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Caribbean Disaster Mitigation and Community Empowerment Initiative UNITED CARIBBEAN TRUST-Caribbean Mitigation


Learning Objectives: Gain a basic understanding of how to publicize your community-based mitigation
programs and activities, as well as reward and recognize volunteer and partner participation.

A: Publicizing Your Program and Activities

Media and public relations are an art that can take a professional years to master. However, these simple starter
tips can help you navigate successfully in the communications realm. The benefit of this session can be
enhanced by the participation of an expert in public relations. If possible, ask a local public relations practitioner
to help teach this session. Possible sources of assistance include the public information officer from the city or
another local, regional, or state agency; staff members from a local or nearby public relations or advertising
agency; or public relations staff members from local corporations or institutions (school district, major
companies, universities, etc.).
It is important to acknowledge that the media can be an invaluable partner if used proactively. By orchestrating
events and including the media at the initial stages, you can help keep mitigation on the public agenda and help
citizens embrace mitigation as a public value.
Some CBOs/FBOs may view the media in a negative light, based on past experiences or stereotype notions of
who the media is. For example, work to form relationships with the media before a disaster strikes. Share the
positive impacts of mitigation efforts, and let the media help you further the long-term strategic objective of
building disaster-resistant communities. Or better yet, invite a member of the media to participate on a

1. Developing a publicity plan

Brainstorm publicity; address the following:
• What would we like to publicize?
• Where would we like to see our efforts reported and recognized?
• What do we want publicity to do for us? What are our long-term goals for publicity?
(Example – Inform people of events, support recruitment, increase community awareness
of mitigation, etc.)
• What types of media will work best for what we want to achieve? (Example – Radio works
well for immediate news; magazines convey ideas in-depth; newspapers reach a big
audience on a timely basis; etc.)
• Should we do our own publicity, or should we seek help? If we need help, where can we
get it?
• Do we need training? If so, where can we get it?
• Who will take responsibility for this activity? Do we need a committee? 4-1 Community-based Pre-Disaster Mitigation for CBOs/FBOs
• Who should serve as our media spokesperson? Who will be the backup spokesperson?
• What do we need to know about crisis communications? (Example: What will we tell the media
if a volunteer gets hurt while working on a mitigation project?)
• Do we need to establish guidelines for what we say and how we interact with the media?
• How to organize/write a publicity plan (see Resource Guide)
• Do we know anyone who can help formulate a plan?

2. Creating a media list

The best way to build a media list is to start with a good list that someone else has developed and used
successfully. If possible, obtain a well-used, well-maintained media list from a local public relations
With the publicity goals in mind, develop a list of relevant media, or review the media list provided and
select the appropriate contacts.
Whether working with a donated list or developing your own, media to consider include the following:
• Newspapers (daily, weekly, shoppers, etc.)
• Local and regional magazines
• Radio stations
• Television stations (network, cable, closed-circuit systems)
• Web sites
• Newsletters and bulletins, both print and email (published by neighborhood associations, CBOs,
FBOs, local businesses, local associations, schools, etc.)
• Community calendars and other calendars of events
• Columns and special features (getting the home improvement editor to run a feature on
disaster-proofing your home, 10 things everyone can do to make their homes more disasterresistant,
• Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA)
• List servs

A good media list is more than a list – it indicates a number of important facts about each media source.
These facts include:

Community-based Pre-Disaster Mitigation for CBOs/FBOs
• Contact name, address, phone, fax, and email
• Preferences – How do they want their news – by fax, in the mail, via email? If electronic, do
they need a certain file type? What types of information are they interested in? Do they have
any other requirements?
• Deadlines – If you want it to run, when do you have to get it to them?
• Supporting graphics – Do they like photographs and illustrations? If so, what
formats do they accept or require?

3. Getting the news out

Discuss the sample news release. Draft the first paragraph of a news release using the
fact set and sample. Review formats for news and feature stories (refer to the
Resource Guide for other formats).
Fact Set for Potential Mitigation Activity for Students to Use in Writing Practice News
Who: Local Emergency Management Personnel and the Boy and Girl Scouts and their leaders
What: Clearing vegetation around 10 elderly person’s homes to mitigate against fire damage and loss
When: Saturday, June 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: Volunteers to meet at Firehouse #11, 2020 Dunbar Street
Why: Brush and debris clearing helps to create a safe zone around a person’s home in the event of fire.
Clearing dead brush and grass helps to eliminate the fuel for spreading fire.
Cost: Elbow grease and time

4. Gaining attention for your news

There are a number of ways to increase media interest in your organization’s news.
Brainstorm ways to make news attractive and attention-getting. Examples include:
• Asking a prominent local official or community leader (mayor, fire chief,
police chief, city council member, Chamber of Commerce president, CBO/FBO leaders, etc.) to
endorse the mitigation program and provide quotes for media coverage
• Piggybacking your activities and news with other, better-known community programs or
• Combining forces with other organizations to issue joint news releases on similar activity.
• Meeting with the media prior to the event to give them background information
• Inviting the media to your meeting.


Sourced from FEMA

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