Publicity - good publicity - whether images, video or words is at the heart of recruiting and retention in Army Cadets.
Gone are the days when one's worth would be gauged solely by the number of column inches in the local newspaper, as evinced by the fact that traditional printed local newspapers are on their last legs. Today the world and all those who may have an interest in Army Cadets are firmly in the digital age. To be still wedded to newsprint is no longer clever or acceptable - we, rather than our potential adult and cadet recruits, have to change with the times.
Somerset's award-winning PR Team is at the forefront of the digital age and has two simple, basic, related functions, namely:
1) to tell and show the world what we and the cadets get up to
2) to support the County HQ and all CFAVs and cadets with resources.
Telling and showing the world what we do is one of the key roles in cadet recruiting and retention; a happy cadet is more likely to recruit other cadets, whilst a supportive, contented parent of a happy cadet is the frequently the key to a cadet’s retention.
Another, often overlooked function, is to provide the adult instructors and cadets with an image resource that they can use to support both training and activities. Somerset Army Cadets currently has over 75% of all the Army Cadet images in the UK on the ACFA server and those images are in constant demand, not just in Somerset but throughout the UK. In fact the main image on the British Army web site's page for Army Cadets is a Somerset image - one of our most popular and widely published shots.
But the PR Officer is only one person and cannot be everywhere, no matter how hard he tries. Each Company has one or two adult Company PR Representatives and around two cadet PR Representatives, finding and shooting stories that may only be of interest at perhaps platoon level, but which are still essential in the day-to-day PR activities of the county. They will source stories and images, feeding articles to the PR Officer who will disseminate them at County level accordingly while allowing Coy PR Reps control at company and platoon level. This approach will allow a much wider range of activities to be covered than at present, fleshing out the whole look and feel of Somerset Army Cadets.
Most Companies have now appointed an adult instructor who, with a little training, should be relied on to add some great material from the coalface and broaden the whole PR aspect of the county. They are:
SMI Will Hellier and SSI Madison Skidmore from Gibraltar Company
2Lt Rachel Hale from Jellalabad Company
Lt Louise Wellman from Salamanca Company
They may in turn appoint a CFAV assistant if they require one and around two Cadet Coy PR Reps per Company as required, in order to allow them to undertake their roles without being overwhelmed by the additional workload.
The PR Officer also designs and illustrates a huge range of marketing, training and recruiting material and that service is available to anyone in the county. Everything from leaflets, brochures, banners and advertising can be accommodated, providing there is plenty of advance notice. In addition, a vast range of official Army Cadets literature uses images of Somerset's cadets, including the very lates ACF Regulations; examples can be seen at the end of this article.
The most often heard complaint is, “We had a great event, but where was the PR Team?” The PR Team are not telepathic and can only cover an event if they know that it is happening and they are required. All too often this seldom happens. The key to all this is to ask for it.
Our image archive, the largest and probably the best in the country, is currently under-utilised; it is there for cadets and CFAVs to use, whether as training support or for their personal use. If you see images that you want, take a note of the filename/s and contact the PR Officer by email at the address below. The files will then be sent to you via WeTransfer.
If you need help or support email the County Public Relations Officer, WO2 (SMI) Peter Russell, on email@example.com.
Examples of literature produced by the PR Team and by the ACF using our material: