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INTRODUCTION .... 1 DEFINING PUBLIC RELATIONS .. 2 GETTING STARTED .. 5 THE TOOLS OF PR 7 JUDGING THE RESULTS EVALUATION 14 CONCLUSION .... 15 SAMPLE MEDIA CONTACT DIRECTORY.... 16 SAMPLE NEWSLETTER ..............................................................17 SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE................................................................................18

Why Invest in Public Relations? You might be asking yourself this question at this point, especially if you are the public relations officer for your chapter. More than likely, you are uncertain of your responsibilities and duties, maybe even unaware of what public relations means. There is even a possibility that you look to public relations as a waste of resources, energy that can be better used performing service projects or strengthening brotherhood. You are not alone if you look at public relations as a negative, far from it. Prior to the last decade or so, most of the nonprofit community saw public relations as a wasteful use of time and resources. They, like most in our fraternity, simply felt that their actions of helping people and society would be recognized and promoted by others simply because it was good work. The difference between them and us, however, has been the past twenty years, where nonprofit organizations of every size, shape, and mission statement have had to take a crash course in the world of public relations. Often, this has not been done for the sake of improving the organization, but to protect its very existence. The key phrase in todays world is competition. This occurs on every possible level. This is especially true on college campuses, where competition between organizations can be especially fierce. Successful college organizations, whether it is obvious or not, rely heavily on public relations. The ones that are most successful make public relations planning an integral part of preparing for every activity. What priority does the average chapter or even the National Fraternity put on public relations? You can easily surmise the answer by answering the following questions: Did you hear any mention of Alpha Phi Omegas recent 75th Anniversary in campus, local, or national media? How many prospective members attended your chapters last rush. Was this greater or less than the number of prospectives you hoped would attend? How often is your chapter mentioned in your campus newsletter, if ever?

Despite Alpha Phi Omegas standing as the largest and oldest collegiate service organization in the country, we have a virtually nonexistent presence outside of college campuses. In many cases, the chapters have a small or nonexistent public image on many college campuses. To improve this situation, we

must increase our attention to public relations and realize the significance of its effects on us as both a National Service Fraternity and individual chapters. The success of your chapter, and this fraternity, does depend heavily on effectively promoting to the general public. This guide will show the basics to public relations, along with how to develop effective plans. Once familiar with this guide, you will see just how important public relations is, and how it can help your chapter successfully meet its goals.


Most of those who serve in a public relations capacity for their chapter have likely had little experience in the field. If a chapter is lucky, there is an active member that may have worked on a high school newspaper, or pursuing a degree in journalism, English, communications, or marketing, who is well aware of the terms and topics discussed in this manual. However, for most chapters, public relations duties are handled by admitted novices. Before we can delve into the tools of the trade, it is important to provide a brief understanding of what public relations is and what it covers. Defining PR The definition given for public relations varies depending on the source. In The Practice of Public Relations, Eighth Edition, Fraser P. Seitel defines PR based on its practices. Public relations affects almost everyone who has contact with other human beings. All of us, in one way or another, practice public relations daily. For an organization, every phone call, every letter, every face-to-face encounter is a public relations event. Although this gives us an idea of what PR encompasses, the reasons behind it or what we hope to accomplish from it are not clear. The YWCAs Handbook of Public Relations, a professional manual designed to introduce novices to the field, provides this type of understanding: Public relations is the deliberate, planned, and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics. Public relations is the key to how the public perceives (the organization), its programs, and its services.

Merging these two definitions, we can identify these basic components of public relations: Public Relations is comprised of the interactions between an individual or an organization and the general public. The interaction can be with the entire public, or with a select group. The interaction, planned or unexpected, has an impact on the image, success or failure, and actions of the individual or organization that communicates with the public. PR & Advertising These two terms can be easily confused, and they are not necessarily the same thing. For our purposes, the primary aim of advertising is to increase awareness and persuade while public relations may encourage certain actions, its primary aim is to inform. PR & Marketing Public relations, marketing, and advertising are components of each other. This is why the terms are easily confused. Marketing is the process in which an organization gets its product or service in the hands of the people who need it. Marketing activities focus on a series of specific points that an organization wants to communicate, known as the 4 Ps. These points can be used to identify how an activity, or a chapter as a whole, should be presented: Product the offering (i.e. membership in Alpha Phi Omega, a chance to participate in a service project, a fellowship activity, etc.) Place where you provide/distribute your offering to customers (i.e. college campus, service project site, social establishment) Price what you expect in exchange for your offering (what you require of those who want to join or attend activities, i.e. dues, service hours, materials for donation) Promotion how you tell your customers about your offering (i.e. press releases)

