Creating Your Program Image
Establishing a strong program identity is extremely important to the sustainability and growth of your program. Public relations activities build and promote your program’s image. Through media attention and the growth of social networking, you can increase awareness of and generate support for your program within the community.
AmeriCorps Program Identity
Promoting your program creates awareness of your involvement in the community. As an AmeriCorps program you belong to a national network which is an essential piece of your program’s public relations plan. The Corporation for National and Community Service provides resources for program promotion. See Program Management Resources. Additional helpful information is available in a CNCS publication, “Branding & Messaging Guidance: Requirements & Recommendations for AmeriCorps Grantees”, available at http://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2016-AmeriCorps-Branding-Messaging-Guidance.pdf .
As a subgrantee of CCCS and recipient of CNCS funds, all of your AmeriCorps program promotion must follow the guidelines documented in the grant agreement and stipulated in the most recently updated AmeriCorps State & National Terms and Conditions. Your program must:
- Assure that the following acknowledgment and disclaimer appears in any external report or publication of material based upon work supported by this award: “This material is based upon work supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) under Grant No. ____. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, CNCS or [the relevant CNCS Program].”
- Assure that Program Directors (and other AmeriCorps program management staff) to have business cards with the AmeriCorps Connecticut logo;
- Assure that Program Directors (and other AmeriCorps program management staff) to have a professional e-mail address from the program’s legal applicant’s domain. (@gmail.com, @hotmail.com or other free e-mails are prohibited);
- Assure that Program Directors (and other AmeriCorps program management staff) must use an e-mail signature indicating that they are the Program Director of (Program Name) an AmeriCorps program.
- Assure that the program’s web page must link to the AmeriCorps website for recruitment and advertising.
- All promotions and information must use the AmeriCorps Connecticut logo and contain information as outlined in the grant agreement. Refer to AmeriCorps Connecticut Logo Use (Below) for details.
The CCCS Program Officer Information will monitor systems for:
- Website Creation and Updating (See AmeriCorps Web Page Below)
- AmeriCorps Logo Use (See AmeriCorps Connecticut Logo Use Below)
- Program promotion through information and the media.
The Commission provides support for various member items known as gear. Programs can purchase AmeriCorps specific gear for members from the Corporation sponsored venders. Although these items only have the “generic” AmeriCorps logo, programs may also produce their own gear with their program name and the AmeriCorps Connecticut logo on these items. (See Program Management Resources)
Training must be provided by programs to members during member orientation about the use of the AmeriCorps identity during their term of service. The training must include how participants are referred to as AmeriCorps members, that they “serve” (not work) at “X” location, and that they are a part of the AmeriCorps network.
AMERICORPS CONNECTICUT LOGO USE
Program web pages must display and link the following three logos on the landing page for their AmeriCorps*Connecticut program: the AmeriCorps Connecticut logo, the Serve CT Commission logo, and the Corporation for National and Community Service logo.
- The AmeriCorps Connecticut logo must link to http://AmeriCorps.gov.
- The Serve CT logo must link to the CCCS homepage. Details to come; timeline currently unknown and outside of Commission control.
- The Corporation for National and Community Service logo must link to their homepage, http://www.nationalservice.gov.
National Service logos are available at the following link: http://www.nationalservice.gov/newsroom/outreach-resources/logos
Program Directors may email the Corporation at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to request production of a customized AmeriCorps logo with your program name that can be used for gear, information, websites, etc.
Detailed instruction on AmeriCorps logo use can be found in the CNCS publication “Graphic Standards: A Users Guide” at http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/graphic_standards.pdf.
AMERICORPS PROGRAM WEB PAGE
Your legal applicant’s web site must have a landing page specific to your AmeriCorps*Connecticut program. The tab or link to your program’s web page must have the AmeriCorps Connecticut logo next to your program link, or include a statement that identifies it as an AmeriCorps*State program.
Your AmeriCorps program web page must contain information on your program's mission and current information about the program and recruitment status. It should also have as much information as you can think of to promote your program, including links to social media if you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
It is also helpful to think about key words for search engine optimization. For example, if someone is interested in AmeriCorps programs in Hartford, a web search using key words should display your program at the top of the search list.
Getting Connected Through Media
Writing, speaking and word of mouth are important ways of marketing your program. The story that a member tells is vital to the program’s reputation. When speaking or writing, you should always use the phrases, “an AmeriCorps program” or a member of “the AmeriCorps National Service Network”.
Media attention and social networking are other important tools to increase understanding and build support for your program within the community. Although you cannot control what the media prints, you can stress that you are “an AmeriCorps Program”. If you would like to add icon links on your web page and social media pages to promote National Days of Service and AmeriCorps Week, widgets are a free service offered by AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service. For more information and to download widgets go to: http://www.nationalservice.gov/newsroom/social-media.
Serve Connecticut encourages all AmeriCorps*Connecticut programs to prioritize developing the quality and frequency of your social media presence as your program matures. A strategy programs may find helpful is to focus first on fully developing a social media platform with which you are most comfortable, i.e., Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or a blog. Once that platform is fully running, then your program can turn to another platform that will enhance your brand. Serve Connecticut does not mandate use of social media. However, it is our experience that robust AmeriCorps programs have robust social media presence.
The Corporation for National and Community Service provides information regarding program promotion via most media, including newspapers, magazines, television, radio, internet/websites and newsletters. Guidance can be found at http://www.nationalservice.gov/resources/marketing-and-media.
One of the most important elements of public relations is promoting your program events. AmeriCorps Week is a good example of when your program should capitalize on the AmeriCorps brand. For publication material including public service announcements, fact sheets, flyers, and visuals, see https://www.nationalservice.gov/newsroom/communication-resources.
Press releases are an effective way to inform the community and potential funders of your program’s achievements and how you are making a difference in the community, highlight your program’s awards/recognitions, and announce events. For press release writing tips see the Program Management Resources section.
AmeriCorps programs must abide by the conditions outlined in the Grant Terms & Conditions regarding media interviews. At the beginning of the program year, each child, member, or volunteer should have a signed media release form granting your program the right to use the individual’s name and image in media and Information.