1 Public Relations 101: A Guide for Volunteers Thank you for your interest in helping Scouts Canada with events promotion and public relations in your community! Your assistance is very valuable in raising Canadians awareness about Scouting. This manual is a way to start familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of public relations.
2 Introduction As a volunteer assisting Scouts Canada with local public relations, your focus should be on promoting events to local daily and weekly newspapers as well as local radio and television stations. Your goal will be two-fold: (1) increase the amount of positive news coverage about Scouts Canada in your community; and (2) obtain support from radio, TV and print in running our public service announcements. In order to achieve news coverage for Scouting, you need to be strategic about approaching the media. Are you promoting an interesting, relevant story that has human-interest appeal? If so, you can bring this to the attention of media in a few ways: 1. Write a news release explaining the event or initiative and why it is interesting (a template can be found later in this guide). You should then the release to selected media in your community, making sure if possible to address it specifically to the journalist who writes about the particular subject your news release is about e.g. city desk reporter, community events reporter etc.. A phone call to the receptionist at the newspaper, radio or television station will usually provide you with the name and address of the appropriate person to contact and whether they prefer an electronic or printed copy. A follow-up call offering further information or details is always helpful in bringing special attention to your release. 2. Write a media advisory inviting journalists to a special event. This could be anything from a Scoutrees planting, Beaveree, Kub Kar Rally, to a community service project. Make sure that you provide some photo opportunities that will make the event visually interesting for TV and print photographers. Youth should be front and centre demonstrating an activity or skill in proper uniform/attire. the advisory a week ahead of time, follow up by sending it again the day before the event and call the journalist personally. Ensure that photo release forms have been signed for any youth or adults who may appear on screen or in a photo. 3. Write an article or arrange a regular column with your local newspaper. Write about some of the local Scouting initiatives that are taking place or about a specific event. Ensure that you include photos. 4. You can also pitch or promote a story to a newspaper. You provide the facts and people to interview, and the journalist writes the story. Also worthwhile is to contact your local newspapers, radio and TV stations to request that they run our public service announcements. Scouts Canada has a number of these available on its web site ( When special national events are planned (i.e. annual Scoutrees campaign, Scout-Guide Week, fall registration), National Communication Services develops media kits that can be localized by volunteers and staff in the field. These can be found at and consist of a news release template, public service announcement copy, print ads, opinion-editorial piece, and speech that can be read by local elected officials in their house of representation. Feel free to customize these for your local communications efforts. National Communication Services is here to assist you if you are in need of help with your local communications efforts. We can produce media lists tailored to your community, proof-read news releases and media advisories, and provide guidance on key messages. We can also provide tapes of our television public service announcement, and if you contact your council office, they can request customized newspaper ads on your behalf. If you are approached by media about nationally significant issues or controversial topics, those inquiries should be forwarded to the Director of Communications immediately at (613) ext. 271.
3 Communicating with the Media The media are very important carriers of information. For this reason, it is helpful to develop relationships with key media in your community. Once a relationship has been established, you will be better able to communicate your message to the media in your area. This will ideally result in coverage of your local Scouting news. There are numerous ways to communicate with the media and to establish relationships. A news release and/or media kit (which would contain additional information) is one of the most common ways to get in touch with media. Making follow-up calls after issuing a release also provides you with an opportunity to introduce yourself and pitch your story. Inviting journalists to Scouting events is another effective way to reach media. When communicating with a journalist, it is important to remember that they continually work to tight deadlines and often need information from you within a matter of hours. If you are contacted by a journalist requesting information, you should always ask how you can be of help to them. Try to find out what kind of a story they want to write, who they want to interview, and how soon they need the information. Depending on the nature of the request, you may wish to contact your Council Commissioner or Scouts Canada s Director of Communications to ensure consistency of messages. In the case of nationally significant issues or controversial topics, the proper protocol would be to refer those journalists to the Director of Communications. Remember, nothing is ever off the record when speaking with a journalist. A news release is a basic tool of communication with media and should provide journalists with all the necessary information with which to write a story. A good news release and a good news story have a good lead sentence. The lead, in a story or a news release tells the entire story in one sentence, answering the 5 Ws and 1 H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How. A comprehensive, well-written release can greatly enhance the image of the Scouts Canada brand by providing newsworthy information, including clearly outlining what makes Scouts Canada, as an organization, unique. A news release can also affect membership recruitment and expose the organization to a wider audience. It is helpful to become familiar with the media outlet (newspaper, radio or television station) to which you are sending a news release/media kit. Knowing the kind of stories a particular paper usually runs will help you customize your story to fit the paper's needs