PUBLIC RELATIONS

The assignment for the Public Relations subcommittee was to:

  1. Seek out ways to generate publicity and support for the OCCRA league;
  2. Develop a press packet to give the participating schools;
  3. Establish media contacts;
  4. Develop contacts at economic development boards, the State Board of Education, county civic and educational foundations...etc.;
  5. Produce a brochure to recruit student participants and develop fan interest in the tournaments;
  6. Produce and disseminate posters to advertise each of the tournaments.

These assignments were carried out with mixed results.  The printing and distribution of the brochures and posters met with several delays and most were not distributed until after the first tournament. (See Appendix J for the text portion of the brochure that was used.)  The tournaments were fairly well attended, but most of the people in the bleachers were family members of the participants.  Large numbers of nonparticipating students, the important peer group, did not materialize as hoped for.  Several competing schools brought virtually no fan support, as evidenced by the quiet that followed the public address announcements concerning their team.  Other teams brought large entourages of screaming, enthusiastic fans.  Mass media was only partially attentive to OCCRA.  Press releases and stories were written and sent out to all of the local media before and after each event (See Appendix I for a sample). Local newspapers carried numerous stories about the league and local radio stations carried a couple interviews concerning OCCRA, but the local television stations never ran any stories during 2000 in spite of numerous contacts and requests by the OCCRA Public Relations subcommittee and the ISD’s communications office.  As mentioned earlier, that changed during the 2001 season.  (Apparently having hundreds of teenagers gather to stage a contest of the minds is not very newsworthy)  Several hundred cheering fans greeted each event with great enthusiasm, but this first-ever county robotics league was overlooked by TV news.    The level of excitement that such events can generate surprised those who had never seen a FIRST tournament, but don’t be surprised if you have trouble getting the visual media to attend: hundreds of students  engaged in good, clean, fun in an activity that could profoundly improve our world does not get the media attention of a single student firing a weapon.  Your competitions may not be deemed “TV newsworthy.”

 

 

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