The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters

Prepared by Members of the Public Relations Committee:

Dr. Ronald E. Milliman
Ardis Bazyn
Sharon Booker
Keith Bundy
Mike Duke
Ed Facemyer
Marlaina Lieberg
Edited by
Dr. Ronald E. Milliman and Sharon Lovering
Published by the
American Council of the Blind
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(202) 467-5081
fax: (703) 465-5085
Copyright 2011
All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Getting Started: Planning, Developing and Launching Your Guerrilla Marketing Campaign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Chapter Two: Free Bulletin Boards and Calendar Listings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Chapter Three: Free Placement of Flyers and Brochures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Chapter Four: Creating Effective Media Releases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Chapter Five: How to Develop Your PSA Campaign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Chapter Six: Guest Appearances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Chapter Seven: Newsletters, Articles, Radio & TV Programs, and Podcasts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Chapter Eight: More Powerful Guerrilla Marketing Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
Chapter Nine: Promotable Special Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Chapter Ten: Putting It All Together: Your Integrated Guerrilla Marketing & PR Campaigns . . .50

Chapter One: Getting Started: Planning, Developing and Launching Your Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

Just what is guerrilla marketing?  And how can it help my affiliate or chapter?  That's what this handbook is designed to explain. We'll walk you through the planning, development and implementation phases of a guerrilla marketing campaign.  Then we'll take a look at the differences between short- and long-term campaigns.  So let's start at the beginning.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

The term "guerrilla marketing" was initially coined by Jay Conrad Levinson several years ago.  It is defined as free and low-cost marketing and promotional methods that can be employed by firms and organizations with very limited budgets that will allow them to compete effectively with other firms and organizations with much larger budgets.  In short, it is the business equivalent of David versus Goliath.
ACB at the national level, as well as most all of its affiliates and chapters, have David-sized budgets, and yet, we are desperately trying to compete with various other organizations that have Goliath-sized, deep-pocket budgets.  So, how can we compete?  We can compete very effectively by implementing a myriad of guerrilla marketing methods presented in this handbook.  We can use these free and low-cost strategies and tactics to formulate an ongoing promotional program, centered on a series of campaigns that creates public awareness of who we are and what we do, that promotes our various events and activities and helps us better serve our many stakeholders and recruit new members.
Some of the key guerrilla marketing approaches we cover include: the use of free bulletin boards and calendar listings, free placement of flyers and brochures, using public service announcements and media releases, the importance of guest appearances, exhibits and information tables, using newsletters, articles in newspapers, magazines, and other publications, producing regular radio or TV programs, getting the most from web sites, Facebook, Twitter, and much, much more.

Planning Your Guerrilla Marketing Program

To plan and develop your guerrilla marketing program, you must have a very clear understanding about who you are, why you exist, and what you do.  You need to draft a very clear and concise mission statement, which will guide your organization when planning your events, activities, and your entire guerrilla marketing program. 
Mission statements are often written like an academic exercise or by committees.  In contrast, they should be written with the intent of using them as persuasive communication message.  Even the Declaration of Independence, though drafted by a committee, was written by a single person with a knack for words, Thomas Jefferson. In like manner, your mission statement should be written with no less thought than the most expensive advertising campaign receives. You wouldn’t expect a Super Bowl advertisement to be written by lawyers, would you? Restating your purpose with a marketing mindset can help you connect better with people.  Ask yourself this: "If our mission statement came up as the results in an Internet search engine, would you want to click it?" What would be the key words people used to find your affiliate or chapter?
You need to draft a three-sentence guerrilla mission statement for your organization.  To do it, you need to focus on the three things that will make your affiliate or chapter the most successful.  What are they? 1) Your passion, 2) what you are best at, and 3) a clear sense of what the bottom-line impact you are trying to make really is. So, sit down and struggle with all the data you have.  Reduce everything you know about what your organization does and is down into just three sentences.  Write three sentences that succinctly describe your organization.

  1. Why does your affiliate or chapter exist? (Make sure you are talking about your passions.)
  2. What does your affiliate or chapter do? (This is where you talk about what your affiliate or chapter is best at.)
  1. What difference does your affiliate or chapter make? (Tell about the impact your organization is making.)

They need to be short sentences.  Putting too much information in your phrases will make your targeted audience’s attention start to wander. Imagine you are going to use this as your “elevator speech.” Suppose you have just gotten on an elevator and as soon as the doors close, another person in the elevator asks you to tell them about your organization. You have to tell them in the time it takes to go from the first floor to the second floor what they need to know about your organization. If you can’t say who you are, what you do, and why it is important in 30 seconds, you may be too complicated to become the subject of people’s conversations. You may have bigger problems than marketing.
After you have written your 3-sentence guerrilla mission statement, you can enlist help in polishing them. But getting the statements first from your heart will change you forever. These statements become the tools you can use in guiding your events and activities, and your entire guerrilla marketing program.
Once you have completed this step in the planning process, you can use your guerrilla mission statement to guide the development of your events and activities, to evaluate whether they fit into and further your mission statement, and to help you identify the focus points of your guerrilla marketing program, the particular methods and tools you need to use to get the word out about your functions. 

Example Guerrilla Mission Statement

  1. Our mission is to actively support equal rights and equal access for a quality life and standard of living for all blind and low-vision people.
  2. We carry out this mission through actively engaging in the legislative process, and by participating in public education and advocacy to inform the public about blindness and the abilities of blind people. 
  3. By working together, our members and volunteers encourage the passage of laws that support blind and low-vision people; develop programs, events, and activities that educate the public about blindness and the capabilities of blind people; raise funds to support our activities, and recruit new members. 

Promotable Events and Activities

Here are just a few ideas for events and activities that your affiliate or chapter might engage in to further your mission with which you can apply the many guerrilla marketing strategies and tactics presented in this handbook.  This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but to help stimulate additional ideas for events and activities to help you get started.  Most of these can also be used as fundraisers as well.
Music concerts
Dining in the dark events
Tournaments, e.g., golf, tennis, fishing, etc.
Audio-described movie nights
Trivia nights
Accessible devices and technology exhibits
High-profile speakers, e.g., ophthalmologist discussing common eye diseases or stem cell research
Texas Hold-'em tournament
Blind/sighted team road rallies
Blind/sighted team horseshoe tournament
Blind/sighted teams mountain biking event
Blind/sighted team cross-country bike ride
Baked goods sale
Hot dog and beverage sale
Blind/sighted teams bowling tournament
Chili supper
Chili cook-off competition
Euchre tournament
Las Vegas casino night
Yard sale, garage sale, or turn trash into cash sale
Auctions – open bidding and silent
Dinner & movie night
Dinner & live play night
Bachelor/bachelorette auction
Eating contest: hot dogs, pancakes, pie, etc.
White Cane Safety Day activities
Louis Braille birthday celebration event
Affiliate conventions and convention-related activities and special events
Vision screening with volunteer eye doctors; donations going to your organization
Wine & cheese tasting – can be paired with an auction
Hot air balloon rides with net proceeds going to your organization
Bingo night
Refurbish computer program
An Everything Chocolate event 
Celebrity bartender night – tips go to your organization 
Grant program to subsidize the purchase of accessible devices
The next several chapters of this handbook are devoted to specific guerrilla marketing strategies and methods that you can use to develop your promotional program that will enable your organization with its extremely limited, David-size budget to compete very effectively with other organizations and their Goliath budgets.

Chapter Two: Free Bulletin Boards and Calendar Listings

In this chapter, we will discuss all types of free and low-cost bulletin boards and calendars where your affiliate or chapter can get listed.  We say free and low-cost, but all of the examples we include are free listings.  None of them cost any of our affiliates anything.  When you are working with a very limited budget, free is very good!

Most cities and counties have numerous types of free bulletin board outlets and places where listings of ACB affiliate and chapter meetings and special events can be publicize. Since ACB chapters focus on blindness and vision loss needs, chapters need to keep their meeting schedules in numerous media outlets so they are available when someone needs them.
Publicity does need to be planned well in advance. Most media companies require from one to four weeks notice of a meeting or special activity listing, unless you publish it online. You must remember to include a catchy title of your monthly program or special speaker, so it is more likely to attract readers or listeners to your announcement. Even if some visually impaired or blind people don't read the newspaper, listen to TV or radio, or see bulletin boards in the community, friends and family may pass on information about your ACB chapter meetings or special events.
Online listings are generally more accessible for blind computer users, so your chapter or affiliate should try to find relevant web sites to post event listings. Ask other organizations in your community where they post listings.

Radio, TV, and Cable Systems

In your area, there will most likely be several radio stations.  Depending on the size of your city or town, there might even be several TV stations and more than one cable supplier that have local business and organization directories and/or community calendars.  If you are a non-profit organization, like an ACB affiliate or chapter, you can submit information about your organization, including an event or activity to be listed free on such directories or calendars.  Often you must submit your information at least one, and sometimes two, weeks in advance.  So, it requires a little advanced planning on your part. 
Some TV networks and cable companies have a scrolling screen covering coming events. You should call your local stations to find out what is available. The policies of these stations also vary from community to community. The size of an announcement is generally very limited on the screen: organization, date, time, and place. Some allow a contact phone number.


The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) holds an “Assistive Technology Night” twice a year.  It is open to the public and is meant to serve two primary purposes: 1) to educate the public about what is available to help blind and low-vision people with their everyday lives, and 2) to identify potential new members with the objective of enticing them into joining the SCKCB.  The SCKCB engages in several methods for getting the word out to its target audiences, including sending the following information out to all of the local radio and TV stations and the local cable company that have community calendar listings available.  Each station is addressed individually like this:
Will you please include the following announcement on your WBKO Community Calendar?
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind is cordially inviting everyone to our Technology Exhibit to be held at the Alive Center in Bowling Green, Tuesday night, February 8, starting at 7:00.  The exhibit will feature all types of devices designed to assist blind and low-vision people of all ages, such as talking computers, blood pressure monitors, household scales, watches, clocks, cell phones, all types of magnifying devices, and much, much more.  There will also be a drawing for a $100 gift certificate.  For more information, go to the SCKCB web site at or call Erica Cutright, Program Director, (270) 555-1234. 
These free community calendars work and get results.  They are an excellent guerrilla marketing method to include in your arsenal of tools for promoting your affiliate or chapter.
Radio, TV network, and cable stations now often have a web site where calendars of events are placed. One benefit is that events can more easily be added and deleted as necessary. Also, many allow more listings of meetings and events than these stations would generally accept.


The North Dakota Association of the Blind monthly support meeting (chapter) announcements are posted on the online listings on the web sites of the four major TV and radio broadcast networks. They have an extensive list of local media outlets and they update it on a regular basis.

Newspapers (in print listings and online)

Most local newspapers have columns of weekly or monthly events. They will usually allow the name of the organization, the name of the main speaker and/or program title, the time, the date, and the place of the meeting or event. In cases where your ACB chapter has been able to involve a more famous or public figure, the local paper may provide a larger space.  While some newspapers charge for items to be published, most allow free postings for non-profit groups.  Since there are varied policies regarding the space allowed for free listings, contact your local newspapers.
Many newspapers now have much of their content online. They allow calendars of events and regular meetings. Call your local newspapers and ask about the various options available and take advantage of them. Web site listings can more easily be changed and updated.


The North Dakota Association of the Blind said that their local newspapers have their own online listings and their monthly support group's (chapter's) announcements are posted monthly. The largest of the newspapers is at Their monthly meeting announcements also appear in the print edition of the three different local papers.

Churches (in church bulletins, on bulletin boards and online)

Many churches allow special event and regular meeting listings for non-profit organizations, particularly if you have members participating in the church on a regular basis. While listings in the bulletin might not be allowed unless your event takes place in your church, most churches do allow members to place them on the bulletin board. Some have specific guidelines about size and style -- typewritten versus handwritten. Some churches allow volunteer opportunities to be listed on their web site as well as community events. Members should check with their local churches, since each member’s own church would be more likely to offer this option to a member.
Some churches may allow listings if they allow outsiders to purchase an ad in the bulletin. Even then, they might first allow members to have this option. Space may be limited for these ads.


The Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind places announcements in the church newsletter. When the state convention was held in Nashville, they placed a request for volunteers for serving meals, orientation assistance, and other needs. They did not use this for events for those with vision loss. They are using this means to publicize a fundraiser concert for Gordon Mote, one of the Gaithers, because they will be using the church sanctuary. They will occasionally ask to have a listing on the “announcement screen,” “Sunday-gram” given to participants, or the bulletin because they do lead a support group in a facility with a tie-in to the church congregational care: a large retirement home called McKendree. It houses cottages for independence as well as apartments for those needing a range of assistance. They publicized a field trip for an audio-described movie.

Stores (bulletin boards)

Many stores, particularly grocery stores, have a bulletin board either near restrooms or near the exit. Members of the public can place announcements of events happening in your community as well as personal notes about needs. Ask each store what its policy is. Many allow a listing to be placed for a specific period of time and request it be removed within this time frame.  Remember that these are in public view, so use discretion in placing a personal phone number or a personal address.


The North Dakota Association of the Blind places posters for its annual Walk-a-Thon at all local grocery stores. The wording for their last one is below:
Walk for Vision
Life Goes On After the Big E
Today about 3,700 North Dakotans cannot read the big E on the eye chart due to blindness; another 9,300 of our state’s residents are visually impaired. North Dakota Association of the Blind invites you to join us for our 13th Annual Walkathon.
Saturday, April 30th, 2011
Registration - 9:00 a.m.
NDSU Bison Sports Arena
Visit for online donations and information, or contact Allan Peterson 282-4644 or Missy Miller 298-8091.
Honorary Chair, NDSU Bison Athletic Director Gene Taylor
Supplemental funding provided from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
The Mid-Tennessee Council of the Blind has placed flyers of upcoming events on the Kroger and Publix grocery store bulletin boards. They have also placed listings asking for a sighted assistant/guide for a blind person for golfing.

Service Centers, Including Commissions for the Blind (bulletin boards and online)

Some public service centers and organizations allow listings of meetings and special events on a bulletin board or web site. Many Departments for the Blind will allow you to publicize your event as well. If you aren’t sure what is available, ask the manager of the facility. Senior centers often have bulletin boards where community events can be posted.


The Arkansas Council of the Blind has a listing on the Department for the Blind web site, so those going through sight loss can contact the organization for needed information.
The Tennessee Council of the Blind partners with the Tennessee Disability Coalition so they can post any issue, event, or need on their web site. The Tennessee Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired will include a letter from the Tennessee Council of the Blind in its mailing to patrons. Hands on Nashville will post any event for the Tennessee Council of the Blind and will also place any request for volunteers there as well. (Originally, there were no membership dues for them to belong, but now they are expected to pay annual dues.)

Online Directories/Resource Listings

Some communities have online directories which list non-profit organizations that assist people in the community in various ways. Many larger communities have 211 resource lists. Phone companies often have online listings. Often, non-profit organizations can be listed for free. However, more are charging for listings, so make sure you ask whether it is free before joining a resource list.
Some online directories and web sites also list free or low-cost events of non-profit organizations and agencies. Some of these sites also send e-mails to a list of subscribers. Do an Internet search for web sites in your community. Check and see if this has cities listed in your area. Call other organizations and ask what online directories might be available in your community.


The Tallahassee chapter of the Florida Council of the Blind is listed on the 211 resource and services list. They are also listed on the InfoUSA list. Both of these lists contacted them to ask if they would be willing to be listed as a resource.
The Tennessee Council of the Blind is listed in the directory compiled by the Tennessee Disability Pathfinders. They are listed as a 211 resource service.
In the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, there is a web site called, where any user can sign up for a free account and add content to the web site whenever it is needed. This calendar of events allows the Glendale-Burbank chapter of the California Council of the Blind to post its meetings to the schedule. (Articles can also be written about any topic and added to this site under the appropriate category. If the local paper thinks the event or article would be of interest to readers, they can pull it from the web site.)
The North Dakota Association of the Blind provides a current announcement about their monthly support group meetings (same as chapters) to a community electronic billboard, managed by the city of Fargo at

Chapter Three: Free Placement of Flyers and Brochures

In this chapter, we discuss various places where you can distribute your flyers and brochures free.  Again, all of the examples we include from our affiliates and chapters are places where they were able to leave copies of their materials free of charge. 

Doctors' Offices

Throughout your state, in every city and town of any size at all, you should have lots of doctors' offices and medical centers.  They are all potential locations for the placement of your promotional materials, flyers, brochures, and special announcements. Ophthalmologists' and optometrists' offices are, of course, the best locations since they specifically target people with eye-related diseases, problems, and concerns. 
You need to research your state or local area to identify the medical facilities you want to target.  This can be done by using online search programs like Google or the old-fashioned way by consulting the phone directory or directories that cover the desired geographic areas.  Many kinds of directories are also accessible online.  For instance, by putting the following into Google, exactly as we have it written here with the quotes and commas, you can find tons of such facilities in the state of Texas, directories for every city, and by just replacing the state in this search algorithm, you can do the same thing for every state.  You can replace the state in this algorithm with a specific city and get just results for a given city: "ophthalmologists","optometrists","Texas","directory".
Ideally, it is always best to hand-deliver your material to each doctor’s office or to each medical center, but when that is not feasible, you can write a cover letter that briefly tells who you are, e.g., “My name is Carol Edwards, and I am president of the American Council of the Blind  of Texas.  Enclosed are 100 brochures describing what our organization can do for your patients that are blind or losing their eyesight or if they are the parents of a blind child or have a relative or friend in such a situation …” The cost for mailing the materials is the cost of postage, the cost of the enclosures, and envelopes.  This method will generate responses from your targeted audiences, as well as inform the public of your existence, and help recruit new members.  Of course, you have to keep replenishing the supplies; otherwise, they run out, and like an empty shelf in a store, that just doesn’t get the job done!

Example 1

The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) distributes informational brochures to all of the eye doctors’ offices, both ophthalmologists and optometrists, in the greater Bowling Green, Kentucky area.  A representative of the SCKCB called each office before delivering or mailing the brochures to identify the office manager or key person to whom to send the materials.  Some of them were hand-delivered, but most were mailed via the U.S. post office.  A one-page cover letter was sent along with 25 brochures in each envelope.  The results were quite good, generating several phone inquiries and several new members for the SCKCB.

Example 2

The North Dakota Association of the Blind (NDAB) has a unique way of disseminating information to the offices of physicians and ophthalmologists.  It, together with State Rehabilitation Services, creates a packet of information, advising the public how each organization can be beneficial to those losing vision or family members dealing with vision loss in loved ones.  At their summer convention, these packets are distributed to the attendees who, in turn, upon returning to their own communities, distribute the packets to their local physicians and ophthalmologists.
The Arizona Council of the Blind and its southern Arizona chapter have created separate brochures, each outlining and combining available services because of the distance encompassed.  Each member is encouraged to carry these brochures to their various physicians’, ocularists’ and ophthalmologists’ offices.  Contact information is given for both the state officers as well as the chapter officers who are more familiar with the Tucson and southern Arizona blindness concerns.

State Services for the Blind

This is a good outreach source for most states.  Developing a good working relationship with members of the state rehabilitation offices gives you an in-road for the distribution of your brochures so those seeking services can also be made aware of your organization and what it has to offer.

Example 1

The Michigan Council of the Blind (MCB) works closely with the Michigan Commission for the Blind to distribute packets of information to their clients.

Example 2

The Arizona Council of the Blind teams with Vocational Rehabilitation Services as well as the Governor’s Council on Blindness in a one-day seminar each fall where this information is distributed to diverse attendees.

Other Areas of Free Distribution

Many state libraries for the blind and physically handicapped put out newsletters anywhere from one to four times yearly.  If the newsletter is distributed quarterly, this is a good place to insert information for your state affiliate’s upcoming events such as conventions or other upcoming events.  Just be sure to keep in contact with the editor of these newsletters so that your information may be delivered in a timely manner.
There are many other types of places where you can leave a quantity of your affiliate’s brochures.  These include such places as independent living centers, volunteer centers, dialysis centers, and even some government offices. 
For instance, the South Plains Council of the Blind in Texas does a Walk for Independence each year.  To help promote the event, they produce a flyer which is widely circulated.  A local independent living center distributes it and includes the flyer in its newsletter.  While the walk is a fundraiser, it also is a valuable public education and awareness event. 
The Michigan Council of the Blind distributes some of its materials through the Michigan Commission for the Blind, including at the Michigan Commission for the Blind’s Training Center. 
The North Dakota Association of the Blind also places its brochures in selected government offices such as the Motor Vehicle Department. 
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind places its brochures and other promotional materials with a local volunteer center.  This place is called the Alive Center; it is the focal point for non-profit organizations to interact, develop cooperative programs and to recruit volunteers.  The SCKCB distributes its main brochure through the Alive Center, as well as other materials such as a piece expressing the need for volunteers and another piece describing its matching grant program available to blind people in a local, 10-county area. 
This method of distributing your promotional materials definitely gets results.  It is another method to include in your arsenal of weapons for promoting your affiliate or chapter.

Chapter Four: Creating Effective Media Releases

In this chapter, we focus on writing effective media releases.  We use the term "media release" because it is becoming the preferred term for what has been traditionally called a press release or news release.  The terms are interchangeable.  Media releases can be an extremely valuable tool for getting an announcement out to the media about your special events and activities, at no cost. 

What Is A Media Release?

A media release is an announcement which informs the media about upcoming special events, activities, or functions offered or engaged in by your organization.  The purpose of a media release is to get information about a specific event or activity out to the media, newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations, and into the public's eye.  A media release gives the newspaper/radio/TV station information for it to process and distribute to the public.
In the case of your affiliate or chapter, this could include events like dining in the dark, a chili supper, an audio-described movie night, an accessible technology exhibit, etc.  If your affiliate holds a state convention, you should be using media releases to get out the announcement about your convention.  If your affiliate creates a new scholarship program, you should use media releases to get the announcement out about this new program to the public and your targeted audience. 

