Outreach Resources and Tools
Using the Media
The local media is a wonderful resource for community awareness. Use
of the media greatly improves the visibility of your agency to the public.
It also builds credibility and informs people about your programs and
services. According to CLO’s 2003 program survey, Ontario’s
community literacy agencies use the media extensively. For example,
84% wrote articles in their local newspaper and submitted press releases.
Examples of using the media include writing a monthly column, preparing
special-interest stories, submitting public service announcements to
the local radio station and submitting learner testimonials. The media
will often promote fundraising and promotional events such as spelling
bees, scrabble tournaments and open houses. Toronto’s “Word
on the Street” (www.thewordonthestreet.ca/wots/toronto) and Barrie’s “Road
to Reading Festival” (www.roadtoreadingfestival.com) are two examples
of effective promotional events that tend to get good media coverage.
Effective use of the media is a complex discussion that is far beyond
the parameters of this training module. Luckily, there are many excellent
resources available online, including Community Literacy of Ontario’s
“A Happy Media: Using Public Relations to Meet Your
Outreach Needs.” This
resource covers the following topics: understanding and approaching
the media; developing a good press release; and strategies for ensuring
the media’s involvement. You can access this resource at:
Creating a catchy slogan that will help people in your
community to remember your organization in a positive way can be a
very useful promotional tool. And once you’ve got a good slogan,
use it! Put it on everything … on your brochure, on your signage,
on your letterhead, on promotional materials and in your annual report.
It could greatly help with community recognition of your literacy
Consider these organizational slogans and think about their positive
- "Little Moments; Big Magic " (Big Brothers, Big
- "A Single Dream. A World of Hope " (Terry Fox
- "Change a Life. Change Your Own" (World Vision
- "Bring on the Adventure!" (Scouts Canada)
Or, closer to home, consider these literacy slogans:
- "A Place to Grow!" (Organization for Literacy
- "Hamilton Reads!" (Hamilton Literacy Council)
- "Building a literate community one person at a time” (Peel
- “Literacy. Learning for Life” (Frontier College)
- “Putting the pieces together” (Literacy Council
of South Temiskaming)
- “Learning for a better future” (Literacy Plus-Renfrew
Creating diverse promotional material with compelling
messages is very important. Promotional material can include pamphlets,
brochures, newsletters, press releases, bookmarks, posters, business
cards and calendars. This material should provide basic, clear, eye-catching
information that speaks to potential participants.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has written
an excellent fact sheet called “Newsletters – Design and
Production”. This fact sheet covers building content, principles
of good writing, newsletter design, graphics, page layout and copyright.
You can access this resource at:
Promotional efforts work! In ABC Life Literacy’s “Who Wants to
Learn?” report, almost three-quarters of callers remember having
seen promotional information about adults going back to school and more
than half of these say the information influenced them to call a literacy
agency. Literacy agencies should take heart. The time, money and effort
they spend on promotions does pay off.
Usually, you do have to invest a bit of money in your promotional material,
although it’s getting easier to produce effective material in-house
with today’s software. To ensure you have some resources available,
a distinct line for promotions should be in your budget. You should
try to track the benefit of your promotional efforts by asking people
where they heard of you … if no one noticed the ad you took out
in the local paper, don’t take one out next year, try something
else instead. Also consider local services. For example, does your college
have a graphics design program? Perhaps college students could develop
some promotional material for you free of charge as part of their studies.
And be sure to ask your volunteers; often they have multiple skills,
talents and access to resources and connections that you may not be
For all promotional tools, it is important to use the principles of
clear language and design. Be sure to produce clear, well-written materials
that are effectively desktop published. More graphics, fonts and features
aren’t necessarily better; simple is usually the best.
If you would like more information on clear writing, East End Literacy
has created an excellent Clear Language and Design website at: www.eastendliteracy.on.ca/clearlanguageanddesign.
As well, St. Christopher House Adult Literacy Program has produced a
very useful "Clear Language and Design Guide" that you can
access online at: