SHAC Communication Guidelines

Promotion is a key part of all events. Only officially sanctioned events (district, council, national) can be promoted by the district or council (e.g., websites, newsletters, social media, roundtable). Events listed on the district, council or national website are approved to be promoted.

Ways events can be promoted:

District Promotions

  • District website (event page, home page)
  • District social media
  • District calendar
  • District electronic newsletter
  • Roundtable announcement
  • Flyers distributed to units at roundtable and district events
  • Displays at roundtable and district events
  • Ask unit commissioners to promote
  • Presentation/display at Program Preview
  • One-on-one ask (best, most effective method)
  • Encourage key staff to promote
  • Local media (e.g., community newspaper), if appropriate

Council Promotions

  • SHAC website (event page, home page blog, home page slider, calendar)
  • District websites (news feed blog, home page article, calendar)
  • eScouter (electronic newsletter)
  • Scouting Trails (newsletter provided at roundtable)
  • Council and district social media
  • Flyers distributed to roundtable, district events, council events
  • Displays at council events (e.g., Council Coordinated, 
    University of Scouting)
  • Ask commissioners to promote; submit an article for Square Knot Notes
  • One-on-one ask (best, most effective method)
  • Encourage key staff to promote
  • Local media (e.g., community newspaper), if appropriate

For All District Communications

  • Only promote official district, council, or national events in all forms of communications (e.g., social media, newsletter, website, roundtable announcements).  An official district event is one that has been preapproved and budgeted by the Sam Houston Area Council. 
    • All official district events and trainings are listed on district, council or national websites. Trainings are also listed at shac.org/training-schedule.
    • All official community Scout Days are listed at shac.org/scout-days. While it might be tempting to share community Scouting activities, only promote our official partners who sign a memorandum of understanding with the council.
  • Do not post advertisements for unit events since only members from their own unit can attend. Units that wish to host events with other units outside of their charter must have council approval (source, page 20). Units can utilize district events such as Rocket Day and Webelos Woods to recruit Scouts.
  • Do follow the BSA Branding Guide, utilize the BSA Marketing and Membership Hub and use official Scouting terminology listed in the Language of Scouting (e.g., follow capitalization rules listed such as Scouts is always capitalized; use official terms such as Webelos Scouts, not Webelos or AOL or Arrow of Light Scouts; remember that Eagles and Cubs are animals and Scouting has Eagle Scouts and Cub Scouts).
  • Abide by the two-deep leadership policy that governs all Scouting activities which means there should be no private messages and no one-on-one direct contact with youth through text, email, direct messaging, chats, or instant messaging.
  • The district and council websites are the primary communication tool. Any additional communication tools (e.g., newsletters, fliers) should always point back to the website as the official source of information. Share enough information to peak interest and then refer Scouts, leaders, and parents to the official webpage for event details and registration links. By always referring back to the webpage, Scouts, Scouters and parents will always be able to easily find the latest information. Dates change, registration links sometimes change and program updates are frequently made leading up to an event.

Social Media Guidelines

It’s an exciting time to be part of the BSA for many reasons. One of those is that new communication vehicles now enable current and past Scouts and Scouters, as well those who are interested in participating or are just interested in Scouting in general, to communicate directly with each other about Scouting. Online social media tools have made it possible for virtually anyone with an Internet connection to create and be part of online communities where people can discuss Scouting and share stories, photos, videos, and other types of media.

Although using social media is not a Scouting activity, their use to connect with others interested in Scouting can be a very positive experience. But the creation and maintenance of these channels requires forethought, care, and responsibility. These guidelines are a complement to the BSA’s existing youth protection policies and training. Social media changes regularly, so this document reflects the current guidelines as determined by the BSA and is subject to modifications and amendments from time to time as required.

