Maintaining Momentum After Your Communities Talk to Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse Activity
Most participants leave a Communities Talk activity filled with enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference. And since it's true that prevention can and does happen every day, make sure you explore opportunities to keep the momentum going in your community year-round. Here are some ideas:
- Hold a wrap-up meeting with your planning committee or coalition members soon after your activity to determine what approaches seemed to work best in attracting participants and maintaining their interest. Identify any follow-up activities—short- or long-term—that can help the community stay engaged with prevention or attract additional support for the following year.
- Post visuals and participant quotes from your activity to give it a "presence" on social media. Ask people to follow your organization’s social media platforms and encourage organizations to share posts of your Communities Talk activity and other prevention efforts. Continue to use these platforms to keep participants informed of opportunities to get involved or to showcase their prevention efforts.
- Create a database of all the contacts you have made as a result of your activity, and use it in the following ways:
- Send follow-up emails or notes to participants to let them know you appreciated their attendance and encourage them to join or continue to support prevention efforts.
- Send thank you emails and other follow-up correspondence to all presenters and volunteers and ask if they would be willing to do more. Include a specific activity if one is being planned.
- Send periodic emails with news and updates about your prevention efforts. Visit StopAlcoholAbuse.gov for news to share.
- Develop a short survey about your activity to determine how well it was received by participants and what follow-up activities—such as action steps, trainings, or formation of small workgroups—would be of interest. Email your survey to participants or post it on your organization's webpage or Facebook page. Share the insights you gain with partners, policymakers, and local media outlets. Post relevant suggestions and incorporate them in your strategic prevention plan.
- Reach out to your media contacts regularly with interesting stories on alcohol and other drug misuse prevention and resources in your community.
- Encourage local radio and television stations to air public service announcements from SAMHSA's Talk. They Hear You. underage drinking prevention campaign.
- Encourage schools, businesses, health care providers, and local community groups to regularly share actions people can take to prevent alcohol and other drug misuse on their websites or other communication channels.
- Encourage partners and other stakeholders to distribute alcohol and other drug misuse prevention materials. For instance, SAMHSA has materials for students graduating from high school and their parents, such as The Sound of Your Voice video and Talking With Your College-Bound Young Adult About Alcohol parent guide.
Look beyond the media for additional, long-term ways to keep alcohol and other drug misuse in the public eye:
- Create a speakers bureau of people who can seek out and respond to opportunities to discuss alcohol and other drug misuse prevention at school and community activities throughout the year.
- Involve your community in selecting and implementing evidence-based programs to prevent substance misuse, based on community goals and strategies developed during your Communities Talk to Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Misuse activity.
- Help secure program funding by sharing data emphasizing that alcohol and other drug misuse prevention programs are a cost-effective way for communities to invest in healthy youth development and well-being. Prevention reduces the negative behaviors that impact a community, like violence, alcohol-related driving accidents, suicides, and reduced academic achievement.
- Encourage young people to join the prevention movement by inviting them to express their own thoughts about ways to advance alcohol and other drug misuse prevention, providing creative ways to spread the prevention message, or incorporating prevention messaging into other activities and clubs in which they participate.