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Shell Eco-marathon 2010 Communications Guide

Whether dealing with potential or existing sponsors or promoting your activities to the media, effective communications will be central to the success of your Shell Eco-marathon 2010 project. You will encounter a variety of situations where transmitting your messages efficiently may prove challenging. Good communications dont just happen you will really need to work at it. You should consider communications as one of the main pillars supporting your teams success and dedicate to them the resources they deserve. Preparation will be key in making the most of each opportunity, and ensure you successfully get your message across. Having the right tools will help give you the edge. The following Communications Guide provides you with practical advice in setting up your communications operations and will help you successfully tackle another aspect of the Shell Eco-marathon challenge!

Table of Contents
Effective Communications
1. General guidelines

Media Outreach Strategies


1. 2. 3. 4. Press conference Interviews Site visits Other media engagement opportunities

Public Relations and Marketing Communications Tools


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The "Book" Press kits Press releases Presentation Flyers and brochures Pictures

Daily Communications
1. 2. 3. Handling inquiries and staying in touch Internet Out and about

Press clippings

Effective Communications 1. General guidelines


You should appoint one person (or a small team, depending on your teams needs and ambitions) to be your communications manager. Communications includes your marketing communications (brochures, flyers and website), public relations (establishing and developing contacts with suppliers, sponsors and other partners) and media relations (contacts with the press). Your communications manager is an integral part of your team and will be critical to your success, so you should consider recruiting a gifted communicator and/or someone in your or a sister school/university that is studying communications. Your communications manager should not be informed of decisions after the event, but should be an integral part of the decision-making process. o o o For journalists, time is of the essence: do not waste theirs, always be to-the-point, be it in your press releases, press conferences or interviews. Stick to the facts. Be careful not to embellish or over-exaggerate results. Your credibility will be permanently damaged. Be aware of your image: make sure your vehicle and team are always filmed or photographed in full race configuration with all your partners' names and logos and all the mandatory Shell Eco-marathon logos visible. Always refer to the project as the Shell Eco-marathon to prevent confusion with other events. Define your key messages. This should be done well in advance and agreed and approved with your team. You should also provide proof points and develop some soundbites to correspond to your key messages. Define a single or maximum two spokesperson(s). Ensure that they are properly trained to deal with the media and briefed before each media outing. None other than your spokespersons should give media interviews. If you want to proactively reach out to the media, make sure you prepare well in advance and do it in a targeted way: Research the local and national media to identify your media targets Compile a comprehensive media list; you will need it when distributing press releases or setting up interviews. Get to know your media READ the newspapers and find out who the different journalists are and their editorial focus so you know what interests them. Make sure you pitch the right story to the right journalist. You should build up your media contact database by calling the newspaper, TV or radio station to confirm the names and interests of the journalists you want to engage. Don't forget publications published by city or government agencies as well as your school newspaper, alumni magazines, internal magazines published by your partners or any websites/blogs focused on subjects such as engineering, design, transport and the environment. Keep in mind that your press releases should be relevant to their subject matter and of interest to their audience.

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Media Outreach Strategies 1. Press conference


Press conferences are traditionally how organisations would make announcements to the media. However journalists are increasingly busy and fewer will travel specifically just to attend a press conference. So, unless youve got a press-stopping piece of news to announce youll probably find that, if you do organise a press conference, it will probably not attract that many journalists and you may be better off investing your resources elsewhere. You will want to think about how you can create news so that you will attract media such as the unveiling of the car (the car itself doesnt have to be finished it just needs to look finished from the outside!). Remember, if you have built solid media relations with a select group of journalists throughout the year, they are more likely to attend your press conference. If organising a press conference, consider the following: o Pick a location thats easy to get to for journalists and doesnt involve a long commute. o Pick a time/date convenient to journalists. Mondays and Fridays are generally not a good idea, for the best result a press conference should always be held in the morning. o Send a Save-the-date to media about a month in advance so that journalists have it in their diary o Send an invitation to target journalists a week to ten days in advance o Follow up by phone a few days before o Ask your sponsors if they would like to be present at the press conference o Make sure everything you will use during the conference (projector, laptop, sound etc) have been organised, checked and tested. o All handouts (flyers, brochures, press kits, posters, etc...) should be printed well in advance. Provide digital format pictures for journalists o On the day: Keep presentations brief and clear Open to the floor for questions If possible/appropriate, organise a photo opportunity with the team and the vehicle Ensure spokespersons are available for interview.

