How to Make Sure Your Message is Heard
Social networks, such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook offer a great way to share information about distracted driving and your awareness campaign. Working with your advisor and group, decide whether you want to use the organization’s existing social media accounts or create new ones for this campaign. To keep it professional, don’t use your personal accounts.
Tips for creating a successful social media campaign
- Post often: If you post often, your followers or viewers will be more like to remember the information you provide on distracted driving.
- Post positive and relevant things: No one wants to read anything negative/rude or off-topic information, such as what you ate for lunch. These social media accounts don’t just represent you and your school, they also represent your whole organization - in Oklahoma and beyond.
- Always, check grammar and spelling. Misspelled words or improper grammar can distract from even the coolest post.
- Use social media to promote events and your organization.
- Always include interesting photos/graphics or videos and hashtags in your posts.
- Keep your followers or viewers in mind: Customize information so it is interesting, and fits what your audience needs to see and/or hear. Utilize your social media accounts to remind members about upcoming events or activities.
- Social media also offers great way to reach reporters. The limited number of characters per post or Tweet allows media to quickly scan for interesting potential stories.
How to attract media coverage
Reaching out to local media (such as TV, newspapers, local websites and radio stations) can help you reach 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. Don’t forget to add your school newspaper and/or broadcast news show to your list.
Press releases are short announcements meant to encourage a news story. When writing a press release, always put the most important points at the top of the story, with the less important details at the bottom.
To get you started, you can find a fill-in-the-blank Oklahoma Challenge Press Release in the Toolkit section. You can also find some wonderful samples on the National Teen Driver Safety Week web page.
Tips for creating a strong press release:
- A release should ideally be one page – no more than two pages.
- List a contact person at the top left-hand corner of the page, along with their phone number or email address.
- Begin the release by listing your city in bold, followed by the date in parentheses. Example: Oklahoma City (Aug. 1, 2017)
- Reporters are busy people, so make the information easy for them to find. The first two paragraphs of your story should give a brief overview of Who, What, When, Where and Why, while the remaining paragraphs cover How and any additional details.
- Focus your release on facts and quotes. Don't go into too much detail.
- A release’s final paragraph should describe the aims and activities of your organization.
- If possible, invite reporters to come and cover photo opportunities, such as rallies or presentations. You should also have photos and other images (such as logos or artwork) available in case the news outlet cannot send a reporter or photographer.
- If you have done a background information sheet on your issue, make it available to your local media 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 reach many in your community.
Tips for creating a great letter to the editor
- Address your letter to the editor of the newspaper.
- Always call or check the newspaper’s website in advance to find out deadlines, length and format.
- Keep your letters interesting and to the point. The maximum length is usually 200 to 300 words.
- Letters should be typed, signed and contain your contact information, such as an address, email address and telephone number.
OTHER WAYS TO PUBLICIZE YOUR ACTIVITIES
A newsletter is a great way to build interest and raise awareness among your audience. In the beginning, keep your newsletter short and simple. It can always get more sophisticated as you go along. You can email your newsletter to those on your list as well as print copies to leave at local stores, churches and schools (with permission).
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. Hang 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.
Public Service Announcements
Record short audio or video public service announcements (PSAs) to raise awareness about the hazards of distracted driving and ask your local radio or TV station to play them. The announcement should be brief (no longer than 30 seconds) and interesting to the viewer or listener. You can develop your own public service announcements with the help of a media specialist in your school. In addition, you can write a script which the DJ reads. Be sure to keep the message simple and direct; remember, you can say a lot in thirty seconds if you plan carefully.
If your local radio or TV station has a talk or public affairs show, you can also arrange to appear with involved members of your school and community to talk about the importance of driving distraction-free.
Who should you contact to arrange for PSAs or talk shows? Call your local station and talk with the Program Director to learn their preference. Follow their advice. Personal contact is essential.
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 often looking for program materials and usually are very willing to promote traffic safety issues.
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.
Spotlight on the Oklahoma Challenge Awards
Want to showcase your chapter’s awesome distracted driving awareness campaign? Enter the Spotlight on Oklahoma Challenge at the Oklahoma FCCLA State Convention on Thursday, April 12, 2018.
The Spotlight on Oklahoma Challenge Awards are designed to give your team an extra incentive to help stop distracted driving deaths in your school, community and beyond. In addition to saving lives, your group can earn a special recognition and monetary compensation for your efforts. Only first 15 entries will be selected to participate, so begin planning today on ways you can make your campaign a winner!
Each community in Oklahoma has its own special characteristics and ways of approaching problems. To make your year-long awareness and prevention program successful, you should include a large number of community members. You can learn from the experiences of others, but we suggest your distracted driving project begin with an assessment of the local situation. Consider the following groups as resources in your efforts to stop distracted driving in your school and community:
- Teenagers (other students)
- Law Enforcement Officials
- Elected City Officials
- Local Community Leaders
- Youth Ministers
- Media Representatives
- School Leadership - Including Boards, Teachers, Principals, Superintendents
- Business Groups - Examples: Local Car Dealers, Restaurants and Clubs
- Local Civic Groups - Examples: Rotary, Lions Club, Masons/Evening Star
- Specialty Clubs - Such as Women’s, Religious or Service Groups
When reaching out to community leaders and legislators, remember to keep them informed as to the progress of your project. Put them on your mailing list and send updates frequently (approx. once a month).
Connecting with Legislators
Your state and national legislators are very aware of the seriousness of the distracted driving problem. They will be 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. They are excellent for public forums and news events. It is also important to let the congressional and state representatives know how you feel about the subject of texting and driving.