Creating and Distributing Your Media Release

In order to be effective, the media must consider your media release to be newsworthy and of interest to a large number of its readers, listeners, or viewers.  Above all, the media must recognize both the release and your organization as being a credible information source. That credibility will only come through the nurturing of your media contacts, along with consistent distribution of media releases which are concise and accurate.
Media representatives will often call upon the contact person(s) included in the media release for additional information.  When this occurs, your organization has scored a media victory.  Answer as many of their questions as possible, and offer to help them find any answers which you may not have. Most importantly, obtain and keep the contact information for the person who has called you. The ability to contact a reporter or editor directly is a priceless tool.
However, never use a media release in place of an advertisement for your product, service, or organization.  A media release must be newsworthy in the eyes of the media source to which you are sending it.  If an editor or news director perceives your document as a glorified ad dressed up to look like a media release, it will instantly land in file 13.
A media release should focus on a single message; that is, one event or activity or topic.  For instance, a media release announcing your state convention should focus on the general convention information: the name of the convention, where it is being held, when it is being held, the basics of when, where, why, etc.  Then, separate media releases can be created for key convention events, important people making presentations, special exhibits, etc. 
While short media releases are preferred, each media release must be long enough to clearly convey the message.  Thus, some media releases can be written sufficiently in two or three paragraphs, while others may take two or three pages.  Regardless of length, the headline and first paragraph of any media release must entice the reporter or editor to continue reading for more information.  These individuals receive many media releases each day, and their time, like yours, is limited.
Write in simple, short sentences and paragraphs. A common mistake is to use too many adjectives or descriptive words.  Do not use organizational jargon that the readers will not be familiar with.  Also, the first time you refer to your organization, put it in words; do not just use the abbreviation.  For example, if your organization is the California Council of the Blind, spell it out the first time you use it, immediately followed with its abbreviation in parentheses, like this: The California Council of the Blind (CCB) will be holding its state convention this year in …
It is crucial that your media release have significant news value.  The editor or news director must recognize your message as being interesting or of significant importance to a fairly large portion of their audience.  No matter how well-written your media release might be, editors and reporters often rewrite and condense information from your media release to better fit into the calendar or upcoming events section of a newspaper or of a radio station's public affairs program.
The words "For Immediate Release" often appear at the top of the first page of a media release.  However, if the release date is not immediate, be sure to replace that phrase with the desired release date.  (Example: “For Release on or after July 11, 2011.”)
Always include a contact name and telephone number for someone who is very familiar with the central message of your media release in case the reader wants more information.
The most important part of your media release is the headline and first paragraph.  The headline must grab the editor’s attention, causing him/her to read the first paragraph.  At this point, you will either have them wanting to read more or tossing your media release in the trash.  The first paragraph must give the key facts in a very succinct, direct format, and it must be kept short, preferably 50 to 75 words maximum.
Subsequent paragraphs should focus on important benefits of your event or activity, and they must also be kept short, working in a few quotes from key people, like your affiliate’s president, the convention or exhibit or event chairperson, etc.  
Then, wrap up your media release with a paragraph describing your affiliate or chapter. This description is one paragraph, not the complete history of the organization.  Follow this concluding paragraph by once again listing the full contact information.  The end of the media release should be indicated with three number signs (###), centered at the bottom of the last page. 
When printing out your hard copy, print only on one side of the sheet.  If the release requires more than one page, the word “continued” should be placed at the bottom right of each sheet, unless it is the last page.  The last page should be indicated by a series of three number signs as described above. 
Never distribute a media release without first checking it thoroughly for correct sentence structure, spelling, and clear meaning of what you are trying to say.  Once you have performed this check, pass it to someone who has never before seen it, in order to get a second opinion.  Poorly written, confusing or unclear media releases that the editor perceives to be of no interest to his/her reading, listening or viewing audience is certain to be tossed in the trash!
Whenever possible, it is a good idea to contact the person who handles media releases for each media outlet you plan to send your release to and ask his/her preferred delivery method and format, and then use that format.  For instance, some editors today prefer email submissions, but then, some will accept submissions as attachments to an email message, while others prefer your sending your media release in the actual body of the message.  Then, some still prefer receiving hard copies or a fax.  When sending hard copies, they should be double-spaced, and printed on a good quality printer. 

The General Format for Writing a Media Release

Here is the general formula for a media release.  However, this example may vary slightly depending upon the situation, the nature of the information, etc.
For Immediate Release
Contact person
Name of affiliate or chapter
Telephone numbers
E-mail address
Web site URL
CITY, State, Date -- Summary of what the release is about, two to three lines long.
Photo Here (optional)
Lead paragraph - Answer who, what, when, where, why, and how
Subsequent paragraphs: text -The main body where your message should fully develop with most important facts first.
Affiliate or chapter summary - Information about your organization, e.g. services and information to help establish your knowledge and credibility.
Contact person
Affiliate or chapter name
Telephone numbers
E-mail address
Web site URL

Example 1

For Immediate Release
Eric Bridges, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs
American Council of the Blind 
(202) 467-5081

Critical Pedestrian Safety Legislation Moves to White House for President’s Signature

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 -- Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 841, The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, legislation that will provide blind, visually impaired, and other pedestrians greater security when traveling in close proximity to hybrid or electric vehicles.  
“The passage of this legislation is momentous and marks over two years of vigorous advocacy by ACB membership that has resulted in consensus by the blind community, auto industry, and Congress,” stated Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind.
“The silent nature of hybrid and electric vehicles, coupled with their growing popularity, presents a dilemma. How do we protect individuals dependent on sound for their safety, such as unsuspecting pedestrians and the blind?” said Representative Edolphus Towns, the sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, who spent many years teaching travel with a white cane to the blind. “The solution lies in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. I am proud to have supported this important piece of legislation.”
“The visually impaired rely on audio cues to detect nearby traffic and these quiet vehicles pose a special risk to them and to other pedestrians,” stated Rep. Cliff Stearns, who joined in offering the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.  “This measure enjoys the support of all of the interested parties and it is budget neutral, and I look forward to the President quickly signing this bill.”
The legislation will require the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin writing standards that would set requirements for an alert sound that allows blind and other pedestrians to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle.  It also requires that those rules be finalized within three years.
ACB wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) along with Reps. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) for their staunch leadership over the past two years regarding this very important safety issue. The National Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers have also worked collaboratively with the blind community to insure that the legislation could effectively resolve the current and growing unintended safety problems that hybrid and electric vehicles present to the public when traveling at low speeds.      

About the American Council of the Blind 

The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society.  For more information, visit; write to American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; phone (202) 467-5081; or fax (703) 465-5085.

Example 2

American Council of the Blind (ACB) Contact:
Pamela Shaw, Project Liaison, ACB International Relations Committee
(215) 753-1527
Elderhostel/Road Scholar Contact:
            Despina Gakopoulos              
(617) 457-5502

New International Educational Travel Program Designed for Blind Participants

BOSTON (January 17, 2011) — Elderhostel/Road Scholar and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) are teaming up to offer unique international educational learning opportunities for those who are legally blind or visually impaired. 
A series of new programs will kick off with a “pioneer” Road Scholar adventure in April 2011 developed in association with ONCE, ACB’s sister organization The Spanish National Organization for the Blind. ACB members will journey to Madrid on a week-long program to discover the famed Spanish capital’s culture and history. The program experience sets a precedent for international educational travel opportunities for ACB members.   Special highlights will include hands-on workshops, sampling of local culinary and cultural flavors, visits to the ONCE School for the Blind and opportunities to explore Museo Tiflologico de la ONCE, which is home to scale models of national and international monuments, rooms devoted to artistic works made by blind people, and instruments used by the blind for the past 200 years.
“We are excited to begin this relationship with ACB and extend our learning adventures to its members,” says Elderhostel/Road Scholar President James Moses.  “As part of our commitment to serving the lifelong learning needs of all adults, our collaboration with ACB emphasizes the goal of both organizations to empower adults to explore the world.”
ACB President Mitch Pomerantz says: “As someone who enjoys the chance to travel, I am especially pleased to enter into partnership with Elderhostel/Road Scholar.  I look forward to taking advantage of this new and exciting relationship." 
“Road Scholar adventures are designed for those who share a desire for ongoing stimulation, challenge and experience and — most importantly — a love of learning,” Moses says.  “We look forward to welcoming ACB members on our programs.”

About American Council of the Blind

The American Council of the Blind is the nation’s leading membership organization for people who are blind and those with low vision. Founded in 1961, ACB is a national organization of people who are blind, those with low vision and sighted individuals whose purpose is to work toward independence, security, equality of opportunity, and improved quality of life for all people who are blind and those with low vision.  

About Road Scholar and Elderhostel

Road Scholar is the name for the programs developed and offered by Elderhostel, Inc., the not-for-profit world leader in lifelong learning since 1975. Our mission is to empower adults to explore the world’s places, peoples, cultures and ideas, and in so doing to discover more about themselves. A fellowship of learning and the joy of discovery are the hallmarks of the Road Scholar experience.
Elderhostel’s mission includes making Road Scholar learning adventures accessible to all adults and accommodating individuals who face physical challenges such as vision, hearing and mobility issues.

Example 3

For more information, contact:
Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, President, South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind
Phone: (270) 782-9325

Grant Program Helps Blind & Low-Vision People!

February 21, 2011 (Bowling Green, KY) – The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) recently established a matching grant program available to all blind and low-vision people (legally blind) who are citizens of the United States and reside in the counties comprising the Barron River Area Development District in the state of Kentucky.  The SCKCB will match up to a maximum of 50% of the total purchase price for any assistive service or device needed to help with a qualified person’s daily living. 
Some examples of the kinds of devices for which a matching grant might be applied for include, but is not limited to:
            • Assistive travel devices like white canes, accessible GPS units, etc.
            • Vision enhancing devices like special eye glasses, magnifiers, etc.
            • Assistive technology like Braille or talking watches, screen reading programs for
            computers, blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring devices, talking scales,
            clocks, thermostats, etc. 
SCKCB President, Dr. Ron Milliman, says: "Most people have no idea the huge number of devices that are available to assist people who are blind or who have low vision.  We have talking computers, talking watches, talking calculators, talking scales, talking microwaves, home thermostats that allow us to control the heating and air conditioning units in our houses, devices that tell us what color our clothes are, and thousands more."  Milliman jokingly adds, "Everything in my house talks, except my talking scale lies to me and says, 'Just one at a time, please.'"
If you want to apply for a grant or if you have any questions about blindness, or if you are losing your eyesight, or know anyone who has lost, or is losing, their eyesight, or if you are a parent of a blind or sight impaired child, contact the South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind.  We are here to answer your questions and help any way we can.  We have numerous resources available to us that we can share with you.  Contact:
Dr. Ronald E. Milliman, South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind
Phone: (270) 782-9325
If you want or need more in-depth coverage of media releases, we recommend that you read "The Press Release Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters," which is available in various accessible formats from our Arlington office.  Alternatively, you can access it on the ACB web site; go to

Chapter Five: How to Develop Your PSA Campaign

In this chapter, we focus on public service announcements, often referred to as PSAs.  Public service announcements can be a valuable tool for getting your message across at little or no cost.  We will look at how to use radio and television stations and cable systems to reach your target market.

What Is A PSA?

A public service announcement (PSA) is a free announcement broadcast on radio, television, or cable systems for the interest of the general public.  PSAs are similar to advertisements. Both are meant to promote something, but PSAs are free and usually restricted to a maximum of 30 seconds, while an advertisement costs money.  To a large extent, the length of an ad is restricted only by the size of the advertiser's budget.  PSAs are intended to modify public attitudes by creating or enhancing awareness of specific causes, organizations, or events.  Radio and TV stations are required by the Federal Communications Commission to set aside a certain amount of their air time for public service, and most all stations fulfill this requirement by airing public service announcements. 
Your affiliate or chapter can take advantage of this guerrilla promotional method to enhance the public awareness of your organization, or to publicize an activity or event or program.  We classify PSAs as a guerrilla marketing method because they are very low-cost.  The only real cost is the modest investment required to produce and distribute the PSA.  It is much easier and less costly to produce radio PSAs, as opposed to TV PSAs, because all you have to do is write the script and record it, which can be done very easily and inexpensively.  TV PSAs can be very basic and the video can be produced with pretty inexpensive equipment, but even so, they are usually much more challenging to create than radio PSAs. 
In general, PSAs are used most effectively to promote an ongoing campaign of some sort, like to create greater awareness of your affiliate or chapter, or to promote a cause or program your affiliate or chapter sponsors, such as a scholarship program or a grant program.  In contrast, to promote a specific event, like a dining in the dark event, media releases tend to be more appropriate.

Creating and Distributing Your PSA

There are certain fundamentals that apply regardless of whether you are creating a PSA for radio or for TV or cable.  While PSAs are a valuable resource, preparing one that is effective is often like solving a mystery.  What constitutes an effective PSA?  How can an affiliate, often with shrinking resources, put together a PSA that will capture the interest of those who hear or see it?  Each day the nation's media outlets receive large numbers of requests for free time or space for public service announcements, asking them to give their program or announcement special attention. Most PSAs are not selected and the reasons are many and varied. The two most common reasons noted by those making the decision to not run a given PSA are poor message design and irrelevant subject matter.
In contrast, here are the three primary criteria that are used in selecting PSAs to run:

  • Sponsorship: what organization is submitting the PSA?
  • Relevance of the message to the community: of what interest is it to the station's target audience?
  • Message design: how well is the message written? 

