Use local public relations to ensure Scouting continues to grow in your community. These tips, examples and instructions will guide you in developing a simple, effective strategy to help tell your Scouting story to the communities you serve.
The goal is to help your unit develop a basic, yet effective, public relations program. Keep it focused and manageable—less is more. Concentrate on community newspapers, which need and want your articles. Resist the urge to do more unless and until you have the time and experience to do so.
Why Publicize Your Unit?
To continue to be successful and keep growing, your unit must be visible in the community. Community newspapers want and need submissions. Most do not have large staff, so a submitted article is a welcome assist. Scouting should not be a well-kept secret. Scouts in action should appear next to articles about athletic teams and other youth activities. Articles posted on refrigerator doors across the country help keep Scouting at the center of family activities.
The Value of Refrigerator Door Marketing
This kind of marketing raises awareness and directly impacts membership recruiting. Boys want to have fun in ways that are recognized by the community. Being recognized and accepted makes parents feel good about being involved. It also increases retention by confirming to parents that they made the right choice. It provides public recognition of success, and finally, it increases fundraising potential by demonstrating the value of Scouting to parents, chartered organizations, and communities.
It Really Works!
Units have experienced phenomenal growth when they follow these guidelines. Retention and recruiting improve membership! Try it!
Getting Started—Keep it Simple
- Recruit a unit public relations chair who will report to the unit committee chair and/or Scoutmaster. If there is a PR Scout (e.g. troop historian), the unit PR chair should coach the PR Scout. Also, engage Scouts working on the Journalism merit badge.
- In troops and crews, recruit a PR Scout or Venturer to take and/or collect photos at events, courts of honor, summer camps, and outings– fun and recognition are key. The PR Scout can draft articles for the community newspaper under the guidance of the unit PR chair. The PR Scout can also create and maintain unit binders to archive the unit’s history. These can be used to market a unit at recruiting nights. The binders may also be used at chartered organization events as a thank-you, and to market the unit alongside the chartered organization.
- Develop an annual plan.
Look for events or activities to share in your community (see supplemental page for ideas). Set realistic, achievable goals—one submission per month, every other month, or quarterly.
CHALLENGE: Have at least one article run in your local newspaper per month. Share a link each article that runs on the Council Facebook page.
Decide on which media outlets to use.
Community newspapers are at the top of the list, but consider a number of other different outlets including:
- Community Calendars
- Community Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Community or Church Newsletters
- Online-Only publications (such as Patch)
- Local Radio Stations
- Local Television Stations
- Local Magazines
- Call your local community newspaper.
Get a contact name and the rules for submissions (see supplemental spreadsheet). Introduce yourself and explain what you would like to do. A good rapport with the media increases the chances your material will be used. Know submission deadlines and the format required. Follow their rules religiously…make their life easier, and they will use your material.
- Use a press release.
The most common of all public relations tools is a press release submitted to local media, like community newspapers. A press release should communicate key information by including the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story you are trying to tell. Be sure to include photos with your release. Supply your contact information along with the press release. A sample release is included with this kit.
Looking for a way to get started? Provide support for each new Eagle Scout and his family by publicly recognizing his achievement. Publicize the service project and include pictures of the court of honor for each new Eagle Scout in your troop. Include PR forms and instructions in each Eagle package.
Be Your Own Walking Billboard
- Create Pack or Troop T-Shirts
- Design a brochure or handout with your meeting schedule and contact information to hand out to others who may be interested in joining.
- Design Troop or Pack business cards to hand out to friends with meeting and contact information listed.
- Use all of these when selling popcorn or holding other activities in public.
See “Hints and Ideas” for more ways to get your brain working.
Media Contact Sheet
Name of Newspaper/Magazine/Radio/etc. _________________________________________
Mailing Address ______________________________________________________________
Delivery Address ______________________________________________________________
News Desk ___________________________________ Fax ___________________________
E-mail _______________________________________ Other _________________________
Publication day _______________________________ Deadlines _______________________
Preferred Method of Contact: ____________________________________________________
- Alert media before and after the event. Beforehand is a great promotion and will help facilitate a good turnout. Afterwards will show the community how much fun you had!
- TAKE PICTURES! Hint: Newspapers prefer photos of no more than three subjects- the fewer the people, the better the photo. Individuals in the photo should be doing something, not just looking at the camera.
- Proofread a draft in its entirety before sending. A fresh pair of eyes is even better than your own.
- Remember to capitalize every word of the title except for “or”, “it”, “a”, “an”, or “from”.
