Nov 22

Know what a successful outreach program looks like.

You have to know where you are going in order to get there.

When you set out on the journey of implementing your outreach program, you probably had a pretty good idea of what you wanted to accomplish. Increased awareness and increased protective actions are just two possible broad goals of your program.

How will you know you’ve reached your goal?
During the process of planning your outreach program, you will have spent a lot of time thinking about very tangible goals that can be measured. Measurable goals are important in order to make sure you know when you have arrived at your destination, but also important for planning next steps. You won’t know what your next steps should be unless you know if your last actions were successful.

Whew! It seems like we are right back at where we started. And we kinda are. The thing about outreach is that it never really ends. Once you complete one campaign, you start another with what you have learned about works and what doesn’t work in your field. That knowledge comes with time and experience.

  • Have you educated your community?
  • Have you engaged your community?
  • Have you put solutions in front of your community?
  • Once you reach your goal, what then?

Educating your community
Find the corners of your issue and work toward the center. The limitations can be liberating and spur creativity. Unrestrained choice can lead to paralysis of decision and action, so find the structure of what you want your community to learn about your issue and then get out there and educate away. How you do this education process will be dictated by the who, what, where, when, and why of your issue.

Engage your community
The last thing you want is to have your hard work be for naught. Nothing is gained by having passive community engagement. You want your community fired up and raring to go on your issue. this may mean at some point giving up a certain amount of control over the process. But your hard work should show fruit by having the community itself stepping up and taking on the issue in a grass roots manner. Find ways for the community members to get their hands dirty, to get up and moving, to create their own programs.

Provide solutions for your community
Solutions come in all types of flavors. It could be training for shelter management or first aid; it could be curriculum available to K-12 schools; it could be evacuation drills and exercises. These solutions need to be a part of the plan and should be sustainable after your program ends.

Key words: public outreach, community, education, natural hazards, seismic, earthquake, tsunami