Chris' Top Tips for great Scouting PR in 2017! @Christaylor_tsa

Scouting is all about life-changing adventure for young people. As Scouts, we know that we provide this life-changing adventure by teaching valuable skills for life that young people and adults can use in their everyday life. We do this for the thousands of young people that are already in Scouting today in the United Kingdom but what about those who aren't. Here are my top tips get promote Scouting in your area to the people who are missing out in 2017!

1. Get competent spokespeople

One of the things I've learned over the years that I've been doing PR within Scouting is that you can't buy great spokespeople! Sure - I can tell anyone to say the right thing at the right time but you can't beat someone with pure passion for providing life-changing adventure for young people and crucially, the stories to go with it.

A Beaver Scout talking about their first time camping away from home to a Network member talking about their international expedition; we all have stories so choose the person who has the flare, the passion and that cheeky spark in their eye. Remember: an interview is just a conversation to the listener!

When you've got your spokespeople then you can work with them. Understand how they think and how they want to be briefed so that you can help them prepare for an interview - you'll get much better coverage if you prepare them rather than giving them a generic brief.

Emma Cooper (County Youth Commissioner, East Lancashire) and Josh Macdonald (Deputy County Youth Commissioner) are my go-to spokespeople for most things. They have great stories to tell, they're passionate about what they do and they're great in interview situations right down to helping a Cub Scout not feel nervous.

2. Get some great visuals (and keep them!)

One of the mistakes I made early on was to generate some fantastic visuals at events and meetings or one-offs, publish them and then never use them again. Now I spend the time getting some amazing visuals that I can use throughout the the year. Keeping an online photo/video library takes time (and money depending on how big your archive is) but I can promise you that having the right image and the right time can make or break your story!

3. Host Fantastic Events

It's hard to take a photograph or get a quote from a young person if there isn't a brilliant event to start with. Local events are a great opportunity to talk about Scouting and the skills for life that we try to teach. I find it's always a good idea to work with the event organiser to make sure that you're helping each other out - they want to remember the event when it's done and you want great content. While media content unfortunately isn't at the top of an event organiser's priority list, try not to be an add-on to the event. You need to know what's happening, when and who's going to be there so that you can make the most of it. You might be missing a killer picture happening somewhere near you right now?

I see a hype of activity on our website and social media whenever we host an event with new members wanting to join. Can you guess when we hosted an event?

4. Engage with your audience and the people that can help you get there.

For me having a good relationship with people that can help me is key. In East Lancashire we have BBC Radio Lancashire presenter Stephen Lowe as our Scouting Ambassador. Stephen helps us talk positively about Scouting everywhere he goes and he has some great stories about how Scouting has had a positive impact on his life too. Having good relationships like this isn't always possible, but something as simple as thanking a journalist after they've published a good article about local Scouting can work wonders.

In January 2016 we invited BBC Radio Lancashire to our County Campsite (Bowley Scout Campsite & Activity Centre) to feature the outdoors that Scouting provides. Our Scouting Ambassador and BBC Radio Lancashire presenter, Stephen Lowe, helped us with this.

In January we hosted BBC Radio Lancashire's 'Lancahsire Outdoors' show at Bowley Scout Campsite.

On 22nd July 2016, after comments on-air by Graham Liver (BBC Radio Lancashire's Breakfast Presenter) that he'd never been camping, we were able to give the BBC Lancs breakfast team a night to remember - a team building camping experience at our campsite. They stayed the night before and did the whole breakfast show LIVE from Bowley. I am very thankful for the team at Wood-Sage Outdoors for helping them have the most comfortable night possible.

The event made a list for the Top 10 Breakfast Show content on BBC Local Radio Stations https://bbclocallover.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/top-10-breakfast-showsaround-the-bbc-local-radio-stations/

5. Stick to your messages

It's easy to get carried away in the conversation sometimes - especially when you add in the excitement of an interview but keeping to your messages is key if you want to get the best interview! There are some very clear key messages about Scouting but making sure that your spokespeople know these is important.

Before any interview I can always be heard making sure that the spokesperson is 100% sure of the key messages I want them to talk about. "Skills for life and more adult volunteers" is my most used phrase.

6. Look after the people that help and support you!

I cannot stress how important this is.

From the photographers who capture your amazing pictures, the adult volunteers who prepare press press releases, the team at headquarters who are at the end of the phone when it's going wrong to the producers who help pull it all together - it's important that you thank each any every one of them. I certainly wouldn't have had such a fantastic year of PR for East Lancashire if it wasn't for the people that help me so- thank you.

Have a fantastic 2017!

@ChrisTaylor_TSA

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Chris Taylor
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