Your Public Awareness Campaign

Conducting a public awareness campaign can be challenging at a time when many changes are taking place in traditional media and many new forms of media have appeared. But the basics remain the same.

These tips will help guide you in developing a local campaign to build public awareness about severe weather events, from tornadoes and floods to hurricanes and wildfires, as well as any hazards and threats specific to your area.

News releases, public service announcements (PSAs) and talking points for live interviews remain the same no matter what media is involved. What you choose to distribute may appear on your own agency’s Web site, or those of other agencies, in weekly or daily newspapers, or be used as the basis for TV broadcasts, radio broadcasts and Podcasts.

A package of news releases, PSAs and talking points for interviews is included in the threat awareness section of the Texas Division of Emergency Management Web site. These can be copied directly and used on your agency letterhead, or modified in ways you choose to meet the needs of your local area.

In addition, when appropriate, short summaries of safety information and warnings can be used for text or Twitter messages. Short messages also can be placed on electronic signs, recorded on a special information phone line set aside by your agency – even incorporated from time to time into the message callers receive when dialing your office phone. This type of messaging can help you highlight public awareness weeks.

Partnerships for Success

To be successful a public awareness campaign depends on working with key community groups to get the message out – and to build the cooperative relationships you will need for effective response when disaster strikes.

These key groups include schools, businesses, civic groups, community and neighborhood organizations, fire and police departments, hospitals and health care agencies, voluntary agencies and faith-based groups, private industry, the Chamber of Commerce, city and county government officials and area Councils of Government. Representatives from any and all of these organizations may want to join you in helping the public be aware, prepared and safe when disaster strikes.

Grocers, hardware store owners and other merchants may be invited to put preparedness messages on shopping bags, store windows or marquees outside their stores. They may want to work with you to set up displays inside their stores featuring key items shoppers need for a family emergency supply kit. Local merchants might be interested in sponsoring contests on preparedness in the schools, and donating prizes for kids.

How Schools and Teachers Can Help
School districts and teachers may be interested in sponsoring projects involving preparedness. Children might design flyers or write papers on tornado safety, flood safety, hurricane preparedness or other severe weather themes. Children's artwork based on these themes could be displayed in local malls, airports, libraries or public buildings.

Civic and Volunteer Groups
Civic groups, clubs and organizations are always in need of speakers – and preparedness and awareness weeks are excellent topics to suggest for lunch meetings. Local volunteer groups and civic organizations also may be interested in joining with the fire, police and emergency management organizations hosting weekend events on emergency preparedness. When local organizations are holding festivals or special events, a booth or table featuring emergency preparedness publications can be helpful.

TV, Radio and Newspapers
News outlets provide crucial information on what the public can do to prepare for emergencies and disasters in Texas. Your first step is getting to know and build personal relationships with your local broadcasters, publishers, editors and reporters. They also can help you learn the ropes when it comes to dealing with state and national reporters during a disaster.

Identify local experts who can do interviews and make presentations on preparedness. Make them available for:

To order publications on severe weather events, contact the Public Information Office of the Texas Division of Emergency Management at (512) 424-2138. Also see the TDEM Web site.