Public Relations PlanningOne of the advantages of developing a communications plan is that it allows you to assess yoursituation, establish your objectives and maintain greater control over your communicationsprogram and, in turn, the image you project for your litho club. In addition, by outlining thevarious activities you may want to pursue, you will be able to set priorities for those which canbe supported within your budget constraints. This will help eliminate some of the "as you go"style of spending which can prematurely deplete the club finances.The following descriptions represent key steps in establishing a communications plan:1. Situation AnalysisBefore you proceed in any direction, its important to know where youre at. What are thestrengths and weaknesses of your organization? What does your organization offer new membersor the community at large? What is the clubs purpose? What do people currently think of yourorganization?You could be making many assumptions about the status of your organization. Recent reports intrade journals indicate the graphic arts industry has some major image problems. Perhaps yourlocal community including prospective graphic arts students, have some misconceptions aboutthe industry and your organization.Find out what the community thinks of your local litho club. Ask people outside yourorganization, formally or informally, what they know about the graphic arts industry and yourclub. A brief questionnaire will help you ask consistently organized questions and assure reliableresponses. That will give you a new perspective in analyzing your situation and determining yourfuture course of action.2. Establish ObjectivesOnce you know where youre at, you can then determine where you want to go and how to getthere. You may want your objectives to include broader, industry-wide goals such as, "Creating apositive image of the graphic arts industry to attract a greater number (you should establish aspecific number) of top students (define what a "top student" is) to graphic arts careers."When establishing objectives, remember they should be: Improvement oriented Clearly defined Measurable Attainable Tied to specific expectations
3. Identify Your AudienceFirst consider a broad audience to include those who affect your organization and those who areaffected by your organization. You may cite groups like printing and publishing professionals,educators, students, government agencies, suppliers, clients and others.The next step is to divide these larger groups into smaller, reachable target audiences andprioritize then so your communications effort is directed toward the most important among them.In this way you can direct your primary effort toward those groups on which you wish to havethe greatest impact.4. Shape Your MessageOnce youve learned what your audiences think of your organization, you can then begin to moldyour desired image. You can use communications opportunities to shape your image. If you wantthe public to see your organization as progressive, professional or community-minded, look foropportunities to display those qualities. Then be sure your target audiences are made aware ofwhat youve accomplished.Of course, its important that you paint a true picture of your organization -- not a fabricatedimage. But unless the public is made aware of your progressiveness, professionalism andcommunity-mindedness through your communications effort -- you may never achieve yourdesired image.Keep in mind that all club events or activities may not receive news media coverage, but thisdoes not mean that those events cannot be important public relations opportunities.5. Tools for Reaching Your AudienceLocal and trade news media can be important vehicles for reaching your target audiences. Thereare several important sources that can be used in developing a mailing list for your club. Theseinclude: Local publicity distribution services Media list services Bacons Publicity Checker Standard Directory Laramies Television Contacts Laramies Radio Contacts Broadcasting/Cablecasting Yearbook Editor and Publisher Yearbook Local libraries/Chambers of CommerceSelect a resource that best suits your needs, then develop and maintain a mailing list so you wontneed to reinvent one with each publicity mailing. A mailing list should include the following:
Name of publication/station Editors/Reporters name Address Phone Number Any other pertinent information, such as deadlines, circulation figures, etc. Chapter 2. Public Relations ImplementationPublicity and PromotionPlanned activities can be the source of considerable attention by the news media Yourcommunity, professionals in the graphic arts industry and others may be very interested in youractivities. Promotion of those activities can generate a considerable amount of publicity that willbenefit your club and the entire industry.The following are just a few examples of what can be done to enhance your communicationeffort: 1. Participate in local community events. Try to participate in a unique and interesting fashion. Often local parades, events or shows need participants who can add color or interest to these events. Be creative. 