Broadcasters also seek quality and have raised concerns ranging from "vague and ambiguous messages" to "poor execution." Subject problems include topics that are of little interest to the general public or are too complex to lend themselves to brief delivery.
Yet even well-produced, relevant PSAs often fail to receive the attention they deserve. This is often due to poor presentation of the PSA to the media outlet. Don't ignore the importance of writing a cover letter to the radio and/or TV stations delineating the importance of your PSA and how it is relevant to the interests of their listening or viewing audience.  You need to promote your PSA -- a "pitch letter" -- that tells your story and sells it to the media.  It is a good idea to include a brochure about your organization, too. 
Keep in mind that radio stations are increasingly rejecting pre-recorded PSAs, and instead often prefer to have their own announcers read the scripts live. (However, if there is a compelling reason for distributing a pre-recorded PSA, check with your local radio station for advice on production.)
TV and cable television are, obviously, different from radio to the extent they also allow the use of video in addition to the audio component.  Unlike radio, TV and cable stations prefer pre-recorded PSAs.  Some stations will actually assist in the production process, especially the public broadcasting stations.  Also, many colleges and universities will include the production of PSAs in some of their video production-related courses or will allow a student to produce a PSA for you as a special project.  Anyone with a reasonably decent video camera, like a flip cam, can assist in the production of a basic PSA for TV or your local cable company to run.
While you may know about all of your radio and TV stations, you might not be as aware of the local cable company that will also run your PSA.  Again, by law, all cable companies must set aside a certain number of channels called public access channels.  These channels are used, as the name implies, for public access; that is, they feature programming produced by local businesses or organizations or even individuals.  PSAs can be run on these public access channels.  In addition, the cable companies often produce their own programming that is aired over cable channels, and again, PSAs can be run on these channels as well.  So, your local cable company is an excellent source to be used for airing your PSAs.  Cable companies also often allocate one channel to a community calendar that rotates through a series of listings for local activities and events, which your affiliate or chapter can take advantage of too.  (For more details about using bulletin boards and calendars, see chapter two.)

Example 1: Radio PSA

The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) created and distributed a series of PSAs for radio, and at one point, they were being aired by 23 stations in the greater Bowling Green, Kentucky area.  First, we chose a theme.  In this example, we decided to target parents of blind children.  Next, we wrote the copy for a 30-second PSA.  Normally, the maximum number of words that can be packed into a 30-second PSA is between 60 and 75, possibly 80, depending upon how rapidly the copy is read and how complex the ideas or concepts are that are being conveyed.  Here is the text or copy of the 72-word PSA we created: 
South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind
Radio Promo 1
30 seconds
Are you a parent of a blind child? Here at the South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind, we know that blindness does not have to be a limitation. There are successful blind people in nearly every profession. Your child can become anything he or she wants to be.If you would like more information, please contact us at (270) 782-9325. The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind, we’re here to help.
This PSA was read by one of the SCKCB members.  Another member composed the accompanying guitar music and mixed the script with the music, producing a very professional-sounding recording in MP3 format.  Then, we copied the recording onto CDs.  Along with the CD, we sent each station a hard copy of the script.  Therefore, the station had the choice of running the pre-recorded PSA or having one of its on-air personalities read the script.  We contacted each station to determine who should receive the PSA.  We placed the materials in a pocket folder.  A cover letter and CD were placed in the left pocket, and the written script was placed in the right pocket.  In some cases, the packet was hand delivered, which is preferred, but in most cases it was mailed to the key person in the station that handles PSAs. 

Example 2

We are the American Council of the Blind of New Mexico.  Some of us are tall, some of us are short, and even couch potatoes and exercise enthusiasts.  Now how about this? We are involved in a wide variety of vocational interests, such as computer programmers, and teachers, and business owners. For more information about the American Council of the Blind of New Mexico, you can call (505) 463-6098. 
However, if you prefer, there are also several scripts for a variety of public service announcements available from our ACB PR Committee that you can easily customize by inserting your affiliate’s or chapter’s name and contact information into the text, replacing the information already there.  Here is just one example:
Do you have trouble distinguishing between a twenty and a ten-dollar bill in dim light? Are you having difficulty reading the newspaper? Are you experiencing severe vision loss? Or do you know anyone who is?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the American Council of the Blind can help you.  We are blind and visually impaired people from every walk of life who work together to enhance our lives.
For more information, or a membership application, call (800) 424-8666 or contact us online at

Chapter Six: Guest Appearances

In this chapter, we focus on how guest appearances can promote an organization. We will discuss four types of guest appearances and give examples of how these have benefitted various ACB chapters.

Guest appearances are an effective free way of promoting an organization. We will now look at four types of appearances which are especially beneficial.

Local Radio and TV

Many local radio and TV stations provide community programming opportunities which can be easily taken advantage of. Many radio stations offer a weekly forum publicizing community organizations and events. News or talk shows often focus on specific national days (such as White Cane Safety Day) or weeks. These are excellent opportunities to make a guest appearance and mention your organization and what it does in relation to these special times.
Many radio stations offer opportunities to comment on news stories. When a news story about vision loss or blindness comes up, this offers you an excellent chance to call in and talk about the story, and mention your organization.
Many local television stations have local programming. In addition, some cable channels are specifically set aside as public access channels.  It is easy to contact the manager or the program director of such stations to set up a time to make an appearance to discuss blindness or visual impairment, along with your organization.

Clubs and Organizations

Most clubs and civic organizations are actively seeking presenters to educate their members on community issues. Some of these clubs and organizations include Lions Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and Rotary Clubs.
Most local newspapers advertise meetings of clubs and organizations. One way to offer to present at these meetings is to visit a meeting and meet the club or organization’s leadership. At this time, let the leadership know you are interested in presenting on vision loss or blindness in general and on your affiliate in particular.
Another way to get an opportunity to present to clubs and organizations is to circulate around your community that you would like to make such appearances. Word of mouth is the best promotion. Once you make a few successful presentations, you may get regular phone calls to present.

Schools and Universities

Schools and universities are eager to educate students on blindness and visual impairment. A phone call to local elementary, middle, and high schools will let them know that you are interested in educating students as well. When you talk about your personal experience with vision loss, you can promote your organization as a valuable resource for those who have vision problems.
Calling the school or college of education at your local university is a way to open another door. Professors are eager to have future teachers exposed to individuals with vision loss.  Again, as you talk about vision loss and blindness in general, and about your individual situation in particular, you have the opportunity to tell how being involved in your affiliate of ACB has been valuable to you.

Conferences and Conventions

Another opportunity for public appearances comes with conventions and conferences pertaining to vision or vision loss. Finding out about conventions and conferences coming to your area gives you the chance to approach planners of the conventions or conferences to offer yourself as a resource who can talk about vision loss.
Ophthalmology or optometry conferences are excellent opportunities to give presentations on vision loss. Conferences on adjustment and employment of individuals with vision loss are also excellent opportunities.


The North Dakota Association of the Blind has an annual walk-a-thon. Individuals appear on television shows in the state to solicit donations and to publicize NDAB. Members of the South Dakota Association of the Blind have made appearances on a community forum that airs on the radio to talk about vision loss, and two members of the organization appeared on a morning TV show to discuss braille literacy. One member of the South Dakota Association of the Blind takes advantage of news stories pertaining to vision loss. He calls a local talk show and talks about the story, about vision loss in general, and about SDAB in particular.
Members of the South Dakota Association of the Blind present at meetings of clubs throughout the state. This organization is currently sending out offers to speak to all Lions Clubs in the state.
Members of both the North and South Dakota Associations of the Blind have given presentations to elementary school classes on vision loss. In addition, one member of the South Dakota Association of the Blind works at a university and often has opportunities to talk about blindness in various classes.
Several members of the South Dakota Association of the Blind present at “Focus On Success” – a triennial conference sponsored to promote the adjustment and employment of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. At the 2011 “Focus On Success,” a specific panel on consumer organizations will have two members of SDAB as participants.
As you can see, there are many free opportunities to promote your ACB affiliate through guest appearances. Appearances on radio and TV, at meetings of clubs and organizations, in schools and universities, and at conferences and conventions are all effective ways to promote your affiliate.

Chapter Seven: Newsletters, Articles, Radio & TV Programs, and Podcasts

In this chapter, we discuss the use of newsletters and articles that you can create and circulate by one or a combination of distribution methods.  We also discuss creating your own radio programs or podcasts that air on a regular basis to reach out to your various targeted audiences. Many of our ACB affiliates and chapters are already creating and distributing a newsletter, some monthly, but most are quarterly.  However, very few are creating regular radio programs or podcasts, and none that we found were creating their own TV programs.  As you can tell, we cover a lot of exciting guerrilla marketing ideas in this chapter; so let’s get started covering what you need to do to utilize these potent guerrilla marketing methods.


Create and Publish a Regular Newsletter

If your affiliate or chapter is not already publishing a regular monthly or quarterly publication, like a newsletter, you definitely should be!  Such a publication can be used to reach out to your members, prospective members, financial contributors, and other interested stakeholders.  Such a newsletter can serve many purposes, including:

  • Strengthening relationships with your target audiences
  • Keeping everyone informed of your most recent activities
  • Keeping everyone informed of your planned future activities
  • Letting your target audiences know about your accomplishments
  • Serving as a vehicle to recognize the achievements of contributing members
  • Serving as a way to recognize the achievements of committees
  • Serving as a published record for documenting your history

Your newsletter can be produced and delivered in many formats.  It can be produced in both regular and large print, in braille, audio cassette, and/or CD.  Usually, you can produce just one print version using large print, which can be read by everyone, fully sighted or with limited eyesight.  Also, it is normal to use more than one format.  In today’s world, digital formats are becoming more and more the standard, DAISY preferred if possible.  CDs can be produced with several different file types on the same CD, e.g. text, Word, MP3, and braille-ready file.   
In like manner, there are several ways for disseminating your newsletters.  You can send it out using regular U.S. mail service, and if this delivery method is used, you can even send the large print, braille, and CD versions as free matter for the blind.  You can publish your newsletter to your web site.  You can very easily send it out by e-mail, which is not only free, but it is also almost instantly delivered. 
To create your newsletter, you will need content contributors, and someone to serve in the role of editor, and you will also need someone in charge of production.  Ideally, all of these people need to be in close communication with each other.  Often the editing and production roles can be combined into a single position with just one person responsible for both tasks, depending on the size of your newsletter and the capability of the person or people involved.  The overall challenge of creating, producing and distributing a newsletter can be greatly enhanced and made much more efficient if a set of production guidelines are established and followed.  You can maximize production efficiency by using some of the newest reproduction equipment, e.g. producing several CDs at the same time.
If your guidelines are well-written and followed, for the most part, only a light edit should be necessary, like checking for spelling and the most obvious grammatical errors.  This can usually be accomplished with a basic grammar and spellchecker, like the one used in Microsoft Word.  For that matter, all of your content contributors should be strongly encouraged to run spell-check before submitting their material for publication.  However, it is usually a good idea to refer to some much more powerful resources.  We strongly recommend the following tools to all editors: The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary is available online,
A style guide helps with the gray areas. The Associated Press Style Guide is designed for short-form and limited space. It is available online at The Chicago Manual of Style is also available online at
All content should be original, but if content is used from another source, like copyrighted material, you need to request permission to reprint it. Even if you use something written by someone else that does not appear to be copyrighted, you still should seek the permission to use it from the original author or source.  If sources are quoted, there should be a full acknowledgement indicating where the quoted or paraphrased material came from.  In addition, you should encourage writers to check facts before submission, especially names, dates, and numbers.
All of your content contributors should be encouraged to use the inverted pyramid style of writing. This simply means that the most vital information is placed at the beginning of the article, and less important details move to the end.  The lead paragraph should be concise and clear.  How is that decided?  It is decided by treating the content like a news story, answering the key questions: who, what, when, where, how, and why.  What information affects the most people? Is this recent or old news? Is this information related to a hot topic? Does it involve a prominent person or conflict?
It’s also important to try to include something in each newsletter that will be of interest to each of your target audience segments if at all possible.  This cannot always be achieved, but it is a goal for which you should strive.  Remember, you are producing your publication for the readers, not for yourself.  Therefore, it is vitally important to know your targeted audiences, what they are interested in reading, and address those needs, not your own.  Strive to build anticipation.  Give your readers "teasers," little hints about what will be included in future newsletters.
Many of our ACB affiliates and chapters do an excellent job producing a regular newsletter. Some of the most prominent ones include: ACB of Ohio, Washington Council of the Blind, California Council of the Blind, North Dakota Association of the Blind, Missouri Council of the Blind, Council of Citizens with Low Vision International, and Pennsylvania Council of the Blind.  If you want to learn more about this topic, check out the web site called eHow, where you will find hundreds of related articles.  The web site is  In the search edit box, type in “produce a newsletter,” and you will be overwhelmed with information.

