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Public Affairs

In FY 1996, public affairs efforts at Selective Service were geared toward reaching the right audiences with accurate and effective information. In addition to routine interaction with the public and the media to answer questions and provide historical facts and records, the Agency staff published The Register, a bimonthly newsletter for all employees, including assigned Guard and Reserve members, and thousands of Agency volunteers. A comprehensive and multi-faceted National Awareness Campaign was also conducted, using a variety of media to inform young men throughout America about their statutory obligation to register at age 18.

Many Audiences Considered

Hard-to-reach men in the inner cities received special attention in FY 1996. In places where school drop out rates are high, compliance with the registration requirement is usually below average. To ensure that these young men obey the law and do not lose eligibility for Federal jobs and job training by neglecting to register with Selective Service, the SSS staff worked with minority contractors to develop and distribute informational materials designed to reach African-American and Hispanic men and those who influence them.

An African-American campaign using the slogan, "A Man's Gotta Do What A Man's Gotta Do," was developed by a Beachwood, Ohio, public relations firm, and tested successfully in two cities, Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., in February 1996. In this campaign, posters, brochures, registration cards, and radio public service announcements (PSAs) were distributed to inner city social and cultural institutions that have routine contact with young African-American men. The test marketing allowed some fine tuning of the campaign and it was expanded to include ten major cities in September.

Fifteen hundred public information kits were produced and about 900 were mailed directly to social service agencies in ten major cities. About 600 additional kits were distributed to the three SSS Region Headquarters for neighborhood placement by assigned Reserve officers.

A Hispanic campaign using the slogan, "Hazlo Por Ti!" ("Do It For You!") was developed with a Hispanic firm and tested with Hispanic audiences in February and March. Similar to the African-American effort, the campaign consisted of a community information kit containing posters, brochures, registration cards, and radio PSAs, but these were produced with Hispanic themes in Spanish and English. At the close of FY 1996, this campaign was also expanding. Additional public awareness kits were printed, and mailings planned for ten major cities to reach Hispanic agencies that work with young men. Of 2,000 kits printed, 1,400 will be distributed by direct mail in the first quarter, FY 1997. The balance will be sent to the three SSS Region Headquarters for placement.

Celebrity Radio PSAs Produced

Because radio has the ability to reach 18-year-old males and their parents, a radio campaign called "Red Hot Spots" was recorded, edited and transferred to compact disk (CD) format for release during winter 1996. It consists of 24 registration reminder PSAs recorded throughout FY 1996 with Hispanic and country and western music stars. The country celebrities who donated their time and voices to the effort included Wade Hayes, John Berry, Mark Wills, Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs, and the performing groups named Perfect Stranger, Lonestar, and 4-Runner. Hispanic celebrities included Jimmy Smits from the hit TV series, "NYPD Blue," actors Ricardo Montalban, Jennifer Lopez, and comedian Paul Rodriguez. Spots scripted to remind Hispanic parents that their sons must register were recorded in Spanish.

Updating Proven Materials

The Agency's "Institutional Briefing," a multi-media presentation used at National Headquarters to brief visiting officials and groups, was updated. The presentation focuses on the Agency's role in National Defense and describes the mechanics of the registration program. It reviews missions and organization, defines the role of board members, and explains how a future draft would operate. Once updated, the briefing was transferred to videotape for use in regional and local public information programs by board members and assigned Reserve officers.

A speech kit (script and illustrative slides) was produced in 1994. Entitled, "To Provide for the Common Defense," it proved practical and popular when used by SSS personnel at schools, before veterans groups, and at meetings of service organizations, such as Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. The Agency recalled the 300 kits from the field so they could be updated in FY 1996. The kits were redistributed in June. The update avoided the additional expense of producing a totally new kit.

A 28-page booklet was produced in FY 1996, entitled "America's Hedge Against the Unknown: The Selective Service System, A Primer." This companion item to the institutional briefing and the speech kit was produced at minimum cost using in-house desktop publishing capabilities and skills.

