that is a tribute to those who have served, it also means that serving one’s country has become much less relevant for most Canadians.108. Furthermore, there are now literally millions of Canadians who have no appreciation of the concept of sacrifice. The general neglect of history in Canadian schools, combined with the large influx of new Canadians over the past 20 years, most of whom have no direct connection or understanding of this country’s past, present the Legion with a serious public relations challenge.109. Without effective public relations those things the Legion holds most dear and sacred may, like old soldiers, just fade away.110. It is up to every Legion member to make sure this does not happen. In fact, PR is the responsibility of everyone in the Legion - whether ordinary, associate or affiliate member. Those on the branch PR committee have an even bigger responsibility because they are the ones who must plan and guide the branch public relations efforts. The committee must decide what information should be made public - remember, the aim is to build and maintain the Legion’s image; when the information should be released; how it should be transmitted; and. who should receive it.111. With a solid public relations effort by each and every branch the word can be passed along and the Legion’s values can be sustained. But, the Legion can no longer hide its light under a barrel. It can no longer be assumed people know about the good works the Legion does, nor can public support be taken for granted. The secret is communications.HOW WILL THIS MANUAL HELP IMPROVE BRANCHPUBLIC RELATIONS?112. This part of the manual will provide PR Committees with the information they need to conduct effective public relations campaigns in support of their branch activities. It contains 11 other chapters, each dealing with some aspect of public relations.
  7. 7. 113. Where practical, information has been outlined in check-list format to help those interested in getting information on “how to do” specific tasks or prepare for specific events.
  8. 8. CHAPTER 2 THE LANGUAGE OF PUBLIC RELATIONSTERMINOLOGY201. Perhaps the most difficult step in learning about any specialized field is the business of first mastering the language. By language we do not mean French, English or Spanish, but rather the terminology, the special combinations of words -most of which in themselves are quite familiar - which when combined in a certain context take on entirely new meaning.202. This chapter contains brief explanations of some of the language of public relations. Many of these terms appear elsewhere in the manual, others may crop up from time to time in your dealings with the media and people in other communications professions. It should be noted that these terms are defined in such a way to make them useful when reading this manual. They are arranged alphabetically for your convenience. a. Advertising: The commercial public promotion of goods and services through the media. b. Assignment Chief: The manager in a media agency responsible for detailing reporters to cover specific activities and events. (see also “News editor”). c. Attribute: To indicate spoken or written words belong to a specific individual. d. Backgrounder: A document, usually produced by a public relations organization, to explain a subject or event in some detail (see Fact Sheet). e. Byline: The name of the reporter who researched and wrote the story. Bylines normally acknowledge a particularly high level of original content and, in the words of the CP Style Guide, “send a public signal of a job well done.” f. Camera operator: The individual responsible for filming or videoing material for broadcast. Camera operators may be mobile, as in the case of electronic news gathering (ENG)
  9. 9. operators, or studio-based, as in the case of those who film news and public affairs programs for broadcast.g. Camera-ready: Term used to describe material in the final stages of preparation for printing. Material is photographed prior to production of printing plates from which multiple copies are made. Today, “camera-ready” more often describes the final version of work on electronic disc.h. Caption: The wording appearing under a photograph, illustration or cartoon.i. Communications: The generic term used - often with confusing results - to describe public relations, public information and public affairs activities.j. Community Relations: That aspect of PR which seeks to develop and maintain positive, healthy relationships, at all levels, between Legion members and the people and institutions in the towns where they live.k. Copy: Printed material - news, features, editorials.l. Cutline: A comprehensive photo caption which provides background information about events related to the action in the photograph as well as describing the action itself.m. Daily: A newspaper published every day.n. Deadline: The latest time by which material must reach a reporter to allow its inclusion in material being prepared for the next publication/broadcast target.o. Editor: The manager in a news gathering agency who directs the preparation of a publication, or part of a publication, and reviews and amends material submitted for inclusion in that part of the publication for which he or she has responsibility.p. Exclusive: A story being covered by only one individual or news agency, usually from a very specific point of view.q. Fact sheet: A document, usually produced by a public relations organization, to explain a subject or event in some detail (see Backgrounder).
  10. 10. r. Feature story: A report dealing with an issue in considerable depth, often with a particular viewpoint.s. Graphics: Photographs, cartoons, art-work, special logos - anything that is not “copy”.t. Headline: The words appearing at the beginning (head) of all news, feature and editorial items. (Note: Reporters do not write headlines. That is the job of headline writers.)u. Image: How an individual or organization appears to the general public. It is often not a reflection of that person or organization’s true character or nature.v. Interview: A conversation between a journalist and an individual, usually in the form of a series of questions and answers, for the purpose of obtaining information for publication or broadcast.w. Journalist: The generic term used to describe those who work for media agencies. Nowadays it is most often used to describe reporters who work for print agencies.x. Leaks: Unofficial information disclosures to the media, usually from anonymous sources.y. Marketing: The business of assessing consumer needs and desires, then creating a demand for specific products.z. Media: Those agencies which report, analyse, comment upon and in some cases, create the news.aa. Media Relations: The dynamics of working effectively with the Medium: The means by which a message is delivered. Within the media world the most common mediums are radio, television and print; however, the INTERNET is gradually making headway and may soon be worthy of inclusion with the other three Monthly: A publication which is released each month.dd. News: Very recent events. From the word “new” and also the acronym for “North, East, West, South”.
  11. 11. ee. News conference: A gathering to provide a large number of media agencies with the same message, at the same time in the same place.ff. News Director: The manager in a media agency responsible for detailing reporters to cover specific activities and events. (see also “Assignment Chief”).gg. News release: A story prepared and issued to the media by an organization describing events or activities considered to be worthy of publication or broadcast by the media.hh. News story: The most basic form of journalism. It describes a very recent event by answering the basic questions “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and “how”.ii. Periodical: A publication (newspaper, magazine, etc...) which appears on a regular basis.jj. Photographer: An individual who takes photographs for publication.kk. Promotions: Activities intended to attract public attention and positively influence participation in specific events.ll. Public Affairs: Matters having to do with the public. This term replaced “public information”, which in turn replaced “public relations” as the popular way to describe organizations, particularly at the federal government level, dedicated to positively influencing public Relations: The business of creating a public environment which is favourably disposed toward a given organization.nn. Quotation: Spoken or written words belonging to a specific individual.oo. Reporter: One who gathers information to prepare material for publication or broadcast.pp. Scoop: The first story dealing with a major news event. At one time, an agency’s scoop preceded the competition by a full publication day; however, in these electronic times, a scoop usually enjoys a much shorter life-span.
  12. 12. qq. Sources: Individuals who provide reporters with information. rr. Weekly: A publication which is released each week.WHY HAVE A BIBLIOGRAPHY?203. This manual represents many hours of research. Although it provides answers to many PR questions, it would be naive to think it answers them all. In fact, some questions seem to go unanswered, not matter how much research is carried out.204. Those who are interested in follow-up research, or just interested in doing some supplementary reading, may wish to make use of the bibliography included at the end this chapter (Annex A). These are the sources for some of the information contained here.205. Except for the obvious exceptions - like the Oxford Concise Dictionary - they all make for interesting reading and they will all help to increase your understanding of the fascinating and complex world of public relations.
