Section U:
Public Relations/Communications

Email Communications and eNews

Receiving Electronic Notifications and Updates

SOTX conveys information primarily through electronic communications, which requires you to first register on the SOTX website. To begin receiving “E” notifications, all you need is a current email address. You can easily manage your “E” subscriptions online at www.specialolympicstexas.org and obtain monthly eNews and electronic communications. Once you have registered and are logged in, you will be able to select the emails you wish to receive.

For privacy reasons, SOTX cannot make changes to your account. If you need to change your email address on file, or would like to remove yourself from our mailings, you must make the change. At the bottom of every email communication, there are links to visit the “Subscription Management Page” and “Remove” to make those changes to your account. You may also update your subscription at any time by visiting our website at www.specialolympicstexas.org and clicking the "Registered User Login" link. Contact us at communications@sotx.org for further assistance.

During Chapter Games (Winter Games, Summer Games, Fall Classic), we will use text messaging to notify participants of any weather alerts, schedule changes or other important information.

To receive these alerts, please text the appropriate word to 888777:

  • Winter Games: wintergames
  • Summer Games: sotxsummer
  • Fall Classic: fallclassic

Once you have signed up for each Games, you will remain signed up unless you remove yourself from the group by texting STOP to 888777.

SOTX Stories

We are always looking for stories about the great things happening in the lives of our SOTX family. If you know an athlete, coach or volunteer who has accomplished something extraordinary or is deserving of recognition, please let us know. We want to hear from you! Please email items of interest to communications@sotx.org.

Athletes are at the heart of our movement; therefore, we want to highlight them as much as possible. By completing an Athlete Profile Form and submitting it to the communications department, you can help us accomplish that goal. Athlete profiles are used for eNewsletters and for stories on our website. If you would like to submit an athlete for inclusion on our website or in our eNews, please complete the Athlete Profile Form and submit it, along with a high resolution (3MB or larger) jpg photo of the athlete, to the chapter communications department (communications@sotx.org).

Social Media Guidelines

Social media plays an important role in the lives of Special Olympics Texas athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and fans. We would like to invite everyone to join the conversation on Facebook, Facebook Live, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.

Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsTX.

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SOTexas.

Watch YouTube videos at www.youtube.com/specialolympicstexas.

Follow us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/SpecialOlympicsTX.

Follow us on Snapchat at www.snapchat.com/add/so.texas

Follow your area page on Facebook. The link will be "sotx" followed by your area number:

www.facebook.com/sotx1

www.facebook.com/sotx2

www.facebook.com/sotx4

www.facebook.com/sotx5

www.facebook.com/sotx6

www.facebook.com/sotx7

www.facebook.com/sotx9

www.facebook.com/sotx10

www.facebook.com/sotx11

www.facebook.com/sotx12

www.facebook.com/sotx13

www.facebook.com/sotx14

www.facebook.com/sotx16

www.facebook.com/sotx17

www.facebook.com/sotx18

www.facebook.com/sotx19

www.facebook.com/sotx20

www.facebook.com/sotx21

www.facebook.com/sotx22

Comments and Posting on Social Media Sites

We encourage you to join the conversation by leaving comments, posting pictures, tweeting about your experiences and sharing your thoughts with us. However, social media provides a global stage that knows no bounds and reaches all audiences. We ask that when you do post comments, pictures, tweets, etc., that you do so in consideration of the mission and vision of Special Olympics Texas. All comments are monitored. If comments, photos, tweets, or any other form of online contact with SOTX are not constructive and do not align with the below standards, we will delete any such comment/post and/or ask you to remove it from your page. When commenting or posting material it is important to remember to:

  • Be Respectful – Please use respectful and appropriate language. Comments will be removed that use obscenities, personal insults, ethnic slurs or other disparaging language. Refer to the Language Guidelines for appropriate terminology.
  • Stay on Topic – Special Olympics Texas is a sports organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Social media is an ideal place to share stories and celebrate athletes’ accomplishments. The goal of our social media sites is to promote conversation around these topics and address issues that affect our population. An example of an issue is the R-word campaign and using social media as a channel to reach new audiences.
  • Protect Your Privacy – Comments, posts and pictures are visible to the public, so it is important that you refrain from sharing personal information such as your email address, telephone number or home address.
  • Observe Copyright and Trademark Policies – There is no way to prevent the logo from being downloaded from social media sites, therefore it may not be uploaded or used on social media pages.

Using Social Media for Fundraising

Many people use and enjoy social media communities because they are not advertisements, but rather a venue for authentic conversation that is relative, informative, and often beneficial. Teams may not use social media sites to solicit donations. Athletes, teams, coaches, family members and other individuals or entities may not solicit funds through social media sites in the name of Special Olympics Texas. For further information about fundraising guidelines, please refer to Development (Section S).