- Always type a news release. Releases should always be double-spaced and typed on one side of an 8 ½” by 11” paper.
- Brevity is the key. Try to limit releases to one or two pages; it should not exceed 500 words. Use short, clearly written paragraphs.
- Never split a paragraph at the end of a page.
- Type “—more—“ at the bottom of a page when the release is more than one page in length.
- If a release is longer than one page in length, put an abbreviated headline and page number at the top of each page following page one.
- Type “###” to signify the end of a release.
- Clarity, accuracy, grammar, and neatness are vital; don’t make the reporter do more work than necessary.
- Avoid Scouting abbreviations (i.e. BSA (Boy Scouts of America), IAB (Ingawanis Adventure Base), OA (Order of the Arrow), FOS (Friends of Scouting), BALOO- Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation, etc.)
- Avoid clichés, jargon, or fancy phrases.
- Don’t use flowing tributes, flowery descriptions, or glowing adjectives when writing your news release. The news release should be more informative than subjective. Be impartial and objective; try to write the release as the reporter might
- If an editor must choose between two otherwise equal releases, he or she is more likely to pick the release that has an accompanying photograph. If including a photograph with your release, make sure it will capture the interest of the reader. Every photograph should include a complete and correct caption that identifies each person and the action in the photograph.
- Include quotes from Scouts, volunteers, parents, or other individuals who might be involved.
- Ask for overrun copies to send to the Council office.
- Invite media to upcoming events; especially if there will be good visual activities.
- If you’re really stuck in a rut, check local community calendars, etc. for events that tie into Scouting (i.e. a literacy event à Scouting helps fight illiteracy).
- Don’t forget to thank or compliment reporters on a well-written story. Think about sending them a holiday message, have your Scouts send a note, or even give them an award for their coverage.
Ideas for Press Releases and Other Promotions
- Regular meetings (showcase an activity a den does or show the community that the Boy Scouts actually run their own meetings)
- Fundraisers (fall or spring product sales, pancake breakfasts, etc.)
- Community Service Projects
- Court of Honor
- Unit Campouts
- District Functions (merit badge colleges, camporees, etc.)
- Council Functions
- Pinewood Derbys
- Winter Camping (Red Flannel Award, etc.)
- Eagle Projects and Ceremonies
- Success Stories (using skills learned in Scouting to take on a tough situation)
- Recruitment Nights and General Recruitment Information
- High Adventure
- Cross Overs (Arrow of Light, etc.)
- OA Events
- Special Awards
- Merit Badges Earned
- Scouting for Food
Example Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ima Scouter
Telephone Number: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Email Address: email@example.com
Cub Scouts Participate in End-of-Summer Camping Activities
(City/Town)— More than (No.) Cub Scouts from the metropolitan area gathered this weekend for two days of fun-filled camping at (location) for a traditional end-of-summer campout.
Cub Scouts, leaders, and parents pitched their tents and braved plummeting temperatures to participate in the last camping rite of summer. Activities started with a cookout dinner Friday night and ended with parents and leaders cooking breakfast on Sunday morning before breaking camp.
These extended campouts give Cub Scouts the opportunity to demonstrate to their parents the skills they learned in Scouting, ranging from knot-tying and first aid, to teepee building and outdoor cooking.
“The Cub Scouts get such a thrill out of being able to show their parents the things they learned at weekly den meetings,” sad Cubmaster (full name). “It’s not likely they can run home after a den meeting and say, ‘Hey Mom, let me show you how to light a campfire.’”
Campout activities included an outdoor obstacle course, timed know-tying competition, and mother/son fishing derby. Awards for the top three Cub Scouts and their mothers were presented at the Sunday breakfast. Winners included (names of Cub Scouts and their mothers).
“Sitting around the campfire and roasting marshmallows with the other Scouts and my family was great,” said Cub Scout (full name), “but the best part of the campout was winning the fishing derby with my mom. She’s the best.”
The Boy Scouts of America’s Cub Scouting program is for boys and girls who are in the first through fifth grade. They participate in family-centered activities, group activities, learning, and having fun. More than (No.) kids take part in Cub Scouting annually in Central Illinois.
Great for when you have events you want the media to cover
FOR RELEASE ON ________________________
Public Service Announcements (or PSAs) are a great way to get the word out about Scouting through radio or television. The following scripts are examples of PSAs in a variety of lengths. Feel free to use either your own phone number as a point of contact or the W.D. Boyce Council’s number, 309 673-6136.
General PSA :30
By the time they’re 15….
