Legislators and private supporters have little interest in funding programs perceived as ineffective, inefficient, or a drain on limited resources.
Even if an Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (JT) program has a strong organizational structure where costs are shared, the program may still be destined for failure unless the public is aware of the program’s successes and contributions to the community. All too often, successful organizations fail to be recognized for their good work. What can these programs do? They would be wise to implement an aggressive public awareness campaign.
Human nature dictates that most people would like to be associated with successful programs—organizations that demonstrate community involvement, operate efficiently, and can attract support from a variety of stakeholders. To be effective, public awareness efforts should be professional and have a broad reach.
Awareness events using a variety of announcement strategies may include the following.
- Emails and social media
- Mailed invitations
- Word of mouth among partners and advisory board members
- Announcements at public functions
- Announcements/articles in local newspapers both before and after the event
- Announcements/articles in newsletters or on websites both before and after the event
- Public service announcements
- * Traditional media coverage
* A press release is the best way to get media coverage. Include details and invite the media to cover the event.
Thousands of people will be made aware of the program’s activities, even if the event attendance is low. A positive impression and name recognition will occur in the community and beyond.
Public awareness works best when a single staff member is responsible and accountable for public relations management in addition to his or her other responsibilities. Larger organizations may dedicate a full-time director of communications or information officer to concentrate on this activity. Smaller organizations may share this responsibility with other activities. The danger when sharing responsibilities with other activities is that communication can become a low priority and public awareness events occur infrequently or are disorganized.
Examples of communication tools used by successful JT programs include the outlets below. Note that many of these same activities can also be used for student recruitment or placement efforts. When used for student recruitment, placement, or public awareness, they also play a role in program marketing.
|Public Relations Tool||Description|
|Newsletters/Web Sites||Print, e-mail and Web sites deliver information relating to program accomplishments, events, and activities.|
|Media Release||Print media, radio, and televisions stations may announce events and recent milestones for your program. Media releases are most effective when a relationship has been established with media personnel. Learning the name of the appropriate contact and establishing a professional relationship with that person is essential. If you have no full-time communications staff, be sure to follow the guidelines for writing a professional release. Your release has a better chance of being published if it does not have to be rewritten.|
|Public Functions||Participation in environmental conferences, county and state fairs, and other public functions are another tool to gain public awareness.|
|Presentations to Associations
|Attendance, participation, and presentations at related association meetingsprovides reciprocal benefits such as building partnerships or locating employersfor student placement. Related associations include commerce, labor, environmental, and community development.|
|Presentations to Public Interest Groups||These presentations are similar to association meetings, but include a more diverse audience such as the local community, church, and private sector organizations and gatherings.|
|Testimony||Program staff may be involved in testimony at legislative and appropriation committees or may participate in legislative events and information sessions and briefings. Testimony is also possible at congressional briefings and photo opportunities with local public officials.|
|Student Testimony||Sometimes the strongest voice to testify for the effectiveness of a Brownfields Job Development and Training program is that of the student. Student testimonials can be used in paid advertising, in media feature stories (written by program staff), for public functions and presentations, in television or radio programs, or during legislative sessions. As you track students, don't forget to ask your successful graduates if they would be willing to give a testimonial.|
|Awareness Videos||Awareness videos provide general information regarding the mission and accomplishments of the Brownfields Job Development and Training program. Distribution can be costly, but seeing is better than reading for a wide segment of the population.|
|Public Service Announcements||A public service announcement, or PSA, is another public relations tool to help raise awareness for events. A PSA is always very short, 10 to 15 seconds when read aloud, so that it can be announced on the air as it is. Limit your PSA to the "who," "what," "where," and "when" facts. Before sending a PSA, find out who the proper contact is and establish a professional relationsip with that person. PSAs are used mostly by radio and television stations; however, a PSA can also promote your event in industry newsletters. Newsletters generally have limited space to announce other organization's events and editors will appreciate your brevity.|
|Local Radio and Televisions Shows||PSAs and press releases may be combined with appearances on local television or radio shows to provide general awareness
information, accomplishments, and events related to your
Brownfields Job Development and Training program.
Social media has become an important contributor to public awareness. Websites, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are examples of platforms JT programs use to reach potential stakeholders. Most use a combination of outreach tools depending on the audience they are interested in reaching.