Facebook pages may not be created for SOTX events.

Personal/Team Social Media Sites

When creating your own or your team’s social media page, we encourage you to be yourself. We have created Special Olympics Texas communities for you to join; you may not use our logo and/or name “Special Olympics Texas” when creating your own personal or team pages and profiles, to avoid confusion over identity and ownership. If a team would like to create a page independent of the SOTX page, please follow the guidelines for logo usage and trademark policies available in this section.

  • Groups – Many Facebook users utilize groups to show their affiliation to groups. If you would like to create a group involving Special Olympics Texas, so please send those suggestions to communications@sotx.org and we will work with you to organize groups and members. Groups may not be created using the name or identity of Special Olympics Texas (SOTX).
  • Logos – The logo may not be used under any circumstances on social media sites, since there is no way to protect it from being downloaded by users.

We hope that you will join our social media community. As friends of Special Olympics Texas, we ask for your help in monitoring pages and alert us to content that may be inconsistent with the SOTX mission, so that we can continue to protect our organization and athletes. Please email communications@sotx.org if you have questions or see anything inappropriate or disrespectful on our pages or on pages of others.

Language Guidelines

It is critical that you use appropriate terminology when speaking about Special Olympics Texas. In doing so, you help us educate the public and reinforce our organization’s brand. Please notify the Vice President of Communications of all media interviews and speaking opportunities prior to completion. We can then provide you with the most up-to-date information about SOTX to ensure we are communicating a consistent message.

Appropriate Terminology

  • A person has intellectual disabilities, rather than is mentally retarded; is suffering from, is afflicted with, or is a victim of mental retardation or intellectual disabilities.
  • Individuals or people with intellectual disabilities.
  • A person uses a wheelchair rather than is confined or restricted to a wheelchair.
  • Distinguish between adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Use adults or children, or older or younger athletes.
  • “Down syndrome” has replaced “Down’s Syndrome” and “mongoloid.”
  • Refer to participants in Special Olympics as athletes. In no case should the word appear in quotation marks. Do not refer to athletes as Special Olympians or Olympians, rather Special Olympics athletes.
  • When writing, refer to people with a disability in the same style as people without a disability: full name on first reference and last name on subsequent references. Resist the temptation to refer to an individual with intellectual disabilities as “Bill,” rather than the journalistically correct “Bill Smith” or “Smith.”
  • A person is physically challenged or disabled rather than crippled.
  • A person is visually impaired rather than blind.
  • Use the words “Special Olympics” when referring to the worldwide Special Olympics, Inc. program, SOI may be used on second reference.
  • Use the words “Special Olympics Texas” when referring to the Texas Chapter of Special Olympics. “SOTX” may be used on second reference.
  • The six statewide competitions for Special Olympics Texas are called “Special Olympics Texas Summer Games,” “Special Olympics Texas Fall Classic,” “Special Olympics Texas Winter Games,” "Special Olympics Texas State Flag Football Competition," "Special Olympics Texas Kayaking and Sailing Competition" and "Special Olympics Texas State Equestrian Competition."

Terminology to Avoid

  • Do not use the label “kids” when referring overall to Special Olympics athletes. Adult athletes are an integral part of the program.
  • Do not use the adjective "unfortunate" when talking about people with intellectual disabilities. Disabling conditions do not have to be life-defining in a negative way.
  • Do not use the word “the” in front of Special Olympics unless describing a specific Special Olympics event or official. Saying “the” Special Olympics implies that Special Olympics is a once a year event when, in fact, it is a year-round movement.
  • Do not sensationalize the accomplishments of people with disabilities. While these accomplishments should be recognized and applauded, people in the disability rights movement have tried to make the public aware of the negative impact of referring to the achievements of physically or mentally challenged people with excessive hyperbole.
  • Do not refer to Special Olympics Texas as “Texas Special Olympics” or “Special Olympics of Texas”. The ONLY correct reference is Special Olympics Texas.
  • Do not use the word “Olympic” when referring to our athletes, programs, games, etc. The word should always have an “s” on the end (e.g., Special Olympics Texas, Special Olympics athletes, Special Olympics games, etc.).
  • Do not refer to your team by listing “Special Olympics” after your team name (e.g., El Paso Special Olympics is incorrect usage). You may put the words “Special Olympics Texas Team” after your name (e.g., correct usage examples would be El Paso Longhorns or El Paso Longhorns, A Special Olympics Texas Team).
  • Do not use the word “special” when talking about people with intellectual disabilities. The term is distancing and inappropriate and describes that which is different about any person.
  • If a team is its own 501(c)(3), it may NOT use the Special Olympics Texas name except to say "XYZ is an independent team that participates in Special Olympics Texas competitions."