Also prepared during FY 1996 was the first draft of a scholarly, book-length manuscript about the history of the Selective Service System. The writing was accomplished part-time by Lt. Col. John C. Anderson, and completed before his recent retirement from the Army Reserve. Anderson's last Reserve assignment was with Selective Service as the part-time Agency Historian. He based his work on extensive research and official records. The work will be edited and should be ready for printing in spring 1997.

Showcasing America's 35 Millionth Registrant

Jerry Lewis, Jr., of Rankin, Texas, the 35 millionth man to register since the requirement was reinstated by the President in 1980, agreed to help remind others about the registration requirement. In September, he and some of his high school friends posed for photos that will be featured in upcoming registration awareness campaigns.

The photographs will first be used for a theater slide registration reminder campaign during the 1996 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The images will also appear on high school posters to be distributed in the fall, 1997.

Providing Information In Exciting Ways

In FY 1996, SSS went "on-line" with a Worldwide Web site at http://www.sss.gov. The new home page was designed completely "in house" and can be reached by anyone with Internet access. There are even hypertext links to it from many Internet Search Engines and other home pages, including those of the Department of Defense and the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors.

The SSS home page provides detailed information to its visitors in many categories, including basic facts about the Agency, registration, frequently asked questions, what the Agency provides for America, what happens if there is a draft, and historical induction statistics. Weekly "hits" (the number of visitors contacting the site) have increased steadily since it was initiated in March 1996.

Using new techniques in computer imaging, the best photo of Jerry Lewis, Jr., and his friends was blown up larger than life-size to form the prominent image on several new SSS exhibits created at the end of FY 1996. These will be used at career days, fairs, shopping malls, public buildings, and other high traffic locations. The exhibits are collapsible and one-person portable, enabling frequent and easy use. Each Region Headquarters will receive two full-size and one tabletop exhibit. Two exhibits will be retained at National Headquarters for use throughout the metropolitan Washington area.

National Awareness Efforts

To reach general audiences with registration reminder messages, the Agency again produced a three-part national awareness campaign in FY 1996.

A TV spot in 30-, 15-, and 10-second lengths called "Boys From Men," uses humor to remind men that registration is a rite of passage. Posing the question, "What separates the boys from the men?" it compares boy things to man things: clothes, eating habits, toys and the like; finally ending with the observation that men, not boys, register with Selective Service. The narration concludes, "Hey, it's what a man's gotta do."

Over one thousand TV tapes were mailed to cable outlets, broadcasters and networks throughout the country on March 1, 1996. SSS used electronic tracking methods to verify play of the spot by stations in free, public service time. From more than 100 surveyed, "Boys from Men" proved to be the 10th most popular national public service announcement airing during the month of April 1996. In the first 90 days after release, it aired in 24 of the top 25 national TV markets, and garnered free air time valued at nearly $1.3 million.

A compact disk (CD) containing radio public service announcements aimed at general audiences was distributed in February 1996. Over 7,000 stations received the disk, which was packaged with the headline, "Play It Again, Sam." It featured 30- and 60-second registration reminder messages.

Because electronic monitoring of radio spots is cost prohibitive, business reply cards were enclosed in the CD mailers and the returned cards were used to measure station usage. During the first 120 days of play, the spots aired in 12 of the top 20 markets on 53 stations. By far, "country" and "adult contemporary" stations used it most. The spots were less likely to be used by religious, nostalgia/oldies, and diversified stations. The average number of broadcasts per using stations was over 60. Equivalent paid advertising dollar value of the free airings on radio was more than $700 thousand.

An information and awareness kit for high schools, along with a re-designed "Teacher's Guide," was produced during the fiscal year for fall 1996 distribution. Each of the 24,000 kits contained two posters of differing sizes, a script for the public address system, a frequently asked questions sheet, and a business reply card to obtain school feedback and requests for copies of the Selective Service System "Teacher's Guide." The kits were sent to directors of guidance or, in schools participating in the SSS High School Registrar Program, to those faculty members serving as registrars.

 

Last Updated April 30, 2002
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