The Army Cadet Force trains Adult Volunteers who are interested in Public Relations duties to produce articles and pictures and plan out Cadet PR activities. The dedicated team who do this are called the ACFPRTT – the Army Cadet Force Public Relations Training Team, commanded by Lt Col Steve Taylor. Members of the ACFPRTT are qualified, successful media professionals who bring a wealth of wealth of experience and humour to the courses they run. SI Sharon Parker-Brock from GMACF attended the most recent course, held at Altcar Training Camp on Merseyside.
“The ACFPRTT held an Introduction to PR course over a weekend at Altcar Army Training Camp on Merseyside. The training team workshops are always well attended by Adult Volunteers of all ranks, ages and capabilities from the Cadet Forces, as well as some Reservists, based all over the UK and Northern Ireland. Courses are often based in London, but the Team do travel out to the provinces and on annual basis, dare to come “Up North”.
“The introductory course is a whistle-stop, exciting and fun weekend, even for a complete beginner such as myself. Arriving on Friday evening, you are made to feel very welcome and after being shown your comfortable room in the St George’s Cadet Training Centre (home to Merseyside ACF), everyone meets the ACFPRTT for an admin briefing and then a quick introduction to the value of PR.
“Saturday is a fast, exciting and very busy day with absorbing training in writing good news copy and news releases with Lt Col Douglas Brown before lunch followed by a enthusiastically taught afternoon with Major Tony Lloyd, presenter on Decade Radio, showing how to use local radio effectively along with an interview using a professional radio set up right there at Altcar. For those of you that know me and believe I like the sound of my own voice – you are so wrong! It was great fun though – even if we had to listen to the Bee Gees. Thanks again Tony – what an experience.
“Sunday quickly came around and it was time to put words into pictures. Lt Col Steve Taylor made it look easy, showing how to take advantage of a photo opportunity, being imaginative and professional. Emphasising the importance of Cadet and Adult permission to use photographs and as always to put safety first, he also gave me practical assistance in using my own camera – a newly acquired Nikon DSLR. We were introduced to a group of cadets from Merseyside ACF, who were to be our models for the day, and given a task to produce a short press release with pictures about them. Despite the awful wintry weather, they arrived bright and early, very well turned out and eager to help. After a nervous start from both adults and cadets, the groups got stuck in to the task.
“Our group of three cadets comprised Jack Birchall and Megan Tams from Maghull Detachment and Craig Gillespie from Netherton, who were exceptionally helpful and enthusiastic. We all had great fun trying different ways to take shots, using Fieldcraft and command task equipment, even spontaneous selfies of the cadets themselves.
“This interaction with cadets from another County just strengthened my belief as to the impact that the ACF has on young people and how it can inspire them. What a great bunch they were!
“But that was only the morning session! There was more. As a youth organisation, Social Media is an important communication tool for the ACF. If Capt Emma Snead doesn’t know it, it’s not worth knowing, as we found out that afternoon.
“The Course really is a whistle-stop fun-packed, engaging weekend. You won’t leave an expert, but you will have an insight into Media that you didn’t have before. And it’s only the first step. On returning to your Detachment or County, it’s time to put theory into practice. Stop and think for a minute – I’ve written this with no previous knowledge of Public Relations, I haven’t written a story since high school and I’m now a 46-year-old mum. So if I can do it, anybody can.
“If you are already an Adult Volunteer, there is a wealth of courses available to bid for on Westminster – go and look. The courses range from Adult Leadership Management (ALM), ACFA Duke of Edinburgh training and First Aid at Work, shooting qualifications and far more, in order to deliver high-quality Cadet training and support. All the courses offered to a CFAV offer transferable skills and an attendance certificate which looks great on your CV. Many CFAV’s are successful in gaining a new qualification which can be used in civilian life and occupations, and above all it’s a great source of personal development. As with everything in the Army Cadet Force you meet amazing and inspiring people all the time that you would not normally meet. The opportunities are out there – you just have to push yourself and go for it.”