  13. 13. Chapter 2 - Annex A BIBLIOGRAPHYBuckley, Peter (Ed.) The Canadian Press Style Book: A Guide for Writers and Editors, (The Canadian Press, 36 King Street East, Toronto, 1993)Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, Second Edition, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.: 1993)Cook, Jeff Scott, The Elements of Speech Writing and Public Speaking, (Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Company, Toronto: 1989)Debelak, Don, Marketing Magic (Bob Adams, Inc., Holbrook, Massachusetts, 1994)Hahn, Fred E., Do-It-Yourself Advertising, (John Wiley Sons Inc., New York, Chichester, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore, 1993)Hogan, Gregory, Events Promotion, (mcKeen, hogan associates communications, Ottawa, 1990)Maul, Lyle and Dianne Mayfield, The Entrepreneur’s Roadmap to Business Success, (Saxtons River Publications, Alexandria, V.A., 1990)Mogel, Leonard, Making It in Public Relations, (Macmillan General Reference, A Simon Schuster Macmillan Company, 1633 Broadway, N.Y., N.Y., 1993)McPhail, Thomas L., and McPhail, Brenda M., Communication: The Canadian Experience, (Copp Clark Pitman Ltd, Toronto, 1990)Proudfoot, Gordon F., Privacy Law and the Media in Canada, (The Canadian Bar Foundation, 1984)Vipond, Mary, The Mass Media in Canada, (James Lorimer Company, Publishers, Toronto, 1989)Shiller, Ed, Managing the Media, (Bedford House Publishing Corporation, Toronto, 1989) 10
  14. 14. CHAPTER 3 BUILDING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE MEDIA RELATIONSWHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOUR BRANCH TO WORKTOWARDS BUILDING AND MAINTAINING A SOLIDWORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR LOCAL MEDIA?301. The first, and probably the best reason is the media can help your branch in many ways - ways you may never have considered.302. By working with local editors and reporters, you can promote branch activities, gain recognition for significant achievements by the branch and its members, maintain a positive public image and help build good community relations.303. Through the media you can take part in public discussions about local and regional subjects of importance to the Legion, and even add the Legion’s grass-roots voice to debates on issues of national significance.304. Always remember, the media provide most Canadians with all their information about international, national, regional and local events. That is why the media is perhaps the best way to reach the public with information about the programs and activities of The Royal Canadian Legion.305. The positive aspects of building and maintaining good media relations can not be over-emphasised.HOW CAN YOUR PR COMMITTEE GO ABOUT MEETINGTHIS CHALLENGE?306. Begin by keeping an open mind. The media, as an institution, is often regarded with suspicion by some and distrust by many; however, it is worth noting that they do operate under some fairly strict guidelines.307. The Canadian Press (CP), one of Canada’s principal news- gathering organizations, lists eight of the most important practices which should guide its employees in the performance of their journalistic duties. They are: 11
  15. 15. a. Investigate fully - when in doubt cut it out. b. Cite competent authorities and sources - have proof available. c. Be impartial - give fair representation to all sides. d. Stick to the facts - without editorial opinion or comment. e. Admit errors - promptly, frankly. f. Don’t be quick to dismiss criticism and complaints. g. Respond sympathetically and quickly when an error has been made. h. Every story shown to be erroneous and involving a corrective must be drawn to the attention of the supervisory staff.308. The “media” are really just people doing a job - a job most of us would agree is important. In spite of some of the horror stories we have all heard over the years, it is possible to form productive working relationships with media representatives in your area, especially if your PR committee is prepared to do some work.309. All successful relationships are based on mutual trust, respect and understanding. In most cases, it will be up to the branch PR committee to take the first step. That is simply because most reporters cover a wide area during the course of their working day, often working on several story assignments at a time. Your committee, however, is interested exclusively in telling the Legion’s story, so take the initiative.310. Begin by getting to know who you will be dealing with. If your branch has journalists among its ordinary or associate membership, take advantage of their contacts and knowledge. As long as they are not placed in a conflict-of-interest situation, most will be pleased to help the committee with advice, even if they feel they are not able to be active committee members.311. Don’t be shy. Call the local newspaper editor, radio or television assignment chief and book a few minutes just to say hello. They are often very busy - to them, time really is money - but they like to know who they may be running into in the community and 12
  16. 16. most likely will agree to a short get-together, probably during a coffee break or at lunch.312. Prepare yourself for the meeting by gathering some background material on the branch - history, major projects in the community, the names and telephone numbers of branch contacts - but do not show up with too much paper. Be prepared to answer questions about your branch, after all, asking questions is what journalists do for a living and although your first visit may seem like a social call, it will be very much a business meeting for both parties.313. Have questions of your own ready. Ask if a certain reporter covers service organizations or veterans and military affairs. Find out the deadlines for publications and news broadcasts. See if there are any feature writers, columnists or public affairs programs which concentrate on issues of interest to the Legion - seniors, youth programs, fund-raising, etc...get copies of the agency’s advertising rates and find out their policies regarding community service messages.314. Once you have all this information - and the media know who to call at the branch - your branch is in a position to begin building a good working relationship with the press.WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BASIC GUIDELINES YOU CANFOLLOW TO SERVE YOUR BRANCH THROUGH EFFECTIVE,PRODUCTIVE MEDIA RELATIONS?315. After you have established contact with your local media outlets, day-to-day dealings will determine how positive your relationship remains.316. Attitude is a very important factor for anyone dealing with the media, either as a branch representative for an event or activity, or as a spokesperson responding to media queries. Media relations representatives from the branch should be approachable, well- informed and enthusiastic about branch matters and capable of dealing one-on-one with print and electronic journalists.317. There are a number of guidelines your branch PR committee members can follow to help maintain good media relations: a. Be polite and courteous. 13
  17. 17. b. Be well-informed about local media needs - deadlines, etc... as well as significant policies, programs and activities.c. Use common sense when dealing with reporters.d. Be fair in dealing with various media agencies. News items should be provided to all agencies although some features may be more selectively distributed.e. Be helpful in assisting media representatives in obtaining information they need.f. Have reasonable expectations. Competition for space and broadcast time is fierce and it is up to editors and news directors which items are used.g. Be accurate. Check and confirm factual information.h. Return media calls as soon as possible.i. Never ask to see a story before it is printed or broadcast. Stories are the property of the media agency.j. Avoid the temptation to tell the media how to do their job. Simply providing information is not a license to dictate the story’s slant.k. Make your own arrangements to keep records of media material. Do not ask for clippings or tapes. It is a branch responsibility to keep records of published and broadcast material.l. Objectively assess the true news value of branch activities and avoid wasting valuable good will by promoting stories with little or no news value or potential public interest.m. Remember deadlines. Find out when the information is needed, then do your best to provide it, but don’t compromise accuracy for timeliness. Deadlines are ultimately journalists’ responsibility.n. Never be facetious or try to be humorous.o. Never lie. 14
  18. 18. p. Never boycott an agency or journalist because of one unfavourable report.CHAPTER RECAP318. The media can be of tremendous assistance to your branch. Take the time and make the effort to get to know them. It will pay dividends. 15
  19. 19. CHAPTER 4 PREPARING FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWSWHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN RESPONDING TO MEDIAQUERIES?401. From time to time, your branch will no doubt receive queries from the media about branch events or branch members. Often these questions will be asked because of information released by your PR committee. In other instances, they may be caused by announcements or activities at either the Provincial or Dominion Command level.402. No matter why the questions arise, there are number of common sense guidelines Legion members can follow when dealing with media queries. a. Find out exactly what the question is. Ask what the reporter wants -interview(s), branch visit, suggestions concerning interview subjects - and when it is needed. b. Be sure the branch is the right place for the journalist to be looking for the information. Should they be referred to zone, district, command or even Dominion Command level? If necessary, consult with the branch executive. c. Get the name of the reporter(s) and the news agency represented. It is very worthwhile to make a record of all media contacts. A sample “Media Query Worksheet” is at Annex A. d. Always be courteous and polite throughout your dealings with the journalist. e. Find out if the journalist is working to a deadline, and if so, make every reasonable effort to help meet that deadline. f. Make sure the right person or persons will be representing your branch as spokespersons once the PR Committee is sure your branch is the right place. 16
