The Grand Lodge Public Relations Committee


Steps To A Public Relations Campaign


Elks Media Relations

2750 N Lakeview AVe

Chicago, IL 60614

Phone: (773) 755-4892

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Steps of a PR Campaign



As your Lodge or State Association grows, you will face all kinds of challenges. You may be required to generate a Lodge/State business plan, attract capital, and recruit, train, and motivate the membership and employees. But perhaps, the most intricate and misunderstood challenge involves leveraging Public Relations (PR). It will significantly improve the success of  all Lodge activities and image in the community.


In the most general terms, the goal of Public Relations is to establish and maintain a relationship between an organization and its community.






As such, there a number of proven methods to help establish and maintain the Order’s relationship with the public.




·         Community Relations:

      Enhancing your Lodge or State Association’s position and participation in the  

community though PROMOTING PARTNERSHIPS and outreach efforts   mutually benefiting your lodge and the community.


·         Crisis Management:

Pro-active awareness and re-energizing your relationship with the City, County, & State (and the media) during a disaster or crisis. Ask Officials what is needed and how the Elks can help. Ask those Officials to contact the media to let the public know the role Elks are playing … expect calls from the Press for phone or in-person interviews. Provide them with timely photos of Elk engagements with those in need.


·         Government Relations:

Representing your Lodge’s interests and activities to governing bodies and elected officials.


·         Internal Relations:

Serving as the conduit for information amongst your Lodge’s membership.





·         Media Relations and Publicity:

            Two closely related terms that define the goal of using the media — television,  

            radio, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and the Internet — to sell your  

            product or service through news articles, interviews, and product reviews and to 

            manage the public’s perception of the Elks organization.


·         Special Event Planning:

            Special PR events can include fairs, trade shows, conferences, parties tied to a 

            Lodge theme or holidays, dedications, and Elks celebrity appearances.


·         Public Interest and Image Building:

Elk Lodges must disseminate information that aligns the Lodge with Elks charities, engage leadership training and other activities steps to communicate the lodges’ your commitment to community and social responsibility.



How Can Public Relations improve the quality of your lodge?


Developing a working relationship with the media (specifically a REPORTER who covers Community Presence and Local Charities will be key in keeping the public informed about the Elks. By identifying your Lodge’s most positive programs and getting the word out, you can not only meet some of your duties as member of the PR committee, but also:


·         Increase Membership:

When you tailor your Public Relations activities to a specific audience of potential QUALITY members and reach out to them, you can build visibility and increase your membership. Each time people read or hear your Lodge name and associate it  with something positive, it will bolster their awareness of the Elks and help them differentiate Elks from other groups. An informed public provides a pre-awareness of Elk accomplishments and facilitates the process of attracting candidates for the RIGHT REASONS … ones who will REMAIN IN THE FOLD … ones who will be ATTRACTED due to our PROGRAMS versus social elements.


·         Build Credibility:

            By positioning your Lodge as an expert in the not-for-profit world, you can attract 

            media attention and serve as a quoted source in your community. As you give

            interviews and get quoted, your community may ask you to give speeches or

            participate in panel discussions, thus solidifying your credibility.


·         Forging a new or Strengthen a Current membership relationship:

            Elk leaders will tell you that it's not enough to win a new member. You need to

            encourage a newcomer to remain a member and to become active in the Lodge.

            By aligning your PR campaign with your goal of attracting and retaining members, 

            you can build membership confidence and trust. Example: By profiling some of 

            your most active Elk leaders in your newsletter or your Web site, you send a 

            message that you value your members, that their contributions are recognized, and 

            that share a stake in their success.


·         Penetrating New Target Audiences:

            When you begin a program to interest a new audience or launch an Elks project or

             service, you need to alert members and potential members. Effective PR can

            draw them in and educate them about what you offer as an organization or what

            benefits your new activity [or on going activity] can offer...


·         Attract Members Who Will Become Committed Members:

            Good PR can introduce you to a range of potential members. By presenting lodge 

            leaders as authorities who operates in the public eye, you show potential members

            that your lodge is important in your community. Better yet, an ongoing PR

            campaign helps you craft an image of your Lodge as a long-term player in your

            community. Community leaders and Elk members needs to recognize the need for

            this type of commitment.


