Hosting an awareness campaign is a great opportunity to kick off an ongoing conversation about a prevention topic. This may also evolve into a community-wide effort to stop harmful behaviors. It starts with making space to have those difficult discussions.
Your campaign should help provide education on a specific subject by sharing basic information and providing examples. This will help community members have healthy conversations, increase awareness, and begin the prevention process.
Any awareness campaign should include these next steps. They will help you create a strong and successful campaign increasing awareness on your prevention topic.
Step 1: Choose your Topic or Goals
The first step is deciding what you want to accomplish. Your goals should include a few different items, but focus on one main point you want to get across.
Goals should Focus on Big Issues
The best prevention stops real issues from happening over time. In researching your goals, you must identify the main problems surrounding your community. Narrow your focus by considering the following:
Does your program or department collect information about your community?
Do you have programs in your community focused on specific issues or are any programs being used more frequently?
Do members of your community want more information about a certain issue, or have you been asked to provide support or information on a specific topic?
Goals Should Be Measured
After determining what you would like to accomplish, it is important to know how you will reach those goals. Part of identifying them is knowing what your successful outcome will look like. Measuring success can come from many areas including:
Different community groups you reach
Number of people using resources
An increase in people reporting concerns
Feedback collected from the community
Formal surveys of the community and their opinions
Number of people attending events and awareness activities
These measures need to be specific, realistic, and time-oriented. They will help you understand the impact of your campaign, validate the money spent on promotional resources, and influence partners within the community.
Step 2: Find your Resources
Awareness campaigns take a lot of resources. The following are needed for a good awareness campaign.
Knowing how much money you must spend on your campaign is important before you begin. This will determine how you will advertise for your campaign, such as needing to pay for an ad in the newspaper or time to talk about your event on the radio.
You need to spend time learning what has worked and what hasn’t so you are not wasteful with funds. If this year's budget is set, track what is working well, what isn’t, and the impact of your campaign. Use this to learn about how to adjust your budget for next year.
Time is very important, especially if you have other jobs or only a few people to help with events. Carefully figure out how much time every event requires. Know how much time it will take to plan, organize, and prepare the events. Decide if you will need volunteers or help from other groups, and how much time they will be giving to make your campaign successful.
Marketing and Promotional Material
Awareness campaigns often use promotional materials to draw interest to your table or event. These items are key to any campaign because they provide a passive way to allow the person receiving it to walk away with information and education on your topic. Marketing and promotional materials appear in two ways:
Promotional materials acquired from a larger source giving your community an understanding about the topic on the national level.
Promotional materials highlighting facts and information about the topic and your community. It may also include additional events in your community on the same topic.
Keep in mind, people are drawn in by visual interest or by touch so your marketing materials should appeal to your target audience. Marketing materials for your campaign might change over time and need to be updated frequently.
When developing promotional materials, consider products or handouts that can last longer and need less work to be reordered or redone. Place orders ahead of time to make sure they arrive before you begin your awareness campaign.
Your resources determine how you will bring awareness on a topic and the type of events you can provide. Like goals, it is important to address these before moving forward with any other part of your campaign.
Step 3: Segment your Audience
When setting up a prevention campaign, you will need to know the different groups you will be impacting. A specific goal might be to educate males on the effects of domestic abuse. This is an example of an audience segment requiring specific information.
Think about the possible reach outside of your audience segment. Then consider who else may benefit from the information and how you will reach those individuals. Your audience will vary, however, here are three common audiences:
People who are doing harm or at risk of doing harm regarding the awareness issue.
People affected by the issue in the community, or who are at risk of being affected by the awareness issue.
The members of the community.
Look at each of your goals and then shape your campaign towards each audience segment. It is important to understand what information applies to them and how much education you can provide.
Each group will be impacted by different information and events. When setting up the campaign, it is also important to know how much of your resources you can spend on the different groups or audience segments. You want to reach the most people with as little resources as possible.
Step 4: Create a Schedule of Events, Programs, & Initiatives
Planning for the specifics of your next campaign can start once you have established your goals, resources, and audience. The events you host should include various active and passive awareness campaigns.
A passive campaign method uses promotional materials or handouts to bring awareness and education on a specific topic.