2. Seek opportunities to address pertinent associations , schools or other community organizations. Before addressing any such group, release a news story announcing the event and your clubs participation, if the host organization is not doing so. Send an advance copy of the talk to appropriate editors and/or radio and television broadcasters. Publication deadlines will vary, so be sure to give advance notice appropriate to each publications specific requirements. Radio and television also need as much advance notice as you can give them, even if they typically deal with fast breaking news. 3. Participate in college and high school career days by setting up an exhibit or a booth. Announce such an event in a news story well in advance and dont forget to issue personal invitations to graphic arts instructors, students and appropriate editors. 4. Dont overlook newsworthy events which may be a regular part of your clubs activities, such as:News About People:* Appointment of new officers* Retirements* Participation in community activities* Club-sponsored scholarship recipients* Award winners, such as "Member of the YearNews About Club Activities
* Special events/meetings* Scholarship sponsorship/availability* Education support, donations, presentations* Annual National Convention* Social eventsEditors and Newscasters have hundreds of news items competing for their attention and limitedtime and space to fill. Nevertheless, a legitimate local or industry news story can catch theirattention. The following guidelines, along with the sample news release section in this manual,will help you in your efforts.Publicity Guidelines 1. Use samples to guide your writing.In the samples provided in this manual, you will notice:The source (you) is clearly identified in the upper-left hand comer and includes a name andphone number of a person to contact for further information. Use club letterhead if you have it.The stories are brief. They tell who, what, where, when, why and how. They tell it quickly, butwith sufficient detail to satisfy reader interest.Language is plain, everyday English. Avoid using industry terms which may not be commonlyknown. Even when submitting information to the trade publications, you should not becomeoverly technical in your language.The most important information should always be at the beginning of the story -- this is knownas the "lead."Stories should be typed and double-spaced on one side of 8-1/2" x 11" paper. Use club stationeryfor the top page, if its available.Include black and white glossy photos when appropriate. Avoid the "grip and grin" handshakeposes and sedentary group shots. Always try to show some action in photographs. Never write ona photo -- front or back! Provide captions on a separate piece of paper, attached with removabletape, which explain the photo subject. 2. Call on local editors and media people. Research indicates that when an editor can connect a face and name with a news release, the chance that it will be used greatly increases. You might want to personally deliver an important news release. Some words of advice:You might need to request a brief appointment in the case of daily newspaper editors. Earlymornings or early afternoons are the best time to call or meet an editor because those times avoid
deadline periods. Avoid calling on weekly newspapers the day before the paper goes to press;theyll be too busy to talk to you.If you have cause to place advertisements with a publication or station, do not presume orsuggest in any way that this gives you the right to have your news releases used. That is thesurest way to guarantee that nothing you submit will be used.Be sure to provide copies of stories to all appropriate media outlets.Observe deadlines! Get "events" stories in the mail as much as two weeks to a month in advance,depending on the publication. Magazines may require as much as two to three months lead time.If you write a story during or after an event, be sure to deliver it promptly while it is still timely. Chapter 3. Rules For Working With The News Media (By Samuel Weber, Editor, Electronics Magazine) 1. Become familiar with the major publications for reaching your audience and know what kind of information they need. 2. Establish and maintain regular communications. 3. Always be honest. 4. Dont be afraid to say, "I Dont Know," but be willing to find someone who does. 5. Be available. 6. If youve promised a story exclusively to one publication, honor your promise. 7. Maintain the schedules agreed upon with the publication. 8. When you supply written information to an editor, make sure its accurate, clear and complete. 9. When talking to an editor, determine his level of understanding about your organization. 10. Never threaten or cajole an editor with advertising. Chapter 4. Meetings and EventsYour regular meetings and special events are ideal opportunities to bring in new members aswell as attract local media coverage. Thorough planning and follow-through are key to thesuccess of these events. Use the meeting checklist provided in this section to guide yourplanning.Open houses, meetings and printing demonstrations are prime means of showing students,teachers, business leaders and others what modern print operations are really like and attractlocal media coverage as well. Because these events are such attention-getters, youll want to doeverything possible to assure that they go "off without a hitch"Speakers