  20. 20. WHY DO THE MEDIA WANT INTERVIEWS?403. The media want interviews because it is the best way to quickly get the facts, find out varying points of view and prepare a balanced report. Very often, stories we feel lack balance are the result of one side or another in an issue not agreeing to provide the media with their side of the story.404. Interviews also give a story credibility. For example, it is much more believable to read that someone actually said something happened, than to read that something is alleged to have happened. The Branch President confirming poppy receipts are up 20% over last year is more credible than a rumour of the same increase.WHY SHOULD YOUR BRANCH AGREE TO MEDIAINTERVIEWS?405. Properly handled, a media interview is a good way to spread the Legion message. An interview with the right person - someone who knows the real story and is familiar with the facts - can serve the branch by promoting the Legion point of view, dispelling rumours, confirming successes and clarifying points of view.406. A well prepared interview also enhances the Legion’s public image, raises the branch’s profile and contributes to the personal satisfaction of the member interviewed.WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SECRETS TO GIVING APOSITIVE MEDIA INTERVIEW?407. A media query is often the first step leading to an interview - indeed, the ultimate response to a media query is a full-fledged interview. A great many people, including some very prominent figures, are uncomfortable with the idea of having to deal face- to-face with a journalist.408. While this is certainly understandable, knowing how to go about giving a good media interview is essential for anyone who may be called upon to provide the public with information about the Legion through the news media. When faced with the prospect of having to talk to the media remember, the person being interviewed is the expert, not the reporter. 17
  21. 21. 409. That is just the first of 10 basic guidelines for anyone called upon to give a media interview - be positive. Take a constructive approach to the questions and emphasise those points which will present the most favourable image, from The Royal Canadian Legion’s point of view. Here are the other 9 guidelines.410. Be certain the right person is doing the interview. Does the person selected actually have the knowledge and the authority required to best represent The Royal Canadian Legion? Before giving an interview make sure your branch has advised the necessary people in your chain of command and is following any special rules which may apply to dealings with journalists.411. Listen carefully to the questions and only answer the question being asked. Make sure the questions asked, and the answers provided, are understood. Avoid cluttering answers with unsolicited or unnecessary information.412. Be honest. If the information requested is appropriate for public release it should be made available.413. Be concise. Answers should be to the point. This reduces the likelihood of confusion.414. Avoid speculation, stick to information which is known to be true.415. Never guess. If a question can not be answered because of lack of information, the interviewer should be told, but, every effort should then be made to get the information to the reporter as a timely follow-up.416. Assume everything is “on the record”.417. Avoid policy issues beyond stating and explaining what current, approved policies are.418. Review any background material being given to the journalist to be sure it is current and accurate.419. For PR committee members, branch executive members and anyone else who may have to “meet the press”, here are some additional interview pointers in the form of a list of “do’s and don’ts”: 18
  22. 22. a. Do avoid “yes” and “no” answers. b. Do leave political Legion questions to be answered by elected branch, zone, district and command officials. c. Do be helpful in assisting media representatives in obtaining information they need. d. Do be accurate. Check and confirm factual information. e. Do return media calls as soon as possible.420. Don’t forget the don’ts: a. Don’t ask to see a story before it is printed or broadcast. It is the property of the media agency. b. Don’t tell the media how to do their job. Simply providing information is not an initiation to try to dictate the story’s slant. c. Don’t ask for clippings or tapes. It is up to the branch to make sure records of published and broadcast material are kept on file. d. Don’t try to be funny. e. Don’t lie. f. Don’t assume a reporter is either well-informed or uninformed. g. Don’t let the media put words in your mouth.421. Finally, and most important of all, don’t hesitate to contact your provincial command and then Dominion Command PR staff for assistance at any time in your dealings with the media.CHAPTER RECAP422. Nowadays, there is no doubt your branch will occasionally receive queries from the media. Always keep in mind that a well- prepared interview is not only a good way to spread the Legion 19
  23. 23. message, it is an opportunity to improve the Legion’s positive image and further enhance its standing in your community.Note: Dominion Command conducts periodic media relations and interview techniques training sessions. Contact the Chief of Public Relations for more information. 20
  24. 24. Chapter 4 - Annex A SAMPLE MEDIA QUERY WORKSHEETBranch:______________________________Date:___________________________ Time:_________________Reporter’s Name:_______________________________________Representing:__________________________________________Telephone Contact(s):____________________________________Question/Query:______________________________________________________________________________________________Action Taken:_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Name of Person Taking Action:____________________________ 21
  25. 25. CHAPTER 5 WRITING A USEABLE NEWS RELEASE: PRINT AND ELECTRONICWHAT IS NEWS?501. Every story that appears in a newspaper or is broadcast on radio or television either informs, educates, entertains or promotes. Furthermore, without exception, every news story has one or more of the following elements: a. Prominence - stories about, or featuring, someone of local, regional, national or international importance - the mayor, a reeve, a cabinet minister or foreign dignitary - or a sports figure, TV personality, movie star, famous scientist, etc... b. Money - stories about the loss, winning, spending, donation of money. c. Sex - stories about romance, infidelity, non-traditional gender employment issues, etc... d. Disaster - stories about flood, fire, famine, outbreaks of disease, road, rail, air and sea accidents, etc... e. Humour - stories with a funny angle. f. Human interest - stories which are unusual and appeal to our natural interest in people.502. Now you may not think Legion branch news releases would contain any of these elements. But stop for a moment and think about the kind of stories that might be the subject of a branch news release.WHAT IS LEGION NEWS?503. Here are a few examples of the types of stories your branch PR committee might be trying to tell: a. Branch members taking part in Provincial or Dominion Command events. Human Interest. 22
  26. 26. b. Volunteer efforts and fund-raising events. Human Interest and Money. c. First woman elected branch president. Sex and Prominence. d. Legion helps needy families after apartment fire. Human Interest and Disaster.504. As you can see, each of these “stories” contains one or more news elements. Those elements are what catch an editor’s eye and give your release a chance of being printed or broadcast.WHAT MAKES A GOOD NEWS RELEASE?505. A well written news release is an excellent way to give the public information about Legion events and activities. Releases are also useful as a way to advise editors and news directors of happenings in the Legion world - happenings they may wish to cover in greater depth using their news staff.506. Information in a news release must first and foremost be about something newsworthy and it must always answer the five basic “W’s” - who, what, when, where and why - as well as the single “H” - how.507. The news release is a good way to pass along information in a brief, uncluttered, standard format. Releases are written in simple language using the active voice and the present tense. Avoid jargon!508. News releases should be “upbeat” - light but not frivolous. Limited use can be made of good quotations to improve both the “readability” and credibility of a release, but avoid rambling narratives, or overly technical descriptive passages.509. For spelling, punctuation and other standards of style, it is suggested that the branch provide the PR committee with a copy of the CP (Canadian Press) Style Guide. Failing that, they should at least provide a good dictionary.510. Ideally, a news release should be only one double spaced, 8.5” by 11” page long. 23
