The most important single action that will mean success or failure in a chapter is a publicity campaign. Much free publicity is available just for the asking. The most common methods are by the following media:
- a. Post Newspapers;
- b. Officers Club Newsletters;
- c. Local Newspapers;
- d. Radio and TV;
- e. Daily Bulletins;
- f. Posters;
- g. Internet Home Pages (web sites)
A proven and effective means of communication with members of the chapter is the chapter newsletter.
- a. The basic objective of a chapter newsletter is to communicate with the chapter membership -- to keep them in touch with planning at the chapter level, to transmit information of value received from National Headquarters through the monthly information letter addressed to chapter officers and to quote from other sources. Therefore, the newsletter need not be fancy in appearance, although a number of chapters have adopted appealing publication names and attractively designed covers or mastheads. Several chapters use the Internet to communicate with members. However, chapter officials must be aware that not all current or prospective members can access that media.
- b. Frequency of issue varies among chapters. Some newsletters are published monthly, some quarterly, others somewhat sporadically. It is suggested that publication be on a regular basis, timed to reach the reader in the interval between chapter meetings. This is especially recommended when meetings are on a bimonthly cycle. Some newsletters are timed as an announcement of a forthcoming meeting, and mailed several weeks prior to the meeting date.
- c. Not to be overlooked is the value of distributing the newsletter not only to the chapter membership, but to hospitals, dispensaries, Officers Club, PXs, snack bars, dental clinics, other chapters, etc. A membership application form can be stapled in as an enclosure.
- d. Newsletter content differs, of course, among chapters, but, generally, contains notices of important local meetings, reports of recent meetings, squibs and filler material and short articles, sometimes especially written for the newsletter. Also, president's messages, new members, committee reports. Names and addresses of chapter officers and directors and the list of USAWOA objectives are often routinely included.
- e. Happily, more and more chapters are recognizing the value of the electronic chapter newsletter, web sites and have joined the parade. It sometimes falls upon the lot of the Chapter President to write and/or edit the newsletter for he/she is more fully aware of plans and happenings. It also provides a strong and vital tool with which to carry new programs to the chapter. The appointment of a qualified editor removes some of the burden from the chapter officers, but it should be understood that there should be regularity in publication and that chapter officers are responsible for seeing that the editor is adequately provided with news.
3. CONTINUOUS PUBLICITY.
- a. Publicity, used continuously, keeps the Association and the chapter constantly in the public mind and builds up the image of ourselves that we want to create. Publicity is also essential in heralding and reporting special events and developments.
- b. Press Releases. The following public relations techniques can help make the chapter's releases more effective:
- (1) Careful consideration must be given to whether or not a story is "Press-worthy" in terms of the readers it will reach through a particular paper. There is keen competition for newspaper space; therefore, if the chapter besieges a paper with trivial news, its chances for future publicity in that paper diminish.
- (2) Stories should reach the paper at least twenty-four hours (or preferably, two days) before the release date. ALL NEWS SHOULD BE SENT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, even without benefit of committee discussion, or it will be "stale" by the time it reaches the paper.
- (3) All stories should be written clearly and in simple language. They should include some reference to the chapter or Association's background for those not familiar with the chapter or with USAWOA. Mention of the Association should be interwoven into the copy in such a way as to make its deletion difficult. When a story is submitted, it should bear the name, address and telephone number of someone who can give additional information or confirmation. The date, day and time after which editors may use a story should also be clearly indicated.
- (4) News stories: Most news stories, such as announcements of and reports on activities, special events, dinners, awards, grants and excerpts from talks or meetings, are sent to the city desk of the newspaper. Editors should be advised several days in advance about special dinners and events, via a memo noting the date, time and place of the event. An "after-the-fact" release should always be prepared and sent to the paper the day of the event.
- (5) Picture Stories: Newspaper photographs should be black and white glossy 5" x 7" or 8" x 10" prints. (high quality digital photos preferred) Typed captions, clearly identifying the people and specifying the occasion, should be pasted or clipped to the bottom of the picture. Action or unusual pictures featuring prominent people are best. LARGE GROUP SHOTS SHOULD BE AVOIDED. When a special event has photo possibilities, the picture desk of the paper should be notified several days in advance and invited to send a photographer. However, it is always advisable for the chapter to engage its own photographer and rush its pictures to the paper by messenger immediately after the event. Picture taking should be scheduled either before or after the event (even if this means "staging the circumstances") so as not to disrupt the event or waste the photographer's time.
- (6) Stories for local papers: News about local personalities and events should be sent to weekly or daily neighborhood newspapers. Such papers are usually cooperative when THEIR DEADLINES ARE OBSERVED.
- (7) Newspapers are public servants. Their main function is to report the news. Yet they perform many other duties that help in the everyday business of living and working. One of these duties is helping organizations keep the community aware of their activities.
- (8) Whether you take your own pictures or utilize a commercial photographer, remember that pictures for publication should be with a high pixel quality, black and white glossy, not retouched.
- (9) When submitting photos to the newspapers, do not expect them back. It is difficult, expensive and almost impossible for newspapers to return a picture unless you provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
4. PUBLICIZING CHAPTER FUNCTIONS.
- a. The Chapter can often greatly improve the attendance at its functions, as well as enhance its prestige, by selecting effective, interesting publicity for its events.
- b. Since the program committee organizes chapter events, publicity efforts logically fall within its realm. Often, in the case of a large chapter, the program chairman will want to appoint a special committee to handle publicity. This is wise because an adequate program of internal and external publicity requires a considerable amount of effort.
- c. When the chapter program committee begins to plan a meeting, it will want to plan the publicity for the event. Such planning should begin as early as does the planning for the event itself. Pre-planning makes it possible for the chapter to get the maximum amount of value from both its internal and external publicity efforts.
- d. Most important for those in charge of handling publicity is the notification of members, the potential audience. Such publicity should be designed to let the members know what is coming and to stimulate interest in attendance. Most USAWOA members are busy people who have little time to spare. Convincing them that it is worth their while to attend will require carefully prepared notices.