Like most Emergency Management departments, the City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is committed to raising awareness about disaster preparedness. We are constantly trying to find more effective ways to reach a larger and more diverse audience. And, naturally we don't want to spend any money to do it.
Social media and open source applications have offered us some pretty creative outlets that might work for your organization:
We have to begin with Facebook. Your agency is already on Facebook so you may think that you're already doing all you can. But remember Facebook regularly changes the way it does things, from privacy to cookies. Also, Facebook now allows users to easily create their own mini-site. landing pages. Anyone can write their own code, pop it into a free app, and have something like this.
Here's one of my favorite finds. Write and distribute your own ebook (kindle, nook, ipad, android phone or online viewing) for the low, low price of FREE. Smashwords will take your MS Word document and turn it into an ebook and distribute it to a number of retail outlets including Barnes & Noble and iBooks app. Most users are up-and-coming authors looking to earn income from their offerings. But you can also provide your book for free. The site gives you all the information you need to get started, and easy-to-follow (yet quite long) PDF instructions on how to set-up your word doc. In order to be distributed, you'll need to include a cover image for your book (I pulled together something in Photoshop). And their insights page track of how many copies have been downloaded. Here's a look at what we did: Austin Disaster Preparedness Guide and without killing any trees.
For those with a little more time to invest. Here's a creative project using YouTube. Rather than expecting to engage your audience by posting a passive video, create something viewers can interact with while they learn. By linking together a series of videos we created an interactive Flash Flood Quiz. You will need a professional videographer to shoot the green screen, and we produced our backgrounds and animations in Adobe Flash, but it was all done inhouse with no additional costs.Want to go beyond point-and-shoot, talking heads video, but don't have multimedia folks on staff, try creating a PowerPoint presentation and export it as a movie that can be uploaded to YouTube. Play these sorts of video at Open Houses, community events - you can even use them as PSAs for television. You may never reach LOL cat status, but you never know.
How about you? How has your department or agency learned how to do more with less?