  27. 27. 511. Tone is very important. News releases are neutral and adjectives - especially superlatives - should be used sparingly. Editors “only want the facts”.512. Most news releases are written from the “top down”. In fact, the classic news release format is described as an “inverted pyramid”. The most important material is contained in the “lead”, or first paragraph (often all of the five “Ws” and the “H” are answered in this first sentence or paragraph). Information of secondary importance is in the “bridge” and less vital material left for the “body”. See Figure 1. Figure 1. Lead Bridge Body513. By arranging the information in diminishing order of importance, editors can easily cut the story from the bottom up, without removing the most significant material. This works well when space is at a premium and may mean the difference between your branch story getting into the paper or going on the editor’s spike.514. The release should always include the name and telephone number of a contact person, outside the body of the release - unless the option to contact that person is part of the story. Reporters and editors will use contact information to confirm factual material and ask follow-on questions dealing with anything they think was not covered in the release. Be sure you have supporting material close at hand and be ready to answer questions after a news release is issued.515. Finally, treat the media fairly. News releases should be provided to all agencies - not just the ones which traditionally favour Legion items. By the same token, if a journalist comes to your branch with an idea for an exclusive story, avoid the temptation to call other agencies with the same idea or angle. 24
  28. 28. 516. A sample print news release is at Annex A to this chapter and a news release check-list is at Annex B.WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WRITING FORPRINT AND WRITING FOR RADIO AND TELEVISION?517. The main difference between writing for print and for broadcast is style. Print and electronic media expect the same degree of newsworthiness in a release and they all want answers to the five “Ws” and the “H”.518. But radio and television journalists are slaves to time just as newspaper journalists are slaves to space. A given radio news broadcast of five minutes duration might contain 10-15 news items and one or two feature reports. To even hope to get your branch’s story on the air, your PR committee must understand the need for brevity. In fact, the watch-word for broadcast writing is “short”: short words, short sentences and short releases.519. A really interesting story might rate 30 seconds of air time, a reasonably interesting item 15 seconds.520. When writing for radio and television a good technique is to take your print news lead - read it out loud and time it - then rework it into short, easily read sentences. Spell out difficult names and any foreign words phonetically and be sure to double or triple space the final version.521. A sample electronic news release is at Annex C to this chapter. An electronic news release check-list is at Annex D.WHAT IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT?522. Before leaving the area of broadcast writing, it would be useful to briefly mention the “public service announcement” or PSA523. The PSA is the closest the media comes to offering free advertising. CRTC regulations require that all radio and television stations devote specific quotas of time to community service-type announcements. 25
  29. 29. 524. While this will not help you get a news item to air, it can be a very useful tool for promoting branch activities such as, the Poppy Campaign, parades and special events.525. The guidelines for PSAs are exactly the same as those for broadcast news releases - they should be brief, concise and accurate.526. Deadlines vary and many stations require a copy for each program slot which uses PSAs - another good reason to have the PR committee establish and maintain good relationships with program producers. Most programs receive hundreds of PSAs each week and producers select and run those they think are the most appropriate and representative of the community their station serves. By keeping in close contact with these producers you will be better able to judge when PSAs are likely to have the best chance of being broadcast.HOW ARE NEWS RELEASES DISTRIBUTED?527. A number of factors determine how to go about distributing your branch’s news releases: a. Urgency - How soon must the information reach the media? Are you up against tight deadlines, or are you sending out information about an event coming up in the near future? b. Number of agencies involved - How many news organizations do you have to reach? Are they located in a number of widely separated locations or concentrated in one district? c. Delivery options available - Does your branch have access to facsimile (fax) service, INTERNET or other electronic mail (e-mail) methods? Do you have a standing agreement with a local courier service? Does the branch keep a roster of volunteer drivers who are available to do Legion business?528. The more urgent the release, the greater the requirement for speed of delivery. Use common sense and these guidelines to determine how best to distribute your branch news releases: a. Very urgent (same day or to meet current day deadline) - telephone, followed up by fax, hand delivery or e-mail. 26
  30. 30. b. Some urgency (next working day) fax, hand delivery or e- mail. c. Routine (within 2-5 days) mail, fax or e-mail.529. Releases dealing with information about events taking place in more than five days can go by mail, with a follow-up telephone call, fax or e-mail a day or so before the event.530. It is always a good idea to call the agencies on your distribution list to confirm they have received your release, especially in very important and/or urgent cases.WHAT ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHS AND GRAPHICS?531. Nothing enhances a story more than a good photograph or graphic (picture, crest, map, etc...). The Dominion Command Supply Department stocks a good selection of camera-ready, suitable for publication artwork featuring the Legion badge and Remembrance and Poppy material.532. These items, along with photos can really help sell your stories. If you have any amateur photographers in your branch, consider trying to persuade them to use their talents to help illustrate branch releases.533. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when taking pictures for use in newspapers: a. Avoid the “grip and grin” shot - two people shaking hands, ginning at the camera. For example, if one member has received an award, take a picture of that person with the presentation; if a group receives the same award take a group shot, but remember to make sure the faces in the picture are at least as big as a dime when the print is developed. b. Where possible, take pictures of people doing something. c. Unless absolutely necessary, use pictures of people. Even photos of people doing nothing are generally more interesting than pictures of inanimate objects. d. Take a number of shots and pick the best one. 27
  31. 31. 534. When writing captions, follow these basic rules: a. Start by describing the action in the photo, using the present tense. b. Name everyone in the picture, starting from left to right, or if necessary, back to front, again, going from left to right along each “row”. c. If, (worst case) there are no people in the photograph, as might be the case for example, with a photograph of a new branch building, consider lifting a quotation from the release to illustrate the photo. d. Be sure to have a enough copies of your photos developed to send out one of each selected with every release. e. Do not expect to get the pictures back. If you need file copies, get them printed separately.WHAT DOES A TYPICAL LEGION NEWS RELEASE LOOKLIKE?535. To see what a typical Legion news release might look like, turn to Annex A.CHAPTER RECAP536. Remember, the news release is an excellent way to pass along branch information, if the information is newsworthy. Keep your releases simple and answer the six basic questions “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and “how”. Select the best way to pass it to the media and always be prepared for follow-up inquiries.537. Have reasonable expectations. Simply “putting out a news release” is no guarantee it will turn up word-for-word in the local paper. After all, competition for space and broadcast time is fierce. But if your release is clear, newsworthy and well written, chances are good it will be used and, if it not, that the editor will call your branch to arrange for a reporter to visit. 28
  32. 32. Chapter 5 - Annex A SAMPLE NEWS RELEASELegion News 1The Royal Canadian Legion, Br. No. 999, Heretown, PEI6 November, 200X2Remembrance Day Ceremony Planned for Cenotaph3 Heretown4 -- The Royal Canadian Legion Branch No 999, willconduct the 200X Remembrance Day Ceremony at the HeretownCenotaph between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., Friday, November 11.5Mrs. Shirley Jones, 92, of the Heretown Seniors’ Retirement Homewill be among the local dignitaries taking part in the ceremony.Mrs. Jones is Heretown’s 200X Silver Cross Mother. Her son,James, was killed in March 1945 while serving with the RoyalCanadian Artillery in Germany. Mrs. Jones represents all localmothers whose children have died while on military service.6 Joining Mrs. Jones will be children from the Heretown ElementarySchool, Navy, Army and Air Cadets and local dignitaries including [ m o r e ]8 29