The main ingredient in a successful meeting is a good speaker. In selecting speakers, rememberthat people who excel in their business are not necessarily excellent speakers. Try to select guestspeakers who are known to make interesting and engaging presentations.Subject matter and titles also are important. The talk should be of interest to the maximumnumber of members and the title should be descriptive and, if possible, intriguing. Be sure toscreen speakers carefully so there will be no surprises when they present to your club.Keep in touch with the speaker after he or she has agreed to make a presentation to your club.Inform the speaker of the nature of the meeting, the time available and what rise is on theagenda. Let the speaker know what the room looks like and what equipment is available forhis/her use. Find out in advance if he/she needs additional audio visual support such as a slideprojector or flip chart. Also, request background information suitable for an introduction. Ablack and white photo could also enhance your pre-meeting announcements.Be sure to circulate meeting announcements to the appropriate media well in advance, but not sofar in advance that the announcement will be lost or discarded. The same holds true forannouncing the meeting to club members. You may want to notify your membership with acatchy announcement a month or more in advance so they can plan to attend. You might also usesimilar information to produce an item or two for your club newsletter. Then, follow-up withreminder postcards and/or phone calls to verify attendance.Be sure your announcements convey the benefits of attendance to club members.There are many other details to attend to prior to the meeting. The speakers remuneration (if any)should be discussed openly and immediately. Whether or not it a paid speaker, the club should,at a minimum, offer to make any necessary reservations for travel or lodgingIf your guest should require hotel accommodations, offer to provide transportation from the hotelto the meeting facility. If the speaker declines, be sure adequate directions are provided. Even ifthe speaker does not take advantage of the courtesies you offer, you will make a goodimpression.Other details include pre-meeting setup of any necessary props, focusing the projector andmaking sure slides are in trays right-side-up, heating or air conditioning is set properly, knowinghow to control the lights, and so on.Another important activity is introducing your speaker to club officers and members. Never letyour guest stand alone while club members socialize.Start your meeting on time and take care of any necessary business promptly, allowing ampletime for your speaker to present. When announcing your speaker, be sure to pronounce his or hername correctly. Very few people are annoyed when they are asked for the correct pronunciationof their name, but it is embarrassing for everyone if a speakers name is mangled in anintroduction.
If there is to be a question and answer session to follow a presentation, its a good idea to havesomeone screen the questions so they do not stray too far from the topic or become too narrowlydefined. With larger audiences, it helps to have a moderator repeat the questions so that everyonecan hear. You may want to have a few questions "planted" in the audience to avoid dead silencewhen the speaker asks, "Are there any questions?"When the speaker is through, thank him/her for attending, and extend an invitation to stay forany planned post-meeting social gatherings. See that the speaker has necessary transportationand directions for departure. In a day or two, write your speaker to reiterate your appreciationand include any newspaper clips about the meeting.If your speaker presented a strong message that could impact the industry, your club or thecommunity, take advantage of this opportunity for post-meeting publicity. Provide a summary ofthe speakers salient points to the media Do not just rehash everything that was said, but focus onthe powerful, insightful, educational portions of the presentation.InterviewsYou may think you will never have occasion to be interviewed by a representative of the newsmedia. However, the possibility is not as remote as you think. As your organization uses itscommunication efforts to develop a higher profile, you may find there are media organizationswho rum to your club to find industry experts. Or perhaps your clubs activities will capturemedia interest and someone in your organization ms), be asked to elaborate on the clubsinvolvement.There are many dos and donts for dealing with the news media in an interview. Some of thosemost pertinent to the Litho Club organization may include: 1. Learn, if possible, the full reason for the requested interview and how you or your organization fit into the story. This will help you prepare for the interview in advance. 2. Prepare for the interview. Once you have an idea of what the reporter needs to know about, plan how you are going to respond to anticipated questions. 3. Know the message you want to convey during the interview and make sure each point is worked into your responses as appropriate. 4. Use simple terms. Omit industry jargon or lingo. Carefully explain any specialized terminology that must be used but dont be condescending. 5. Give direct answers. Do not ramble on the subject, but give direct answers beginning with the conclusions, followed by supporting facts. 6. Give reporters as much printed information as possible at the time of the interview for greater understanding in reporting on the subject.Handling the public relations function for your Litho Club should be very rewarding and helpyour organization grow. While it is definitely hard work, it can also be fun. And thats what youshould strive for while achieving the goals of the organization -- to have fun.