Writing Articles for Other Publications

Another great guerrilla marketing approach for getting your organization’s name out and gaining public awareness is to write articles for other publications, like other organizations’ newsletters, the newspaper, or a local magazine.  Often the editors for such publications are looking for good content, just as you are. 
You do the writing and let them do the editing, production work, and absorb the cost.  This is a great way to reach a broader audience and build awareness with groups with similar interests.  This requires researching the organization and their guidelines. Some information may be on their web site, but it’s always a good idea to talk with their editor to find out what he or she is looking for in terms of content and precisely how the editor wants you to submit your articles.  Today, most editors want the material submitted to them by e-mail in a specific format and file type (Word, rich text format, etc.). 

ACB Example

The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) held a fishing contest among its members on Barron River Lake.  Sighted members from a local bass club were paired up with blind members of the SCKCB.  The competition started at 8:00 on a Saturday morning and ended at 3:00 that afternoon.  There were several different possible winner categories: the heaviest stringer of 8 fish of any kind; the largest number of total fish caught; the largest bass caught; the largest catfish caught; the largest bluebill caught; the largest rock fish caught, and the largest of any other kind of fish caught.  This event produced several different articles featuring the SCKCB and one or more of its members.  There was an article first introducing the SCKCB and its members who like to fish to the bass club’s members that was published in its bi-monthly newsletter; this article also promoted the fishing contest and solicited volunteers from the bass club to participate.  Another article was published in the bass club newsletter just before the contest describing how excited the SCKCB members and the volunteers were about the event and some challenges of who was going to whoop up on whom.  SCKCB wrote a media release and sent it out to all of the local media. Then we wrote an article and sent it out to all of the local newspapers, inviting the public to the event.  The media showed up the day of the contest, resulting in more coverage in local newspapers and on the local TV station.  Finally, the SCKCB president wrote a follow-up article that was published in the bass club’s newsletter, describing how much fun all of the SCKCB members had and suggesting that it become an annual event.  One activity created several media opportunities, giving the SCKCB extensive public attention.  It resulted in three new SCKCB members, and some fishing buddy friendships that are proving to be long-lasting.  

Writing a Regular Column for Local Newspapers and Magazines

Small community papers are often hungry for content that will be of interest to its readers. However, column writing is much harder than news or features writing.  It is not your mere opinion on key issues.  You need to be well informed; research your subject in depth and present a supported and convincing argument. Familiarize yourself with the publication and their intended audience.  It is a good idea to actually meet with the editor.  You should bring your portfolio representing your writing or a sample article and pitch your ideas on a general range of topics that will be of interest to the editor’s readers.
Like when writing articles and content for your newsletter, the local media outlets will probably have particular formats they like to follow, and you should find out what those formats are and be sure that you follow them.  The publication often refers to this as their submission guidelines. 
To our knowledge, none of our ACB affiliates or chapters is engaged in writing a regular column for a newspaper or magazine.  However, it seems quite feasible to have a regular column discussing disabilities, featuring, for instance, different people in the community with a disability and how they cope with it.  The column would always include a blurb at the beginning of end about the author, e.g., "This column is provided by Linda Peters, President of the Gulf Coast Council of the Blind (GCCB).  The GCCB seeks to … To join the GCCB or for more information about our organization, contact Linda Peters at 555-789-1234."

Produce a Radio, TV or Cable TV Program

To our knowledge, the only ACB affiliate that has produced a regular broadcast radio program on a weekly basis is the Kentucky Council of the Blind with its program called: “Sound Prints.”  Producing any kind of a regular program, whether it be for radio, TV, or cable, takes a major commitment of time, tenacity, and dedication.  Normally, the first step is to come up with a new program concept, a new or different twist, something that will have appeal to a fairly large market or audience.  Then you have to develop a proposal that will become the pillar of your pitch to the station’s programming decision-makers.  The approach is similar whether you are trying to sell the idea for a radio, TV, or cable program. 
To support your pitch, it is a good idea to supply the station with a sample; arrange to produce a sample program.  For radio, obviously, this is much easier than for TV or cable.  For radio, you need a reasonably good quality recording device, a good microphone or two, and possibly a mixer, depending on what kind of show you are trying to produce.
However, for a sample TV or cable TV program, you will need a good quality video camera, visual props, some attention to your personal grooming, hair, clothing, and possibly even makeup.  We are not going to devote a great deal of space to this topic because it can get fairly complicated.  However, if you want to learn more, well over 1,000 related articles are available by going to and typing in the search edit box the words “producing a radio program,” or “producing a TV program.” 
We need to point out, however, that it is much, much easier to produce an online radio program, and there are numerous outlets for putting your show on the Internet.  With the right twist, you might even be able to get your affiliate’s program on ACB Radio. 
Alternatively, you could use one of the many other internet radio resources to get your program on the internet and start building your listener base, your own affiliate “groupies!”  Hosting your own Internet radio show can be a great way to share what your affiliate or chapter is doing with others.  Being able to host your own radio show for free online has a lot of possibilities because it can be used in so many ways.  Fortunately, hosting a radio show for free online is relatively simple.  To get started in the simplest, most basic way, all you need is a:

  • Computer
  • Internet connection
  • Winamp Media Player
  • Shoutcast Plugin
  • Blog Talk Radio

For step-by-step details on how to start producing your own Internet radio program using Blog Talk Radio, go to
Another excellent resource available to you is “Live365.”  Their web site states:
Broadcast with Live365: Thousands of people just like you have created Internet radio stations! With Live365, you're the DJ. Start a station to share your tastes and talents with a global audience.

  • Start a PRO Station and Build Your Business
  • Create a new, live or pre-recorded broadcast or relay an existing broadcast to an Internet audience
  • Earn revenue and control your own advertising
  • Link directly to your station from your website
  • Reach your audience through multiple media players such as RealOne, Windows Media, iTunes, Winamp and others

For more information and details about this alternative, go to

ACB Example

As stated above, the only ACB affiliate to our knowledge that is producing a regular weekly, live radio program is the Kentucky Council of the Blind (KCB).  The program is called “Sound Prints,” and it is hosted by Carla Ruschival and Michael McCarty.  Michael is also in charge of the technical production.  It is a one-hour program, and they do an excellent job hosting and producing it.  Each week they have different topics and issues of interest to ACB members and blind and low-vision people in general, such as reviews of new products and services, major events happening in ACB, special guests, and more.  Initially, the program aired once a week on a Louisville radio station.  However, it could be heard during the week from a link on the KCB web site and links on other web sites and blogs around the country.  Then, it expanded to ACB Radio, and now it can be heard by anyone with an Internet connection and a computer.  The program is repeated so it can be heard on different days and at different times.  Carla and Mike have even been successful in picking up a few sponsors to help support the program and generate a little cash flow. 


Simply stated, a podcast is a recorded audio file you can post online for download.  Originating in 2001, the words "iPod" and "broadcast" came together to become "podcasting," which has become one of the most-utilized methods of sharing information over the Internet.  Podcasting is an exciting guerrilla marketing method that can be combined with many other approaches.  You can place links to your podcasts on your web site.  You can include your podcast on your blog, which are discussed in chapter eight.  You can even produce a radio program, as discussed above, and then turn your radio programs into podcasts. 
If you are interested in achieving maximum exposure to a wide audience, you can submit your podcast to directories such as iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo and Yahoo Podcasts. You can also list your web site or podcast in other online directories and web rings to make sure you're getting widespread exposure.  You will want to add a link or RSS feed to your MySpace, Facebook or other social networking page.  Of course, if you are interested in only reaching limited audiences, you would concentrate your distribution efforts on resources that just focus on those limited audiences.
To create your podcast, you will need very little equipment.  In fact, you or other members of your affiliate or chapter will probably already have pretty much everything you will need:

  • Computer, the more RAM and the larger the hard drive, the better
  • Microphone, a $20 mic from Wal-Mart will work
  • Audio recording software that will record to an MP3 file type, e.g. Audacity
  • RSS file, e.g. use of special software such as ClickCaster, BlogMatrix or MyRSSCreator. These programs are free, powerful and help beginners by cutting out all the coding requirements.

Creating a podcast is extremely easy.  However, the step-by-step details are beyond the scope of this handbook.  You can find numerous helpful resources on the Internet using Google or to by going to and putting “creating your own podcast” into the search edit box.

Chapter Eight: More Powerful Guerrilla Marketing Techniques

In this chapter, we discuss several more powerful, free or low-cost guerrilla marketing techniques, some used by many affiliates, others used by a few, but all are effective.

Business Cards and Stationery

While business cards are very important to have for all officers, they are equally important and should be given to all of your members.  One resource for free business cards is Vistaprint,
You can design your own business cards.  If you are blind, you may want to seek assistance with creating the graphic image to use.  If you already have a logo or graphic you use for other printed materials, such as letterhead or brochures, you may be able to use it, depending on how well it maintains its quality when reduced to a size small enough to fit onto a business card.  Otherwise, you might need to create a new image, such as a blind person walking with a cane or a guide dog or reading a braille book, etc.    Ideally, each member of your affiliate should have his/her own personalized business cards; that is, with his/her name, your affiliate name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and web site.  Alternatively, you can print a standard business card that all of your members would use.  Such a card would contain your logo and affiliate contact information only, and is usable by everyone. 
Your logo is your visual branding.  For space reasons, you may need to consider what information will fit on the card once your logo is in place.  You may opt to leave off your web site or e-mail address.  However, one or the other should be on your card, if not both.  Should you wish to design a card and you do not have a logo, you can go to one of the free design web sites and create your own using the design tools or templates provided on the web site.  However, these sites are graphic, and you may need assistance from someone with some degree of usable vision.  Once you have your design saved to your computer, you are ready to create your cards. 
Blank business card stock can be purchased from office supply stores, inserted into your printer, and printed out directly from your computer.  The back of the package will usually provide all the relevant information to set the template for printing.  Local printing companies frequently offer printing specials.  They will often give you a very special price, sometimes even free, if you are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  It is sometimes easier to work with a local printer, even if it costs a little more, because you get the benefit of their personal attention and professional expertise.  They can look at your design and tell you whether it will work on a standard business card. 
What about braille business cards?  Brailled business cards, cards with both print and braille on them, are exceptionally effective because they get special attention from the sighted people who receive them, and other blind people appreciate receiving business cards that are accessible. However, the amount of information you can have in braille is extremely limited -- a maximum of 4 lines with a maximum of 13 characters (including spaces) per line.  Consequently, only your name, organization and phone number will fit on a standard-sized business card.  Here is a list of some suppliers of braille business cards.

Letterhead and envelopes are critical as well.  Your business cards, letterhead and envelopes should all have the same look to reinforce and maintain your branding image.  Printed letterhead and envelopes project a professional image for your affiliate, and your correspondence will be taken more seriously.  You can design and print these materials yourself using templates available from many different sources, including Microsoft Office.   

Friends Day

The Washington Council of the Blind in several of its chapters sponsors an annual Friends Day.  On this day, members are encouraged to bring a friend to learn more about ACB and WCB.  Additionally, staff from other agencies serving blind people such as the library, state agency for the blind and other agencies are invited to come and talk about their programs.  Light refreshments are served, and everyone who attends is asked to leave their contact information.  Then, several weeks after the event, the attendees are contacted and invited back to the next regularly scheduled chapter meeting.