  33. 33. - 2 -9His Worship, Mayor John Digby and the full Heretown Town Council. This year’s Service of Remembrance will be conductedjointly by Monsignor Patrick O’Rielly of St. Peter’s Basilicaand Canon Al Carmichael of St. Luke’s Anglican Church.7Branch 999 has been organizing and conducting theRemembrance Day Ceremony in Heretown for over 55 years.It provides citizens of the community with the chance toremember the sacrifice made by the more than 117,000 men and womenwho have died on military service during two World Wars and the Korean War. - 30 -10For more information call Jack Higgins or Joe Mackenzie at 555-1234.11 30
  34. 34. Chapter 5 - Annex B NEWS RELEASE CHECK-LISTThe following check-list recaps material covered in thischapter, and highlights some of the technical points forconsiderations when you prepare a routine news release: * To whom is the release directed? * Does the release conform with the CP Style Guide? * Does the release answer the five W’s and the H? * Have all appropriate agencies been provided with copies of the release? * Is the information arranged in declining order of importance? * Is the release brief (200-250 words)? * Is the release double-spaced? * Is the release on branch letter-head or Legion news release stationary with a contact person and phone number? * Is the release dated? * Are exact dates used? “May 26, 1997” - not “this Monday”. * Is “MORE” used at the bottom of the page if there is more than one page of copy? * Does the symbol “- 30 -” appear at the end of the release? * Is “editors note” positioned after the “- 30 -”? * Is the branch executive aware the release is being made? * Is there a copy of the release on file at the branch? 31
  35. 35. Chapter 5 - Annex C SAMPLE ELECTRONIC NEWS RELEASELegion News 12The Royal Canadian Legion, Br. No. 999, Heretown, PEI6 November, 200X13200X Remembrance Day Ceremony14The Royal Canadian Legion Branch No 999 will conduct the 199XRemembrance Day Ceremony at the Heretown Cenotaph, Friday,November 11 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Mrs. Shirley Jones, 92,of the Heretown Seniors’ Home is this year’s Silver Cross Mother.She will be joined by local children and town dignitaries, includingHis Worship, Mayor John Digby. Services will be conducted byMonsignor Patrick O’Rielly and Canon Al Carmichael. For moreinformation call Jack Higgins or Joe Mackenzie at 555-1234.15 ####16For more information contact Jack Higgins or Joe Mackenzie at555-1234.17 75 words (30 seconds)18 32
  36. 36. Chapter 5 - Annex D ELECTRONIC NEWS RELEASE CHECK-LISTThis check-list includes points of special concern for thosepreparing electronic news releases: * To whom is the release directed? * Does the release conform with the CP Style Guide? * Does the release answer the five W’s and the H? * Have all appropriate agencies been provided with copies of the release? * Is the information clear, concise and complete? * Is the release brief (15-30 seconds duration)? * Is the release double or triple-spaced? * Is the release on branch letter-head or Legion news release stationary with a contact person and phone number? * Is the release dated? * Are exact dates used? * Is “MORE” used at the bottom of the page if there is more than one page of copy? * Does the symbol “#### “ appear at the end of the release? * Is “news directors note” positioned after the “#### “? * Is the branch executive aware the release is being made? * Is there a copy of the release on file at the branch? Notes: 1. Use Legion letter-head or news release stationary. 33
  37. 37. 2. Date the release.3. Title the release.4. Date-line the release, especially if it is being sent to out-of-town agencies.5. The “lead” contains as much of the most important information as possible - in this case, who, what, when and where.6. The bridge contains additional information.7. The body contains information of interest, but not vital to the story.8. Indicates more copy on the next page.9. Number pages. 10. This symbol indicates the end of copy. All information below the “30” is administrative in nature and not for publication.11. Don’t forget the contact name(s) and telephone number(s).12. Use Legion letterhead or news release stationary.13. Date the release.14. Title the release.15. Use only the most important information from your print release. Keep the sentences short. Note that contact numbers may be mentioned in the body of the story for electronic releases.16. Use this symbol to indicate the end of copy.17. Repeat contact names and number at the end of the release.18. Note your word-count and rough timing. 34
  38. 38. CHAPTER 6 WHEN AND HOW TO HOLD A NEWS CONFERENCEWHEN SHOULD YOUR BRANCH CONSIDER HOLDING ANEWS CONFERENCE?601. The news conference is a very good way for one person, group of people, or an organization, to reach a large number of journalists with the same message, at the same time, in the same place. It is an excellent communications tool if it is the right tool for the job at hand.602. All news conferences must be well-organized with particular attention paid to the needs of the media. After all, if your branch decides to hold a news conference it is actually hosting the media. It will be up to the branch executive and the PR committee to make sure the branch acts as a proper host.603. Generally speaking, a news conference is only held under very exceptional circumstances to announce events of major significance. For the Legion that might include a decision by all branches in one community to band together for the first time to run a community-wide poppy campaign. It might be used to kick-off a major hospital fund-raiser or, perhaps announce a new Legion-organized seniors program for the community.604. News conferences are not appropriate to announce the results of branch elections, branch sports events or any activity your common sense tells you is really routine. Remember the elements of a news story and ask yourself whether the event in question is truly newsworthy. If you still have doubts, ask a few of local journalists for their opinion - they will not hesitate to advise you if they think a news conference is needed.HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE A NEWS CONFERENCE?605. Preparing for a news conference is one of the biggest challenges a branch PR committee is likely to face. Fortunately, they are very rarely required, but to assist those who may be called upon to organize and run a news conference at the branch level - or, 35
  39. 39. at any other level, up to an including Dominion Command - this10-point check-list should be of great value:a. Be absolutely certain a news conference is the best way to deliver your message. The media will assume, quite rightly, that a news conference would be called only in the event of an announcement, or occurrence, of exceptional news value. If your news conference turns out to be a “false alarm” in their opinion, it is unlikely journalists will turn out for your next big announcement.b. Select the proper spokesperson. Although it is always advisable to have subject experts on hand to provide knowledgeable, or specialist information - poppy, seniors, youth committee chairman - the principal spokesperson should always be the most senior, knowledgeable person available.c. Select the proper location. Make sure the location you chose is large enough to accommodate the numbers of media likely to attend. Be sure adequate electrical power is available to accommodate the drain caused by television lights and make sure the location is easily accessible so that media attending do not have to carry heavy equipment long distances or up endless flights of stairs. Be sure the room is well ventilated in summer or comfortably heated in winter.d. Invitations. Send out a media advisory in good time - usually about four or five days before the news conference. Then follow-up the day before with telephone calls to editors and news directors. On the day of the news conference have a media register to record the names and agencies of journalists attending.e. Prepare information kits and hand-outs carefully. Part of the planning for a news conference includes deciding what material, if any, will be made available to the media in information kits. Kits are valuable aids because they allow the Legion member conducting the news conference to refer journalists to the kit for answers to routine questions, statistics, etc... However, he or she must be completely familiar with the contents of the kit. Credibility can suffer a great deal if journalists are told an answer can be found in the information kit and that answer is not there. Information kits and copies of prepared remarks should be distributed 36