Public Relations versus Publicity


While both Public Relations and Publicity draw attention to your Lodge, they do so in often overlapping, but complementary ways. Publicity, for example, may involve such activities as putting up posters and sending out mailings. Public Relations involves generating media interest and actual coverage, such as a news story, radio interview, or product review. Other PR functions speak directly to potential members, creating an image of the Lodge and the value of membership in the Order via speeches, seminars, special events, and newsletters.


Publicity is event oriented--letting the public know about specific activities or programs, and the goal is to get people to take action--come to the barbecue or flag ceremony or a drug-free party for teenagers. Better yet, coverage of the Dictionary Project presentation and distribution to an assembly of 3rd Graders and teachers at a local elementary school with Drug Awareness “Hard Choices” super hero comic books.


Public Relations, on the other hand, is a long-term outreach that helps create a positive image of the Lodge and of the BPOE. Activities may include giving speeches, appearing on the radio or television, presenting seminars, and developing close relationships with the media.


Public Relations versus Advertising


When you advertise, you create a tightly controlled message and you purchase either the space in the newspaper or the time on radio or TV. With Public Relations, however, you do not control the message. The newspaper or radio station will determine how and if information about your Lodge’s activities or programs will be conveyed to the public. For example, you may send out well-written press releases and make phone calls to the media . . . but, perhaps no one is interested enough to develop a story or ask for further information.


Therefore, it’s vital to have a story that is sufficiently interesting that the media will pay attention. Once you’ve managed to get your story included in the media, the message will have much more credibility than it would have if it is purely advertising.


Eight (8) Effective PR Tools:


1.      Press Releases. These short documents detail what's new, different, or exciting about your Lodge. Press releases make it easy for journalists to understand how their audience might benefit by learning more. A tight, one-page press release that captures the most newsworthy information about your lodge can persuade key media contacts to write a story and mention your lodge favorably.


2.      Press Kits. A press kit or media kit often includes a press release along with background information and your Elks business card--all packed neatly in a snazzy, eye-catching folder. The folder might also include photographs and a list of questions lodge representatives are prepared to answer (also known as a "cheat sheet" for radio and TV hosts).


3.      Tip Sheets/Newsletters. A tip sheet is a page of snappy advice or information that helps your members and future members. Newsletters provide short articles and practical information that's of interest to your target audience.


      4.  Awards. Applying for Elk’s or local awards provides great visibility if you win or earn recognition as a finalist. Many trade journals, government agencies, and        professional associations sponsor annual "best of" award programs.


The awards that the BPOE gives out each year offer a great opportunity to your    lodge. Citizen of the Year, Police and Fire Officer of the Year, Drug Awareness     poster and essays contest winners, and all other contest winners deserve special     recognition ceremonies as well as luncheons or dinners, if possible. What better      time to invite the media to cover the event itself or to designate someone from         your Lodge to take photos, write up the story, and send or DELIVER it to the



5.   On-line Outreach. Smart, media-savvy entrepreneurs use chat rooms, their own                            Websites, and other Internet-based tools to launch awareness-building campaigns                               for their companies. Elks Lodges can do the same.


6.   Special Events. Carefully planned events can create media interest and bring members and potential members to your Lodge. Examples include fund-raisers, contests and drawings, public celebrations of Lodge milestones such as your lodge’s anniversary, charities, and member-sponsored parties.


7.   Trade Shows/Conferences. To maximize your Lodge’s presence at a large event, you may want to pay for a centrally located booth that's guaranteed heavy foot traffic. Or you can save money and strategically prowl the aisles to spread your message, perhaps by introducing yourself to key contacts or participating in break-out sessions that relate to your Lodge.


8.   Speeches, Panels & Forums. By delivering speeches about your lodge to community groups, local schools, or other profit and nonprofit agencies, your can create heightened public interest in the Lodge and attract new candidates for membership.


