QuakeSmart Toolkit: Step 3: How to Celebrate Success

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If you have taken the proper steps of being QuakeSmart by identifying your risk, making a plan, and taking action, then now is the time to celebrate your mitigation success story. By informing your community on how you have mitigated, you can encourage others to do the same. Creating a resilient business ultimately creates a resilient community. Sharing your success story not only informs the public on how to reduce their hazards, but it also can simultaneously promote your business and its services.

Here are some recommended outlets to share your story:

  • State, local and Tribal governments
  • News Media: Local newspapers, blogs, radio programs, television news programs, and industry trade magazines (See Pitching Your Story to the News Media)
  • Business groups: Chambers of Commerce, business groups, tourism committees and economic development councils
  • Social Media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, LinkedIn, Reddit, Digg, StumbleUpon and others
  • Service organizations: American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Rotary, Kiwanis, Masons and scouting organizations
  • Social organizations: Church organizations, neighborhood associations and fire/police department auxiliaries
  • Professional associations: Emergency managers, bankers, realtors, insurance professionals, floodplain managers,contractors, engineers, firefighters and peace officers
  • Trade shows/Business fairs
  • Local or special events

Barry Pascal speaking to an audience
Barry Pascal, retired owner of Northridge Pharmacy, encourages members of the Encino Chamber of Commerce to mitigate their businesses (Photo by Justin Malko).

Before releasing your mitigation success story, it's important to organize your outreach plan and consider the following:

1. Your Audience

  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Other Businesses/Business Groups
  • Surrounding Communities
  • Tribal Communities/Governments
  • Community/Government Officials
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Local Media

Evansville Chamber of Commerce QuakeSmart announcement on their website
In 2008, the Evansville Chamber of Commerce held a QuakeSmart forum for its members. The event resulted in over 100 members in attendance and received exceptional media coverage in television and print.

2. Key Messages

  • "We are all in this together!"
  • "Mitigation makes communities more resilient to disasters."
  • "The costs of mitigation are more than worth it. On average, every dollar spent on hazard mitigation provides $4 in future benefits."
  • "A business toolkit on earthquake mitigation is now available on FEMA.gov."

3. Partnerships

  • The more parties involved in mitigating risks in the community, the more media friendly your story becomes.
  • Partnering with your FEMA Regional Office, local or State emergency management agencies and other disaster related government officials would be a good first step to getting the message out

4. Become a Leader

If no one else in the community is taking charge, think of being the mitigation mentor and champion in your community.

5. Document Your Mitigation

Pictures are worth a thousand words. Video and/or photography of your mitigation will encourage television news programs, blogs and social media sites to cover your story.

Man drilling into two by fours
Documenting your mitigation actions will encourage media coverage (Source: QuakeSmart Mitigation Training Video for Employees).

6. Draft Talking Points

Talking points are one or two-sentence statements that highlight your key messages, which summarize your story and guide public speakers. Talking points are often used as sound bites (especially with radio or television). See Template C for an example.

7. Write Press Materials

  • Press releases are used to pitch news media on covering your story. They are generally summaries written in a journalist-friendly format. See Template D for an example.
  • Media Alerts or Media Advisories are created to announce an event to the broadcast media (radio or television). See Template E for an example.

8. Utilize Social Media Outlets

If your company uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media channels to communicate, showcasing your QuakeSmart efforts can deliver fresh and interesting content. Provide continual updates highlighting any of your mitigation actions, or recognize an employee who may have done the same at home. Perhaps assign the social media role to a QuakeSmart Champion during the one-week campaign.

Examples of social media platforms include:

facebook, twitter, and Linkedin logos

9. Publicize Your Employee Awareness Campaign

See How to Organize an Employee Awareness Campaign.

10. Determine the Best Outlets for Your Mitigation Story

An effective place to share your mitigation story is on the FEMA Mitigation Best Practices Portfolio. The portfolio hosts a catalog of mitigation best practices and case studies from FEMA representatives and businesses across the country. With a sample best practice and an easy-to-use online submission form, the FEMA Mitigation Best Practices Portfolio is the most effective way to share your story with other businesses and communities looking to reduce their disaster risk.

11. Pitching Your Story to the News Media

No matter what size project you've undertaken, you may want to contact the media.

Camera crew conducting an interview
Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities afforded by the media, especially in post-event situations, to present earthquake hazard information and promote seismic safety programs and risk reduction activities that will lessen the affects of future earthquakes (Source: FEMA 479).

Here are some tips to consider when contacting the media:

  • Make sure you're contacting the appropriate journalist by researching their previous stories. A Google search can provide very useful information on the media contact's previous stories and sometimes offers their direct contact information.
  • Figure out your "hook"—what you're going to say to get them interested in the story.
  • When speaking with the media use your hook to quickly tell the story. Feel free to engage in conversation and make suggestions, but leave them to decide how they want to use your information. Be able to provide information that can help them write the story—press materials, contact names and phone numbers, etc.
  • It is also essential to ask a media contact some or all of these questions:
    • Are you currently on deadline? If so, ask when would be a better time to contact them.
    • Is "our story" something you would generally cover? If not, could you suggest another contact within your organization who might be interested?
    • Do you have any related story deadlines coming up?
    • Who makes the final decision to cover a story?
    • Do you have an editorial calendar?
    • When would be a good time to follow up with you again?
  • If you haven't received a response after a few days, following up via email or phone is recommended.

Man talking on the phone
Following up with the media via phone or email after the initial contact improves your chances of getting coverage (Source: www.istockphoto.com).

12. Other Events to Celebrate Your Success

  • Press events at the site of an earthquake mitigation project.
  • Sponsoring a booth at a county or state fair. Hand out copies of your story and other earthquake mitigation materials.
  • Adapt your story to a school-age audience—then tell the tale to a classroom of children.
  • Partner with hardware or home improvement stores on a how-to workshop of earthquake mitigation ideas.
  • Get an earthquake mitigation proclamation from local or state officials—use your story with the proclamation to convey the message.
  • Launch a "Safe Business" campaign to encourage earthquake mitigation action within business communities.
  • Encourage fire service agencies to incorporate earthquake mitigation into their public-education campaigns.
  • Launch a community effort to preserve historical properties by using earthquake mitigation measures.
  • Use your stories in conjunction with special campaigns or events—e.g., "Severe Weather Awareness Week," "Fire Prevention Week," "Safe Kids Week," etc.

Fire Department members talking
The Los Angeles Fire Department attending a QuakeSmart event in Encino, CA (Photo by Justin Malko).

For additional resources to help communicate your story and develop mitigation best practices, visit Telling the Tale of Disaster Resistance: A Guide to Capturing and Communicating the Story and Developing and Promoting Mitigation Best Practices and Case Studies: Communication Strategy Toolkit (FEMA 479).

Cover image
Telling the Tale of Disaster Resistance: A Guide to Capturing and Communicating the Story provides some of the "best practices" of those who have promoted disaster-resistance efforts throughout the country.

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Developing and Promoting Mitigation Best Practices and Case Studies: Communication Strategy Toolkit (FEMA 479) shows how to communicate mitigation ideas, expertise and resources to lessen the impact of disasters, and show that mitigation is both effective and affordable.

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Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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