A good publicity program is essential to your club for expansion of membership, securing and maintaining sponsorship, fund-raising, and community goodwill. The basic function of public relations is communication, and a well-structured publicity program for your club's events will serve to effectively communicate these activities to the general public.
Your first objective is to establish the public identity of your club and explain what its programs accomplish. The community must be made aware that the table tennis club provides a needed service. Here are some ideas you can work with:
- Table tennis is a family sport.
- Kids that are too short, slow, or skinny for school sports have the same need for competitive play as the four-year letterman, and your club can provide that need. Table tennis is a sport in which size is of minor importance.
- Girls can compete on equal footing with boys.
- You can play regardless of the weather.
- Table tennis is a great eye/hand coordinator and is an excellent supplement to other sports.
- Table tennis is inexpensive and most of all FUN.
Your table tennis club can fill a recreation void that exists in every community. You know it and I know it, but you and I can't run the club by ourselves. Let's go out and tell the world how great table tennis is!
Seldom will one media do the job. Take a look around to see what is available:
- Bank's message board
- Exhibitions at the shopping center
- Recreation department activity catalog
- Direct mail to other racket clubs
- Enclosure with bank or phone statements
- Restaurant table "tent" notices
Stretch your imagination, be creative, but most of all be repetitious. If your story is worth telling once, it's worth telling ten times.
Mechanics of Publicity
Logo - One of the club's first efforts should be to develop a club logo. Keep it simple and uncluttered. You might sponsor a logo contest. Use the logo on all publicity releases, posters, and entry forms.
Director - Your club should have a publicity committee chairman or "public relations director". His first job is to develop a list of the area's editors and broadcasters. Then determine by an advance telephone call the least busy day and time to talk with them. It is best to meet with them before you need their help.
Write down each contact's name, title, phone number, mailing address, when you met them, copy deadline, and any other pertinent information.
The other tools needed for the promotion job are:
- Guidelines for preparing copy for the newspaper.
- Membership roster with the names spelled correctly.
- A program of important events and special projects for the upcoming year.
- A datebook to notate deadlines and publicity plans.
- A scrapbook of activities and their promotion as the year progresses.
What is News?
Often the Public Relations person must create news. In a table tennis club, there is a lot of material to work with: club elections, new projects, special guests or speakers, a social or entertainment program, coaching clinics, exhibitions, benefits, competition with other clubs, and tournaments. It's important that when developing a story, you should think first of your goals. Do you want to attract new members, bring players and spectators to a tournament, or promote a fund-raising project? Then write the story in the direction of your goal.
Writing a News Release
Remember: Who, what when, where, why. Try to get all of these points in the first sentence or two of the story. Then fill in the details with the following paragraphs. Each succeeding paragraph should be of declining importance - the "inverted pyramid". This allows the editor to easily cut from the bottom of the story if his space is limited.
Use short words. Write short sentences. Write short paragraphs. Be brief. Usually two double-spaced typewritten pages will get the job done. Forget about adjectives. Spell out numbers from one to ten, and use numerals from 11 up. Never begin a sentence with a numeral. Check all names, dates, times, and places for accuracy.
Keep in mind that a news story is not a free advertisement. Don't leave a number for the sale of tickets. Don't menton door prizes, raffles, or lotteries in newspapers that travel in the mail as this is prohibited by federal law.
How to Prepare Copy
For your story to receive proper attention from the editor, the copy must be prepared in a professional manner. Use plain white 8 1/2" x 11" paper or your club letterhead. Don't use onionskin or erasable paper.
Side margins of 1 1/2" are standard, and you should start typing the copy one-third of the way down the first page. The editor needs this space for a headline and instructions to the printer. At the top of the first page in the upper left-hand corner, list the name of the club. Beneath that, list your name, address, and phone number. This information can be single-spaced.
Type the copy double-spaced, and use only one side of the paper. Indent each paragraph five spaces, and always end each page with a complete sentence or paragraph. When more than one page is needed, write "More" at the bottom of the first page and each succeeding page except the last. On the bottom of the final page, type "######" to indicate the end of your story. At the top of each new page, write the club name. In the upper right-hand corner, indicated "Page 2 of 2", etc. Drop down one inch below this heading and continue the story.
If you use any unusual names, people, or places, type (sic) after them to indicate that the spelling is correct. Paper clip the pages together - never use a staple. If it is practical, you should hand carry the release to the sports editor.