3-Stages to a successful Public Relations campaign:

1.     Planning

2.     Improve on your Media Outreach  

3.     Complete the Project



Determine Your Goals. Of the eight PR tools listed above, you must decide which ones will work best for your Lodge. Listing your top objective(s) will help you identify the right tools to use. When drafting your goals, make them as specific as possible. Instead of hoping for increased media coverage, for instance, address specific ways to increase coverage by attracting more visitors to your Web site, or tailoring your press releases so that there is a higher probability of positive media coverage. Make sure to keep track of the numbers of mentions in the media.


In setting goals, also make sure you know who your target audience is. To communicate to a younger audience, for instance, you may want to tap the Internet more aggressively rather than relying on standard press releases or advertising.


Also think in terms of strategic alliances you can establish with other programs, services, or lodges. This way, you can achieve your public relations goals by reinforcing your message the public in an understated or clever manner. Example: Have your Lodge open house program tied to a blood drive.      


Establish Your Priorities: Now that you've identified your PR goals and the tools to realize them, decide which goals matter most. Weigh these factors:


·         Timing: [ When do we accomplish it?]

       Increasing your PR efforts might involve planning special events,  

       writing and issuing a press release, or applying for a community award.

       Positioning your Lodge as an expert in your community and getting more

       members/guests into your lodge are both worthwhile goals, but if your time is 

       limited, select the one that will more directly benefit your overall Lodge goals.


        Because all media outlets operate on a deadline, the timing of your media plan is

       crucial. Missing a deadline may mean that your message does not get coverage.


·         Resources and Skills:

      Analyzing your resources will help you prioritize. If your Lodge is small and lacks

      a conference room, conducting an in-lodge seminar won't work. If you or other 

      members love public speaking, addressing community groups can make sense.

      Harness your strengths to maximize the PR program’s effectiveness



·         Plot Your Approach or Strategy : [how will it be accomplished] PR involves selling a message, idea, or product. To appeal to the media, research your options. Here's an exercise to help you lay the groundwork for your PR campaign:


            1.  Decide which group do you want to reach most with your PR campaign? 


                 Potential members



                 Other _____________________


A.       Ask at least five representatives of each group what types of media they read or use most frequently (such as trade magazines, web sites, local newspapers, radio, newsletters, etc.). List the most common answers


B.        Contact all media sources in your area. Ask for a marketing kit or speak to their advertising director.  

                               1. Look for their demographic target audience? Ages? Income level?

             2.What's is their circulation? (if printed publication) How many "hits"  

                                  do you get a day? (for Web sites)


Armed with this information, you can select the most appropriate places to concentrate your PR efforts and tailor your approach to maximize its appeal. For example, if you've isolated a community newsletter that reaches the market you're pursuing, read at least three copies and note the editorial style. Mimic this style in your press release.

Note: If the purpose of your PR is to attract new (QUALITY) candidates for members, identify what they care about most.


Improve on your Media Outreach


Now that you're ready to implement your plan, you need to choose the right PR tools to publicize your message. This may involve preparing and distributing printed materials, making contacts online, or meeting audiences in person.


Regardless of which technique you choose, follow these rules to ensure good media relations:

·         If you call a journalist, never start by asking: "Did you get my press release?" Some media people get dozens of press releases a day. This question thus annoys them. Instead, start by introducing yourself and asking, "There's some big news at my lodge. Is this a good time?"


·         Tell the truth. If you don't tell the truth, the media will probably find out about it, and your PR campaign will fail. Resist the urge to inflate the facts or make assertions you can't support.


·         Admit mistakes. Journalists appreciate it when a caller is willing to acknowledge  what they did wrong. That makes for more compelling, believable stories.


·         Justify a press conference. Nothing will damage your relationship with the media as swiftly as calling a press conference for no real reason. Unless you're addressing a major public crisis, allying your organization with a celebrity or political figure, or announcing significant news that affects your local community, rethink whether to call a press conference.


·         Print contact info on all documents. When sending printed materials such as press releases, bylined articles, or press kits, make sure the top or bottom of each page includes a contact name, phone number, e-mail address, and your Lodge's Web address because pages can get separated. You want people to know how to reach you even if they only have one page of your 4-page article. On your Lodge's Web site, include full contact information at the bottom of the home page.