  • Maintain two-deep leadership online by ensuring a minimum of two district-level volunteers have access to every social media site. At least one of these page administrators should be a council employee, or a council marketing committee member. Give the council marketing director (fb.com/shac.sam.houston for Facebook) administrative access to all council and district social media platforms to help support district and council communication goals.
  • Be relevant. Keep sites relevant, timely, and engaging. Post consistently. All posts should be Scouting officially related. Posts should pertain to a majority of the audience; items that pertain to a few would better be communicated by email.
  • Monitor regularly. Check all social media platforms frequently. Ensure all social media channels are regularly monitored. A qualified staff member or volunteer should have the responsibility of monitoring social media channels daily, and backup administrators/monitors should be designated so there is no gap in the monitoring. Editors should receive individual email notifications [for Facebook on settings (under ‘your settings’)] in order to monitor comments. Social media takes a thick skin. Negative conversations are happening already, but now you have a voice in the conversation. Don’t delete negative comments unless they violate the Scout Oath and Law or these guidelines. Be prepared to respond to negative or inaccurate posts if a response is warranted. Some negative comments do not require a response, while others should be taken seriously and addressed. Be Scout-like when disagreeing with opinions remain appropriate and be polite. Build trust by being open and transparent. Share information and what the challenges and opportunities are for Scouting in your community.
  • Don’t create social media sites that the district can’t maintain. Districts may only have one Facebook page; all social media platforms (e.g., pages, groups) must be approved by the council marketing director. Social media sites must be public (not private).
  • Respect youth privacy. Stay true to the commitment of the BSA to be an advocate for youth and to keep children and their privacy safe, both online and off, should always be at the forefront of any considerations where social media usage is concerned.
  • Don’t post the last name of any youth members. Don’t share a Scout’s identifying information. Ensure youth member accounts are not tagged in posts or comments. Facebook Pages must be set to photo tags not allowed; profanity blocklist set as ‘strong’ (for Facebook it's under ‘manage permissions').    
  • Help ensure that all communication on social media channels remains positive and safe, these channels must be public, and all communication on or through them must be public. This enables administrators to monitor all communication and help ensure there is no inappropriate communication between adult leaders and Scouts or between Scouts themselves. Therefore, no private channels (e.g., private Facebook groups or invite-only YouTube channels) are acceptable in helping to administer the Scouting program.
  • Abide by the two-deep leadership policy that governs all Scouting activities also applies to use of social media. As it relates to social media, two-deep leadership means there should be no private messages and no one-on-one direct contact with youth through text, email, direct messaging, chats, instant messaging, or other similar messaging features provided through social media sites.
  • Follow guidelines. Conform to the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Follow BSA and SHAC social media and web policies.
  • Always have copyright permissions (for music, graphics, etc.). 
  • Be official. Only share official Scouting posts (district, council, national). Do not tag individuals or share personal posts. Do not tag businesses or share business posts unless they are an official Scouting partner (listed on a district, council national website), one of our chartered partner organizations, recipients of a service project, location of a Scouting event, or approved by the council marketing director. Refer to the district communications article above.
  • Don’t share fundraising events except for official council fundraisers (i.e., popcorn, council spring fundraiser).
  • Be thorough. Write all content as if the person reading it has zero background knowledge about the topic (think new Lion Scout parent). Explain terminology so that a non-Scout would understand. For example, a post about roundtable, district meetings, camporee would likely need an explanation describing the event and possibly the audience that would want to attend. Avoid acronyms. If an acronym is used, at first mention of an acronym, write it out as well to explain its full meaning the first time used.
  • Be a resource. Post enough information to peak interest and then refer people to official Scouting websites for more information. Avoid direct registration links (e.g., Doubleknot registration link), rather site the webpage to find the registration link or event details. This serves two purposes. First, occasionally the links change. Second, it provides the audience the official webpage with all of the latest event information.
  • Be significant to the audience. Don’t post advertisements for unit events (including unit recruiting or advancement events) on district pages since only members from their own unit can attend. Multiunit events must be approved by council before posting. Units are to use their own public social media platforms to recruit Scouts. Units are encouraged to use geofencing, a method of geographically targeting a specific audience (e.g., parents) around a specific location (e.g., within 3 miles of a school) to promote their recruiting events. Districts can share pics of Scouts at unit activities after the event to show Scouts in action. Units are encouraged to share recruiting events directly to the unit leader of feeder units and at roundtable to feeder units.
  • Follow BSA Branding. Use official Scouting terminology listed in the Language of Scouting (e.g., follow capitalization rules listed such as Scouts is always capitalized; use official terms such as Webelos Scouts, not Webelos or AOL or Arrow of Light Scouts; remember that Eagles and Cubs are animals and Scouting has Eagle Scouts and Cub Scouts). 

                                           

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Official Websites and Social Media

 

Rule of thumb: An event must be presented at least seven times before it sounds important. 

Remember KISMIF (Keep it simple, make it fun) can also mean “Keep it secret, make it fail.”

"A flyer or sign is not an ask.  An ask is a personal connection." -Gary Butler

"We have to use technology to get youth away from technology and outdoors."-Steve Deitz 

"It is more important than ever to deliver great Scouting experiences." -Stephen Medlicott