CIS Working Party 1 - Publicity, promotion and communication strategy

Final paper September 2005

Part 1

Part 2

Part 1


CIS members are looking at the opportunities to promote itself to the wider world, raising the profile of CIS as a brand synonymous with validated and authoritative occupational safety, health, chemical and fire information (OSH) but also extending the activities much further than in previous years.

Because of the increasing availability through electronic services / Internet it is not now absolutely necessary to just spend all efforts on acquiring, indexing and abstracting information, there is an opportunity to take on a much wider role of influencing, motivating, and creating new ways of publicity and promotion of OSH to make politicians, governments and others involved in the 'world of work' aware of the many problems experienced by workers, supervisors, managers in their daily lives.

2004 CIS Annual meeting workshops identified the following:

The key OSH Messages that CIS Members need to promote:

also suggested in 2005

The strengths

CIS is strengthened by having the Global CIS Network to support each other. The different parts of the network bring different strengths:

The weaknesses

The session agreed that CIS needs a Major Information Audit - looking for and finding honest answers to:

Opportunities for CIS

Twinning and supporting CIS Centres

It is also essential that the CIS Centres support the weaker CIS centres in building a strong global network - perhaps invoking the long established, but sadly under-used idea of twinning a well-established centre with a newly established one. This would include training, support with documents and electronic information etc

Advocacy visits from CIS HQ

Advocacy visits from the CIS HQ and other international staff to our Ministry's leadership will be necessary to ensure their support for the development of the Centre in the different countries.


We believe that if no actions are now taken the CIS network will dwindle to a meaningless name.

It is publicity, promotion and communication that is seen to be a priority action for the CIS Network.

It was agreed that there would need to be different messages for the different groups:

It is necessary to:

For CIS members to become more influential it is necessary that CIS Centres must have at the top of the management the director who is influential, locally, nationally and internationally. The CIS Centre and the staff must be able to use all influences:

Action programme required:

It would be useful if there was co-ordination from CIS HQ.

CIS Centres should:

The CIS Network must Work Smarter not Harder and let the world know about occupational safety and health information.

Part 2 - How to achieve a publicity, promotion and communications strategy

To help CIS Network and the individual centres the following detailed guidelines may help. It is suggested that the CIS Centres discuss this with their managements to see what actions can be undertaken within the next twelve months June 2005 - May 2006 when the 2006 Annual Meeting takes place in Geneva.

In particular the Working Group want to see a worldwide coordinated action on 28 April 2006 as its first major step to Rebranding, Relaunching and Revitalising the CIS Centres Network.

We need to consider:

Types of promotional activity

In order to establish the CIS Centre as a resource within the community you will need to promote the various activities in which it will be involved and the services and benefits which it can provide. Some of these are virtually cost-free whilst others involve some expense, and for some you will need help from other experts.

In the sections below we look at the following activities:

Publicity packages

Let's look at each of these in more detail.


Advertising in journals

In the Centre's plan of work you may need to have part of the budget funds allocated to advertising costs if free publicity is not an option. We shall look below at the ways to place advertisements in cost effective ways. You should aim to make use of journals produced in the locality or covering the subject area in which the Centre is promoting itself. Select a size that will have the necessary impact in comparison to other advertisements, but allow you to keep within budgetary limits. Space is sold either as a fraction of a page (full, half, quarter, etc) or as column centimetres. The advertising manager of each publication will be able to provide a rate card showing charges and copy dates, and a number of journals publish this information in their advertisement pages. If a multi-publication campaign is envisaged, an advertising agency may be able to save you time and money by having suitable contacts and by advising on ways to reach your audience in the most effective ways. .

Advertising in your own publications

Your own publications provide you with an opportunity to advertise your centre and its services. Every publication that is issued from the CIS Centre should include

Promotion through Press Releases

Why do this?

Your Centre should aim to remain in the public eye by continuous promotion of its role and services. Press releases allow you to issue regular updates with details of the Centre's current activities. The editors of trade and technical publications are always anxious to have up to date news on new developments: for example,

What goes into a press release?

Each press release must contain:

The main body of the text must be written succinctly and contain the main points of the message in the first paragraph as this will be quoted exactly in the journals etc. This information is usually contained in one or two pages. If there are a number of pages, e.g. statistics, then these can be added as an annex.

The press release is aimed initially at editors/media, and many releases have a separate part "Notes for Editors" to provide additional background information and more details. Be brief and to-the point - remember these are busy people and you are dependent on their good will. You are also competing with many other press releases received daily by the editor.

Consider the type of publication you are writing for. There are a number of books about journalistic style that will guide you. Keep the ideas simple and straightforward, and write for the layman unless you are sure that the audience will understand any technical or specialist issues. Compare the styles used by publications such as your house journal (if you work in a corporate organisation), your local newspaper, specialist publications for the library and information profession, and the "red top" tabloids and the "heavy" newspapers (what were until recently the broadsheets).