Coloring Sheets and Placemats for Restaurants

The Indiana Council of the Blind designed and produced coloring sheets for kids, to be used in restaurants to get more exposure to the community for their affiliate. It is important to remember that this is a coloring sheet; too much copy would make it too wordy and detract from its use by children.  Here is a detailed description of three coloring sheets that were used.
Coloring sheet #1: The wording on the upper left side of the sheet states:  Kids, remind your parents to stop for the white cane.  On the upper right: It's the Indiana White Cane Law. On the left side of the sheet, a vehicle faced the center. In the center of the sheet, a dog policeman with open hand indicating stop faces forward, and a person with a white cane walking down a sidewalk facing the center of the sheet was on the right side of the sheet. Across the bottom below the picture: Informational message by the American Council of the Blind of Indiana and the contact information, including e-mail address and web site. 
Coloring sheet #2: The wording across the top states: October is White Cane Safety Month.  On the left in bullet form are the statements: Please stop for the white cane - it's the Indiana Law! Please stop before the crosswalk.  Please trim low hanging limbs.  Please keep sidewalks free of toys, bicycles, trash cans and debris.  We thank you! The picture is on the right two-thirds of the page.  It depicts a residential area with trees, houses, sidewalks, a street intersection, and marked crosswalks. Our dog police officer is just left of the center of the sheet facing the right with open hand and outstretched arm indicating stop.  The vehicle is coming from the right side of the sheet near the intersection and facing left. The individual with a white cane is facing forward, nearing the crosswalk. Across the bottom of the sheet are the words: Distributed by the American Council of the Blind of Indiana and the contact information, including e-mail address and web site. 
Coloring sheet #3: The wording across the top of the sheet is:  White Cane Safety Day. The American Council of the Blind of Indiana would like to remind you that hybrid cars pose a special risk to the visually impaired as they make virtually no sound in city environments.  Please help blind people stay safe.  Thank you. On the left side of the sheet is a large traffic signal and on the right side of the sheet is a dot-to-dot automobile. Across the bottom below the picture: Informational message by the American Council of the Blind of Indiana and the contact information, including e-mail address and website. 
In addition to taking the coloring sheets to the restaurants, the Indiana affiliate also sent a press release relating to White Cane Safety Day to the media and publicly thank the restaurants for their support.  A certificate of appreciation was also given to each participating restaurant.  
Obviously, coloring sheets could be used for other occasions like Louis Braille month and telling about the importance of braille. Other important issues could also be addressed.   There is some cost associated with these kinds of guerrilla marketing projects, but the cost is relatively modest.   Costs can often be covered by a grant, as was the case with the Pennsylvania affiliate in the project described next. 
The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind obtained a grant from the Hershey Company to create and produce placemats for restaurants.  They called it their “Shining a Light” campaign.  Specifically, one of PCB’s members, Susan Lichtenfels, approached The Hershey Company for a grant of $2,000 to underwrite the printing of an activity sheet that doubles as a placemat and provides blindness awareness information for children and their parents.  The key selling point to Hershey was that the Pennsylvania affiliate designed the placemats with Hershey’s logo printed on the bottom corner of the placemats.  Thus, each of the 15,000 sheets that the PCB printed and distributed throughout Pennsylvania had the Hershey’s logo on them.  
The sheets are 11 x 17 and printed on both sides with bright colors. On the front of each sheet is a guide dog to color, a true/false section about people who are blind, the braille alphabet with empty cells for them to fill in their name or family member names in braille, a phrase written in braille for them to decode, and a word search with words that are related to blindness. Of course, also on the front are the Hershey and PCB logos. On the back of each sheet are the answers to the true/false with some explanation, the braille decoder puzzle, and the word search. Also on the back are a few paragraphs about Louis Braille, as well as information about what PCB does and how to contact the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind. On the top left corner of the back side of each sheet is a space reserved where the contact information for each of PCB’s local chapters can be included.
The PCB has found that the sheets seem to be best for ages 7 to 11.  In addition to sending the placemats to restaurants, the sheets are also distributed to informational fairs, to youth groups and Scout troops, at schools, during braille awareness events, and other similar places.

Promotional Videos

The same technology that is used to create public service announcements can be used to create your promotional video.  Therefore, we will not go into great detail here, but it is important for us to identify this as another relatively inexpensive, or even free, method for getting out information about your affiliate or chapter.  Your promotional video can even be an extension of your video PSA, or vice versa.  Unlike your video PSA, however, you are not limited to just 30 seconds or one minute.  Your promotional video can be 5, 10, or even 15 minutes long.  It gives you an opportunity to tell about your organization and show what blind people can and are doing and achieving with their lives.  Your video needs to be fast-moving, grab and sustain the viewers’ attention, move swiftly from scene to scene with upbeat, peppy background music.  
Such a video can be sent out to local TV stations and cable systems, but it can also be sent to schools, clubs, and other organizations to tell your story and get out the good word about your affiliate or chapter.  It is also an excellent support tool when making personal presentations before such groups.  The North Dakota Association of the Blind produced such a video with excellent results.

Radio and Telephone Reading Services

Across the country, there are many public radio stations that carry a local or regional reading service on an FM subcarrier. They are commonly affiliated with universities, libraries and other non-profit institutions.  Some radio reading services are also broadcast on standard FM stations.  For instance, WRBH in New Orleans was the first open channel radio reading service.  WYPL in Memphis, Tennessee, run by volunteers of the Memphis Public Library, devotes nearly its entire broadcast day to a mixture of live readings and pre-recorded readings overnight.  In keeping with modern technology, most of the over 100 audio information services in the U.S. today stream their broadcasts live on the Internet, and many offer online archives of previously broadcast programming. Some organizations are even providing their listeners with pre-tuned Internet radios.  The ACB of Ohio and the Tennessee Council of the Blind both use radio reading services to publicize information about their affiliates.  It is an excellent way of reaching out to other blind people, both members and non-members of your organization.  To find radio reading services in your area, go to the International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) web site,
There are also several telephone reading services that target blind and low-vision people that furnish information somewhat similar to the radio reading services described above.  For instance, in Arizona, the Sun Dial telephone reading service is accessible on demand with a touch-tone phone to listen to national and local newspapers, local ads, local election information and more.  Similarly, the Kansas Audio Reader Network provides selected national and many state papers, which is a combined radio and telephone reading service.  The Metropolitan Washington Ear is a free combined radio reading and telephone reading service for the blind and visually impaired throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.  The ACB of Ohio, the Old Dominion Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired and the ACB of New Mexico all use these kinds of services to get out information about their organizations and activities.  These are great guerrilla marketing methods for publicizing your affiliates and chapters.

Telephone Hotlines

Another relatively inexpensive way of promoting your affiliate or chapter and providing a 24-hour service to your community and even beyond is to establish a telephone hotline.  This is somewhat similar to the telephone reading service concept, but different because it is totally owned and controlled by your affiliate or chapter.  Such a hotline can be staffed by a person part of the time and provide pre-recorded messages when a person is not available to answer.  By using push-button selections, you can provide various combinations of services and messages.  The Washington Council of the Blind finds this to be an effective method of getting the word out to the public as well as its membership.
The Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB) provides a telephone hotline.  It is listed in the phone book.  Also, there is an organization in Phoenix that produces and sends out a State Resources Handbook once a year in which the AzCB telephone hotline is listed.  Of course, the hotline is prominently shown on the AzCB web site.  
Costs for providing this type of service can be extremely modest, especially with the many low-cost telephone service providers available today, such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services.  Often with these services conference calling, call forwarding, automatic redial, and caller ID features that traditional telecommunication companies normally charge extra for, are available as a part of the total package at no additional charge.  Some of these services require a special phone (e.g., Skype) or an adaptor to use with your regular phone, (e.g., MagicJack).  Here are a few such services you might check out:

The Importance of Web Sites, Exchanging Links, and Using Blogs

It is imperative that your affiliate or chapter have a web site.  In today’s world, this is not an option; it is a requirement to effectively communicate your message to your various target audiences.  A web site is the contemporary minimum for establishing your authenticity and credibility.  Your web site does not need to be fancy or complicated, but it does need to be attractive, well-designed, and easily accessible and navigable.  It is very important to remember that most of your members and the other people who will access your web site are sighted, at least to some extent.  Therefore, it should incorporate pictures and graphics that are pleasing to the eye.  All pictures and graphics must be labeled or alt-tagged for the benefit of screen reader users.  A detailed tutorial on how to create a good, accessible web site is beyond the scope of this handbook.  However, there are numerous resources and information available that you can refer to and use.  Our special-interest affiliate the Blind Information Technology Specialists (BITS) should be able to assist you if you need help.  You also can use Google to find a wealth of material on accessible web site design.  In addition, many of our affiliates have excellent web sites that you can use as a guide, and their webmasters might even be willing to help you too.
If you already have a web site, that is good, but it is important to be listed with all of the most common search engines, especially Google, Yahoo, and MSN.  One way of improving your rankings on the popular search engines, especially Google, is to have lots of links to and from other related web sites.  Therefore, you should contact other affiliates and chapters asking them if they will exchange links with you.  You should certainly have a link to all of the other chapters in your state and to both ACB’s web site and ACB Radio’s web site, and to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). 
Blogs are another kind of web site. The content is usually organized by date and category with the most recent post/content displaying first.  A blog is another way of using contemporary technology to more effectively communicate with your target audiences.  A blog can be incorporated into your web site, or it can be the entire basis of your web site.  Blogs are extremely easy to create and maintain, but for maximum effectiveness, they must be maintained on a regular basis.  You can create a blog using such resources as WordPress or Blogger.  In general, Blogger is great because it's easy to use. However, WordPress has a lot more features and plug-ins that will allow you to enhance your blog.  For more information about this great guerrilla marketing tool, you can consult such resources as:
Creating a blog design from scratch:
10 Tips for Bloggers:
Creating a Blog Using Wordpress, Blogger or Other Bloging Platforms:

E-mail Listservs

Like a web site, it is also imperative that your affiliate or chapter have an e-mail listserv.  It is an excellent way of keeping everyone in your organization up-to-date with all of your events and activities, and it also facilitates communications among your members.  You can restrict your listserv to just your official membership or you can set it up so anyone can subscribe and participate.  BITS, for an example, has a listserv that is restricted to its members only.  The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind has a listserv that is restricted, meaning that each subscriber must be approved by the list manager; thus, non-SCKCB members can subscribe, but they must be approved first.  There are still other listservs that anyone can join by simply making a request to the listserv’s computer.  Regardless of the specific type you set up, it is very important to have a listserv to communicate with your various target audiences.  Lists can be very easily set up through the hosting service used by your web site.  Most web site hosting services allow several different lists to be set up at no additional cost.  You could have one that was restricted to just your members and another that is open to anyone.  

Using Social Media

The term "social media" refers to a collection of free and very low-cost online resources that are used to blend technology and social interaction with individuals and other organizations in which you have some common or vested interests.  Among the most well-known include Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
These social media resources give your organization a method to communicate with your members, potential members, members of other affiliates and chapters, and other target audiences.  The use of social media resources helps you to disseminate your message in a relaxed, free-flowing and conversational manner.
The downside to the use of social media is that it must be kept up and attended to on a regular basis to be able to maintain the momentum and attention you need for it to be effective.  However, many different kinds of organizations, both profit-seeking and non-profit, are using social media resources very successfully to communicate interactively with their various target audiences.
You, too, can use these kinds of social media tools to provide an identity to your affiliates and chapters and the services you offer, and to create relationships with people who might not otherwise know about your affiliate or chapter and your services.  If you want people to follow you on Facebook or Twitter, don't just talk about the latest happenings in a third-person format, but share your personality with them on a first-person basis.
While social media provides a lot of benefits, for maximum effectiveness and results it must be integrated with the other guerrilla marketing methods you employ.  Again, an important key to social media effectiveness is to be consistent.  If you cannot devote time to maintaining it on a regular basis, then it will not deliver the results you expect and want.  If, for instance, you don't have time to devote to maintaining your own Twitter account, you can send information about your key events to be sent out on our ACB national Twitter page.  If your affiliate has a monthly conference call, or is planning a fund-raising project, or has some important news, we would be happy to publicize it via the ACB national Twitter page.  Or you could coordinate your announcement by re-tweeting it from your own Twitter account; examples include such news as the ACB Human Service Professionals (HSP) and ACB Lions (ACBL) conference calls and Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI) and Friends-In-Art (FIA) scholarships.  You can send these kinds of announcements to: or and we'll turn them into cool tweets. If your affiliate already has a Twitter account, be sure to let us know so we can follow you and re-tweet your messages like we do with NABS and CCLVI.