  40. 40. before the news conference starts. This is important for television and radio reporters as it allows them to preview remarks and determine, in advance, which portions to record.f. Have a moderator. The moderator introduces the person giving the news conference, summarizes the contents of the information kit and indicates who is next in line to ask questions. The moderator is actually a low-key “master of ceremonies”. It is appropriate for the moderator to state the ground rules for the news conference - things like waiting to be identified before asking questions, how long the question period will be, etc... He or she should also give some indication of the nature of the material to be covered. The moderator should be aware of the different deadlines for radio, TV and print media when coordinating the question and answer session. Radio stations have the shortest deadlines followed by TV and print media. Finally, the moderator also has the very important job of bringing the news conference to a smooth conclusion - “I see we are nearly out of time. Could I have one last question please?”g. Select visual aids carefully. Care should be taken to make sure the media know from the very beginning which visual aids are available and which are not. For example, television reporters will expect copies of video tapes and print journalists will want copies of photographs. Both may want copies of charts, diagrams and overheads. If copies are not immediately available, say so - but be prepared to provide them later on as a follow-up action.h. Make provision for all media. Television people present the biggest challenge, but still photographers can pose special problems too. The table for the Legion member giving the news conference should be the focus of the proceedings, at the front of the room, ideally on a slightly raised platform. Camera risers should be provided at the rear of the room to permit filming - both still and video - over the heads of other participants.i. Another option is creation of a large central aisle to permit camera operators and photographers to shoot “straight-on”. If a centre aisle is provided, make sure wide side aisles are also be available to allow camera operators freedom of movement during the news conference and unobtrusive 37
  41. 41. access for late arrivals. In an outdoor setting, a semi- circle can be marked off facing the person giving the news conference and the media permitted to arrange themselves according to their own needs.j. TV reporters usually want to keep eye-contact with their camera operators and radio reporters generally prefer to sit near the front of the room to have access to their tape machines to change tapes and adjust levels. Generally speaking, print journalists can sit anywhere.k. From a technical point of view, be sure proper audio feed equipment is available for all journalists who wish to record the news conference. These pool “feeder-boxes” or “patch boards” can be borrowed from Dominion Command on a first- come-first-served basis. They are usually set-up off to one side and they allow journalists to plug into the sound system and tape the news conference without placing a microphone right in front of the person giving the news conference.l. Be prepared for frequent movement during the news conference. Movement is a part of news conferences which is often unexpected by those taking part for the first time. Radio reporters move about to change tapes and adjust levels, television camera operators wander to and fro looking for interesting angles and still photographers move back and forth to obtain a variety of pictures. Remember, it is their show, they are there because you invited them and they are there to cover your event.m. Timing the news conference. Ideally, news conferences should take place between 10 and 11:00 a.m. This allows assignment chiefs time to locate and assign reporters and permits journalists sufficient time to prepare. A late morning news conference also ensures that night shift personnel are cleanly off duty and day shift people well into their work- day. i. By sticking to these timings, you are also allowing editors and news directors a good chance to feature the material obtained at the news conference on noon newscasts and in afternoon/early evening editions. News conferences scheduled for the afternoon run the risk of being overtaken by fast-breaking stories. 38
  42. 42. ii. Also, journalists are notorious for running late. The later a news conference is planned the more likely the chances that the reporters assigned to cover it will be delayed or reassigned.CHAPTER RECAP606. To be successful, news conferences must be well-organized and great care taken to give priority to the needs of the media. They are only held to announce events of major significance, but, by using common sense and following the guidance outlined in the ten-point check-list, a news conference can be an excellent way to spread the word about major events in your branch. 39
  43. 43. CHAPTER 7LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: “DON’T GET INTO AWRITING CONTEST WITH SOMEONE WHO BUYS INK BY THE GALLON”WHY DO PEOPLE WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR?701. In Canada letters to the editor are a popular way for people to express their feelings, frustrations and opinions about the issues of the day. They also serve as a way to correct erroneous information which has appeared in print previously, or challenge views expressed in letters from other readers. Most newspapers provide space for letters from the public, as do many branch newsletters and Legion Magazine.702. Legion members should know that letters to the editor fall into two very broad categories: a. Those which directly concern The Royal Canadian Legion - its policies or related programs, events and activities; and, b. Those which deal with matters not related to The Royal Canadian Legion, but contain personal opinions or comments from people identified as being associated with the Legion.WHAT CAN BE GAINED BY WRITING A LETTER TO THEEDITOR?703. The reasons mentioned for writing a letter to the editor all have some positive potential. They can correct erroneous information or challenge views expressed in earlier letters. They can sometimes be used to inform or educate readers - this is particularly true around Remembrance day when letters from veterans are received with particular enthusiasm by editors - and they can stimulate public discussion on important issues.WHAT ARE SOME POINTS TO REMEMBER WHENTHINKING OF WRITING A LETTER TO THE EDITOR?704. Although letters to the editor can be used to good effect in some circumstances, they also have the power to provoke negative 40
  44. 44. public opinion and contribute negatively to the public image of the Legion. If anyone in your branch asks what they should consider before putting pen to paper, show them this list of points to remember. It may cause them to think twice before taking on the guys who buy their ink ‘by the gallon’. a. Letters to the editor are the responsibility of their authors. The Legion will not be held liable for any damages arising from legal action taken as a result of a member’s unofficial correspondence with a media agency. b. There is never any guarantee the letter will be published. c. The editorial page editor has the right to edit the letter. Through this editing the meaning of the letter may be altered - statements may be taken out of context - and the letter that finally appears in print may not convey the idea originally intended by the author. d. The author should be in full possession of all relevant facts and aware of any possible sensitivities before writing a letter. This will avoid future criticism and embarrassment. e. Use of Legion titles is the prerogative of the author; however, when they are used it should be made clear that the opinions expressed are entirely personal and do not reflect the position of the branch, the Command or The Royal Canadian Legion unless the letter is really being written as an official Legion response to an issue. f. Letters not only stimulate debate, they often revitalize discussion of issues best left forgotten.705. The importance of correcting media reports is often greatly exaggerated and the advantages of doing so should be carefully weighed against the disadvantages. Erroneous information is often long-forgotten by the reading public before a letter of correction is published. Furthermore, once erroneous information is used, the damage is done. Aside from achieving a degree of satisfaction for those directly concerned, there is no guarantee everyone who saw the original report will see the correction. A letter of correction is usually only used if it is moderate in tone. Legion members who disagree with Legion policies should express their concerns through appropriate channels, not through their local newspaper. 41
  45. 45. CHAPTER RECAP706. The letter to the editor is a popular form of self-expression, but it is difficult to use effectively, especially when dealing with controversial issues involving Legion policies. Use common sense when thinking about writing a letter to the editor and do not hesitate to get “second opinions” from friends, family members and Legion comrades. Those opinions can be valuable indicators as to whether or not the letter is appropriate or advisable.707. Finally, remember these points are only guidelines. They are not intended to discourage Legion members from writing to their local newspapers, but to encourage them to consider carefully the reasons for writing and the contents of their letters before dropping them it in the mailbox. 42
  46. 46. CHAPTER 8 COMMUNITY RELATIONSWHAT IS COMMUNITY RELATIONS?801. All branches of The Royal Canadian Legion have one major public relations challenge in common: how to be good “corporate citizens” of their home community. The way Legion members get along with other groups and individuals in their community - the way they see others and the way others see them - will help determine the branch’s standing in its home town.802. Community relations is simply that part of PR which seeks to develop and maintain positive, healthy relationships, at all levels, between Legion members and the people and institutions in the towns where they live. Like most other PR functions, much of what it takes to create and maintain good community relations is plain common sense. HOW DOES A BRANCH GO ABOUT BUILDING GOOD COMMUNITY RELATIONS?803. Every branch member has regular dealings with members of the community every day. Unlike some groups - members of the armed forces and certain transient occupations like oil patch workers, for example - Legion members are usually full-time, permanent residents of the towns in which their branches are located. They already have a solid connection with their community.804. That connection is key for it means Legion members are already full members of their community. This makes it much easier for the branch to find its place in the community.805. There are active measures which can be taken to build on the existing connection with the community to enhance relations, not just with community leaders, but with the general public as well. Frequent friendly contact is the best way to create and maintain good relations and each of the following activities is worth considering as part of a branch community relations program: 43