Photographic Representation

Every athlete and volunteer who participates in Special Olympics gives his or her permission to be photographed and to have those photographs reproduced by Special Olympics in its promotional pieces. The permission is included on the Athlete Medical Form and the volunteer registration forms.

The athlete wording is as follows: In permitting the athlete to participate, I am specifically granting permission to you to use the name, likeness, voice and words of the athlete in television, radio, films, newspapers, magazines, other media and in any form not heretofore described for the purpose of advertising or communicating the purposes and activities of Special Olympics and in appealing for funds to support such activities.

The volunteer wording is as follows: As a volunteer member of Special Olympics Texas, I agree to grant Special Olympics permission to use my likeness, voice and words in television, radio, film or in any form to promote the activities of Special Olympics.

Brand Identity

Our brand is our reputation, a reputation shared by all of the programs within Special Olympics. This reputation exists in the hearts and minds of the public and our stakeholders. Our reputation is informed primarily by what we do but it is also influenced by what and how we communicate.

Guidelines have been created to consolidate and strengthen the existing Special Olympics brand worldwide in line with the objectives of the Special Olympics strategic plan. The guidelines balance our collective need to achieve greater recognition through a unified approach with the individual need to create appropriate diversity for distinct audiences, territories and communication channels.

Visual Identity

This section of the SIG introduces you to the basic building blocks of our visual identity such as our mark, color and typography. By using this guide, we can create a consistent house style that is unified while having the flexibility to create diverse messages. Anything new that is printed with the SOTX logo must use the new logos.

All previous versions of the logos, including those with the teal color, were to be completely phased out by the end of 2015.

Use of the logo requires that you submit a Logo Usage Application for each use of the logo. Do not reproduce the logos in the SIG. A logo will be provided to you or your vendor electronically in the correct format upon approval of the application.

Main Logo

Logo - Print Layouts

Two line Lock-Up

(Standard Version: the best option for general use where space may be restricted.)

Center Lock-Up

Single Line Lock-Up

Logo - Web/Online Layout

The convention for websites and emails is that the symbol appears in the top left corner. This lock-up may also be used in situation where the mark must be placed on the left side of an item - e.g. Envelopes.

Official Symbol

The symbol is a universal element of the visual idenity and is used on all communications. The official symbol may only be used on its own if the full official logo also appears somewhere in the publication as well.

Primary Color Palette

Color Versions

Two Color Versions
Type in grey/symbol in red
Type in black/symbol in red

One Color Versions
Grey (Pantone® 418)
Red (Pantone® 186)
Black
White (on a dark background or approved photographic images)

Typography

Ubuntu is the preferred typeface of Special Olympics. It should be used for informational communications produced by Special Olympics. In the official logo, "Texas" appears in the Ubuntu Bold Italic.

Ubuntu is a free font and may be downloaded online at font.ubuntu.com. There are several weights and variations available (light, Medium, Bold, Italic, etc.)

Logo Usage Quick Guide

  1. Only use original artwork and standard colors. Use only official master artwork files, which can be requested from SOTX by using the Logo Usage Application. Do not photocopy, scan or attempt to redraw your own version of the mark. Color references: Use only the official colors listed above.
  2. Position the mark correctly. The standard position of the mark for print is in either the top right or bottom right corner. The symbol should sit equidistant from the nearest document edges. Consider the position of the mark relative to other elements and document edges and select the optimum lock-up option to suit.
  3. Give the mark room to breathe. Leave sufficient space around the mark so that it can be clearly recognized and is not encroached upon by any other elements. The general rule is that the minimum free space around the mark should be equal to the height of the ‘O’ in ‘Olympics’.
  4. Place the mark on an appropriate background. The mark should be placed on a background which does not interfere with recognition. When placing the two color version of the mark use a white background. When placing a single color version of the mark make sure to use a low contrast background and make sure there is appropriate contrast between the mark color and the background color.

Team Shirts/Uniforms

You must complete a Logo Usage Application for team shirts/uniforms, but the new branding guide is now allowing for more flexibility with the team logo.

When creating team shirts/uniforms, a lock-up can be provided that gives primacy to the team name. This acknowledges the importance of local teams within Special Olympics and facilitates the creation of distinct team identities for games within a program. Teams are encouraged to use the layout/designs above.

  1. The name of the team has primacy on the shirt. The choice of typeface and design of this element is at the discretion of the team.
  2. SPECIAL OLYMPICS TEXAS is set in all capitals Ubuntu Bold as illustrated here. This element can be provided upon completion of the Logo Usage Application.
  3. The Special Olympics symbol is centered beneath the program name.
  4. It can be used in a shield format as an option.
  5. The Special Olympics Texas logo is shown in full elsewhere on the t-shirt when possible and/or when cost permits, to emphasize the unity of Special Olympics Texas as a whole.

