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Grassroots Activities


Tip #1: Help with publicity.

Community organizations are uniquely positioned to generate earned media. By sharing their stories, they personalize the issue and can greatly enhance the amount of media coverage received. We identified several strategies for attracting increased earned media coverage:

  • Victim stories are usually a good way of attracting media attention and driving home the importance of enhanced enforcement efforts. MADD Mississippi ’s roving billboard, a billboard pulled behind a vehicle, used this technique to get earned media.
  • Border-to-border events create strong media draw because they introduce a new enforcement strategy. Such events were held in Georgia, Florida, Alabama , and between the Carolinas. It remains to be seen whether this strategy earned a one-time bump in media attention or whether such increased interest would be generated year after year.
  • Conduct both State and local events – larger media sources will cover State events; local media are more likely to focus on media events with the local sheriff and/or police chief. Because of the sheer size of the State, MADD Texas put on eight events plus a
    State kickoff.
  • The more organizations that can lend their names to the press release, the better. A show of force is more likely to garner media attention. Similarly, the rank of the participants is important. MADD Alaska garnered a lot of attention by being able to have luminaries like mayors at their events.
  • Try to avoid scheduling press events when they would compete with other major media draws. For example, the crackdown generated less media attention in
    New York in 2004 because the Republican convention was taking place at that time in New York City. Conversely, identify slow media days and plan media events on those occasions. That being said, enforcement activities themselves should be dictated by data, not media.
  • Talk about results. MADD Ohio helped get political permission for checkpoints by releasing results from previous years’ crackdowns. This improved the quality of coverage.
  • MADD chapters reported that States which had recognized media outlets for their coverage of DWI issues in the past found it easier to garner media attention during the crackdown period.

Tip #2: Help with public service ads and paid media.

While community groups often lack the funds to pay for the development and placement of paid advertisements, they can enhance campaigns paid for by others.

When working with paid media, it is important to work with the State highway safety office. It can ensure that your ads and others being broadcast in the State use consistent messages, and it can advise you on placement of your ads to avoid duplication of efforts. For example, MADD Missouri and the Missouri highway safety
office worked together to develop a comprehensive
media strategy.

Sometimes, one medium is saturated and the community group can complement the State effort by broadcasting through a different medium. For example, the highway safety office in Minnesota told MADD they had television covered, so MADD Minnesota produced radio ads (which were less expensive) with the grant funding. The highway safety office can also help you with messaging. MADD California created a billboard ad using a message that was coordinated with ads then playing on television and radio. These ads were then placed at selected high-risk intersections.

Community groups also can help enhance public service announcements (PSAs). Some stations are more likely to provide additional air time for ads when community groups are involved. In Minnesota , radio stations supplemented paid ad time with an equal amount of free PSA time because MADD was involved in placing the ads.