Does your Pub Ed program need more teeth?

“Our shareholders have been patient, but let’s be honest: no one is impressed by a dinosaur anymore… These days, kids look at a Stegosaurus like an elephant from the city zoo… consumers want them bigger, louder – ‘more teeth’.”

Jurassic World character Claire Dearing

Have a look at your fire department’s public education programming. Are you still trying to use Sparky® to engage a teenage audience? (or anyone over the age of 8?) Are you convinced that those trade show attendees will read those brochures they picked up from your booth or that your “The fire department wants you to…” message in the radio will compel a traveler to do that task when they get home?

Modernizing your messaging doesn’t have to be difficult or costly. In fact, the more social media savvy you become, the less expensive it gets.

Have you tried watching kids’ TV shows lately? Do you groan at The Wiggles or walk away shaking your head at Monster High? Now you know how most adults feel about child-geared graphics on fire safety materials. So be sure you know who your target audience is before embarking on a Pub Ed campaign.

Pop culture is a great way to engage your audience and connect them to a safety message. From song lyrics to Hollywood blockbusters to the latest cat video on YouTube, there are millions of options for you to find a common ground with.

Tip of the Day: bookmark websites that provide info such as the hot 100 on the Billboard chart, current box-office hits playing at theatres, and pop-culture news sites. Use this information to hook your teen/adult audiences.

The “Low” poster below was part of a fire department’s campus fire safety campaign. Each poster incorporated hip hop song lyrics to identify one simple message each. From “get low & go” to “get out & stay out” original messaging, a fire department was able to use popular hip hop songs to get the message across to a post-secondary audience.

There are a lot more examples of modernizing your Pub Ed programming, that won’t break the budget.

Influence your way to Public Education

Believe it or not, no matter how big or small your community is, it likely has its local social media influencers. I’m not saying every town has a Kardashian, but it does have popular businesses, a mayor, a homegrown celebrity, or just popular pillar-of-the-community types.

It likely doesn’t take much to get these local influencers on board and those that post on social media often are usually on the hunt for fresh content. Enlist their help in using their platform to push your messaging.

A recent success story was the partnership of the Perth East Fire Department and Canadian social media influencer Stewart Reynolds, aka “Brittlestar”. Check out the video that went pretty viral for a small community.

How do you know?

So how can you tell if your organization needs “bigger teeth”? Here are some signs that your Pub Ed might be missing the mark.

  • Your incidents and calls have not reduced in volume or severity
  • Compliancy rates are low
  • Your digital and printed materials are only available in one language
  • Your staff encounter the same common issues on a regular basis
  • You have no direct (dept accounts) or indirect (corporate accounts) social media channels
  • Your messaging has common themes of “we want you to…” and “it’s the law”
  • Your printed material is 50% or more text
  • Your go-to “interactive” elements of a fire safety presentation are Stop-Drop-Roll and dress-the-firefighter
  • You still feel the eye-rolls of those teenagers you talked to
  • The annual open house and some printed brochures make up the majority of your public education
  • You don’t have a strategic plan for public education
  • You create programming without looking at incident, risk and community data

Do some or all of the above apply to your organization? Don’t fret! TB can help elevate your Pub Ed so that it’s engaging and effective.

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