2. Interviews
Interviews can be one-to-ones, live on TV or Radio, pre-recorded. Some are pre-arranged whilst others will be spontaneous on-the-spot interviews. o Remember you dont have to answer all questions asked! Surprising but true. Dont completely ignore the question, but use it as an opportunity to get your key messages across. o Never answer questions with a simple yes or no. Questions are just openers that allow you to tell your story. o Stick to simple ideas. o Speak in short and complete sentences. o Use simple, everyday language. If your concepts are complicated, translate into language that the general public will understand. Use metaphors or familiar images that people will recognise.

If the interview is live, journalists will often send a list of questions beforehand so that you can prepare. However, always expect surprises! Questions that were not planned can always arise.

3. Site visits
Site visits provide journalists with a unique insight into your teams operations and will allow you to tell a different story that will provide a stronger media hook to attract journalists attention. You could think of: o Setting up a technology workshop with a small group of journalists from select local/national media to showcase your car and the technology behind it. o Invite a local TV crew to film the team at work as part of a news item.

4. Other media engagement opportunities


Have a look at whats going on in your local area or nationally that is relevant to your story and which you could plug into is there a local event at which your car could be the star. Think laterally about other opportunities for raising your teams profile and getting yourselves into the media!

Public Relations and Marketing Communications Tools 1. The "Book"


o The Book will be your most comprehensive communication tool: it should contain all information regarding your project, including: Information about the Shell Eco-marathon, such as history, objectives, etc. (Please use the information available on this website!) Information about your school/university, and how the Shell Eco-marathon project fits into its curriculum. Information about your team and its members. Technical information about your vehicle Your projects objectives and strategy, and when relevant, history and results from previous years. Your strengths: what differentiates you from other Shell Eco-marathon teams? Sponsorship packages (what will you offer sponsors in return for their support?) Your project's detailed provisional budget. Letters of endorsement, if you have any. Press clippings. The best pictures and visuals to illustrate all of the above, if possible! The Book should be a living document: update it on an ongoing basis and track your projects progress. You should prepare and assemble your book on a computer, which allows you to: Produce professional-looking print versions. Easily adapt and update content and improve layout. Keep information safe. (Dont forget to create backup copies!) Produce new print copies whenever you need them. (Can you imagine if you lost your only hard copy!)

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Take this book with you to meetings with partners and potential sponsors, or other events where you might want to provide detailed information on your project.

Remember that your Book is your most valuable marketing tool and in principle should not be sent or given to contacts or third parties. Much like an artists portfolio, you should bring it with you explain your project to your partners but bring it away with you. You may want to think of compiling a simpler, abridged (shortened) version of your book that you can leave behind. Once compiled, the Book should be the main if not only source from which all other tools are designed, such as press kits, sponsorship presentations, flyers, brochures, etc.

2. Press kits
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A press kit is a collection of different documents and materials that provide journalists with the necessary information to be able to write an article. A press kit should include detailed information but only on aspects that interest the media. Typically a press kit includes a press release that focuses on the main news your team wants to highlight, background documents on your team such as a Fast Facts document, document with the biographies of all team members and any other pertinent information Remember you should not include in a press kit any information that you consider sensitive or private so any information regarding budgets or sponsorship deals for example should not be included. A press kit is also NOT the place to put clippings journalists are not necessarily interested in what has been written about you in the past. You can develop a traditional-style press kit on printed-paper. However you should think about making all information easily usable and accessible from the journalists point of view. Therefore you should develop a digital press kit, either delivered on CD or on a memory stick (USB key). Include plenty of usable, high-res (min. 300dpi JPEG format) photos in your press kit remember, a picture is worth a thousand words! Think creatively and come up with ideas, which will make your press kit stand out from the crowd.

3. Press releases
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A press release is a basic tool of media relations that allows you to announce news to the press. Good press releases should be written in journalistic style and include the information that you want to see printed. Put as your headline the headline youd like to read in the newspapers. Remember, if you dont put it in, how will the journalist print it? Remember the following; First of all a press release tells a story. Think of what you want to tell. Try and make links to the current hot topics (climate change and energy efficiency are very high on the agenda at the moment). Keep your press release short: one page should be enough, two maximum. Language should be clear, use journalistic style. Develop a concise, catchy headline that captures the essence of your message (if you want the press release to say one thing, what is it?)

Put the main news items (max three) in the first paragraph. This should not be more than three-four lines. In two or three paragraphs, develop your story, highlighting the context in which it takes place and what is new or original about it. Build simple sentences and try to stick to one idea per paragraph. Include a quotation it helps humanize the story and bring it to life. A quotation also allows you to express an opinion, which you cannot do in the body text (which should be factual). Include a reference to Shell and the fact that the Shell Eco-marathon has been running for more than 20 years. This will add credibility to your story.

