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 August 2005 How To
Barbara Schindler is director of the ASTM Corporate Communications department and former editor in chief of SN.

Committee Publicity

How to Spread the Word About Your Activities

The ASTM Corporate Communications staff responsible for public relations. Left to right: Barbara Schindler, Rich Wilhelm, and Josephine Felizzi.

Getting publicity for your committee’s standards development activities is an important step that can be easily overlooked. However, there are numerous benefits to getting the word out on major initiatives within your committee, from attracting needed experts to your meetings to creating interest in your published standard. This article will explain how the ASTM Corporate Communications department serves as your committee’s public relations partner.

Initiating Publicity

Consider initiating publicity if your committee has just approved an important new standard, issued a major revision to an important standard, formed a new subcommittee or task group, needs participation in a round robin test, or is seeking additional input. You can either work with your committee’s staff manager to get the publicity started, or complete the Publicity Request Form, which you can find on the ASTM Web site (click on Technical Committees link to the left, then click on Key Documents & Forms). Notifying the Corporate Communications staff of your newsworthy committee activity gets the publicity ball rolling.

SN Articles

Our staff writer, Rich Wilhelm works with the Publicity Request Form, the committee’s staff manager, the technical contact (the committee member named on the Publicity Request Form or by the staff manager), and any background information that is supplied in order to draft an article for the Tech News section of SN. Once the article has been reviewed and approved by the technical contact, it proceeds through the SN publication process and appears in the magazine’s print version as well as the electronic edition of SN. The core information found in the SN Tech News article is then fashioned into a news release.

News Releases

ASTM news releases are distributed using custom media lists. Corporate Communications maintains a media list for every ASTM technical committee, which contains the major trade titles published by the industry both in hard copy and electronic formats. Public Relations Assistant Josephine Felizzi works with committee staff managers and a newswire service to maintain the quality of the lists. Using the newswire, ASTM press releases are sent to magazine and journal editors via e-mail, fax, or postal mail, depending on the editor’s preference.

The Newsroom

News releases are also stored on the ASTM Web site. Reached through its own navigation bar on the opening homepage, the Newsroom contains a monthly archive of ASTM news releases. Grouped chronologically and according to technical committee, the press releases in the Newsroom contain links to key contacts and also have their own search capabilities. For news releases, we employ a content management tool that allows the Corporate Communications department to post releases directly from our desktops onto the Web site. The Latest News and New Initiatives sections of the ASTM homepage also provide additional Web exposure for activities of major importance to the Society.

Media Monitoring

The communications department monitors media interest in its press releases using two separate tools. Electronic publications are monitored using an Internet service, which sends a daily e-mail to our staff of links to articles that mention ASTM International. A companion clipping service is used to track hard-copy publications; through this service, ASTM receives a copy of printed articles containing references to ASTM. Both types of clips are forwarded to staff managers.

Automatic Publicity

Some publicity is automatically generated and requires no action from committee members or staff managers. Publicity for Society-recognized awards, such as the Award of Merit, are automatically initiated through the ASTM awards program. News releases announcing the appointment of new technical committee chairmanships is another example of automatically generated publicity, depending, of course, on the individual’s approval.

Meeting, training course, and symposium announcements are also generated via a routine system, however, they are not posted in the Web Newsroom.

Lead Time

If you would like to draw attention to an important topic at your committee’s upcoming meeting, allow enough time for Corporate Communications to generate the publicity as well as enough time for outside publications and SN to run the story in advance of the meeting. A lead time of about five months is needed in this case.

When an ASTM news release is e-mailed to an electronic newsletter, the turnaround time can be remarkably short. This, however, is the exception since there are many more hard-copy publications than there are electronic ones, and only about one-third of the editors on our media lists have indicated e-mail transmission of news releases as their delivery preference.

Benefits of Publicity

The results of generating interest in your committee can range from new committee members to an appreciation for standardization by the industry you serve. Let us work with you to raise awareness. //

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