and style. For instance, a local newspaper, with which you will find yourself most often communicating, is obviously interested in the local angle. Whatever story you are pitching to them, it must involve the immediate community and its residents. You may find that the daily newspaper in your area always runs a page on local events and stories that could also provide a good target for your story. Or perhaps there is a particular columnist in the daily paper who is interested in or sympathetic to Scouts and would be more receptive to one of your ideas. Please remember that before suggesting your story, you should be familiar with that paper, radio or television station, and have certainly either read that particular column or section of the paper you are proposing to or seen/listened to your targeted program. As well, it is highly recommended that before sending materials to a particular media outlet, that you ensure you have the correct contact information and that the name of the addressee is spelled correctly and that the material is in an acceptable format (i.e. electronic or printed copy). It is always helpful to send a good photo to media when issuing a release/media kit. A good, relevant photo (close up pictures of the subject of the news release, action shots, preferably youth in proper attire) increases the likelihood that your release will receive coverage. Photos should be accompanied by a caption that describes the photo and would be suitable for
4 publication. They can either be delivered in hard copy or digitally via (ensure that the photo is of a high enough resolution for publication purposes). Please make sure that you have signed photo releases on file. It is important to succinctly state key messages within the body of a news release, to generate interest and clearly communicate the purpose of the release. Likewise, it is important to make sure that the information contained within the release is newsworthy and that the journalist understands its relevance to their audience. If a journalist can easily answer questions regarding your news release such as "Why is this important?", "Why should I care?" and "Who is the source of this information?" with positive responses, then your material is most likely newsworthy. Inviting media to attend Scouting events is another way to bring news directly to the media. This provides journalists with the opportunity to see first-hand what is going on, and also allows them the opportunity to interview key spokespeople face to face. Media should be invited to such an event via a media advisory which should be followed up by a phone call. Remember that any journalist who is coming to cover the story will have many events to attend that day and will have many stories to choose from, as will the photo editor. Photos need to be exciting and newsworthy. Ensure that you have media kits to provide to journalists. These can include your news release, a backgrounder, brochures, or other pertinent information related to the event. Special Scouting presentation folders can be purchased from your local Scout Shop (catalogue number 25404). Arrange the event so that you can have a place designated for photographers and camera crew to stand and take shots of the event. Ensure that what they are seeing shows Scouting in the best light. Don t overtly direct the photo shoot, but know what you want and keep a close eye on what will be portrayed in the news coverage. When you know you have received media coverage, or media are planning to attend your event, tell others! Your Group, Area, and Council Commissioners as well as local field staff would welcome the news so that they can share it with others in your Scouting community.
5 Media Relations Tip Sheet Identify your goals and objectives. Before beginning your media relations, you must be clear on the desired outcome. You must be clear on the key points you want publicized. Identify the media that will best carry your message. It is best to send your information to select targeted media that will reach your desired audience. Know your media outlet. Before sending out a news release, be sure you know who will be receiving it. Send all materials to the appropriate editor or journalist and be sure that all names are spelled correctly. Make sure you know the 5 Ws and 1 H of the event and can rattle them off in your sleep. You will use this to explain to a journalist why this story would be of interest to their targeted audience. Make follow-up phone calls. A day or two after you have sent out your news release, you should phone each person to ensure that they received the materials. At this point, you can offer to help them set up interviews or answer any questions that they might have. Do leave voice messages. If you are unable to reach a journalist on the phone, leave one with the details of the story or event in a succinct and brief message. Remember those 5 Ws and 1 H? Make sure you speak clearly and slowly. Give your name and number at the outset and repeat them again at the end of the voice message. Be enthusiastic! If you are enthusiastic about the information contained in the release, the journalist you are speaking with is more likely to be receptive to your message. This may improve the likelihood of your release receiving coverage. Target such media resources as community newspapers, television bulletin boards, talk radio stations, and breakfast television shows. Even a mention of Scouting is positive you do not need a full-scale news story to be successful. Think up interesting, attention-grabbing media pitches. Some examples could include: (1) deliver Scout Popcorn to local radio and television reporters personally in an interesting way; (2)deliver Scoutrees sapling to television and radio meteorologists; (3) invite media celebrities to actually participate in some way in your event; (4) ask a television reporter to cover a visually interesting part of a story that is not usually seen (e.g. the building process involved with Kub Kars, rather than just the actual races). Remember that any event attended by the public and/or the media is an opportunity to put our best foot forward and to proudly represent Scouts Canada. Always ensure that youth are front and centre during any photo opportunities. Think ahead as to which youth participant(s) might do a good on camera, radio, or newspaper interview. A representative cross section of gender and ethnicity should be shown so that the media become more aware of how inclusive Scouting is. Pay special attention to ensuring that all youth and leaders well groomed and are wearing their uniforms properly.