  47. 47. a. Open House events for the public and for special groups, like seniors, youth or the handicapped. b. Establishment of affiliations with church groups, scout and guide groups, cadets, seniors residences, etc. c. Sponsoring sporting events, again, in affiliation with other service organizations, or local media outlets. d. Sharing sporting and recreational facilities like baseball diamonds, curling rinks, etc. e. Effective use of Associate and Affiliate memberships. f. Participation in community parades - especially if the branch has a musical element (pipe band, brass and reed band).806. These are all good ways to stay in close touch with certain parts of the community, but remember, the actual day-by-day contact between Legionnaires and members of their home community takes place on the streets and in the town’s shopping centres, theatres, bingo halls, restaurants and taverns.807. It is because of this very personal involvement in the community that even the most amicable relationships, established over years, can be damaged virtually overnight by the thoughtless or insensitive actions of a small group, or even one individual.808. The best way to keep incidents from developing into serious community relations problems is by establishing good two-way communications between the branch and community leaders (elected officials, police, clergy and church committee members, etc...) and other community service organizations. Just as the likelihood of misunderstanding is far less between two national leaders who speak to each other regularly, so is the chance of an incident getting out of control when branch executives and their counterparts in the community take the time to talk to one another on a frequent, friendly, informal basis.809. Part of that dialogue should include discussions about possible problem areas, including: drinking incidents; noise complaints from branch neighbours; allegations of economic competition from local pubs and clubs; canvassing in public areas (Poppy Campaign); and upkeep of local war memorials and cenotaphs. 44
  48. 48. 810. Recognizing possible problem areas and discussing them before they become “issues” will reduce the possibility of friction on both sides and make for much healthier relationships between the branch and its home community.WHAT IS A COMMUNITY SURVEY FILE AND HOW CAN THEBRANCH USE IT TO HELP BUILD A SOLID COMMUNITYRELATIONS PROGRAM?811. Community survey files are records which may be kept by the branch PR committee indicating areas of potential cooperation and interaction within their home community. The “file” is really little more than an idea list which names organizations, contacts and ‘phone numbers which could benefit from Legion assistance.812. Some of these have already been mentioned, but to recap they include: a. Seniors groups and residences. b. Youth groups. c. Vocational therapy groups. d. Support groups for the handicapped. e. Hospitals and nursing homes.813. Your branch can maintain a record of those groups and keep them in mind for direct assistance, or sponsorship, or perhaps even to extend invitations special events.CHAPTER RECAP814. Legion branches everywhere face the community relations challenge. Becoming good corporate citizens is not difficult. It does mean getting involved in the home community and giving back some of the support the community gives the branch. The rest is good manners and common sense. 45
  49. 49. CHAPTER 9 CREATING AND KEEPING A POSITIVE IMAGEWHAT IS “IMAGE”?901. Countless management books have been written on the subject of “image”. This chapter very briefly introduces branch PR committee members to the concept, and discuss in very broad terms what can be done at the branch level to promote a positive Legion image.902. “Image” nothing more than the mental picture that springs to mind when the name of a person, product or organization is mentioned. For example, what sort of picture do the words “Coke”, “Disney”, “Honda”, “Mulroney”, “Salvation Army” and “Red Cross” create? Good, bad or indifferent, these words bring to mind a certain mental picture. It is that picture which is most commonly described as image.WHY IS IMAGE SO IMPORTANT?903. Like it or not, every service organization in Canada already has an image of some kind. Most - including The Royal Canadian Legion - are largely positive; however, maintaining and enhancing even a good image calls for commitment and hard work on the part of every member. That is because, like it or not, an organization’s image influences how people think about its members, its policies and its programs.904. For example, the public is not likely to be so supportive of the Poppy Campaign if they have an unfavourable image of the Legion created by unpopular Legion policies or the thoughtless actions of individual Legion members.905. In large measure an image is created by association. To illustrate this point, consider the Legion’s work with veterans, seniors and youth. When the word “Legion” is seen or heard, many people think first of these programs and, since veterans, seniors and youth activities are regarded as positive, so too is the Legion’s image. People equate the Legion with good work in their community. 46
  50. 50. 906. On the other hand, some branches are best known for their beer calls and bingo nights. This “beer and bingo” image is essentially negative and does nothing to promote a favourable picture of the Legion, nor does it contribute to a greater level of public support for real Legion work in the community.907. This is not to say beer calls and bingo nights are bad. In fact, often the funds raised through these activities are used to great effect sponsoring good works in the community. The point to remember is that more effort should be placed on promoting the good that results from beer and bingo activities. Properly managed, even beer and bingo can contribute to a positive Legion image, providing a direct link is made with the good that comes from the proceeds of these activities.WHAT CAN YOUR BRANCH DO TO MAINTAIN ANDENHANCE THE LEGION’S POSITIVE PUBLIC IMAGE?908. Like most other public relations issues, image-building is largely a matter of applying common sense. Here are some of the general guidelines your branch can follow to help improve the Legion’s image in your community. a. Actively promote good works. Make every effort to publicise each and every initiative taken by your branch to improve the quality of life in your home community. Do not rely on the media to come to you, rather, be pro-active and go to them with your story every time you make a donation to a local hospital, start a seniors’ program initiative, sponsor a youth activity or any other venture likely to benefit some segment of the population in your town. b. Make sure that if your branch sponsors or supports a cause or organization that a direct public association is made with the Legion. This applies to everything from veterans support services through branch-sponsored schools’ and seniors’ programs. c. When problems arise, admit mistakes and take the necessary corrective action. Do not blame the media for reporting branch problems, instead take steps to correct them. For example, if drinking and driving offenses are linked to branch social events, invite local police to conduct an awareness session at the branch with presentations and 47
  51. 51. special “breathalyser” tests. Invite the media to cover these sessions. d. Be aware of members’ activities. Do not let trouble-makers set the branch agenda. Inappropriate behaviour reflects poorly on the branch and on the Legion.CHAPTER RECAP909. A positive public image is essential to help ensure continuing support for the Legion’s many and varied community support programs. Each branch member can contribute to maintaining and enhancing the Legion’s image by using common sense and remembering that the actions of each individual Legion member are important in influencing how the public views the Legion and, as a result, how the Legion will continue to fare as an organization in the years ahead. 48