There are many other methods of getting your information out.  For instance, you can be listed with the Chamber of Commerce in your area, or you can also be listed with the Community Shares organization in your area.  ACB of Ohio and also the Tennessee Council of the Blind have both had good results with their associations with Community Shares.  For more information about Community Shares, go to
Next we will cover various promotable events to give you some ideas of the kinds of activities that you can promote using various guerrilla marketing methods that we have described in this handbook.

Chapter Nine: Promotable Special Events

In this chapter, we discuss several special events that are relatively inexpensive, or even free, to put on.  These are the kinds of events that your affiliate or chapter can easily promote and that the media will readily get behind, giving your organization valuable positive publicity and public exposure.  These events include, but are not limited to: Dining in the Dark, musical concerts, exhibits of accessible devices and technology, audio-described movie night, and events like bake sales and hot dog & drink sales.  We have affiliates or chapters that have done all of these kinds of events with tremendous success.

Dining in the Dark

Several of our affiliates have hosted Dining in the Dark events.  One such group is the Long Island Council of the Blind in New York.  It has hosted several Dining in the Dark events.  They work with a small facility that holds around 70 to 85 people. The menu includes a cold appetizer, salad, a choice of 3 different main dishes and dessert. Soda, coffee and tea are included. The bar is a cash bar.  The largest challenge is finding an establishment that will work with you.  That is why they intentionally keep it relatively small.  The establishment’s staff serves all the food.  The blind members are asked to sit with sighted folks at the tables to promote discussion. 
The event lasts from about 6:30 to 9:30.  It starts at 6:30, allowing folks to mingle and get seats.   Then, at 7 p.m. one of the blind members thanks everyone for coming; after the brief introductory remarks, the sighted guests are told that if they need to use the restrooms, they are to ask the servers to guide them.  This is followed by a brief "lesson" in things like finding your glass, locating your food, cutting the meat, etc.  Then, the lights are turned off, and the room is in total darkness.  They even put butcher paper and cardboard over the windows and the door to keep out any light. The only light is the exit sign and the glow sticks used by the servers to take orders and pass food. Blindfolds are even provided; some people use them and others do not, but, it facilitates a discussion about low vision vs. total blindness.  During the event the blind members answer questions from their tablemates, e.g., how do I find the butter once I get it on the bread? How do I tell the amount of salt or pepper?  The lights are turned on just before dessert is served, and this allows for a debriefing and group chat.
Planning for the event begins 4 to 6 months in advance. Flyers are created, printed and widely distributed to promote the event.  The event is featured on the chapter’s web site, and the word is also sent out to all of the previous participants.  In addition, media releases are prepared and sent out to all of the media in the area. 
The restaurant charges the organization $20 per person and their chapter sells tickets for $50.  Since this event is meant to be both a public education event and a fundraiser, a publication is created that tells about blindness and blindness-related issues, e.g., a message from the chapter president, something having to do with blindness -- whether it be a piece from a member about their experience going blind, proper sighted guide technique, statistics on blindness, or information on the need for accessible currency.  To raise more money, advertising is sold to go in the publication.  For instance, a table for 4 and a journal ad are available at a package price or individually.  The organization makes considerable money on the publication from the ads, which members have sold to businesses.  Advertising on the front and back covers and inside covers cost more than the other inside pages.  The layout of ads and program material is handled by the printer. All the chapter does is provide the information. 
For a detailed manual on how to conduct your own Dining in the Dark event, go to

Musical Concerts

Again, several of our affiliates and chapters have hosted various types of concerts.  All types of musical concerts can be put on, featuring all blind and low-vision musicians, popular bands, or an event featuring both.  In almost every area of the country there are musicians who would be willing to perform for little cost or even free to help support the goals of your organization.  These might be a group of musicians you put together yourself, or you might be able to find a band that would be willing to help your affiliate or chapter.
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) has put together several such concerts.  For example, a well-known band from Nashville, The Prisoners of Love, agreed to put on a concert, which was sponsored by and held at a night club called Ellis Place.  The event was heavily promoted by the SCKCB but also by Ellis Place, using media releases, community-oriented radio and TV programs, and there was a huge banner in front of Ellis Place announcing the concert.  There was an admission charge.  The band was paid a reduced rate for their performance.  Ellis Place kept all of the bar and snack revenue, and the SCKCB received the balance of the admission revenue.  The SCKCB president served as the MC and members of the chapter helped as servers.  SCKCB brochures were distributed to all guests, and the MC worked into the event information about the SCKCB, including several humorous stories about its members, illustrating that blind people are just like everyone else. 
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind is also fortunate to have as one of its members a woman who is recognized as one of the very best pianists in the entire world, Sylvia Kersenbaum.  At the peak of her career, she was considered among the top 5 pianists in the world, and she has performed in concerts all over the United States, Europe, South and Central America, and Asia.  Miss Kersenbaum is legally blind and has agreed to perform a concert each fall for the past several years on behalf of the SCKCB.  The event serves both as a vehicle for public education and as a fundraiser for the organization.  The SCKCB hands out its brochures to all attendees.  The president of the SCKCB starts the concert off by introducing the South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind as the beneficiary of the event, then he introduces Miss Kersenbaum.  She takes a break in the middle of the concert, during which time a member of the SCKCB tells more about the organization, how it benefits blind and low-vision people, some of the accomplishments of the SCKCB and the ACB, then invites a few questions from the audience.  The sponsors, e.g., local businesses and local individuals who give significant contributions to support the concert, are also recognized.
SCKCB promotes the concert by creating media releases that are sent out to all of the local media sources, e.g. radio, TV, cable systems, and newspapers.  It is also listed on all of the calendars of events in the area, such as those on TV stations, cable, radio, and various web sites and local publications.  The SCKCB president also secures appearances on local TV and radio programs, e.g., the Mid-Day Report, Talk of the Town, Happenings in Bowling Green.  There is a small admission charged for the concerts, which is kept entirely by the SCKCB.  The concerts are held in either one of the large local churches or the concert hall of Western Kentucky University.  Since both Miss Kersenbaum and Dr. Milliman are members of the Western Kentucky University faculty, they are able to secure access to the university’s concert hall free of charge, providing all students are admitted free by showing their student ID cards. 


Perhaps the most feasible, common and popular type of exhibit that can be relatively easily hosted by an affiliate or chapter is a technology or accessible devices exhibit.  If your group is large enough, it might have numerous devices available among your own members to be able to display and demonstrate, e.g., braille or talking watches and clocks, various kitchen aids and small appliances, magnifying devices (both traditional and the newest digital magnifiers), accessible computers and cell phones, etc.  As an alternative, you can often find a distributor of such devices to put on an exhibit for you free for the publicity and exposure.  These kinds of exhibits are of interest to people of all ages.  Young people love them because they are often the ones especially interested in and desirous of the latest technology and love to have the opportunity to see it and be able to get their hands on it.  Older people are extremely interested because they have often lost their eyesight later in life and are really struggling to continue doing the things they have been used to doing with sight.  So, they are excited to have the opportunity to see devices like magnifiers, accessible computers, calculators, kitchen appliances, etc., things they never had any idea existed.
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) has hosted several such exhibits.  The last one was comprised of a combination of accessible devices and gadgets exhibited by a newly established retail distributor from Louisville called “See The World and products provided for exhibit by members of the SCKCB." The exhibit took place on a Tuesday evening from 7:00 until about 9:00.  All of the devices were on display, but they were also demonstrated.  After the demonstration, the people attending the event could test them for themselves and ask any questions they had about the products.  Media releases were created and sent out to all of the local media, and announcements were listed on all of the community calendars provided by the local media services, bulletin boards in stores and on the campus of Western Kentucky University.  E-mail announcements were sent out to a list of local residents and also to all of the blind and low-vision students attending Western Kentucky University through the cooperation of the disabled student services office.  The exhibit was covered by both the local newspapers and one of the two local TV stations, and heavily supported and covered by the local public broadcasting radio station.  SCKCB literature was given out to all attendees.  In addition to the massive publicity obtained, several new members for the SCKCB were recruited from among the attendees.

Audio-Described Movie Night

The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind has also conducted several audio-described movie events, some at night and some on the weekends.  The evening movies have been open to everyone, especially aiming toward the general public and the Western Kentucky University students, while the weekend movies were targeted toward kids.  Two facilities were used, depending on availability.  One location was on the campus of Western Kentucky University where the SCKCB had access to a large- screen theater.  The other facility was simply a large room with chairs and a wide-screen TV.  Both locations were equipped to play VHS videos or DVDs.  The main focus was on public education, educating the viewers about audio description, but a secondary objective was fundraising.  Brochures were given to all of the attendees.  After a brief introduction of the SCKCB, what it does and how it helps blind and low-vision people, the audience was told what to expect from the audio description of the movie.  They were told that after the movie, there would be a question-and-answer session.  One question that they had to be prepared to answer was, “Even though you can see, did the audio description add something or take something away from the movie for you?" Then, immediately following the conclusion of the movie, there was a question-and-answer session. 
The movies were promoted with media releases, listings on all of the calendar of events available in the area, e.g. TV stations, radio stations, the cable system, newspapers, and web sites.  The movies targeting the kids on Saturday afternoons were promoted by placing announcements on the schools’ bulletin boards, and on the schools’ web site’s “Of Interest to Kids Calendar.”  However, anything posted that was aimed toward the students had to be approved before it could be posted.  Also, an opt-in list was developed from the people and students who attended the movies so e-mail announcements could be made to promote subsequent movies.

Sales: Hot Dogs, Drinks, and Baked Goods

There are many different kinds of sales your affiliate or chapter can host to achieve public awareness, public education, and even to raise funds, such as yard or garage sales.  However, we are going to focus on two different types of sales commonly hosted by various affiliates and chapters.  They are hot dog and drink sales, and baked goods sales.  
Two chapters of the Pennsylvania affiliate, the Lehigh Valley in the Allentown area and the Golden Triangle Council in Pittsburgh, have held a “Coke Wagon” hot dog and drink sale. While they have been used as a fundraiser for the chapters, netting around $1,500, they also serve as a major public awareness and public education event as well.  They call it a Coke Wagon sale because they get a small vending wagon from Coke and use Coke products for the soft drinks.  They hold the event at a local Sam’s Club, the date for which must be done very early in the planning process in order to secure a good, high-traffic date, like on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
In arranging a date with Sam's, we strongly recommended that your affiliate or chapter ask about Sam’s matching funds up to $1,000 on your net income for the sale.  They have also been successful in arranging for cooler space for soda and hot dog storage during the weekend. As a condition for getting free use of the “Coke Wagon,” they must agree to buy their drink products from Coke, except for bottled water. They reported that they had no success in asking Coke for a few cases to be donated to support the event, but they don't push Coke on this issue since Coke provides the Coke Wagon out of which the chapters sell their hot dogs and drinks.  They shop for the best price on good hot dogs, and in Pittsburgh, they have been successful in getting all of the buns donated from a large bread bakery.  They also contact local stores for donations of other needed items, like napkins, condiments and bottled water; this latter item is also a good seller.  They utilize the services of both blind and sighted volunteers, like Lions Club members, to assist with the event.    
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) holds a baked goods sale each year in the fall, usually in September.  Several members of the SCKCB provide a variety of baked goods for sale.  The items include, but certainly not limited to, several kinds of brownies, many different kinds of cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, no-bakes, all kinds of cupcakes, chocolate and peanut butter fudge, chocolate-covered Ritz Bits, coconut macaroons, and more.  The hot sellers are the brownies, fudge, chocolate-covered Ritz Bits, and chocolate chip cookies.  However, most everything sells out before the end of the day. 
To make pricing simple, everything is priced at 25 cents, but the quantity of what is included in the Ziploc bags varies, depending on the item, its size, and the cost to produce it, etc.  Different locations have been tested for best results, and consistently, the highest traffic and the best results occur when the sale is held in the front of the highest volume Wal-Mart store.  The sale must be booked well in advance of the desired date in order to be able to secure that particular date. 
The chapter tries to purchase as much of the ingredients and materials from the Wal-Mart store as possible with the view that if they support the SCKCB, then, in turn, the SCKCB should support Wal-Mart to the fullest extent possible.  The main purpose of the sale is not to raise money (though it does), but to draw shoppers’ attention to the sale table.  All patrons are given SCKCB brochures and other blindness-related literature, pens with the SCKCB contact information on them, and refrigerator magnets with the SCKCB logo and contact information on them.  Press releases are sent out a few days before the sale to all of the local media, resulting in a short piece on TV mentioning the sale and an article in the newspaper.  Sometimes a reporter is even sent out from the TV station or newspaper to cover the activity. 
In conclusion, these are only a few of the kinds of promotable events and activities your affiliate or chapter can host that will focus media attention on your organization and help you achieve your goals such as:

  • Public education
  • Recruiting new members
  • Serve as a fundraiser, in some cases, to bring the funds that you can use to support your other important activities. 