6 Organizing a Media Event This section has been prepared so that volunteers can plan their own local special events. Please be advised that this is a general outline. Please note the questions that are included as they will help you in the planning stages of your event. Theme The first step is to decide on the theme of your event. Start out with a series of questions to help the event organizer(s) frame the context of the event. This can happen before the brainstorming stage, to help the organizers put things into perspective. This will help them structure and then logically lead into the next steps you have outlined here. 1. Who is attending this event? What media are you expecting? Know your target. In a large metropolitan area such as the Greater Vancouver Area it is highly unlikely that the mainstream media will respond. There is a much better success rate with the small community newspapers or the local cable TV community channel. Are you expecting any VIPs ( i.e. elected officials, spokespersons, corporate sponsors, etc.)? Ensure that you have protocols in place as to how you will work with them. Are youth members going to be present? (This introduces a very interesting element into the plan. Please make sure that all participants including youth are instructed on appropriate behavior and dress code.) What role will youth members play? Are they going to be entertained? Will they have fun? Will there be refreshments for them? Are adult members going to be present? What is their role? How will you communicate roles to each adult member? Will they have fun? 2. What are you trying to accomplish by holding this event? Is it a fun event meant for members only? Is it a demonstration of Scouts Canada activities for media/vips? Are you presenting awards? 3. What kind of resources are you going to need to carry out this event? Staffing is Scouts Canada staff going to be present. Who are they? What will their role be? Do you need to identify additional staffing/volunteer resources?
7 4. Does Scouts Canada have access to the required equipment? What audiovisual equipment will you need to run this event? Are you going to need to rent equipment? What else are you going to need on-hand to make this event work? Brainstorm After deciding on a theme, a brainstorming session will help to flesh out workable ideas. Invite key volunteers and staff to a meeting where ideas can be suggested which relate to the theme of the event. Let the kids try this too. They might just have a new angle to this that as an adult you would not have considered. Critical Path Developing a critical path will help put deadlines in perspective and help to prioritize. This should include all dates and deadlines as well as the responsibility of the individuals who will execute each of the tasks outlined. Be sure to take into consideration local media s deadlines. Create Budget It is important to create a budget in the early stages of the program to determine how much money you have to spend, and how to spend it most effectively. Venue Remember to factor in all costs Remember to factor in supplier costs Applicable taxes have to be factored in all calculations as frequently they are not part of an overall quotation from a supplier. After deciding on the details of the event, sourcing multiple venues will enable you to decide on the most appropriate. Decide if you require a free space or if you can afford to rent Decide what size you need to accommodate everyone involved Ascertain what AV requirements you have and verify if your venue can accommodate. Site Inspection It is important to do a careful site inspection to ensure that the venue you select meets all of your event needs, and also from a safety perspective. This should be done well in advance of your event date and should include all suppliers that you are gong to be dealing with: Caterers AV Equipment Other on-site suppliers.
