Region 3 Public Information Officer
Use of the local Media to announce meetings can help increase attendance and, in addition, promote the visibility of the electrical engineering profession to the general public. It is a good way to get meeting announcements distributed to a broader audience than can be accomplished with newsletters and other means. Further, it helps attract new IEEE member prospects and is a great method for attracting students and others with an interest in engineering. Best of all, the time required to accomplish this effort will be minimal with virtually no associated cost.
Local print (i.e. Newspapers) and TV/Radio stations offer free promotional space for various community and professional organizations to announce their regular meetings and other activities. Many Media sources are very willing to work with organizational representatives, and the process is relatively simple. The basic steps are:
1. Identify which Media resources are suitable.
>2. Call these resources by telephone and ask "who" is the appropriate person to talk with. Identify your organization and ask if the Media offers space for announcing your meetings, etc. As an example, some newspapers have sections for community and hobby clubs and another for professional organizations such as IEEE. TV/Radio media offer community bulletin boards. Inquire "to whom" it should be sent, how far in advance they want it, and the method for submittal (typically either FAX or electronic). And be sure to get the FAX number or e-mail address to use. Keep this initial contact short, friendly and to the point. And be sure to be cordial and thank the person for their time.
3. The News Release should be simple, well focused and to the point. Keeping it short is very important. Use short paragraphs. Keep the language and terminology basic. Don't use complicated information, and abbreviations (spell it out). As an example, don't use IEEE--spell it out. Always be sure to give the meeting date (and day), time and location.
>The program title and speaker should be the focal point for the News Release. Use "hooks" to get the reader' attention and interest. It's a good idea to open the meeting to family, friends, students and associates if possible. It helps increase attendance, and maybe get some new members. Indicate if there is a charge to attend (some sections have buffet meals just before the meeting, and charge for these). Indicate if parking is free and if handicap access is available. Be sure to
ALWAYS include a name and BOTH the daytime and evening telephone numbers for more information. This will appear in the meeting notice so interested people can contact the IEEE person for more information and directions regarding the meeting location. The telephone numbers also permit the Media to get hold of the IEEE person for more information. Use of an answering machine is encouraged, so the IEEE person can get back with those who call. AND THE BIG POINT. Keep the News Release short, focused and well organized. The last item to include on the News Release is three (3) centered # signs indicating the end of the News Release. FAX transmittals should include a FAX cover sheet. Be aware that some media resources DO NOT open attachments. As a last step, call the media person you talked with previously to verify they received the News Release "OK." And always be polite and thank the person.
I plan to have a regular newsletter column concerning Public Relation initiatives and would encourage local sections, etc. to designate a volunteer to issue news releases when appropriate. For those wanting additional information, the URL for the IEEE Publicity Guide is: http://www.ieee.org/publicityguide