Amateur radio is a communication hobby. We’re great at communicating with other amateurs, but what about the rest of the world? Here are some notes on how amateurs and clubs can raise awareness of the hobby.
Your Club’s Website
This is the front door to your club, and potentially to amateur radio in your area. Take a cold hard look at your club’s website (or better still, ask a non-amateur to have a look), and answer the following questions:
- Is your site there to bring new people into the hobby, or just to serve existing members?
- Does the front page explain what amateur radio actually is?
- Do your front page and “about us” have lots of photos or videos, to catch the eye and encourage people to keep reading? Or is it a list of meeting reports and club news?
- If you were asked to recommend a site for someone thinking of taking up the hobby, would your site be the first you’d recommend?
- Does the front page contain jargon that a non-amateur wouldn’t understand? “GX0QQQ: QSL via Bureau”. If you need a page for amateur speak, don’t make it your home page.
- Does the front page contain a call-to-action, such as: “Join our club”, “Visit our next club night”, join our mailing list”, “train with us” or “follow us on Facebook & Twitter”?
Also worth considering:
- Does your club’s “About us” page explain why someone would want to join your club? Or is it a list of club callsigns & silent key announcements?
- Social media – Just how much effort does your club put into Facebook, Twitter and YouTube?
- Is there a clear “become an amateur” page? Would a new possible amateur get a clear understanding of what to expect from your club’s Foundation course. Lots of photos & videos?
- Does your club’s homepage rank well in Google? Can people find it without knowing the name of your club?
- Are your upcoming public events well publicised as open to the public? Key phases include: “all are welcome”, “free”, “come and meet us”.
|More: Promotional videos for your site | Improving Amateur Radio Club Websites | Amateur Radio Resources|
Your Club’s Events
Getting the hobby in front of the public is key, but it’s important to the right first impression. A few ideas on how to promote amateur radio at events:
- Does your event appeal to passers-by? Headphones-on and backs-to-the-public is pretty off-putting, so be visible, smile, and if you’re more interested in operating than promoting the hobby, have a colleague on hand to chat to the public.
- Do you have plenty of literature on hand for anyone who seems keen? At a minimum, consider some generic RSGB leaflets, information about your club’s activities, plus details of training in your area. Business cards work too.
Are you showing multiple aspects of the hobby? As well as voice (and CW), how about a recording of some PSK31 traffic, SSTV, or a scrolling video about the hobby.
- Take lots of photos, put them on your website and social media, and see if the venue will also post them to their site and followers. Could the local press be interested?
|More: Event Planning forms and resources|
Spread the word
Word of mouth or the family connection are obviously the most common ways we tend to spread the word, but here are some other ideas on who you could tell about amateur radio:
Youngsters – It can be a hard slog getting youngsters interested, but get ’em while they’re young. Some ideas:
- Schools. A talk / some practical demos. 2016’s Tim Peake activities showed there’s lots of interest, Becoming a STEM Ambassador helps you get into schools safety, to talk about tech including amateur radio.
- TDOTA and JOTA – World Thinking Day for the Guides (Feb) and JOTA for the scouts (Oct). A great way to get youngsters interested
- YOTA – Youth on the air. Various initiatives going on nationally. See the RSGB Youth Committee
Techies – Those into tech already may find amateur radio fits in nicely. Consider:
- Local ‘maker’ / Raspberry Jam / computer clubs
- Tech events and talks in your area
- How about model aircraft and drone fliers, balloon launchers, pilots, boat owners?
Communities – Some want to put their radio skills to good use, and others have a need for radio comms. Some ideas:
- Quite a few people have an interest in emergency comms, working with councils, helping on community events, or prepping for the end of the world. Obvious links with RAYNET
- Charities and hobbyists may want to make use of radio, and amateur radio gives them more power and flexibility than walkie talkie PMR comms
The older generation
- How about doing a talk at the local U3A, or one of the many daytime social groups & clubs in the area?
- Here in Essex, a presence at events for veterans, community archivists, history societies, museums, have all been successful
- Field days – Show the hobby in action – and let people try it
- Museums, open days, family activities, village fetes – Just being there with a stand and some leaflets could be enough to grab some interest
Other Promotional Ideas
A few extra thoughts on how to get a little more exposure to our hobby:
- Ask your club’s members to mention your club and/or events on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.
- When attending any event, including those not run by your club, have a leaflet or business card on hand.
- Find places to promote the hobby. Got a friend or family member who might let you leave leaflets on their shop counter or staff noticeboard? Perhaps think libraries, colleges, schools and community centres. The more amateur radio can be seen in the community, the better.
- Could you have a small stand at your village fair?
- Can RAYNET help supply radio communication for a local charity event?
- Could a local community event or festival be an opportunity for a special event station?
- Can you, or one of your club members do a local talk (at a school, library, social club, U3A meeting, etc)?
Amateur Radio & The Media
Has your club or group done something interesting recently? Email a photo and a small amount of text to the local papers, and you may be featured on a quiet news day. Otherwise, a press release to local press is worth considering. A mention in Radcom is all well-and-good, but preaches to the converted. Boast about your success in the local press, include a link to your site, and you may just pick up some new potential amateurs!
|More on getting in the press: the RSGB’s Media Guide|
Hopefully this has given you a few ideas. Any suggestions? Add a comment below:
This page is available as a one-page PDF here: Amateur Radio Resources