An active campaign method may use educational sessions that present information directly to individuals and are designed to reach multiple groups.
What are Active versus Passive events?
Active events require involvement from your audience. These events ask people to give time and attention to your program. They can offer a big impact but need individuals to be involved and will require more time for planning from your staff, volunteers, and partners.
Passive events need less work. These include sharing and spreading information or awareness materials. They are passive because it takes little effort to read promotional materials and your audience can do it on their own time without pressure.
Use Active and Passive events together for the best impact
When making the schedule, consider how many different types of events you are going to host. A great campaign uses activities requiring active participation but also hosts passive events in the community.
Be aware of the time volunteers and other programs will take to make your campaign successful. You don’t want to wear out your volunteers and other programs too early in the campaign. A good schedule will include a mix of events spread throughout the campaign. It is okay to have overlap your schedule as well.
Above all, events need to tie to your goals. Each event you create should meet at least one, if not multiple goals.
Step 5: Create Action Plans for the Campaign
Once you have a schedule and outline, get specific. Every event or program requires planning. Plan and be prepared so your volunteers and other participants stay involved. With a calendar in hand, build lists for each event you are hosting. The general idea is to answer the questions who, what, where, when, why, and how.
WHO includes the audience or community members you are hoping to reach and the volunteers, staff, additional programs or experts you need to make the campaign work.
WHAT is the description of the event. What type of activities will be happening during this event? What are the resources involved behind the scenes of the event?
WHERE covers where the event will take place and where you are going to advertise your event.
WHEN includes dates and times of the events and what needs to happen leading up to the event. When will you start advertising the event, and when will the event occur?
WHY is the goals of your campaign. In your “why”, focus on each goal and the event that will meet the goal. Include how you plan to meet the goal.
HOW includes the methods you are using to advertise and coordinate your event. This step needs to describe what your resources, volunteers, and staff members will need to accomplish for this event.
You need be able to answer each of these questions about every item on your schedule to both prepare for and set up plans for what comes next.
Step 6: Find Partners & Influencers
Partners make any awareness campaign easier, especially when the partner provides access to a larger audience. You do not need to be and should not be alone in your efforts.
Create strong partnerships with members of your community or other influential people who care about the issues and success of what you’re wanting to accomplish.
Any time you meet with a potential partner, ask how you might help each other. Knowing the support you can provide to one another will increase your chances of building long-term relationships.
Step 7: Implement the Action Plan
Throughout the campaign, focus on accomplishing your goals, adjusting as necessary, and assessing the affect or impact. Adjusting and changing your plans as the program evolves is okay. If you do change or remove an event, be sure to notify your audience in advance. With the proper planning and support, you can adapt and measure your campaign accordingly.
When conducting a longer campaign, fatigue can set in. Your educational trainings may start to blur together if you have multiple events. It’s important to take care of yourself during this time.
Step 8: Evaluate the Campaign
Measuring your goals continuously during the campaign will make evaluation easier. Collect feedback from volunteers and partners. When measuring the goals, look at each event as an individual piece. Then identify common trends through the entire campaign.
Evaluate or survey your audience during or after each event. Using individual surveys from your attendees allow you to determine what programs work better than others, or what information might be more helpful. This is a great way to measure results in an efficient manner
Measuring the entire campaign can take a little more time and effort. This will require you to collect information on things like: increased reporting of incidents, people utilizing support systems, and an overall decrease in incidents.
Step 9: Continue Ongoing Awareness
Prevention and awareness campaigns are most effective when they are part of an ongoing program. Although you are going to spend large amounts of time preparing for your specific campaign, also consider long-term prevention.
One of the best ways to carry-out your campaign during the year is to continue to host similar events or provide education to maintain awareness. Try creating new ways of engaging your community, keep track of their information, and build a list of who might be willing to volunteer for future events.
Putting together a strong campaign and increasing awareness does take proper planning and focus. We’re here to help provide you the knowledge and products to ensure your planning goes smoothly.
Whether you’re needing an all-in-one event kit, looking for apparel for an outdoor gathering, or anything else in-between PSA Worldwide has you covered. Don’t forget to check out our Awareness & Prevention Program Resources blog post for some curated resources to further help the success of your next campaign.