Complete the Project

Use the forms in Grand Lodge Public Relations, “Guide to Event Planning” manual to fill in the PR campaign documentation. This manual will also help you to run successful event or activity, such as youth activities, or a charity program to raise money for your lodge or state. [Perhaps your Lodge is celebrating a significant anniversary, and you want to have an evening to commemorate the occasion. Or you are planning regular events like installation of officers, inaugural ball, etc.] Take time and read this manual and reflect on how to create stronger and more successful projects. You will find this manual on, www



The last page of “Guide to Event Planning” manual is the completed event report. Please complete this form and turn it into your Lodge Secretary. The Secretary will  enter it into the Elks Charity Records Booklet. This information by May 1st will be sent to Grand Lodge on page 2 of the annual report. This is what Government Relations and Public Relations use in telling our communities about all charity monies we give. This also helps the Elks in keeping off the tax rolls.











Name of Event:_______________________________________


Name of Lodges/State:__________________________________




Number of Committee Meetings: ___________ General:________



Publicity and Promotion Used (plus any photo/newspapers/other):



Dates of Planning Activities: From ______________    To____________


Estimated Person-hours:             Elks ______________      Others_________


Number of Committee Members:________________________________


Number of Elks Participants:___________________________________


Number of Other Participants:__________________________________


Miles Traveled:                    Elks ______________      Others_________               


Budget:     Income Lodges/State  _____________

                        Total Income               _____________

                        Total Expenses            _____________         


Net Profit/Loss           _____________         


Final Summary: Briefly describe the event, explain what was done, provide

recommendations and comments, explain benefits to the Lodge and the community­.

Send all work sheets to Lodge Secretary. This last work sheet should be used for year-end reporting.





Event Planning Chairman's Signature





Developing Ads—Developing ads is a skill.  There are many important elements of an ad to think about, including the wording, graphics, arrangement of wording and graphics, coloring how your audience will interpret the ads, ad placement, etc.  Poorly crafted ads can hurt you more than not having ads at all.  Therefore, very carefully consider getting help writing your first ads.


Brochures or flyers—Many desktop publishing and word-processing software packages can produce highly attractive tri-fold brochures (an 8.5-inch-by-11 inch sheet folded in thirds).  Brochures can contain a great deal of information if designed well and are becoming a common method of advertising.


Direct mail—Mail sent directly from you to your members can be highly customized to suit their nature and needs.  You may want to build a mailing list for each Lodge program of your current and desired members.  Mailing lists can quickly become out of date.  Notice mailings that get returned to you.


E-mail messages—These can be a wonderful means of getting word out about the Elks.  Design your e-mail to include a signature line at the end of each of your e-mail messages.  Many e-mail software packages will automatically attach this signature line to your e-mail, if you prefer.


Magazines—Magazine ads can get quite expensive.  Find out it there’s a magazine that focuses on any of the activities or programs that the BPOE provides.  For example, soccer magazines or basketball magazines might be interested in hearing about how their sport is promoted by lodges.  Consider placing and ad or writing a short article for the magazine.  Contact a reporter to introduce yourself.  Reporters are often on the lookout for new stories and sources willing to be quoted.


Newsletters—These can be powerful means to conveying information about the nature of your lodge and its services.  Consider working with a member who has a design and layout background.  Today’s desktop publishing tools can generate very interesting newsletters quite inexpensively.


Newspapers (major)—Almost everyone reads a major newspaper.  You can get your Lodge mentioned in the newspaper by placing ads, writing a letter to the editor, or working with a reporter to get a story written about the Elks.  Advertising can get quite expensive, but newspaper advertising sales people are often quite useful in giving advice about what and how to advertise.


Newspapers (neighborhood)—Ironically, local newspapers are often forgotten, yet the neighborhood newspapers are often closest to the interests of our organization’s membership.




On-line discussion groups and chat groups—As with e-mail, you can gain frequent exposure for yourself and your Lodge by participating in on-line discussion groups and chat groups.  Note, however, that many groups have strong ground rules against blatant advertising.  When you join a group, always check with the moderator to understand what is appropriate.


