Amateur Radio Operators and Clubs usually present themselves to the public in terms of just that, Operators and/or Clubs. By this I mean that hams usually promote their ability and willingness to provide communications for anything from storm spotting to bike races and parades to disasters.
Hams usually don't make themselves known on the terms of other community groups in a non-communications capacity. Rarely do I hear ham radio in the same sentence with school sporting events, church anniversaries, groundbreaking ceremonies, etc.
Sometimes on-the-air special events are activated in conjunction with some of these community happenings, but not often enough. Even when these events are activated, not too many non-hams, outside the sponsored group, know about it.
I'm wondering why Amateur Radio can't be marketed in a more "subliminal" manner. For example, a ham might submit an article to the local newspaper about something totally unrelated to Amateur Radio, and then include his or her callsign and/or club name with their signature.
Or how about a fundraiser for a local "good cause", but leaving the radios at home. It could be a bake sale, a dinner, an auction, or any of dozens of other established fundraising methods. It could even be a joint fundraiser with both groups benefiting. Or, set up multiple fundraising sites around town, for the same or different charities, and take the radios with you and use them to communicate with other locations. As long as you just "chat" about things totally unrelated to the fundraising, there should be no problem with FCC rules. You would just be enjoying the hobby, and exposing the public to Amateur Radio, while you work!
As far as traditional Amateur Radio Special Events go, your club or group could find out what civic group in your town is having an anniversary or other event and ask about the possibility of setting up a special event station in their honor. Show them the proposed rough draft of the Special Event certificate, containing the details of their event, that will be sent to Amateur Radio Stations around the country and the world.
Here's a few more ideas. I'm sure you can come up with many more.
Club Websites - This is probably the must under-utilized gadget in the Amateur Radio "marketing toolbox". A club website can be used for much more than just "club" business. Make it a community meeting place with local news and events. If your club has 50 members, that's 50 "roving reporters" who can submit news items on a weekly basis. You can also invite submissions from the public.
Another idea is give local organizations space on your club site in the form of their own "folder" or directory. For example, you can make a folder called "abc-church" and assign the ABC Church the web address of www.yourclub.com/abc-church
. They could post their newsletters, bulletins, photos, etc. You could encourage them to use this web address on their business cards, letterheads and in their telephone directory listing! People seeing "www.yourclub.com/abc-church
" frequently go to the root domain to see what it's all about. This is a good way to build local traffic. If you give the group FTP access, they can upload their own material, saving you time and trouble. Duplicate this with 20 organizations in your town and watch the traffic to your club pages grow!
Homework Help Website - This would be a great way to help community kids while slowly introducing them to Amateur Radio. Hams are good and math & science, aren't they? You, as the local webmaster, decide how to make the schoolwork - radio transition. You could also incorporate this into your club website, if you have one.
Adopt-A-Highway - In Texas we have a program called Adopt-A-Highway. Local businesses, clubs and other groups can volunteer to pick up trash along a 2-mile stretch of highway. As far as I can tell, these are usually the smaller state highways inside of town and not the Interstate. A nice-sized sign is posted along then route with the name of the volunteering group. See the details at http://www.dot.state.tx.us/trv/aah/
Car Wash - This has always been a great way to rake in the cash for a local charity, for your club, or both. Team up with another local group who also needs to raise funds. Just be sure to advertise it ahead of time for best results.
Flea Market - How about a joint flea market with a local church or other group? I'm usually not a fan of non-ham items at a traditional hamfest, but for a true joint flea market, exceptions can be made. Splitting the costs between two or more groups is a great way to afford that luxurious indoor space your club could not afford on its own. Or you can locate some free space out-of-doors.
Golf Tournament - These are one of the most popular fundraising events in America. Sponsor one with the proceeds going to a local charity. Make sure your club name and web address is on the flyer.
Billboards - I've never seen an Amateur Radio club advertise on a billboard. The cost is just too high for most clubs, and the results would probably not justify the effort. But… how about splitting the cost with three other local organizations, with each getting a one-quarter section of the billboard? Or split it just 2 or 3 ways. Now everybody gets great exposure at a cost they might be able to afford.
Community Newsletter - How about creating a printed community newsletter, containing information about your club and what it does, as well as local news and information. Have your members solicit advertising from local businesses to be placed on the newsletter. Find out what your total cost of printing 1000 or 2000 copies will be, then split that cost evenly between the advertisers. Your club should not have to incur any expense in the project. Then, as part of the "low ad rates", have the advertisers agree to place the newsletters on their counters or in their waiting rooms. Explain to them how this co-op distribution method will drastically reduce the cost of their ad! Your members can deliver the copies to each business. Of course, if you can find other non-advertising businesses to help with distribution, you can up your circulation figures.
Again, these are just a few ideas to stimulate your marketing imagination. I know you can come up with more and better ideas than I can!
The Simplex Preservation Societywww.73SPS.com