Publics The general public is not one big, large, unified body; it is a body comprised of smaller groups, in which each group is comprised of individuals. These groups are referred to as publics. Different publics are reached through different public relations methods and strategies.

Publics are easily divided into three categories: Primary Publics Individuals and groups who are presently or could be involved with Alpha Phi Omega. This includes active members, pledges, advisors, alumni, fellow students, and those involved with community organizations. Secondary Publics These individuals or groups are either sources of support or sources of competition. Supporters include college administrators, community service organizations, and community leaders. Competitors are usually comprised of fellow campus fraternities and sororities, along with other campus service organizations, such as Circle K. Tertiary Publics Those who are potential sources of support, including national charities, out-of-town nonprofits, new businesses, and high school students.

If you are starting out with no prior experience or knowledge of public relations, then the best advice is to start slowly and establish the basics. This includes an understanding of what and where to publicize, along with knowledge of what every member, not just you, can do to assist in a positive public relations effort. Every Member has a Role in Public Relations There are things that every member of your chapter can do to help gain publicity for Alpha Phi Omega. Most of these things can be done at any time, not just when activities warrant it: Wear the fraternity pin at all times. BE PRO-APO!!! Have all members in the chapter wear Alpha Phi Omega letter shirts on a set day. Create special Alpha Phi Omega shirts for events and have all members wear them. Have a chapter website, linked from the college, section, region, and national website, with up-to-date information on the chapter, including past and future events and pictures if possible. Put up flyers and banners advertising Alpha Phi Omega and upcoming events. Help staff Alpha Phi Omega information tables at local scouting events with the aim of finding potential new members and relocating alumni. Try to have at least one high visibility project a semester... preferably before the chapters membership-recruiting drive begins. Participate in sectional, regional, and national activities such as conferences and conventions. Assure that the local news media gets a press release on the chapters involvement. Participate in National Service Week. A pre-planning guide will be sent to your chapter in April and available on the national website, www.apo.org A full packet of information will be among the first mailings to your chapter in the fall as well as being available through the national website. There are several ideas for appropriate projects and publicity on the specific theme in this packet of information. Remember that National Service Week is the first full week of November. Participate in the National Spring Service Day in April. There are a number of ideas for appropriate service projects to benefit the youth of our nation in a handbook that will be sent to your chapter in January and available on the national website. Contact the area Scout Council and other community groups to offer the chapters assistance for special events sponsored by them.

Design a chapter button that can be worn when the chapter members participate in public activities. Say Thank You to advisors, key members and others who have provided assistance to the chapter with certificates of appreciation or other public recognition...and tell the local media about it. Publishing a chapter newsletter can be a very effective communications tool, and good public relations as well. Add individuals that you may want support from (i.e. the college president, key administrators, faculty and staff people, student government members, campus media, the Scout Council) to the regular mailing list. Meet informally with the news editors of the campus and community media and the reporters assigned to the campus. Explain Alpha Phi Omega to them, leaving a brief fact sheet about the chapter and the fraternity with them. This should be done on a regular basis - at least every time the chapter selects a new public relations chair. Be sure that public relations is considered in all aspects of chapter planning. What PR potential does each program have? Is it being fully utilized? Maintain a flow of press releases, photos and features to local and college newspapers, radio stations, and television stations. This creates a sustained publicity effort. What do you publicize at first?