8 Suppliers Based on the needs of your event, you will need to source and liaise with suppliers for various goods and services including, for example: catering, plaques/awards and audio/visual support. Develop Event Checklist An event checklist will help ensure that important details have not been overlooked. If the event is being developed with the objective of garnering media attention: Develop all media materials, including a media advisory, news release, fact sheet and backgrounder if necessary. Keep your media kit to three or four pages with the 5 Ws and 1H front and centre. Gain approvals from necessary persons. If media are going to be photographing/taping youth members, ensure youth members' parents sign appropriate photo release forms. Develop a targeted media list of key journalists that you wish to reach. Communicating is essential to the success of every special event. You need to communicate with each audience and have weekly project status updates. One key way of managing this is to structure a chart that will help identify each audience (i.e. media, staff, VIPs, youth, adult members, etc.). Please remember to add all the different ways of communicating with each audience: i.e. media via news releases follow-up calls; VIPs via letters; staff via conference calls, s, meetings; adult members through councils. (NOTE: it is very, very important to be sure to communicate the importance of the event and get youth and adult members enthusiastic about attending.)
9 Event Check List Bookings - Do an environment scan. Make sure that nothing else will conflict with your event (e.g. city council meetings, construction noise, etc.). - Decide on a date and time. Be sure that the day and time you decide upon are appropriate. If achieving media attention for the event is a high priority, it is preferable to hold an event in the morning, as opposed to the evening; Fridays are not recommended days to hold an event. - Research potential sites/venues. Look at a number of venues before deciding on one. Be sure to do a careful site inspection before making a final decision, to ensure that the facility provides everything you will need. Recreation centres, arenas and hotels are good places to start. - Be aware of capacity. You must be certain that the venue will hold the maximum number of anticipated attendees. - Ensure that there are no safety issues associated with the venue you have chosen. Scan for fire exits, washroom facilities, etc., so that you are well aware of where everything is. - Arrange for catering. If the facility where you are holding the event does not provide catering, be sure to give yourself enough time to arrange for an outside caterer. Juice and snacks are highly recommended if youth are participating in the event. - Ensure that all of your participants are aware of the proper dress code for the event. If the dress code involves the Scouts Canada uniform, ensure that everyone is wearing it properly. - Ensure that you have media kits to provide to journalists. These can include your news release, a backgrounder, brochures, or other pertinent information related to the event. Special Scouting presentation folders can be purchased from your local Scout Shop (catalogue number 25404). Room Set-Up - Make sure you have all audio-visual equipment. Also, be sure to test all A/V equipment before the event, to ensure that everything is working properly. If possible, it is best to have back-up equipment in case technical difficulties arise. Some basic A/V requirements might include microphones for speakers, microphones in the aisles for questions from the audience, media box (this is a piece of equipment that media can plug their recorders into that provides a direct feed to the microphone; it usually needs to be rented from an A/V company), hooks and wires for hanging signage, a podium for speakers and a screen. - Determine the proper set-up of the room (i.e. theatre style, less formal) and have any props that are necessary (i.e. display booth, flags, etc.). - When the room has been set up, do a final inspection for any safety issues (cords in the way, ladders, photography equipment, etc.). When photographers/media arrive, ensure that they are able to set up with everything they need, without blocking fire exits, etc. Ensure no cords are running where people may trip over them. If possible, you may tape them using duct tape to ensure security.
10 - If applicable, set up a registration table. The registration table should be located at the very front of the venue and should be the first place media stop before entering the event itself. - Sign-in sheets. All media should sign in upon arriving at your event. This will allow you to know exactly who attended the event and facilitate any type of follow-up you may wish to do. - Have handouts ready to be distributed. All handouts and media kits can be left on the registration table for media to help themselves. Be sure that all media kits are properly assembled and are ready to be distributed to media at the beginning of the event. Be certain that you have enough kits. You wouldn t want to run out. - Develop an event scenario/agenda and properly brief participants as to their role in the event and what they will be required to do. Determine who your best spokespersons will be in the event media want to interview participants. You may help prepare speeches by assisting with speech writing or editing. - Remember to send out your media advisory a week ahead of time and follow up again the day before by sending the advisory again and calling the journalist.