Any initials or acronyms used in the press release should be spelt out in detail - particularly for editors of journals/media who may wish to expand on the details given.

Who should receive press releases?

As we suggested above, editors of relevant journals, newspapers, and newsletters should all receive copies of press releases. It would be useful to compile a list of the editors of key publications in your area with their names, telephone, fax and web and email numbers, so that labels for envelopes can easily be made and the press releases are then sent out efficiently. Radio and TV news and feature programmes may also want to run a story about your service so their news desk editors should also be sent your press releases. Specialist publications may wish to receive press releases only on their specialist subjects, so arrangements should be made for them in this case. You should also send your press releases to local associations, societies and other organizations who may want to make use of your services. A press release will provide the editors of their publications with the opportunity to describe your services with an eye to their members' interests, and to use the contact details you provide to ask for further details that their members may want to know.

Another way of promotion is to make the press releases available on your web site. There is a lot of interest in sites that email news releases to people who have registered their wish to receive up-to-date information, and providing this service helps you to target your news to an audience you know is receptive.

We have provided a sample press release at Appendix .... You can readily find examples of the press releases of other established Centres on the web (see for example the ILO), or you could ask some of these organizations for sample releases.

Writing Articles

Editors of newspapers and the media in general are keen to receive articles describing Centre activities, publications and services. We suggest that every Centre should "cultivate" editors who may provide opportunities for free publicity.

Although the trade press is an increasingly professional business, and even newsletters of professional interest groups are written to an incredibly high standard, there is still room for "inspired" articles that tell the profession about your achievements. Contact the editor of the journal or newsletter that covers your field to see if they or a reporter will come to talk to you. You may need to insist that you see the copy for comment, especially if you work in an organization that has a press office which needs to vet copy about your company or community before it appears in print. But most editors are happy to allow this provided that you do not take away their editorial independence (so limit the "party line" that you press).

General publications may also be willing to take copy from you, if it is tailored to their audience. Local newspapers may pick up on your Centre's achievements from other sources and call on you if they become aware that something newsworthy has happened in your organization. If some good fortune comes your way why not practice your "lift speech" - the one that explains in 45 seconds (the time between the ground floor and the management floor in the lift) what is so special and important about your Centre, so that you can convince a journalist that you have a story worth telling to a wider audience.

RSS newsfeeds

Usually provide news headlines and links to the corresponding reports on a website. They present this in a simple XML file. An RSS newsfeed reader is required to read these headlines. Alternatively, some web browsers, such as Firefox, can display RSS headlines as bookmarks.

An example is the newsfeed for the OSH WORLD news page:

This feed is displayed automatically on the home page along with the first seven entries of the ILO newsfeed:

More information about RSS can be found at:

The latest RSS 2.0 Specification is available at:

There is a RSS validator for you to check your newsfeeds:

Organizing visits to the Centre

Information Centres are still a place of mystery to many potentials users so a chance to see behind the scenes is welcome. It gives you a chance to explain to users and potential users what goes on, and what services are available. Many surveys show that people love their libraries and are great supporters of them - but they don't use all the services available and base their views on just the services they use. Think how much more enthusiastic people will be if they know about all your services and which ones are useful to them! Visits to the Centre (open days or regular visits at a given time each week) provide you with a way to approach users.

As an example, one Information Centre announced in an article in its in-house journal that it would be hosting visits in order to make information seekers, both internally within the organization and externally, aware of the range of information produced and stored at the Centre. Interested groups of potential visitors included specialists, students, various associations, and Trade Union representatives as well as many others. (We look below at how to organize seminars and training courses).

Participating in Conferences/Seminars/Exhibitions

One well-tried way of making individuals and organizations aware of the existence of the Centre is for the Head of the Centre to be available as a public speaker. The Head of centre may need to attend a course on public speaking, which will show how to prepare and deliver a talk, organize notes, produce a PowerPoint presentation, operate a projector as well as how to answer questions from the audience. Alternatively a number of films and videos are available on public speaking (although you learn a great deal by just doing it!) Many conferences are run in parallel with an exhibition. Every opportunity should be taken to use the opportunity that such exhibitions offer to advertise the Centre services. Even if the exhibition is run by a major conference organizer, there is often a joint stand for the use of smaller organizations where literature can be left and where the job of running the stand is shared between the exhibitors rather than you having to provide someone to spend the whole of the exhibition time there.

Public Speaking

You don't have to be a gifted orator in order to give an effective talk to either a small informal group, or a large public gathering. There is a difference between lecturing and public speaking, where you have to be able to hold an audience. The principal requirements are a sound knowledge of the subject, self-confidence and some practical experience of giving a talk. A number of texts exist on the subject, but here are our tips.

