The Public Relations Handbook, developed and distributed by the Public Relations Commission staff at National Headquarters, served for years as a guide for Legion posts to use in their publicity efforts. Now, it has been replaced with its next-generation counterpart: The American Legion Public Relations Toolkit – an interactive, convenient and up-to-date resource with all the latest communications tools.
Public Relations Commission Chairman Robert Morrill describes it as “a toolkit of ideas, media products, event planning, samples, training, and tips about conducting an effective communications program.” The toolkit starts with an overview of the current public-relations landscape, and information on the National American Legion Press Association (http://nalpa.org/) (NALPA). A wealth of background, information and guidance is available on such topics as establishing a post’s Web presence; preparing news stories, pitching them to the media and talking to the media about them, advertising for a post or its events everywhere from print to online to outdoor billboards, and even the ins and outs of copy editing and graphic design. As Morrill notes, samples and examples of all the pieces of a coherent communications programs are readily accessible.
The term “toolkit” is appropriate, as it was designed to be multimedia and multiplatform. The print publication is accompanied by a DVD that contains both an interactive PDF version of the toolkit, and resource files mentioned in the text’s annexes. The entire toolkit is also available for download on Legion.org, and it is the online version – especially the annexes, with their customizable samples and other resources – that will be most often updated, to keep up with the latest in both PR functionalities and Legion programs and priorities. There is even an annex dedicated to USAA media products. Use of the toolkit on mobile phones is currently being investigated, although tablet devices such as iPads should be able to access the online version now.
Both forms of the toolkit – print and online – are available free of charge. One immediate use for the toolkit may be to lobby local communities to make March 3 “Star-Spangled Banner” Day; the Legion supports a national day of observance honoring the birthday of the U.S. national anthem. Tools supporting this aim are available in Annex O.