Unless you have already mastered the remaining parts of this manual and have plenty of help, it is impossible to publicize every event your chapter is involved in. Start off by reviewing what the chapter is doing over the course of a semester, or even within the next month. Some ideas include: Chapter fundraiser Rush Participation in campus homecoming festivities Section/Region Conference National Service Week National Spring Service Day/ National Youth Service Day Fellowship Dance

Remember that you are not just publicizing to the general public, you are also publicizing to increase interest among your fellow members. This will be covered in further detail later, but do not limit potential choices to just events that need outside involvement. It is even better to start off publicizing just within the chapter. This provides a chance to better measure the result of your efforts.

Who is your first target? The easiest groups to publicize to first are the primary publics. These include fellow chapter members and college students, along with some groups within the local community.

Equipment There are certain pieces of equipment that you need in order to effectively perform public relations duties. The three most important items are a computer with word processing software, (i.e. Microsoft Word), a printer, and a photocopier (or access to one). Other materials that are beneficial to have include cameras (film, video, or digital), access to telephones and fax machines, and chapter stationery. Skills These vary depending on the person assuming the PR responsibilities. However, the person performing the duties must have reasonable command of the English language and strong writing skills. The person ought to enjoy writing, especially on the topic of Alpha Phi Omega (that way it doesnt feel like work). Computer software knowledge is also beneficial, particularly when it comes to desktop publishing, graphic editing, and website design. Like any officer or committee chair, time management skills are also very important. Good verbal communication skills are also import as the PR chair may be contacted for interviews by the media. Finally, a person working in PR should have patience with everyone they run into contact with: newspaper editors, chapter officers, university officials, etc. Developing Media Contacts Before we start writing, we need to look at the efforts made to contact the body who, other than ourselves, is mostly responsible for our contact with the general public: the media. Passive interaction with the media (faxing occasional press releases, calling in Public Service Announcements) will sometimes get the chapters name in the paper, or broadcasted on radio or TV, but it will not develop into something substantive. The key to good exposure is a good relationship with the media, and that means developing strong contacts. When thinking about the media, think about your publics. Learn about the available media outlets in your area (newspapers, radio and TV stations) 7

and determine which outlets communicate with which publics. Then, select those outlets that deal with the publics that you want to promote to most. Find a personal contact with each media outlet, not just a department to send material to. Keep track of them with a media contact sheet (sample available in Appendix on Page 14). Contact them on a regular basis, informing them about upcoming activities. A good way to set up an initial meeting is to invite the potential contact to lunch or out for coffee (It is traditional for you to treat the contact.) Understand that people in the media are usually very busy. This is the importance of having patience. Media professionals are awash in deadlines, breaking stories, and writing articles. They may not always have time to meet with you, or they may be so swamped with stories and material that they do not have room for your PSA or press release. Learn how to work around their schedule, as well as develop a personal strategy for selling the chapters message to the media contact. Learn what the media outlets like to cover when it comes to stories about community service. The media especially prefers to emphasize the stories of those that are helped by the kindness of others. They may also have an interest in particular charities and philanthropic efforts, such as helping the homeless. Make an extra effort to promote chapter activities that fit with these particular angles. Never contact the media without all of your facts in order and available. Never be the only contact the media has with your chapter. Provide them with more than one contact person, such as the Chapter President or Service VP. Media outlets change staff regularly. Keep up with your contacts employment status, and when they are no longer able to work with you, ask them to introduce you to another possible contact within the outlet. Chapter Newsletters

This is often the only form of PR material that a chapter maintains on a regular basis. Usually, it serves just to inform membership on upcoming events and business conducted at meetings. This is acceptable, but there are ways to improve upon this basic premise in a way that it not only benefits the members, but also benefits a chapters outside appearance. Make sure that your Chapter Newsletter is e-mail friendly. Either set it up in a format that can easily be read in the text of an e-mail message, or prepare it as a message attachment. This will ensure that all members receive a copy of it, and it can decrease printing costs. When developing printed copies, use a desktop publishing program (i.e. Adobe PageMaker) to create an attractive template where articles can be inserted and changed when writing new editions. The newsletter ought to 8

be at least 1 page, front-and-back, including a masthead (title), photo or graphic, and activity calendar. Distribute printed copies to college administrators, local community service organizations, newspapers, and fellow college students. This gives them an opportunity to see the chapter from the inside.