Promoting the kinds of events illustrated in this chapter are short-run, event-to-event promotions.  You also need some kind of longer run, ongoing campaign to keep your name in front of the public all of the time.  In our next chapter, we will illustrate how to integrate several of these guerrilla marketing methods into an ongoing campaign.

Chapter Ten: Putting It All Together: Your Integrated Guerrilla Marketing & PR Campaigns

In this chapter, we will pull the material covered in the previous sections all together into two types of integrated campaigns: the short-term, focused guerrilla marketing campaign and the long-term, ongoing awareness and reminder guerrilla marketing campaign.  While one of the objectives for most of our marketing and PR campaigns is to achieve some public attention and awareness, some of our efforts should be focused on specific events, activities, and functions that our affiliates are engaging in.  We should also have ongoing campaigns that keep our name and what we represent in the forefront of our various target audiences.

The Short-Term, Focused Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

The short-term, focused guerrilla marketing campaign is used to publicize specific events, activities, and functions.  For instance, here is a list of some such events you might want to publicize with this type of short-term campaign:

  • Your affiliate's state convention
  • Dining in the Dark event
  • A Walk-A-Thon event
  • An audio-described movie night
  • An exhibit, e.g., accessible devices, technology, etc.
  • A special presentation dealing with the latest eye-related research
  • Fundraising events, e.g. music concerts, golf or fishing tournament,
  • Trivia night, bingo night, garage or yard sale, chili cook-off, baked goods sale, hot dog & drink sale, silent auction, bowl-a-thon, etc.
  • White Cane Safety event
  • Louis Braille's Birthday event

The above list is certainly not meant to be all-inclusive, but it gives you some ideas for the types of events, activities, and functions that are prime happenings for this type of short-term, focused campaign. 
To publicize these kinds of events, you should use a combination of methods that we covered in earlier sections of this handbook.  This type of integrated approached could be applied to any of these kinds of activities. Let's take a Dining in the Dark event as an example.
The first step is planning the details of the event.  We are not going to get into planning the details for executing a Dining in the Dark activity; instead, we are going to concentrate on the marketing of the event.  We strongly recommend that:

  1. You write out your plan in detail so you have something you can refer to as a guide and something your entire team or committee is committed to, including specific people who are responsible for each key component of your plan.
  2. You begin by referring to this handbook as the first step in your campaign planning process.  Chapter Two dealt with free bulletin boards and calendar listings; that is the starting point for your campaign.
  3. Go through this handbook, chapter by chapter, applying the techniques that fit your campaign.

Let's get started by listing all of the places that have bulletin boards and calendars where you can publicize your Dining in the Dark event.  This will require some brainstorming by your members.  We listed some ideas in the second chapter.  You will probably need to develop three or four announcements of different lengths to be able to accommodate the requirements of the various bulletin boards and calendars you'll use.  Most TV stations, cable networks, and radio stations, for instance, limit the number of words you can use in your announcement to as few as 30 and rarely more than 100 words.  Bulletin boards online have similar limits.  Bulletin boards in stores quite often limit the size of the announcement, e.g. to a 3"x5" card or a 4"x6" card, very rarely more than a small 8 ½"x5 ½" poster.  Regardless of the size, you need to keep the copy to a minimum, giving only the key facts and a contact person, phone number, and web site if available.  Larger sizes should be used more for using larger type fonts and graphics that will grab and focus attention on your announcement.
Next, you will want to create a flyer to promote your event.  This should be designed for a standard, 8 ½" x 11" sheet of paper because this size is readily available, relatively inexpensive to copy, and it fits all printers, if you reproduce it yourself.  Again, you want to keep the copy focused on the facts: who, what, when, where, why, and how much.  Always use the largest type size possible, with as many colors as possible, and some eye-catching graphics.  Remember: anything directed toward the public should use as much eye candy as possible.  Research clearly shows that approximately 80 percent of what a sighted person gets into his/her brain comes from visual cues.  Sighted people love color and graphics.  Your Dining in the Dark flyer can be designed to fit on an 8 ½" x 11" folded in thirds.  The headline copy is critical on all of your promotional materials.  It must be short and very catchy, enticing the reader to want more, to keep reading, e.g. What Would You Do If You Were Blind? Or, How Would You Eat Your Dinner If You Couldn't See?    
Now, we need to do some more brainstorming to come up with our list of places where we can distribute our flyers.  It is important for each of these campaign components to have specific individuals responsible for getting the bulletin board and calendar listings and the flyers out to where they need to go.  Just making the list certainly doesn't get it done.
Timing of these components is very important.  The flyers can go out two to three weeks before the event.  However, the bulletin board and calendar listings will often be controlled by the policies of the TV, cable network, or radio stations.  Most of the time, you need to have it to the station at least two weeks before when you want it announced or included on the community calendar. 
From the copy you have written for your flyer, you can create your media release.  Of course, the format will be very different; follow the format shown in Chapter Four, but you can use the same catchy headline, and you can probably even use the key elements in your opening paragraph.  You will need to develop a list of media sources to which you will deliver or send your media release.  Do not get your media release to the media too far in advance of the event.  Usually, it should get in the hands of the person who handles media releases no more than three or four days in advance of the event you are publicizing.  If your Dining in the Dark event is taking place on Thursday night, you would want to get it to the media probably Monday or Tuesday.  However, to be on the safe side, we highly recommend that you call the person who handles media releases for each media outlet and ask how they prefer to receive their media releases and how far in advance of the event they want it. 
The week of your Dining in the Dark event, you want to try to schedule as many guest appearances as possible on local TV stations, cable network programs, and radio programs.  To do this, you need to contact the media source at least three or four weeks in advance of the event.  To be on the safe side, we strongly recommend that you contact each media source to find out what kinds of programs they have where a representative of your affiliate can appear as a guest to tell their viewing or listening audience about your event and to find out how far in advance you need to schedule it. 
It is a very good idea to create a database or file in which you make note of all the requirements for each of your media sources, newspapers, TV stations, cable networks, radio stations, the various bulletin boards and community calendars you use, including the names and contact information for the key contact people so you won't have to totally reinvent the wheel each time you launch another similar campaign. 
Of course, you will want to include an article about your Dining in the Dark event in your newsletter, and you can also send a version of your article out to any other newsletters that might publish it, like church newsletters, Lions Club newsletters, PTA newsletters, etc.  If there are any community magazines that cover local events, you should try to get your article published in that too. 
Finally, make sure you have it listed and described on your web site.  If you have any telephone hotlines, radio reading services or telephone reading services available to you, they are all good sources to publicize your Dining in the Dark event.  If it doesn't cost anything, or if the cost is very small, there is little or no downside to using that method for getting out the word about your activity.  If you have a blog, put the information about your event out on your blog; in fact, you can put out a series of informational blurbs on your blog.  You can do the same for your Facebook page.  And if your affiliate is on Twitter, these are all resources and methods that form your total integrated guerrilla marketing campaign for marketing and publicizing your Dining in the Dark event.  

The Long-Term, Ongoing Awareness and Reminder Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

The long-term, ongoing awareness and reminder guerrilla marketing campaign is actually a little easier to develop than the short-term special event guerrilla marketing efforts.  The key to the longer-term campaign is staying on top of it and keeping it going.  The target markets, themes, and issues that are especially suited for the longer-term guerrilla marketing campaigns include, but are certainly not limited to: 

  • Are you a parent of a blind child?
  • Are you a senior citizen who is losing your eyesight?
  • Are you slowly going blind?
  • Have you lost your eyesight and need assistance?
  • Blindness does not have to be a handicap!
  • Do you know someone who is blind and could use some assistance?
  • We have a scholarship program for blind and low-vision students.
  • We have a grant program created to help blind and low-vision people.

Again, this list is not meant to be all inclusive, but it will give you some ideas for the kinds of themes that make good longer-term guerrilla marketing campaigns.  It is a good idea to develop several of these themes that apply to your particular affiliate or chapter and rotate them.  Let's just select four of the above themes to illustrate our point.  We'll use: are you a parent of a blind child, are you a senior citizen who is losing your eyesight, have you lost your eyesight and need assistance, and blindness does not have to be a handicap!
The campaign methods will be very similar for all of the themes, so we will concentrate on the first one.  The difference will be a little adjustment in some of the outlets used.  For instance, our campaign targeting parents of blind children will reach out to special education teachers who have contact with parents of blind children and include placing information in the PTA newsletter.  In contrast, if we are targeting senior citizens, we would focus on outlets that reach the older segments of our population.
We need to develop at least one, possibly even three or four, public service announcements (PSAs) for each theme.  Follow the guidelines in Chapter Five of this handbook and get a copy of "PSA Handbook for ACB Affiliates and Chapters" to help you create and distribute your PSAs.  To get started, just create one complete long-term campaign for a particular theme, like targeting parents of blind children. 
When you have all of the components planned out and created, like your announcement that you will put up on stores' and organizations' bulletin boards, the article you will publish in various organizations' newsletters, your public service announcement, posting information related to your theme to your web site, and designing and distributing the flyers that focus on your theme, you can turn to the next campaign theme and get it ready to launch.   Each themed campaign should be allowed to run for no less than one month and no more than three months.  Then, you should switch to a different themed campaign.  Once we launch our campaign targeting parents of blind children, we will let it run for two months, which gives us time to plan and create the materials we need to launch our second campaign targeting senior citizens who are losing their eyesight.  We will let this second campaign run for two months, during which time we will plan and create the materials we need for our third themed campaign, which is targeting people who have lost their eyesight and need assistance.  When the two months are up for our second campaign, we will launch our third one.  Again, while this third campaign is running for its two months, we will use the time to plan and create the materials for our fourth themed campaign targeting the general public to convey the point that blindness does not have to be a handicap.  When the two months are up for the third campaign, we are ready to launch our fourth campaign. 
Once the four campaigns have all run their cycle, we are ready to go back to the first one and kick it off again.  We will simply rotate through each complete cycle over and over.  It is a good idea to have some variations that you can use, like two or three alternative PSAs, even some alternative announcements for bulletin boards, and some variations in the articles you send out to go in newsletters, etc.  It is very important to emphasize the name of your organization, what your affiliate or chapter can do for the targeted audience, and your contact information.  In every element of your campaign, the headline is vitally important to grab the attention of the intended target audience, to tell them what you can do for them, how your organization can benefit them, who you are and how to reach you.  Your materials have to give the targeted audience a strong reason to take action, and the action you want them to take is to contact you.  Why should a parent of a blind child want to call you?  What can you do for them?  How can your organization assist them?  How can you help them to solve a problem they face?  What can you do for older people who are facing the frightening situation of losing their eyesight and can no longer read printed material or drive a car?  These are the kinds of questions your campaign materials have to answer in a very, very short, succinct manner.
This concludes our guerrilla marketing handbook.  If you have any questions or need assistance, you can contact the ACB PR Committee.  The chair of the committee and all of its members are listed on the ACB web site,  Public Relations Committee.