Posters and bulletin boards—Posters can be very powerful.  Your best bet is to place the posters on bulletin boards and other places that have high foot traffic and always refresh your posters with new and colorful posters that will appear new to passersby.  Note that some businesses and municipalities have regulations about the number and size of posters that can be placed in the area.


Billboards—Billboards offer high visibility and target entire geographical areas.  A campaign can reach a large audience economically with a simple message on billboards.  The printer usually needs camera-ready art.  Layout work by the printer can be quite expensive.  However, there have been 50-foot posters for billboards with the message “Elks Care—Elks Share” which may still be available in the Chicago office.


Radio announcements—A major advantage of radio ads is they are usually cheaper than television ads, and many people still listen to the radio (when in their cars for example).  Ads, are usually sold as a package that considers the number of ads, the length of ads and when they are put on the air.  A major consideration with radio ads is to get them announced at the times that will do you the most good.


Telemarketing—While telemarketing is on the rise in the general marketplace, the role of telemarketing for the Order might better be termed “telephone outreach.”  Effective ways of using the telephone to “market” the lodge and Elks programs might be to develop highly tailored lists of people to contact for specific programs.  Calling all school principals to let them know about the availability of scholarships from the Order is a good example of effective use of telemarketing.  An outreach for the BPOE’s athletic programs might mean developing a list of every soccer or basketball coach in the area as well as community organizers so that the callers have a targeted, potentially interested audience.


Television ads—Many people don’t even consider television ads because of the impression that the ads are very expensive.  They are more expensive than most major forms of advertising.  However, with the increasing number of television networks and stations, your Lodge might find good deals for placing commercials or other forms of advertisements.  Television ads usually are priced with similar considerations to radio ads, that is, the number of ads, the length of ads, and when they are put on the air.







Web pages—Advertising and promotions on the World Wide Web are commonplace today.  Businesses are developing Web pages sometimes just to appear up-to-date.  Using the Web for advertising requires certain equipment and expertise, including getting a computer, getting an Internet service provider, buying (usually renting) a Web site name (domain name), designing and installing the Web site graphics and other functions and features as needed, promoting the Web site (via various search engines, directories, etc.) and maintaining the Web site.


Yellow Pages—The yellow pages can be very effective advertising if your ad is well placed in the directory’s categories of services, and the ad is descriptive of your services and/or your ad stands out (for example, is bolded, in a large box on the page etc.)  The phone company will offer free advice about placing your ad in the yellow pages.  They usually have special packages where you get a phone line along with certain number of ads.





It’s easy to become confused about these terms: advertising, marketing, promotion, public relations, publicity, and sales.  The terms are often used interchangeably.  However, as already shown, they refer to different--but similar—activities. A review of  some basic definitions are provided below.


Definition of Advertising


Advertising is intended to sell something or to improve public awareness. Advertising is typically done with signs, commercials, print ads in magazines and newspapers, direct mailings, or Internet ads and e-mails, and is created by the advertiser, who purchases the space in print media, the time on radio or television, the internet space, or the costs of direct mail advertising programs.


Definition of Promotion


Promotion keeps the product in the minds of the customer and helps stimulate demand for the product.  Promotion often involves offers on a specific item or within a specific time frame. For example, in terms of the BPOE programs, a “first 100 children receive a safety helmet” offer would count as a promotion for an Elks Safety Day.












Definition of Marketing


Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you’re continuing to meet the needs of your members and getting value in return.  These activities include market research to find out, for example, what groups of potential members exist, what their needs are, which of those needs you can meet, how you should meet them, etc. 

Marketing also entails structuring your activities so that they best conform to the expectations of the audiences a lodge serves, such as schools, and reaching out effectively to them.


Definition of Public Relations


Public Relations includes ongoing activities to ensure the organization has a strong public image.  Public relations activities include helping the public to understand the organization and its products.  Often, public relations is conducted through the media, that is, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. 


Definition of Publicity


Publicity is mention in the media. Organizations usually have little control over the message in the media, at least, not as they do in advertising.  Regarding publicity, reporters and writers decide what will be said.

Steps of a PR Campaign: 2008 rjg