A sample newsletter is included in the Appendix on Page 15-16. Print Media Most of the efforts chapters make in public relations are through forms of print media, primarily newspapers. These are usually the most visible outlets on college campuses, especially school newspapers, and in the local community. Basic Guidelines: Send materials at least two weeks in advance. (For college newspapers, be aware of how often publish their editions as this will affect when your story is printed.) Learn which format the outlets prefer to receive submitted material. Some may prefer faxes, while other prefer e-mail or phone calls. Once you learn this information, make sure to follow it every time. Include the name of your contact with the media on every piece of submitted material. NEVER SEND IT TO AN OUTLET WITHOUT LISTING THIS INFORMATION. If you do, it will likely be ignored. A day or two after sending the material call your contact and see if they received it. If they did, quickly go over what you would like for them to do. Be very brief, and keep your remarks in the form of suggestions, not orders. Write everything in the briefest, shortest possible manner. Do not repeat yourself with duplicating statements (like this one). If you are uncertain whether or not the outlets are doing anything, send the material again 3-4 days before the event. Before sending anything to the media, make sure that someone else (if not 2 other people) have reviewed and edited the material to correct mistakes and assure content accuracy. Make sure that more than one person is listed as a contact for your organization. If you are promoting a service project, list the project chair in addition to the PR chair as a contact.

Boiler Plate: The first thing to write, before any press release or PSA, is a boilerplate. This should be a single paragraph that correctly describes both your chapter and

Alpha Phi Omega as a whole. It answers the basic questions of journalism: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Here is an example: Founded in 1925, the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity promotes the principles of Leadership, Friendship, and Service on more than 350 college campuses across the United States. On the campus of State University since 1957, the Beta Beta Beta Chapter provides student members with the opportunity to help people and charities throughout Collegetown and the White River Valley. For more information, contact Jack McKenzie, Chapter President, at 555-1234, email jmckenzie@state.edu, or visit the chapter website, www.stateapo.org. Press Release: The boiler plate should be used as the final paragraph in a press release, which is the most common material provided to media outlets. These documents provide a brief, yet thorough, description of an upcoming activity, whether it is rush or a service project. Effective press releases include the following: A headline that can be used by the outlets that receive the release and briefly describes the content of the story (no more than 8-10 words). An opening paragraph that entices the reader to continue looking over the article. Editors are so swamped with press releases that they spend less than 10 seconds on each one deciding whether or not to use it. A second paragraph that provides the important information (name of activity, time, date, place, etc.). 2 or 3 additional paragraphs that describe the event. A quote from someone involved in the event, whether it be a chapter member or representative from an organization being helped by the chapter. The boiler plate. Press Releases should always be written according to Associated Press style handbook.

A sample press release is available in the Appendix. Public Service Announcements: These are very short articles (no more than 75 words) that simply provide the facts of the activity (what it is, where it is located, when it will be, who is sponsoring, etc.). The following is a sample: Blood donations will be accepted by the American Red Cross on Wednesday, June 5th, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Room 200 of Miller Hall on the campus of State University. For more


information, call Jack McKenzie at 555-1234 or email jmckenzie@state.edu. This event is sponsored by the Beta Beta Beta Chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. Photographs: There are usually two types of photographs in publicity portrait shots, where people pose for the camera and smile, and candids, where the subjects are doing something. Editors prefer candids. They grimace every time someone hands them a shot of a subject A handing a plaque to subject B while shaking hands and grinning at the camera. You do not need a fancy camera and expensive equipment to take publishable photos. A good photograph from an instamatic is acceptable. What is more important is composition whats in the picture. Any photo you submit must have the proper lighting and be in focus. But this can be done with a simple camera and ruined with a fancy one. Most editors say three people in a picture is the maximum. Have them doing something and keep the background clean and simple (make sure there arent any objects sticking out of peoples heads). There is a time and a place for portrait shots. When you announce the new president of your chapter or a new advisor, or if someone receives an award, then a head and shoulders shot is in order. For portrait shots, you can submit a 5 X 7 photograph. Otherwise, submit candids in the 8 X 10 size. Supply a caption for each photo, with the name, age, year in school, hometown, and major of each subject in the photograph. Indicate how the people are identified: right to left, rows, etc. Attach the caption to the back of the photo with tape or glue. Do not staple the photograph to the story; dont fold the photos, and beware of standard paper clips - they scratch photos. Letters to the Editor: Submitting these articles does not require a media contact. This also gives an opportunity for any member to submit a letter on their chapter for printing in a local or campus newspaper. The best way to learn how to write these letters is to look at those that are printed in available newspapers. Usually, these letters adhere to the following: They are under 300 words in length. They capture the attention of the reader, either with an opinion or story.