Speakers' appearance, voice, dress and mannerisms will be the focal point for the audience. Audiences react to appearance and their reactions can condition their minds to accept or reject the talk before the speaker even starts.

Tell your audience what subject(s) are to be covered, and what are the main points to be covered. Then cover all these points and conclude with a summary of main points. This all sounds very simple and mechanical, but it isn't. Remember that unless you say your key messages three times they are unlikely to be remembered.

Use visual aids correctly. Do not talk to the screen but talk to the audience!

Tell the audience that you will provide handouts after the talk but be careful if you give them out first. Unless it's important that the audience can write additional notes, be aware that they will spend their time reading the notes and not listening to you.

Decide if questions will be answered during or at the end of the talk, and tell the audience at the beginning of the talk.

Finally, if you are going to include a demonstration of a service, make sure that the person doing it is competent! Don't underestimate either your audience's intelligence or skills. One of us remembers an occasion when a demonstrator tried to bluff his way through a demonstration to a senior manager without knowing that she had previously been a computing consultant! The result was of course embarrassing for all concerned, but it detracted from the message that was being put across about the professionalism of the Centre.


A variety of types of publication offer opportunities to say more about your centre.

Free leaflets and posters

As the range of services develops there will be opportunities for the staff to produce leaflets on a range of subjects for issue free of charge to information seekers, such as

These leaflets should also be aimed at target groups such as young workers, schools and vocational training colleges etc. These could be made available on the CIS website.

Leaflets describing the work of the Centre

These leaflets can be produced in-house or sent to a printing service to be issued as a glossy brochure. Discuss the number of copies to be printed, remembering that it is usually cheaper to have longer print-runs made in an order than having to have shorter, repeat orders. Typically, an Information Centre brochure will give:

Leaflets describing specific work

a) We also suggested issuing leaflets about specific work. You could produce similar looking small leaflets about each activity. Users may find that a document of perhaps four to six pages in length will explain everything to them, although leaflets can equally be on one side of an A4 sheet and may be more effective for your audience if you can make them this succinct. Aimed at giving the main points on a subject, they are usually written by experts to inform the users about individual services, so one might describe legislation available from the Centre, and another the range of online services available to the users.

We recommend that Centres start producing information sheets as early as possible in their existence as they are a proven, cost-effective way of improving the dissemination of practical information, and also function as an advertisement.

Many Information Centres will willingly send packs of their own leaflets to other Centres, or at least do not mind if you visit them and collect samples of their publicity. Do ask and save yourself valuable time and money. There are no prizes for reinventing the wheel!

Leaflets or promotional leaflets on CIS annual topic for 28 April ILO Safety and Health at Work Day

This topic will be decided each year at the annual meeting and to be promoted as part of the ILO Safety and Health at Work Day that is held each year on 28 April. This will also give CIS an identity of its own.

It is agreed that there should be sharing by CIS Centres of the common work to be carried out by a specific date to enable maximum usage of material. (i.e. translation of materials for 28 April will be needed in January so that translation work and dissemination takes place in time; translation of press releases for distribution at national level).

Things to consider when compiling a brochure

Publicity packages

These are typically produced in a folder containing examples of the Centre's Newsletter, details of the Centre itself and some of the small leaflets described above. As a next step, detail taken from the leaflets could be used to compile a useful composite promotional leaflet for the Centre. The brochure would give the name, address, telephone, fax, web and email numbers, and also state the aims and objectives, the services, publications and opening times. It could be updated with loose-leaf sheets about specific future events.

You can give out these brochures on a number of occasions:

Creating a Union List of Journals

The Centre can create useful publicity in academic and other research environments by creating a union list of journals that are held in libraries and information services in colleges, universities and in other organizations in the locality. Knowledge of the locations of the journals will help the information seeker to quickly access up-to-date information.

How to compile a Union List

1. First make a list of journals that are held or currently taken within the Centre. The titles should be those quoted on the cover of the journal. Some journal titles are artistically arranged, so one rule is to read, if the title is in English, from the top left hand corner of the cover page and write the title as it laid out.

2. Add the first dates of the journal issues held in the centre, e.g. Safety and Health at Work 1988 -

3. Put the list into alphabetical order of titles, ignoring "a", "an", "the", "la", "Le" etc.

4. Once the list is complete send it with a letter to other organizations asking if they would be willing to add their titles to the list, and also if other individuals and organizations outside of their own could request photocopies of articles or even visit that organization to carry out research using their journals.

5. If these organizations are willing to cooperate, then the name of the contact person and organization, telephone and fax numbers will need to be added to the union list.

6. Each of these organizations will be assigned a code, and their code number and holding dates of the journal title will be added to the list.

Union List of Journals

Safety and Health at Work

OSH 1988 -
XUN 1989 -

... ...

