ful public education campaigns. They draw on the social psychology of hazard education and on extensive investigations into the public response to past campaigns to set out principles for effective public education campaigns and other lessons learned.


In the discussion following the panel presentations, workshop participants made the following observations regarding planning and implementing effective educational campaigns:

  • Do not use fear to engage the public. Fear is not an effective tactic for engaging the public and should not be used as the primary tactic for this purpose. Although such tactics may be effective in increasing people’s perception of risk, this perception does not necessarily translate into desired behavioral changes.

  • Make use of multiple sources of information. For example, local fire departments are considered by the American public to provide the most honest and complete information about emergency situations, but only about a third of the U.S. population has access to such information. Local fire departments are thus a very effective source of information, but not for everyone. Rather than identifying and relying on a single credible source, use a panel of sources to reach the broadest audience possible. Ensure that messages are consistent across information sources.

  • Understand community demographics and media cover. Geodemographic mapping allows demographic variables that correlate with risk to be overlaid with the areas covered by various media.

  • Make public education interactive and experiential. People benefit from experiencing what warning messages and alerts will look like. It is essential to build in feedback for the system in order to collect evaluation data from those experimenting with the system.

  • Encourage information seeking. Encourage people to talk with one another about emergency preparedness. People who start communicating with one another are more likely to take appropriate action. People are seeking information in new ways using social media and other communications technology, and it is important to embrace the new opportunities that this use presents.

  • Partner with businesses. Businesses have a responsibility to their employees to provide emergency planning. Businesses have specific needs, and it is important to coordinate with them during their emergency planning to ensure that there is not conflicting information and that there is planned action between the business and emergency management officials.

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