They encourage an action, such as calling a representative or attending an upcoming event.

Involving chapter members in a letter writing campaign for an upcoming project is a great way of increasing the prevalence of public relations in chapter activities. It also gives other members a chance to participate, possibly leading some to consider serving as a public relations chair or officer in the future. Interviews/Features: More often than not, press releases will not be printed verbatim. Even though your media contact will likely rewrite them, possibly including additional quotes or information they research on their own your press releases should be written well enough and in the proper AP style that they could be published as is. However, there are also times that a press release will encourage a reporter to do more, such as conduct a full interview with chapter members or write a feature article on an upcoming project. When a reporter or contact shows interest in doing this, be as cooperative as possible. First make sure that their intentions will lead to positive exposure for the chapter and fraternity. Once this is certain, help them in developing their story by providing them whatever assistance they may need with interviews, pictures, background material, etc. While you may call the reporter and ask to have your quotes read back, you should never ask to read an advance copy of the story. Most importantly, when their story is run, do not forget to thank them. This is especially important, and should be done both privately (thank you card) and publicly (letter to the editor). Radio and TV Access to these two types of media outlets completely depends on your location. Some campus towns may only have 1 or 2 radio stations. Other colleagues are located in major cities with several radio and television stations. Once again, establishing contacts is very important. As for material, most of this is up to this discretion of the contacts and their news departments. Written material does well if you only want them to broadcast a PSA, but they will be responsible for writing everything else. The best use of radio and television is when you can have a station serve as a partner in an upcoming project. This partnership could include advertising, live remote broadcasts, or even access to donations for giveaways. A


partnership takes a great amount of time and effort to develop, but its impact on the growth of a chapter project, particularly a fundraiser, can be monumental. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that radio and television stations must provide time every week for public affairs programming. Usually, radio news departments host some type of community show on Sunday mornings. Television usually incorporates it into news broadcasts. Make yourself available as a potential story for these types of programs. You may even be asked to serve as a guest on a show. Internet This one medium has helped transform the whole business of marketing and public relations. In a way, it gives any organization the ability to promote themselves without having to rely solely on other media outlets. Websites and email are the two most common methods to use the Internet for PR purposes. Website: A chapter website should not only be designed to serve as a resource for members, but it should also present a positive message to nonmembers just browsing through. Brief descriptions of chapter history, past projects and activities, and long-standing relationships with other organizations may give an outsider a positive impression of the fraternity. Like the newsletter, information for members shouldnt just inform, it should also encourage involvement and develop enthusiasm. Some basic information that should be included are: Fraternity name, chapter name, college name, current contact information, brief description of Alpha Phi Omega, and link to the National website. There are many additional items that would be of benefit in publicizing the chapter such as: calendar of events, description of all projects, officer roster, chapter bylaws, and instructions on how to join. Be considerate of the fact that not all people are comfortable with having personal information available on the internet- if you are in doubt of whether to put something on, ask for permission or approval from the other officers. There are many excellent sites throughout the fraternity and the best way to get ideas for your own site is to look at other examples. The Top Eleven Websites selected each Fall and Spring are an excellent resource. E-Mail: Today, this has become the most common method used for communication between fraternity members. It can also be used to promote a chapter to fellow students and others, but it should be used carefully. Make sure to follow any and all conduct regulations put in place by your college or university. Also, if anyone complains about your chapters use of e-mail, make sure to address their complaints immediately.