…they’ll visit their congressional representative…
…work in a soup kitchen…
…start a neighborhood clean-up program…
…and become an Eagle Scout.
Just imagine what they’ll do by the time they’re 30.
Scouting. Strong values- Strong leaders.
Call (phone number) for more information about the Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA.
General PSA- :30
By the time they’re 15…
…they’ll know all about camping…hiking…canoeing…and an endless number of other activities they’ll learn in Scouting. They’ll also learn values…character..self-confidence…teamwork…and leadership.
Imagine how far your son or daughter can go…
Call (phone number) for more information about Scouting.
General PSA :30
This message is for the boys and girls of (community name).
If you enjoy camping, hiking, canoeing, model building, mountain climbing, and other activities like these…
…ask your parents if you can join the BSA.
Scouting teaches values, leadership, character, citizenship, and personal fitness.
Parents like that. You’ll like the fun! Call (phone number) for more information about Scouting.
Scouting for Food :30
Today, more people are going hungry in this country than at any other time in the past 25 years. The latest studies show that more than 20 million Americans, including 4 million children, go hungry at some time every month.
You can help. You can make a difference.
On (date), Scouts in (city or area) will go door to door, collecting nonperishable and canned food items. The food you give will go to local agencies for food distribution.
They’re counting on your donation. Help the Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA help the hungry by giving.
School Night for Scouting :45
Scouts have traveled to the moon, served in the White House, competed in the Olympics, and won Academy Awards; some have been five-start generals, renowned doctors, and successful businessmen.
While we can’t promise your son or daughter will do all these things, we can help them reach their goals, earn awards, help others, build self-esteem, and participate in experiences that can lead to a lifetime of success.
Your son or daughter can join millions of young and women who think Scouting is out of this world.
Help your child be prepared for life. Attend School Night for Scouting at a school near you. For more information contact the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136.
School Night for Scouting :45
Son: Hey, kids! Do you want something to do—something fun, adventurous, and exciting? Something like white-water rafting or rock climbing?
Mom: Hey, parents! Do you want your kids to have good role models, learn leadership skills, become prepared for life, and build character?
Both: Well, we have something for both of you. Come to School Night for Scouting to learn more about the adventures of Scouting.
Announcer: For more information, contact the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136. (or put in your contact information).
Son: Scouting: because kids want to have fun.
Mom: And because character counts.
School Night for Scouting :30
Join other kids in your neighborhood at School Night for Scouting. School Night will paint a picture of the exciting opportunities available through the Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA. For more information on Scout Night for Scouting, contact the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136. (or put in your contact information).
School Night for Scouting :30
(Boy’s Voice): Cub Scouts don’t just read about exciting adventures or watch them on television. They actually participate in them. And along the way, they develop great new friendships built on teamwork and leadership, while learning together and having fun.
(Girl’s Voice): And it’s not just for the boys.
School Night for Scouting is an opportunity for youth and their parents to learn about the benefits of Scouting.
For more information on School Night for Scouting, contact your school or the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136. (or put in your contact information).
School Night for Scouting is coming soon to (details).
School Night for Scouting- :30
Scouting can take you places you’ve never been before. Whether it’s taking on a new leadership role, climbing a mountain, camping in the woods, or collecting food for the hungry, you’ll do new things and meet new people.
School Night for Scouting is an opportunity for youth and their parents to learn about the benefits of Scouting. Let Scouting take you on a new adventure. For more information on School Night for Scouting, contact your school or the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136. (or put in your contact information).
School Night for Scouting :10
School Night for Scouting: coming soon to a school near you. For more information, call your school or the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136. (or put in your contact information).
School Night for Scouting :10
School Night for Scouting is an opportunity for youth and their parents to learn about the benefits of Scouting. For more information, contact the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136. (or put in your contact information).
School Night for Scouting :10
Help your child be prepared for life. Attend School Night for Scouting at a school near you. For more information, contact your school or the W.D. Boyce Council at 309-673-6136. (or put in your contact information).
Public service announcements are not limited to television and radio. Print PSAs can be used in a variety of ways in your community. Here are a few ideas:
- Newspaper and magazine inserts
- Community Calendars
- Community directories, such as chambers of commerce, real estate, new neighborhoods, churches, schools, civic adult and youth organizations, athletic leagues, etc.
- Door hangers and table tents
- Posters, brochures, and leaflets
- Grocery sacks and tray liners
- Utility bill enclosures
- Major corporate in-house publications or ads
- Luncheon and dinner programs
- Social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.