How Are You Reaching Your Audience?
Jessica Savitch, an award-winning television journalist, once commented that “News reporting is a cycle: No matter how much you work at sending a message, it's only successful if it's received.” Anyone who has hosted a Town Hall Meeting will recognize the hard truth of that statement—no matter how hard you work at planning an event, it’s successful only if your underage drinking prevention message is received by your intended audience so they can act upon it.
Getting the public’s attention is the first step in getting to outcomes in underage drinking prevention. This step is so important that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) included a question on outreach in the Town Hall Meeting Organizer Survey. SAMHSA also is encouraging event hosts to share their outreach examples as one more way to measure the impact of the 2012 Town Hall Meetings.
Getting the Message Out
Many organizations have already sent us samples of their event coverage, and the methods being used by event hosts to reach their target audience are as diverse as the events. Some of the methods being used to publicize events include organization newsletters, print products such as flyers, and coverage by the mainstream media. Organizations hosting 2012 events also appear to be taking full advantage of social media, such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, to attract and educate the public. For example, a tweet by a California Friday Night Live chapter read “Graduated driver licenses are one form of environmental prevention in reducing underage drinking. Want to learn more?”
Extending the Prevention Message
Promotion of a Town Hall Meeting prevention message doesn’t stop when the meeting starts. Many event hosts are reaching out to mainstream television and print media to report on their events. Television coverage often is posted to YouTube as a followup, while many newspapers print and post articles about an event. The “What’s In the News” section of the Town Hall Meeting homepage has examples of several news articles.
A community unites around underage drinking prevention. Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Tribal Initiative, Lame Deer, Montana
Some event hosts are videotaping their events for posting on YouTube and other social media sites or distributing to the local public education channel. Others are taking photographs of their event to post on their website or share with the local media. Any means of documenting community support of underage drinking prevention can be helpful in advocating for new or stronger prevention measures. Community involvement is a strong measure of success for event hosts.
Sharing Your Good News
Please join others in supporting SAMHSA’s efforts to assess its 2012 Town Hall Meeting initiative. Send us your outreach examples, from promotional pieces, such as flyers and Facebook postings, to followup pieces, such as print media clippings and traditional and social media links. We also welcome event photos, preferably with photo and video release forms so we can share these with the general public.
You can send your Town Hall Meeting coverage to firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. postal mail to:
Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives
Town Hall Meeting Clippings
Attn: Lisa Ewing
530 Gaither Road, Sixth Floor, #604F
Rockville, MD 20850-5971