We are so full
up in ourselves with Scouting that we forget to tell people what we
are doing but then we grumble that Scouting never gets a mention in
the press! Consider the following:
We in Scouting have
adopted a culture of hiding ourselves away. Little wonder that we have
difficulty selling our product when we cover up what we do.
- When did you
last see a Scout uniform of any Section being worn in the street?
- As you drive
around the country have you ever seen a Scout Camp even in the height
of the camping season?
- Travel 30 miles
to a town or village in which you know there is a Scout Troop -
do you see its headquarters or can you make contact?
- Do you know
where your county office is? Is it situated nicely out of the way?
- The last Scout
Meeting you went to at District, County or HQ, or the last overseas
visit, or the last Scout Shop you went into - were people wearing
- When did you
last read something good about Scouting in the National Press.
The rest of this
page is aimed at encouraging you to get the Uganda story through
and into the press.
There are several
areas in which publicity can be achieved for free but in each area
the press have to be "spoon fed" the story. Unfortunately the downside
of publicity is that as well as printing the good they will also print
the bad so it is our job in Public Relations to ensure that the best
possible light is put on the bad and that we appear willing to accept
mistakes and learn how to improve. International activities are no
different in this respect to bread and butter Scouting.
The local weekly
papers and the free news sheets including church magazines etc. will
print good news stories about our Scouts and their activities. A Press
release should give an eye catching headline, the story, contact information.
For free news sheets and magazines you will have to write the full
story for them.
So what makes
an interesting story. Well it is not saying that "John Smith, a
local Scout achieved his Pathfinder Award this week." As a reporter
you will send that story to the waste bin and even if it was pubilished
consider what someone who does not know Scouting might think. Is he
being publicised because he got it at 13 when most boys get a similar
award in Cubs. Was he a failure or a success. Is this a map reading
award or just an award for walking on paths.
Imagine how much
better and informative it is to say "13 year old John Smith, a
Scout from Market Somewhere and a 2nd year pupil at the Major Secondary
School, achieved the highest award for his age group this week when
he completed a weekend activity camp in the Peak District." John Smith
said "It was tough going this weekend with quite disgusting weather,
but we came through". John was one of 3 Scouts from across the County
who completed a 15 mile weekend hike across the White Peaks. His Scout
Leader, Mike Bloggs or Wood Crescent, Uptown added "John is the first
boy in Somewhere Scouts in three years to get this award and has worked
really hard on over 50 skills to achieve this. We are all very proud
Produce a press
release based on this sort of approach and you can expect column inches
and demands for photographs. Better still send them a photograph of
this photogenic Scout in uniform with heavy Rucksac on the back in
the pooring rain.
are important. There is no point in just putting a postal address.
You will never be contacted. You must have a land phone and prefereably
a mobile phone. These days an email address is useful. However, reports
still prefer voice contact.
But what has
this to do with our International Relations with Uganda?
Every time your
Scouts are doing something out of the norm, the press will print a
story providing you dress up the event or evening as an interesting
item. So, if your Beaver Scouts are tasting Uganda food, invite the
press photographer along to take a photo or, in the case of the free
press, take your own. If you have a Scout going to Uganda, tell the
press in a press release, expand the information by taking information
off the web site. The more exciting the information is, the more likely
it is to be published. In a series of Press Releases, take the story
through from the leader who came to give your troop a presentation
about Uganda, the fund raising, the whole group working for it, the
preparation camps, the departure, out there in Uganda, the return
home, the presenation to parents and the winning of the Local Council
Good Citizen Award!
We blame this
part of the media for neglecting us but in reality we neither feed
them the right stories nor the people to appear on the media. The
same sort of Press Release that you send to the papers will attract
the TV and Radio but you do have to be accessible and you need someone
who can appear on the media to be interviewed and please please please
make sure that on TV that person is in uniform. One group who had
had no publicity for several years found it had a Scout going to Uganda
this summer. This 15 year old boy gained for the Group a total of
153 column inches of publicity over a 6 months period plus 2 TV appearances
and 3 on radio.