There’s no better recruiting tool than a Cub Scout, BSA Scout member, Adventurer, or enthusiastic Sea Scout telling their friends about their adventures. But if you want to reach a wider audience, here are six practical tips your pack, troop, crew, or ship can use to get local media coverage effortlessly.
Have a good story to tell
A good story is a compelling, interesting and intriguing story. A bad story is a routine, monotonous or boring story. A good story should have a problem or obstacle, interesting characters (your Scouts), a journey (how they solved the problem), and a solution (or victory).
For example, you could tell a story about your Cub pack having their Pinewood Derby race for bragging rights (the obstacle); feature Cubs (the characters) building cars with their families (the journey); and feature the victory celebration when the peloton has come together and recognized the winners (the solution).
Create good visuals
Strong images and video can mean the difference between a story being aired or not, but in today’s increasingly restricted media environment, you can’t count on a photographer or videographer being present. videographer at each event. This means you have to do it yourself and send it to local media – with the added benefit of having more control over the images chosen.
Use natural action and candid shots – not posed shots – in good lighting. An up-to-date smartphone will suffice for most jobs as long as you use the original high resolution photos. For video, you can remove the audio and offer it as B-roll; or do your own formal interviews with participants.
Use strong quotes
For newspapers and online outlets, good citations are essential. A quote should be colorful, short, and sound like people talk in real life. Consider the difference between these quotes:
- “Everyone had a great time on the survival expedition, especially when it started to rain,” said patrol leader Shannon Jones.
- “The 383 Troop Committee cordially invites all local residents to attend the annual Adventure Day at Parsons Park October 9-4 October 26,” said Committee Chairman Pat Smith.
One is interesting; the other is boring. If you have information to convey, such as the date, time, and location of an event, just write it as a regular sentence and don’t put it in quotes.
Organize an interesting event
One of the great advantages of scouting is that events which are for us a matter of routine fascinate the general public:
- Cub space derbies or gutter regattas are fun twists on friendly competitions.
- Scouting skills such as rigging signal towers and practicing emergency first aid are lost arts for most non-Scouts.
- Backpacking adventurers on the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trails are the dream of most Americans.
- Sea Scout sailing competitions evoke the thrill of the open sea, which has sparked a thousand novels.
Invite local media ahead of time and provide volunteers to escort them around the event and help them connect with Scouts to be interviewed, and they’re guaranteed to have a great story at the end of the day.
Be the first or set a local record
Your troop’s first patrol to complete a 50 mile, the first district crew to go caving, or the first troop scout to earn an Eagle are all worthy items. The same goes for the biggest tree planting event in your community, or the most dreidels spinning at the same time (a real record broken at National Jamboree 2017).
Celebrate a meaningful birthday
The media loves great anniversary stories with a look back and an update on today’s progress. Look for years ending in 5 or 0. Consider the anniversary of your unit’s founding, the start of your local summer camp, the commemoration of your ship’s first quartermaster, or a milestone in the history of the scouting. (In 2025, we will mark the 90th anniversary of Sea Scouting!)
Dan Shortridge served as District Vice President and Troop Committee Chairman for the Del-Mar-Va Council. He is currently a Merit Badge Advisor and Board Member of the Camp Alumni Association and Newsletter Editor. Dan is also a public relations consultant and author of the book “DIY PR: Tell your story with a zero dollar budget » (Quill Driver Books).
Have you been successful in sharing your Scouting story with the media in your area? Tell us how you did in the comments!