11 News Release Tips In most cases, a news release should be sent by , with the text contained in the body of the and not as an attachment. Your council office can send out the release for you; this provides an official "scouts.ca reply address, adding further credibility to your release. (See template next section). The news release should be a maximum of one page. Make it clear and concise. Avoid Scouting jargon or abbreviations. Remember to spell-check your news release. Please use Scouts Canada's Style Guide as a reference. Title Use capitals and bold letters: NEWS RELEASE. Headline Headline should be short & snappy. Catch the reader's interest. Should include the words "Scouts or "Scouts Canada". Place, date Identify the place of origin of the news release in capital letters together with the date, in full. Introductory Paragraph Who, what, when, where, why, how. Cover all major points. Middle Paragraphs Add additional details to answer such questions as "who would be interested," "where can one find it," "when will it happen". Quotes add credibility and a personal feel to the release. Often a quote will be used by the media. The person quoted should be available for any follow-up interviews. Final Paragraph Summation of the major points, or brief background of organization. This standard paragraph is found on the Scouts Canada web site. Ending Tells reader that the news release is finished. By convention, use the designation 30. Contact details Tells reader who to contact for more details (name, telephone number, address). Be sure to send your media advisory to the media several days in advance of your event and again as a reminder the day before. Follow-up calls also help bring your item to the top of reporters in-baskets.
12 News Release Template FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [Headline] CITY, PROVINCE -- (insert date) Opening paragraph: This should contain the who, what, where, when, and why of the release. The opening paragraph should clearly state the purpose or hook of the release. This is what will generate reader interest. If possible, using interesting statistics/percentages from a reliable source is a great way to create interest. Remainder of paragraph will allow you to elaborate on the details of the release. It is important to include the benefits of Scouts programs and why what Scouts is doing is unique and different. Second paragraph: This should include any relevant information to the Scouts brand. In particular, key messages (i.e. Scouts is fun and cool) can be incorporated into the body paragraphs. Quotes: Also include quotes from key volunteers or staff, industry experts or satisfied customers (i.e. youth). The quotes should relate directly to the purpose of the release and should support the opening paragraph. Scouts Canada, the country s leading youth organization, offers fun and exciting outdoor adventure for boys, girls and youth aged 5-26 in communities across Canada. Over 75,000 young people enjoy Scouts Canada s programs, which are provided by 23,000 caring and dedicated volunteers. Scouts Canada s national office is located in Ottawa. For further information, please contact: name title Scouts Canada (xxx) xxx-xxxx, ext. xxx -30-
13 Media Advisory Template Media Advisory: [HEADLINE] CITY, PROVINCE -- (insert date) Media are invited to a very special event in [city] on [date]. As part of its [event], [Council/Area/Group] will [what ]. [Background] Who: Scouts Canada What: When: Where: There will be a number of photo opportunities during the event. [explain] Scouts Canada, the country s leading youth organization, offers fun and exciting outdoor adventure for boys, girls and youth age 5-26 in communities across Canada. Over 75,000 young people enjoy Scouts Canada s programs, which are provided by over 23,000 caring and dedicated volunteers. For further information, please contact: name title Scouts Canada (xxx) xxx-xxxx, ext. xxx -30-
14 Requesting PSA Time Please use these scripts for requesting airing of television PSA: Scouts Canada has produced five very professional television spots (visit our web site to view the ads: They are full of images of kids having fun. As a not-for-profit our organization is not in the financial position to place the spot as paid advertising. It would be most appreciated if your station would consider extending PSA time to Scouts Canada so that we can continue to fulfil our mission of contributing to the education of young people, and to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society. Please note that Scouts Canada has secured the appropriate approval numbers for broadcast including Telecaster numbers. I would be happy to provide a tape in a format of your choice. Thank you for your time and consideration. [Please contact National Communication Services to obtain broadcast quality tapes and Telecaster approval numbers once you have secured a tv station/network s interest: (613) ext. 271.] Please use these scripts for requesting space/time for radio/print PSA: Scouts Canada has produced several professional radio/print public service announcements (visit our web site to view the ads: As a not-forprofit our organization is not in the financial position to place them as paid advertising. It would be most appreciated if your station/newspaper would consider extending PSA time/space to Scouts Canada so that we can continue to fulfill our mission of contributing to the education of young people, and to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society. I would be happy to provide an MPEG file/artwork in a format of your choice. Thank you for your time and consideration. [Radio ads can be downloaded from our web site on the Advertising page. Contact your Council Office about having a print ad designed to the newspaper's specifications.]