Preparedness is a major focus of Social Marketing and Risk and Emergency Communications. One question we answer every day is how to best prepare the public for events that will – or might – occur. Vaccinations, taxes, and homeland security might not have a lot in common on the surface, but we’ve focused on advancing society by emphasizing the importance of preparation in these areas – from ensuring youth and adults have received recommended vaccinations so they are not infected with influenza, shingles, or HPV; empowering adults with the information they need to file taxes electronically; and conducting drills to test responses to terrorism in a drill setting.
Public-facing organizations – from health departments to law enforcement – should be using social media and the web to communicate and help people prepare before information is crucial; that is, before a pandemic occurs, prior to tax day, and earlier than a national security crisis.
Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gained national attention for their Zombie Apocalypse initiative to teach the importance of emergency preparedness with a graphic novel, buttons and badges, and more.
After spending four years in Milwaukee for college, I try my best to keep abreast of news and highlights from the city and state. Recently, the launch of the Milwaukee Police Department’s (MPD) news website, received significant buzz and recognition. Designed pro bono by local agency Cramer-Krasselt, industry publication Advertising Age highlighted the “excellent and design-minded website” while the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called it “possibly the flashiest-looking government website on the Internet.”
Though the site (dubbed The Source) serves as a direct communication channel to local residents and media alike rather than an obvious crime preparation tool, it does inform audiences about what the MPD is accomplishing in the community. And if one more resident contributes to the drop in crime statistics or provides tips for the most wanted listed, it has successfully made Milwaukee a safer place.
Do you think the MPD’s site can lead to lower crime and the preparedness of those in the community for crime or response? Does flashiness matter when it comes to preparing the public for major events – whether they be related to health, crime, or zombies?