Keeping The Momentum: Strategies for Underage Drinking Prevention After Your Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event
Most participants leave a Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event filled with enthusiasm or concern and a desire to make a difference. Reach out to people who attended and want to do more and to the dedicated presenters whose commitment is established and strong. These individuals can serve as your inspiration, sounding board, and voice within the community. They’ll become the nucleus of the larger group of prevention team members who will sustain your important work in reducing underage drinking.
As you move forward with planning after your Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event, here are some activities that can help keep participants engaged:
- Hold a wrap-up meeting with your planning committee soon after your event to determine what approaches seemed to work best in attracting attendees and maintaining their interest during your Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event.
- Engage your co-planners and/or coalition members in identifying activities to keep participants engaged in prevention efforts. Involving attendees in follow-up activities is particularly important if you did not attract the audience and number of attendees you had hoped for.
- Ask everyone to “like” your event on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or other social media platforms you’ve leveraged to increase awareness. Continue to use these platforms to keep participants informed of opportunities for involvement or to showcase their involvement.
- Create a database of all the contacts you’ve made as a result of your event, and use it in the following ways:
- Send follow-up e-mails 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 notes and follow-up correspondence to all presenters and volunteers, and ask if they’d be willing to do more. Include a specific activity if one is being planned.
- Develop a short survey about your event to determine how well it was received by participants and what follow-up activities, such as meetings, trainings, or formation of small workgroups, they desire. E-mail your survey to participants, or post it on your home or Facebook page. Many people enjoy voicing their opinions and reviews. Share the insights you gain with partners, policy makers, and local media outlets. Post relevant suggestions, and incorporate them in your strategic prevention plan.
Public awareness of underage drinking is the basis of prevention and also key in keeping the momentum. Maintaining public awareness after your Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event can reinforce the reality that everyone in a community has an essential role in helping young people avoid alcohol.
A few suggestions for working with the news media include:
- Continue to contact your media contacts throughout the year with news on underage drinking 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 to use their websites or newsletters to regularly remind parents about actions they can take to prevent underage drinking. Schools are more likely to take this action if you supply them with a topical issue. For example, why parents should support alcohol-free after-prom events and graduation parties, and the need for parents to be extra vigilant during summer months, when the largest percentage of young people first try alcohol.
- Encourage high schools to distribute underage drinking prevention materials to graduating students and their parents. Examples are Parents: Help Your Teens Party Right at Graduation and What Parents Need to Know About College Drinking, both available through the NIAAA College Drinking—Changing the Culture website.
Look beyond the media for additional, long-term, ways to keep underage drinking in the public eye:
- Create a speakers bureau of people who can seek out and respond to opportunities to discuss underage drinking at school and community events throughout the year.
- Involve your community in selecting and implementing evidence-based programs to prevent underage drinking, based on community goals and strategies developed during your Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event. To help secure program funding, emphasize that underage drinking prevention programs also can help to prevent negative behaviors associated with early alcohol use (e.g., assaults, drug use, injuries, suicide, violence, and risky sex) and to support positive behaviors (e.g., academic achievement). As a result, underage drinking prevention programs are an extremely cost-effective way for communities to invest in healthy youth development and well-being.