Post by: Kim Stephens
Reaching the public with preparedness and mitigation information has always been difficult. The Federal Emergency Management Agency even tried to address this problem with a crowdsourced project: Sharing the Responsibility to Protect Communities Against the Impacts of Disasters. This government “challenge” offered no monetary incentive, but they received 188 submissions, nonetheless. (CDCs Flu App Challenge, in contrast, is offering $35,000 in prizes.)
THE CHALLENGE: To come up with ideas on how we can all help prepare our communities before disaster strikes and how the government can support community-based activities to help everyone be more prepared.
Looking through the submissions, there is everything from “Air Port Kitchens for cooking,” to “Disaster Preparedenss Tax Credit,” to a “Just-in Time Disaster Registry”. Full disclosure, I also submitted an idea that utilizes social media called “Peer-to-Peer Preparedness.”A lot of these proposals have tremendous merit, but I doubt any one item will be the magic bullet.
Social media is already serving as a platform for emergency management programs to communicate preparedness and mitigation information, but to be honest, it is difficult to get people to pay attention to your sites when there is not a crisis. How can “be ready” possibly compete with a stalking cat–which has gotten over 21,000,000 million views! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzzjgBAaWZw&feature=related
One recommendation I would have to gain more viewers is simple: be funny. Of course, what is humorous and what is not is up for debate and even research; see this article: An examination of Cognitive Factors Related to Humorousness in Television Advertising. However, watching this video of a TV-fisherman-personality, I realized that people of all ages (from my 80 year-old dad to my 14 year-old daughter) find this funny. If the message was “don’t be this guy, do XYZ instead,” it might be a way to reach people.
I’m under no illusion that this would immediately solve our lack of interest in disaster preparedness in the U.S., but a funny personality to carry the message might be a good start to at least promote awareness. Find the funniest person in your office and think about how to gain viewers through the power of laughter.