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Keep your sponsors happy. Dedicate a press release to announcing their engagement (one release for all sponsors) and thereafter keep them in the boilerplate (see under). You should also send them a copy of each press release you distribute in case they would like to use or adapt it for their own communication purposes.

Press release template o Define a template for your press releases so that all releases you distribute will have the same look and feel and reflect your teams brand identity o Always clearly indicate "PRESS RELEASE" at the top of the page. o Always include the name of your press contact with phone number and email address so that journalists can obtain more information. You should also include your teams URL. o Include a boilerplate. This is the short paragraph of information that you should include at the bottom of each press release with important factual background information about your team. This is also a good place to list your sponsors to provide them visibility. o You may also want to feature your sponsors logos on your press release template (depending on the deals you have agreed with them) o Plan a press release strategy and send out releases to tie in with suitable milestones in your project progress (you should not send more than two to four press releases during the year though).

4. Presentation
You should prepare a presentation on your team that will provide visual support when you are introducing yourself to potential partners or sponsors. You need to be clear about what audience your presentation is intended to address and build it accordingly. You can also send out your team presentation by email, in which case you should send a PDF version of it. o Create your presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint or its free open source equivalent OpenOffice Impress. o Beware of Death-by-PowerPoint: presentations should be visual documents. Keep it lively: Prefer pictures over text people engage with pictures more than words If you do have to use text, KISS Keep It Short & Simple Find further tips on presentations in our Sponsorship guide As with the Book and Press Kit, grammatical and spelling mistakes are unacceptable

5. Flyers and brochures


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Flyers and brochures are longstanding marketing support materials, typically used as handouts during trade shows and other public events Design and visual appeal are of the utmost importance here. Flyers provide a quick snapshot of your message with limited key information and strong visual supports Brochures provide more detailed information, and can serve different purposes. Always have your target audience in mind when thinking about drafting a brochure and ask yourself Is this the most appropriate medium to reach your target audience? Are the production costs prohibitive and is this the most intelligent use of your resources? Tailor your messages according to your audience: What messages do you want to communicate and to whom is this for business partners, or general public and consumers?

6. Pictures
o A is worth a thousand words. Good pictures speak volumes and are often more powerful than words. Journalists frequently pick a stories accompanied by good pictures over better stories with no visual support. Illustrate all of your communication tools with the best pictures you have. But ensure that the picture you choose is relevant to the text it accompanies! There is nothing more frustrating to journalists than receiving completely unrelated pictures! Develop a comprehensive picture library with compelling pictures: o Take good pictures yourself Take photos of your vehicle in action and with the whole team standing round it. Some newspapers and magazines prefer more natural photographs rather than posed images, so take photos of the team working on the vehicle, or stage the photo if you have to. Choose natural environments Avoid shots under fluorescent or neon lighting, which will fade the colours. Close-ups of faces and your vehicle will have more impact than distance shots. Look for new or unusual angles. Make sure your sponsors logos and names are clear in all photos! o Have a talented amateur take them for you. Can you identify a talented individual at your school or university who could be your official photographer. Is there a nearby Art or Photography school where you could engage someone to be your team photographer? Remember to ensure that your photographers work is fully credited to him/her and that s/he is referenced in all published photographs. o Consider using a professional photographer A local photo studio might be willing to support you for free if you offer advertising space for them. You can also credit them in published pictures. Hiring a professional photographer is often money well spent: after just half a day, you will have lots of photos you can use. You should agree with the photographer in advance on the terms and conditions, notably that the images might be published and must be copyright free.

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If using an amateur or professional photographer: Give him/her a list of all the possible photos you might need. Make sure the whole team can attend the photo session at the agreed times. When you send pictures: When sending by email, make sure the file is not too big; this could prevent your email from being sent. Typically a 10 x 14cm sized 300dpi JPEG is sufficiently high resolution for a quarter-page and is about 2MG. If you need to send high-resolution images (to journalists for example), it is best to burn them onto a CD or use a free online FTP server such as YouSendIt (www.yousendit.com) Ensure all photos sent to journalists are clearly captioned so that the journalist knows what the picture refers to. Always ensure you keep originals, or negatives if using an analogue camera.