  52. 52. CHAPTER 10 ADVERTISING AND MARKETING: SOME BACKGROUND ABOUT THESE RELATED AREAS1001. This chapter is very brief because it was never intended to make this manual a hand-book for all forms of mass-media communications; however, just as it is important to have a good understanding of the basics tools of public relations, so it is at least desirable to have some knowledge about areas which relate to PR. Two of these are advertising and marketing. They can both play a part in major corporate PR campaigns, but they have one basic ingredient that sets them apart, and that ingredient is money.1002. Both advertising and marketing are normally confined to profit- making, commercial enterprises. Both are designed to generate profits. Your branch may occasionally advertise an event, or market a branch service or product, but expect to pay for it.WHAT IS ADVERTISING?1003. In Chapter 2 advertising was defined as “the commercial public promotion of goods and services through the media”. In other words, an advertisement is a public notice, either published or broadcast, which promotes a specific product, service, philosophy, idea or event. The agency which carries the advertisement agrees to do so in exchange for payment. Like lunches, there are no free advertisements.1004. At the branch level, it is strongly suggested that all non- advertising options be explored before resorting to paid ads. Some agencies may offer to run Legion news on a regular basis, in exchange for advertising business. That is an option which your PR committee and branch executive would have to consider; however, with a little leg-work branches can usually publicize their events and activities without having to pay for advertisements.WHAT IS MARKETING?1005. Chapter 2 described basic marketing as “the business of assessing consumer needs and desires, then creating a demand for specific 49
  53. 53. products”. Marketing can work one of two ways: either a product or service is developed to cater to an established consumer need; or, a need is established by advertising, then a product or service is created to fill that need. Either way, there is little likelihood most branches will ever involve themselves in marketing schemes beyond perhaps, the odd special fund-raising event.CHAPTER RECAP1006. Both advertising and marketing can play a part in PR campaigns, but they both cost money. Branches are well-advised to confine their promotional efforts to options requiring little or no financial commitment. 50
  54. 54. CHAPTER 11 PUBLIC RELATIONS IN TIMES OF CRISISWHAT IS A CRISIS?1101. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines crisis as a “turning point...; [a] time of danger or suspense in politics, commerce, etc...” The word itself is from the Greek “krisis” which means “decision”. Clearly, by its very nature the Legion - like any other large organization - must occasionally face the possibility of operating under crisis conditions.1102. No matter what the cause, effective public relations is a major aspect of crisis management and the more media attention an event receives, the more likely it is the resulting coverage will create an unfavourable impression of the organization being covered. It is therefore a very good idea to react quickly to fix the problem and thereby minimize media coverage and the possibility of bad publicity.WHAT KINDS OF CRISIS COULD YOUR BRANCH FACE?1103. You may think crisis in the Legion occur only at the Provincial and Dominion Command levels. The chances of a crisis happening in your branch may seem remote. But there is always “potential for disaster”, even in the quietest branches.1104. Think for example about the possibilities for trouble involving liquor licensing and drinking and driving. What about the misuse of branch or Poppy Trust Funds?1105. True, most problems are anticipated and avoided through good branch management, proper operating rules and plain common sense. But just in case your branch ever finds itself in the midst of controversial situation, here are a few guidelines for your branch PR committee to follow to help them, and the branch, over the rough spots. 51
  55. 55. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A CRISIS FROM APUBLIC RELATIONS POINT OF VIEW?1106. It is safe to say that the best way to avoid public relations troubles is to avoid other troubles in the first place. It is equally true to say that if you do find yourself in a crisis, make every effort to deflate public interest as soon as possible. This is best done by getting the facts out quickly and accurately.1107. First, get the facts. Determine the situation and assess the public relations implications. Make sure your zone, district, and Command headquarters know what is going on. Maintain regular communications with these headquarters and do not be shy about asking for advice and guidance. Provide them with regular updates.1108. Second, get relevant, accurate, pertinent information to the public as soon as possible. The old axiom “maximum disclosure with minimum delay” is particularly appropriate in times of crisis. Bad news is best told sooner rather than later. Update information which has been made public as new material becomes available.1109. Third, be available. Remember, news updates, especially radio and television reports must have the appearance of being immediate to be newsworthy. For the media, it is far better to attribute even a “no change” report to a Legion spokesperson than to report no further word is available. Availability means openness and progress - two important image builders during times of crisis.1110. Fourth, be thorough. Every effort should be made to pass the same information to all media agencies. Failure to pass new information to everyone as events unfold can damage future, post-crisis relationships. Maintain a log of media contacts. This will help if the need for follow-up develops.CHAPTER RECAP1111. The Legions’s public relations response to a crisis will contribute directly to its image and credibility. Remember, the public’s impression of how well a crisis is handled is most often created by the media, even though that media coverage may not always provide a true measure of how the crisis was actually handled. 52
  56. 56. 1112. How your branch PR organization performs in a crisis will have a direct influence how the public regards the Legion. Remember, a crisis is a turning point and, providing the public relations aspects are properly managed, it can give your branch a chance to enhance the Legion’s image. 53
  57. 57. CHAPTER 12 SPECIAL EVENTSWHAT IS A SPECIAL EVENT?1201. Special events are particularly valuable as a means of building and/or maintaining good community relations. At the same time they offer excellent opportunities to inform the public about other, even unrelated, Legion and branch activities.1202. A special event is either: a. Something that takes place outside the usual schedule of branch activities, like for instance, a presentation of money or special equipment to a hospital or nursing home; or, b. A routine activity of major significance, like the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony. Regardless of its nature, all special events have three main components: planning, promotion and execution.HOW SHOULD THE BRANCH GO ABOUT ORGANIZING,PROMOTING AND CONDUCTING A SPECIAL EVENT?1203. With this in mind, there are certain basic points to think about which apply to all special events. These basics must be considered to ensure the event’s success. The following check- list includes some of the major factors (in no particular order) which require attention by those charged with organizing, coordinating and executing special events: a. Planning; i. Decide (with the branch executive) the real reason for holding the event . Is it purely for public relations, is it to inform, educate or entertain? It should ideally be to encourage good community relations and either inform, educate or entertain. ii. Get a clear statement of responsibilities for event- related activities from the branch executive. 54
  58. 58. iii. Prepare a time-plan outlining critical deadlines for key activities leading up to the event. iv. Identify the audience - seniors, youth, the handicapped, local opinion leaders, the general public, the media. v. Decide on the frequency of the event - is it held every year or is it a one-time-only activity? vi. Plan regular meetings for responsible agencies to report progress (and problems). vii. Ensure the branch executive is kept informed of developments.b. Promotion; i. Provide branch members with event information through branch newsletters, flyers, posters and announcements at general meetings. ii. Provide external audiences with information through local media - news releases, public service announcements, appearances on local radio and television programs and advertisements. iii. Invite local media representatives to “preview” the event 24 hours before it is scheduled to take place, or, in the case of parades or ceremonies, to attend ‘dress rehearsals’. iv. Name spokespersons/media contacts. v. Make sure appropriate arrangements are made for media communications needs (remote and/or live broadcast). vi. Establish a media centre and a public information centre.c. Execution; i. Select an easily accessible location (or locations). ii. Select alternate locations (for wet weather program). 55
  59. 59. iii. Be sure required facilities (power, water, hard standing, etc...) are available at the chosen location(s). iv. Decide on public address systems requirements. v. If necessary, arrange for personal (cellular/walkie- talkie) contact among key personnel. vi. Issue VIP invitations (if applicable). vii. Be certain print material is prepared in time to allow for review, editing, film-work and printing. viii. stablish parking areas and arrange pass system (if E necessary). ix. Post any restricted areas. x. Determine catering arrangements. xi. Arrange for VIP and media areas. xii. Prepare accident/incident contingency plans. xiii. rrange for emergency medical facilities. A xiv. When the event is over, prepare a thorough, objective post-event report detailing the planning, promotion and execution successes and failures. xv. Based on the post-event report, make solid recommendations to improve future special events.CHAPTER RECAP1204. Special events are truly great ways to promote the branch and raise the Legion’s public profile. Properly planned, well promoted and efficiently executed special events can be the key to a successful branch community relations program. 56