[LarrysList] Myrtle Beach, SC Field Day thoughts, lessons learned, etc.

Larry Staples larrystaples at mac.com
Tue Jun 28 20:21:42 CDT 2016

For those of you who were involved in public relations for your Field Day site, you may be interested in the following taken from the ARRL public relations reflector.  ARRL had asked for answers to questions about the effectiveness of the PR programs of Field Day organizations.


1) What kind of outreach strategies worked for you this year? What didn’t work?

I found that personal appearances tended to work the best. Live radio and TV can be hazardous, but I listen to the interview afterwards and I use it as a tool to improve myself for the next time. For example, in my radio interview, I blew the question about getting the next generation of hams interested. I should have talked about the technology, how we are on the "cutting edge", and instead I went to testing. Lesson learned and I won't make that same mistake again. Another lesson learned, have a spare shirt with you, if you're going to be on TV. I was on Carolina & Company to promote Field Day. After the live show, they were recording the show for Monday, July 4th. There was a local chef on to talk about grilling. I enjoy cooking and asked if I could stay as I might learn something. I was told that would be fine. There was supposed to be a representative from the local fire department to talk about safety, but he didn't show. I was asked what we could talk about regarding amateur radio and the 4th. I replied hurricane season. The host liked it, an we were about to record when a representative from the fire department arrived. I would liked to have had a different shirt, but I did earn some points for being willing to help them out.

2) What PR tools or guidelines provided by ARRL did you use? What did you come up with yourself?

None of the local newspapers used the press release. Our local radio stations did not use the prerecorded PSAs, they prefer that we submit the information in writing and their talent will record the PSA. I don't know if a 15 or 20 second PSA might have better luck. It's just our market, but it's a learning curve.

3) There was the new social media bonus available for using Facebook/Twitter/etc. Did you take advantage of it? If so, how?

I established a Facebook page for the Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club. It has a link to our website, and we will also put a link to the Facebook page on the website. For me, as PIO, it's easier to maintain and update the Facebook page than it is to contact the webmaster and ask him to update the website. We do have some members who are anti-Facebook, and their big fear was that the Facebook page would take the place of the website. I assured them that it would not, that they were complimentary tools.

 4) Did you try anything new in 2016? If, so, what?

The Facebook page was our one new thing this year. 

5) List your one big takeaway from 2016 that you would share with other
groups just getting started in PR outreach.

Personal contact is the biggest thing. Don't be afraid to get out and meet people. I know that email makes things "convenient", but there's still something about a good old fashioned handshake. 

Start small. Make your initial contact with just a couple of media outlets and expand each year. For example, Myrtle Beach has two talk radio stations, but only one has a live local program. We also have the three major networks and Fox. I'm adding a TV station to my list each year. 

Press Kits-You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. I have two different press kits. They all have the same information. One is a 1/2" three ring binder, while the other is a simple folder. The first time I meet a member of the media, I give them the three ring binder--a good first impression. On subsequent visits, I give them the folder. I change out the material in the kits each year, so they are different. Yes, it requires some recordkeeping, but it seems to be worth the effort.

6) Did you have any visitors from served agencies, or any elected officials?
If so, what was your successful pitch to get them to come out?

Unfortunately, we did not have any visitors from served agencies or elected officials. I sent letters inviting bout our US Senators and our Congressman. I received an email reply from one of the senators and he had other commitments. I will be sending him an invitation to FD 2017 in the next few weeks. 

I also mailed invitations to each member of the county legislative delegation. Those letters went to their Columbia office. Next year I will follow-up with a reminder letter closer to Field Day to their business address. The SC legislature adjourns the first week in June, so I had mailed the letters in early May, which gave them plenty of time to forget about the event. When I hand delivered requests for proclamations to the city and county governments, I also included invitations to the city leaders with the request. 

Doing a post-mortem, I see several problems an opportunities. We are located in a resort area. As a result, wde opted to have our Field Day at an area away from the crowded downtown. This makes it harder for visitors to get to us.Also, our membership consists of a relatively high number of retirees who aren't keen on running for 24 hours. A lot of the members who are still working are in service industries, and trying to get a summer weekend off is very difficult. As a result, we were only scheduled to operate six hours,1-7PM, and that got cut short because of thunderstorms in the area. The real irony is that, based on the preliminary numbers, as PIO, I generated the most points for Field Day and I never got on a radio. Go figure.

7) What kind of media coverage did you get? What was your ratio of media
asked vs media who showed up? How did you pitch the media? Press release?
Phone call? Social media? Something else?

I had 8 minutes on WRNN-FM the Wednesday before Field Day. As mentioned in Q1, I was also on Carolina & Company and the local news. We hit 50% asked/show ratio. I made personal visits to the stations to meet the news director and give them a press kit. No one visit lasted more than 5 minutes, I made sure to be respectful of their time. 

8) How many visitors to your site did you have? How did they learn about
your site? How did you engage them? How many interested people signed your
guestbook or left an email address? How do you intend to follow up with

We had 5 visitors sign in at the PIO booth. All of them had found us through either our website or the Field Day link on the ARRL website. We had three visitors from out of the area and will be sending them a thank you email. We have two prospective members who will be receiving club information and follow-up by the membership committee.

Each Field Day is a new experience with something to be learned. 

E. Gordon Mooneyhan, W4EGM
PIO, Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club
Freelance Writer

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