Daily Communications 1. Handling inquiries and staying in touch


General Points Your team should always be easy to reach good communication with partners, potential sponsors, the media and Shell depends on it. Remember that journalists and your partners in the business world (sponsors) work to tight deadlines and are likely to be extremely busy. While the Shell Eco-marathon will be taking up a large portion of your waking hours over the next months, it will be just one of the many issues that your media and business partners will have to deal with. Answering their enquiries completely and quickly will ultimately help you achieve your own goals. Messages and Reply Etiquette You do not have to answer the telephone every time it rings, or respond immediately to each incoming email. However a good reply etiquette is critical. Ensure you answer telephone messages as soon as you can and emails should be responded to the same day. o Ensure that your voicemail/answering machine message is clear and identifies the team and the project. o Promote good message handling: ask for the caller to state their name, purpose of the call and the telephone number at which they can be reached. o If messages are received centrally, get them forwarded to the relevant person quickly.
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If for any reason the entire team is unavailable for a prolonged period (say over a bank holiday weekend or for any other reason) ensure that your voicemail / answering machine message states this clearly and indicates the earliest time that the incoming message will be dealt with. For emails, activate the Out of Office function on Outlook (or equivalent function on other email programmes) stating duration of absence.

Dedicated Email Account Consider creating a separate email account for your team (for example you could use Shellecomarathon@nameofinstitution.com) to which all team-related incoming mails from third parties can arrive. You can set this up either as; o a distribution email address that automatically forwards incoming emails to nominated recipients, or; o a separate email account that only those team-members with the account login details can access. (This should be your preferred option, as you can then also send emails from the dedicated email address). o Keep all messages properly archived so that you can easily keep track of your contacts. Written Correspondence Ensure that all written communication has a consistent format and style. o Create a template so that all emails, letters and faxes you send out have a professional look: choose a font, colour theme and style that complement your team's logo and stick to it! o Press releases should also have a consistent format. They also have their own golden rules; see the section below to learn more! o If you use a fax machine, keep copies of all the faxes you send and receive.

2. Internet
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A good website is a great tool in promoting your team and attracting sponsors. Use the expertise at your school/university - can someone in the IT department help design and run your website? If designing and running a website is too burdensome, consider setting up a blog instead. Many websites provide easy-to-use blog resources; use a search engine to find one that fits your needs. Whether a blog or website, remember that your page on the web should be: As clear and user-friendly as possible. Well balanced with text, images and other multimedia content (audio, video...) Lively and updated as often as possible, to encourage visitors to come back Make sure your contact details are prominently displayed and easy to find. Provide a link to the official your edition of Shell Eco-marathon site (http://www.shell.com/home/content/ecomarathon/) Your website is only useful if people are going to it. You need to think about driving traffic to your website. Print your sites URL on all of your documents including letterheads, fax cover sheets, email signatures, etc. Consider posting a short video on sites such as YouTube or DailyMotion. Leverage your online presence through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, or other such sites that may be very popular in your home market you can set up special interest groups where you can provide links to your website and post content. Check out some of the more popular blogs in your country relating to energy efficiency, environmental issues and link to your blog/website and from them. A word of caution: make sure you act responsibly when posting any kind of content on the internet. It takes only a few clicks to get it online but then it is virtually impossible to remove it... better safe than sorry!

3. Out and about


o o o Face-to-face contact is the best way to promote your project and communicate your enthusiasm. Student/business trade fairs provide great opportunities to meet potential partners. If you have a booth at a trade show Ensure it is always manned by at least one team member. Ensure all team members are briefed on the teams key messages and the Shell Eco-marathon project talking points. Act professionally at all times. Remember that you represent your team and your school/university. Make sure you honour this responsibility. People you have already met or talked to, even just once, are more likely to help you than others. Create and cultivate your network: Get in touch with other students Communicate with other teams in the Shell Eco-marathon forum Forge links with design schools and universities with audiovisual departments that could work in partnership with you Increase your visibility Putting your vehicle on display can be a striking advert for the team Negotiate with trade show organizers so that they highlight your attendance in their programme.

Press clippings
o o Keep a record of all the press coverage you generate. Create a clippings book. For this you should develop a clippings template that includes the name of the publication, the issue number or date the article appeared, and if you can find them out, the circulation and readership of the publication. For TV or radio clips, include broadcast dates, the station/channel name, name of the show, length of the segment and audience figures. File all original clippings. Try to obtain any radio and/or TV clips or transcripts and all online clips, as well as print clips. Scan all print clips so that you can digitally include them into your clippings book. Ensure you have checked all online publications for clips also many publications will publish the same information online as well as offline, and some only will print the information online. Always keep the originals - if someone wants to see your clippings you can easily send them a PDF of your clippings book.

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