One of the hardest things about handling publicity for any organization, volunteer or professional, is judging the results. The people for whom you work (the rest of the chapter) usually do not understand what you do. They expect to see front-page articles on the chapters projects, huge headlines and frequent TV coverage. They wont understand why the TV station runs your PSAs during the Midnight Hour instead of the prime time hit of the decade. This isnt going to happen. If you want to play big, you will have to buy space or time like everyone else. In no other way can you guarantee the use of your material. The coverage you get is most influenced by the worthiness of the event and what else is going on at the same time, with a few points added or subtracted by past relations with your chapter, the chapters reputation, and...oh, yes...the sort of publicity job your do. If you do get material used occasionally, and all your important events get some coverage, then you are successful. If this years version of an event draws more people than last years, and your publicity is one of the major changes, then you are successful. If more students show up at rush because they have heard about the chapter, then you are successful. If your material finds its way into print or onto the air where no chapter publicity did before, you are successful.


The best way to conclude the content part of this manual (the Appendix is still to come) is to provide a few tips that have yet to be covered. Please keep these in mind while performing your public relation duties, as they will prove very beneficial at one point or another: Never exaggerate. That doesnt mean that you have to announce unpleasantries. But a reporter asks you point blank about something, tell him about it. (Be sure not to volunteer more than necessary.) The lasting damage youll cause by lying to your sources far outweighs any temporary damage from what you may say. If they cant get information out of you when they want a story, why should they give you space when you want a story? Neatness counts! Remember use please and thank you. The media doesnt owe you space and time. A thank you note at the end of your term is a good idea. The editor of your school paper may like to attend your closing banquets, perhaps as your guest. If you are holding an event for which admission will be charged, a pair of complimentary tickets for those editors or reporters who have been especially helpful is a nice idea. Be careful what you say about the Fraternity, even when talking casually to members of the media. There is no such thing as off the record. Dont take sides in your press releases. Either you or the chapter historian should keep a copy of every story that is published and every release sent out. It is a good idea when you first become PR chair to stop by and visit the editors and writers with whom you will\ be working. Dont push a story at this time, or expect a promise of future coverage. Just introduce yourself, ask what and how they want it, and give them a face to go with the name; theyll remember you better. A one-page historical background of Alpha Phi Omega and your chapter would be nice to give them for their files. Also visit whatever department handles your college publicity and introduce yourself. They may be able to help you. But dont depend on or allow them to handle your publicity; youll get lost in the shuffle. No one cares about Alpha Phi Omega like you do. When doing project with other organizations, communicate with their public relations officers and staff. Make sure they also get a chance to review anything that you put together, as a matter of courtesy (they should also extend the same to you for anything they write up).



Type of Outlet Name Contact Contact Title Phone Number Fax Number Email Address


Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity Beta Beta Beta Chapter State University Box 911 Collegetown, SC 99999 Date of Release September 2, 2000 Contact
Jack McKenzie 555-1234 John Wetherington 555-9999


COLLEGETOWN, SC Last Friday, the students of State University broke a 10-year old campus fundraising record when they donated $10,000 to the local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), culminating an evening of activity during their annual All Nighter fundraiser. The event, held every fall since 1983, was sponsored by the Beta Beta Beta Chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. We are amazed with the turnout and results of this special event, said Jack McKenzie, President of Beta Beta Beta Chapter. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to make this annual fundraiser a success, and we are pleased that so many of our fellow students chose to participate and put us over the top in or fundraising goals. Since its inception, the All Nighter, initiated by Alpha Phi Omega, has raised over $150,000 for several local charities, including MDA. Their total for this year broke the record set in 1990, when they raised $9,500 for Untied Cerebral Palsy. We hope to continue seeing increases in our fundraising total in future years, added McKenzie. If interests increases even more next year, we may be able to raise as much as $15,000. The All Nighter is a dance marathon where student teams raise funds based on the number of hours they can continue dancing. Seventy-five teams participated in the event, which lasted from 511 p.m. on Friday night.
Founded in 1925, the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity promotes the principles of Leadership, Friendship, and Service on more than 350 college campuses across the United States. On the campus of State University since 1957, the Beta Beta Beta Chapter provides student members with the opportunity to help people and charities throughout Collegetown and the White River Valley. For more information, contact Jack McKenzie, Chapter President, at 555-1234, email jmckenzie@state.edu, or visit the chapter website, www.stateapo.org.