There are some great ideas in Jim McKay’s article – The Preparedness Message Isn’t Reaching the Public, featured in Emergency Management Magazine. Just like any good marketing campaign, we have to push with multiple strategies. Billboards and television campaigns are great but they aren’t going to hit home with everyone. We need to be more creative in our approach. Our methods will resonate differently with various people. The CDC’s zombie campaign got a lot of attention (see my blog post on it!). Why? Because they not only used something trendy, they considered their audiences. Not all audiences respond to the zombie campaign; some think it’s ridiculous – but they were able to engage a lot of people. Different people require different methods. Once you reach an audience, then you can convey a message. Preparedness is boring, let’s face it. We need creative and diverse solutions to reach and engage audiences.
There are four major challenges we’re facing when it comes to preparedness that I speak about in presentations. These are many of the thoughts of many folks when it comes to disasters:
1) It’s not going to happen here.
2) It’s not going to be that bad.
3) There is nothing I can do about it.
4) Government will take care of me.
These aren’t rocket science, but they can be tough nuts to crack – especially when we don’t want to be the ‘doom and gloom’ people.
Let’s look at what has worked. McKay’s article mentions coupons to Target for preparedness kits. This is an effective methodology that has worked well for years in California and other places around the country. In Central New York, where I’m from, a county health department capitalized creatively on a point of distribution exercise to get the beginnings of preparedness kits in the hands of residents. The 300 slots they had available filled very quickly. The event got great press and all positive comments from those who participated. Good or bad economy, people like free or discounted things. The lesson learned here is to get preparedness underwritten. Be it by grant funds or corporate sponsors. If Pepsi wants to put out a preparedness kit, so be it.