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Communications Manual for CASA/GAL Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
101 pages
This document is designed to help build a practical communications plan for starting a community program.
The Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem Association (CASA/GAL) program advocates for children in court. The first step in planning a community program is to become highly visible in the community. The goals of the program should be decided upon and written down. The intended audience needs to be defined to accomplish these goals. Both the internal audience, such as juvenile court judges, and external audience, such as key political leaders, must be reached. Public relations projects that would help to accomplish program goals should be selected. The National CASA Association provides an “umbrella” awareness campaign. In defining the CASA identity, four interlocking elements are present: the organization’s history and heritage, its “product” or what it does, its customers, and its competitors. An awareness program can be launched using public relations kits from National CASA; downloading materials from the Internet; and being consistent with the program name and image. Copies of the CASA logo, slogan, and photographs should be taken to a professional graphic artist to create a design that fits the program’s local image. When talking about CASA -- in a brochure, speech or on a television show -- the goal is to educate the general public by first explaining the problem. The best way to communicate to the public what CASA is all about is through an emotionally based approach. Stories must be used to get the message across. There is a way to tell the public about the experiences of CASA without violating the child’s right to privacy. This requires planning and knowing exactly what to say. An active and positive relationship with newspaper, radio, and television journalists can make a CASA program director’s job a lot easier. The director should begin by drafting a letter explaining why the program is newsworthy, explain who they can contact, and ask for a meeting. Some ways of getting attention for a story include using the tickler file, reacting to news, using editorials and columnists, and writing letters to the editor. The news release is one of the most effective tools in communication the news to the media. Index