Your year-long program of awareness and prevention projects should ideally include a large number of community members. Since every community is different, no single approach will work everywhere. Each community in Oklahoma has its own special characteristics and ways of approaching problems. We can learn from the experiences of others, but we suggest your distracted driving project begin with an assessment of the local situation. Each town has its own leadership and resources which need to be identified and then, if appropriate, utilized. The following groups should be considered essential in helping you solve the problem in your school and community:
- Teenagers (other students)
- Concerned Parents
- Law Enforcement Officials
- Elected City Officials
- Local Community Leaders
- Youth Ministers
- Media Representatives
- School Boards - Teachers - Principals - Superintendents
- Business Groups - Examples: Local Car Dealers, Restaurants & Clubs
- Local Civic Groups - Examples: Rotary Club, Lions Club, Business & Professional
- Women's Clubs, etc.
Local officials are the leaders of the community. They care and have a sense of responsibility for the problems of the community. Often these officials' schedules are very busy, but they will help personally when they can. Sometimes they send a representative. They will definitely want to be kept informed as to the progress of your project. Put them on your mailing list and keep them informed.
Your state and national legislators are very aware of the seriousness of the distracted driving problem. They will be more than pleased to help in any way they can toward a solution. Legislators often have an uncanny ability to help get things done and they are often connected to resources available within the community to help solve problems. Include these people wherever you can. They are excellent for public forums and news events. Be sure to include them on your mailing list for newsletters and information about your project. It is also important to let the congressional and state representatives know how you feel about the subject of texting and driving.
HOW TO ATTRACT MEDIA COVERAGE
The best way to reach a large number of residents and to attract coverage from the local media is to stage an event. The most obvious way to bring your story to the attention of the local newspapers, television and radio stations is through press releases and news conferences. Utilize the people in your school such as journalism students/teacher or your English teachers to help you write about your activities.
Press releases are for short announcements needing little clarification. Always put the most important points at the top of the story, with the less important details at the bottom. The first two paragraphs of your story should detail: who, what, when, where, why and how. Mix facts with quotes. Have a contact person listed at the top of the release for more information. Put the date and time of the releases at the top. Don't go into too much detail. Don't write more than two pages unless it's absolutely necessary. Always double space. The final paragraph of the release should describe the aims and activities of the organization. If possible make photo opportunities, preferably exciting action shots, available for reporters. If you have done a background information sheet on your issue, make it available to your local media reporters so they can use it as a reference when writing future articles about your projects.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Letters to the editor of your newspaper are a successful way to make contact with the entire community. They should be addressed to the editor of the newspaper. You should call in advance to find out deadlines, length, and format. The usual maximum length is 200 to 300 words. Letters should be typed, signed, and contain an address and home telephone number.
OTHER WAYS TO PUBLICIZE YOUR ACTIVITIES
A newsletter can help build interest and raise awareness. The newsletter should be very simple. Remember, it can always get more sophisticated as you go along. Leave stacks of newsletters at local stores, churches and schools. Use your high school newspaper (if you have one) to get your message out.
POSTERS AND LEAFLETS
Posters and leaflets are also a tried and true publicity method. In order to make them effective, they must be eye-catching and to-the-point and they should contain who, what, where and when, as well as contact information for any questions. Display your posters on bulletin boards and distribute your leaflets in shopping areas where residents must wait for services such as at retail businesses, banks, post office, auto repair shops and, of course, throughout your own school.
Attractive booths in your school, shopping mall, airport, post office, bank, etc., are also an effective way to raise awareness in your community. Make sure the people working the booth feel comfortable capturing the public's attention and explaining the issues.
Ask your local radio station to play public service announcements (PSA's) which raise awareness about the hazards of distracted driving. You can develop your own public service announcements with the help of a media specialist in your school or you can write a script which the DJ reads. You might aim for a thirty-second or shorter announcement instead of a sixty-second spot to increase the chances of its being played. Be sure to keep the message simple and direct; remember, you can say a lot in thirty seconds if you plan carefully.
Arrange for a radio talk show with involved members of your school and community to talk about the importance of driving distraction free.
Who should you contact to arrange for PSA's or talk shows? Call your local station and talk with the Program Director to learn their preference. Follow their advice. Personal contact is essential.
Remember NEWS broadcasts. If you can pick out an angle of your campaign that is newsworthy, you should be able to get some local coverage by contacting the radio or television station's news director or assignment editor.
Make personal contact with editors, and reporters and let them know what you're doing. Local newspapers will usually be interested in your activities and will give you some coverage.
Contact local cable TV stations to seek air time for PSAs, documentaries, talk shows, student speech contests on distracted driving, a special panel discussion, etc. Cable stations are always looking for program materials and usually are very willing to promote traffic safety issues.
INTERVIEW/PUBLIC AFFAIR SHOW OPPORTUNITIES
Ask your local radio and television stations to feature traffic safety issues on their interview public affairs shows.
WEATHER AND TRAFFIC REPORTS
Ask the traffic reporters to use tag lines and slogans as they wrap up their reports during rush hours. Ask television personalities and weather reporters to make special mention of traffic facts and traffic safety.
This medium has changed communications with the media. To gain publicity, it is important to practice posting information about your chapter or state distracted driver awareness activities on a regular basis. It is very important to monitor postings that are made on behalf of the chapter and to use social media as a way to get the word out. The limited number of characters per post or Tweet allows media to scan for clever updates or interesting potential stories. Make sure that you proof what you write before posting. Don’t forget to include interesting hashtags and other trendy ways of promoting.
Here are a few principles to keep in mind regarding social media:
- Post often: If you post often, your followers or viewers will be reminded of FCCLA and distracted driving.
- Post positive and relevant things: No one wants to read anything negative or something that has nothing to do with FCCLA or distracted driving. Remember: you represent ALL of FCCLA with these social media accounts.
- Check grammar and spelling: FCCLA is a professional organization —misspelled words or improper use of grammar can take away from your post, no matter what the meaning behind the post is.
- Use it to promote: If you have an FCCLA social media account, use it for FCCLA! Let others know how awesome this organization is!
- Keep your followers or viewers in mind: Focus posts to your followers and what they need to see or hear.Utilize your social media accounts to remind members about upcoming events or activities—teens are always on social media.