List of participating organizations


OSH Centre
123 Main Street, Summertown
Tel: 1234 568
Fax: 1234 568
Contact: Miss J Smith


Xavier University
Main Library
University Road, Summertown
Tel: 1234 666
Fax: 1234 668
Contact: Enquiry Desk

The third part of the union list could be the names of the organizations appearing in alphabetical order e.g.

Name of organization

Code number of organization

OSH Centre
123 Main Street
Tel: 1234 568
Fax: 1234 568
Contact: Miss J Smith


Xavier University
Main Library
University Road
Tel: 1234 666
Fax: 1234 668
Contact: Enquiry Desk


The fourth part of a union list could be a subject index to the titles in the first part of the list. Each title needs to be classified from its contents. A simple, standard list of subject headings is suggested. This will help avoid duplication.

Write or email to established Centres to ask for a copy of their subject listing for journals.


Building and Construction

Construction Industry International

Safety and Health at Work

Site Safe News

Occupational Health

Adamstown Newsletter

CIS Newsletter

Safety and Health at Work

7. The union list can be quite small in the beginning - containing perhaps only 100 or so titles - but in time it will grow as the Centre and others include new titles. Some organizations may also wish to include CD-ROM or electronic titles held on the Union list, in which case you need to include details about the availability of these titles to non-members of the organization in case licensing restrictions prevent external users from having access.

8. The list should be kept up-to-date. Either issue a new edition annually or send out a supplementary update sheet with additions/deletions. The list can be kept on a computer. The cover should give the name of the Centre, address, telephone, fax, email and web numbers.

9. Copies should be distributed to all participating organizations and can be made available also to other appropriate organizations or individuals to encourage them to use the Centre.

10. Issue a press release when the idea is launched to get other organizations interested - and do it again when the list is completed, or subsequently updated!

The CIS Centre Newsletter and web site

The Centre's own Newsletter and web site should be the main channels for issuing information about the centre and its activities. They should contain current news and activities of the Centre, promoting the services that it provides, highlighting training opportunities, and perhaps including technical information about the services and the subjects covered by the Centre. The Newsletter should be published regularly and distributed as widely as possible. Consider whether you need to issue it in more than one language, depending on your community. Computer assisted generation of the newsletter will make it easier to produce a version for the web, either using software capable of producing an image in Portable Document Format (pdf) that can be posted to the web, or software that can manipulate the same content to produce a printed and an electronic version (in the way that for example Microsoft Publisher can do). Some of the decisions you make will be dictated by your organization's policy on acceptable software.

A website is a great asset as it makes access available to the CIS Information Centre 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can be changed regularly and should always be up-to-date, with a front page that encourages the viewer to click on for more information. We have added more references in the reading list to encourage you to create a web site for your Centre. You can provide a number of services electronically, including access to your catalogue and to digitised content via direct links from the catalogue.

Organizing Seminars and Training Courses

Training can be aimed at all levels:

There are various ways in which training can be given, for example, via:

Once a Centre is established there will be increasing numbers of opportunities to organise seminars designed to demonstrate the range of areas in which it is active.

This may require the participation of specialists from all sections of the organization, in addition to contributions from information specialists. The organizing of a seminar or conference requires the input of much time and effort, but the benefits in terms of promotion of the activities of the Information Centre available in and via it are sufficient reward. The following pages give some steps to be taken when organizing seminars and training courses.


Remember that it takes time to organise and adequately promote seminars and training courses. Consequently, you need to plan many months ahead. It is useful to plan a whole year's activities in advance and publish a Diary of Events so that potential audiences have advance notice of the various seminars and training courses.

The effects of seminars and training courses

In a normal teaching situation, students retain

Learning is not a spectator sport !

Information Awareness Training Courses for other specialists

Consider running awareness courses for people whose specialism is not in information. In Working Group 4 Paper on Training and e-Training we list some suggestions for outline programmes for various categories of potential information users. Each course has opportunities for question and answer sessions. The course contents could cover the following topics:

These general headings are ones that we frequently come across, but each course can be tailed both to the organization and to the people who are expected to attend.

How to organise seminars/training courses

There are a number of important steps in organizing a successful seminar or training course.

We look at this in more detail in Working Group 4 Paper on Training and e-Training. However you may have someone who can help you internally with the organization, or consider whether it is worth hiring in a conference organizer for part or all of the work.

Training by the use of videos

A well made video can successfully inform, educate and sometimes shock an audience into positive action. They are also quick, convenient and cost-effective to use. But even the best videos cannot do the job alone. They need to be presented in the right environment, to the right amount of people and in the right way if the message is to be driven home properly. Don't just treat them like a sideshow. In Working Group 4 Paper on Training and e-Training we tell you more about how to use videos.

24 May 2005 / revised June and September 2005

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