Local Section Public Relations Chair Job Description

Summary

The person in this position is responsible for generating public awareness for the ACS Local Section, its activities and events, and the various contributions and resources it offers to the community. This is accomplished by building relationships with the local news media; identifying LS news, events, and information that would interest the public; and alerting the news media to these events, etc., in order to encourage coverage in local newspapers, radio and/or television, as well as Web sites that are of particular relevance to the community. PR Chairs should also identify social media that would be interested in carrying information about the Section’s activities. The ACS national office offers tools and guidance to help members carry out this role.

The Local Section Public Relations Chair is encouraged to find other members to assist in this effort and thereby be part of a LSPR Committee. It is recommended that the LSPR Chair sit on the Section’s executive committee in order to be aware of upcoming events, activities, etc., in time to seek publicity and public participation if appropriate.

The suggested term for this position is three years, during which time a successor should be identified and trained.

Qualifications

  • Willingness to make calls to reporters to ‘pitch’ story ideas and acquaint them with resources offered by the Section, such as scientific expertise.
  • Persistence, recognizing that it often takes multiple attempts to come up with a story that will ‘sell.’
  • Good writing and verbal communication skills and the ability to be concise—identifying the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of your LS events and describing their relevance to the local community so it will appeal to members of the public.
  • Desire to share one’s own personal passion for chemistry and to convey the value of chemistry to the public.
  • Good organizational and people skills.

Responsibilities

  1. Create an inventory of Section activities for the year, especially those that could have public interest, such as: speakers who have a topic of public interest (e.g. forensics, environment, food, etc.), Chemistry Olympiad winners, Project SEED participants, NCW and Earth Day events, award ceremonies, scholarships for local students, announcement of new officers, sponsorship of science fairs, etc. (see sample activities list below)
  2. Create a media list of local news outlets and reporters who would be interested in activities above.
  3. Create a PR plan, identifying which activities will be publicized, and when.
  4. Write and distribute press releases and other publicity materials with pertinent details about the activities.
  5. Cultivate working relationships with key reporters likely to cover Section news and be responsive to their needs concerning deadlines and requests for technical expertise.
  6. When news interviews are anticipated, involve Section Chair or his/her designee and help prepare appropriate, consistent messages about the Section, chemists, and chemistry.
  7. Communicate with ACS National concerning Section PR activities and results. Contact the ACS Office of Public Affairs at 202-872-4400 or 800-227-5558, ext. 4400, for assistance and resources.

Sample Local Section Calendar of Newsworthy Events

Each of these events has public appeal and could generate news coverage in local media outlets. It is not expected that a Local Section will have something every month, but there are many opportunities for every Section to make news, such as:

January
Announcement of new officers

February
Visiting speaker on the chemistry of chocolate (Valentine’s Day)

March
LS member visits local HS to talk about “Green Chemistry – Not just on St. Patrick’s Day”

April
Earth Day events and poster competition

May
LS to sponsor/judge science fair in local schools and announce winners

June
Local student involved in Chemistry Olympiad competition

July
Local students selected for exciting lab work as part of Project SEED

August
Back to school—make ACS podcasts part of your homework help

September
Invite public to attend Section meeting when speaker is on the program discussing topic of potential public interest

October
Lots of NCW activities in malls and schools. Public invited.

November
Local food chemist shares food safety tips for the holidays (no event needed—just assemble the information)

December
Deadline for local high school seniors to apply for college scholarship offered by local section