For all questions regarding team logos, please contact the Vice President of Communications at vp_pr.chp@sotx.org.

Registered Trademark Policies

The Special Olympics logo is the official trademark of the worldwide Special Olympics program. The logo is registered with the U.S. Patent Office and in many other countries around the world. Use of this logo may only be granted by Special Olympics, Inc. Headquarters, or its duly authorized agents. (Chapter Programs accredited by Special Olympics, Inc. Headquarters are considered authorized agents to authorize logo use within the geographic boundaries of their programs. Therefore, logo designs and uses must be approved by the chapter communications department. The application for logo usage is included in this section.)

The trademark symbol ® on the logo must appear in a legible size, and in its proper position as shown on the following page. This is to protect the logo’s trademark registration and to prevent individuals and organizations from using it without the express permission of the Special Olympics organization.

The Following are Registered Trademarks of Special Olympics

  • Special Olympics Symbol (single figure within logo)
  • Special Olympics Multiple Figure Symbol (critter ball, official logo)
  • International Law Enforcement Torch Run logo
  • A Very Special Christmas®
  • Be a fan™
  • Cops on Doughnut Shops®
  • Cops on Top®
  • Flame of Hope™
  • Global Law Enforcement Torch Run™
  • Guardians of the Flame™
  • Healthy Athletes®
  • Inspire Greatness®
  • Law Enforcement Torch Run®
  • Medfest®
  • Opening Eyes®
  • Partner’s Club®
  • Polar Plunge®
  • Plane Pull®
  • SO Get Into It®
  • Special Smiles®,
  • Team Advantage®
  • Tip A Cop®
  • Torch Run®
  • Truck Convoy®
  • Unified Sports®

The “Olympic Rings” are five interconnected circles which form the official logo of the International Olympic Committee.

The Olympic Rings may not be used in any way by any Special Olympics program.

The usage is expressly forbidden under Special Olympics, Inc.’s agreement with the International Olympic Committee.

Crisis Communications Plan

This crisis communications plan provides Special Olympics Texas standards for communication within the organization and between the organization, the media and the public in the event of an emergency situation. The purpose of this plan is to give guidelines for communicating during an emergency that protect those involved as well as the organization. Special Olympics Texas has an excellent image in the community. It is the organization’s intent to protect and preserve that image along with the integrity of the movement during any emergency or crisis situation.

Please familiarize yourself with the Crisis Communications Plan. Should an emergency, disaster or crisis occur during or associated with Special Olympics Texas, please take the following steps:

  1. Contact appropriate agencies; if there are health risks dial 911.
  2. Call the Special Olympics Texas crisis line at 800.685.2560 and notify your program/area director or development director
  3. Collect all available information. Do not speculate; factual information is what is needed at this point. Gather the facts, including statements from witnesses whenever possible.Collect names and addresses of everyone you speak with regarding the incident.
  4. The Special Olympics Texas Crisis Team will determine the next steps and delegate responsibilities to staff, volunteers, etc. The Crisis Team will work in conjunction with outside officials involved, such as the police department, emergency services, facility managers, sponsors, attorneys, etc.
  5. Do not speak to the media or issue any statements, formally or informally. Special Olympics Texas will have a single designated spokesperson. A spokesperson will be identified through the Crisis Team. All information will be funneled to the designated spokesperson and an official statement will be issued, if need be.
  6. Remember that everything counts. Nothing is “off the record.”
  7. Check and re-check all information for accuracy.
  8. Keep a daily detailed journal of events surrounding the crisis – who you talked to and what activities occurred.

Defining the Crisis

There are two major kinds of crisis, the sudden crisis, which we are all most familiar with, and the smoldering crisis.

Sudden crisis situations could include:

  • Serious accidents involving athletes, volunteers and/or staff.
  • Natural disasters during an event.
  • Criminal actions taken by athletes, volunteers, spectators or staff.
  • Internal and external security threats.
  • Improper use of funding and gifts.
  • Any athlete missing (for more than two hours).

Smoldering crisis situations could include:

  • Action by a disgruntled volunteer, spectator or staff.
  • Prior criminal activity by volunteers, staff and athletes.
  • Use of our name, logo and 501(c)(3) without our knowledge or incorrect usage.
  • Improper set-up at facilities for events.
  • Public perception.

Smoldering crises are always in the air. It is the responsibility of all Special Olympics Texas staff to uphold the policies and procedures of the organization to help alleviate such situations. At all times, Special Olympics Texas staff and volunteers should be mindful of situations that could escalate, and address them with appropriate Crisis Communication Team members.