What is “Community Outreach?”
Simply defined, community outreach is the practice of conducting local public awareness activities through targeted community interaction. It All Adds Up to Cleaner Air community outreach activities are those efforts that can directly affect the behavior of the driving public through local interaction. They are designed to educate the public about a particular issue using respected and locally relevant channels of communication.
Focus groups conducted for your initiative find, among other things, that friends and family are the most credible sources for delivering messages, followed by employers, businesses, and the media. Other local channels of communication range from civic organizations to environmental groups to other organizations and associations. Successful community outreach focuses on the issue’s relevance to the community and acknowledges the community’s challenges in addressing your issue.
Samples of Innovative Community Outreach Activities
There are a wide range of activities that could increase visibility of your issues in the community, from media-based outreach to outreach targeted to specific organizations and audiences.
Note: Your community outreach activities should be guided by a local needs assessment. The fact that an activity has been effective in one community does not guarantee it will be successful in other sites.
Activities that Provide Direct Interaction with the Public
Information booths at state and county fairs, parades, and other community events
Strategy: Distribute promotional items, relay key messages,
Suggestions: Offer prizes for correct answers on quiz.
Fund raising events
Strategy: Meet and educate the public; raise funds.
Suggestions: American Lung Association, Washington State “Trek for Clean Air,” “Climb for Clean Air”; fundraising cycling and mountain climbing events.
Strategy: Mobilization of volunteers and youth groups to implement strategies/further goals.
Suggestions: Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District created the “Smog Squad,” a volunteer-based, door-to-door initiative.
Strategy: Distribute pamphlets and innovative marketing materials to increase visibility and reinforce messages.
Mobilizing Local Business
Strategy: Create and promote opportunities for local business involvement.
Town Hall Meetings
Strategy: Speak directly to the community and receive valuable feedback.
Suggestions: Most valuable in small town settings.
Hot Lines/Toll free numbers
Strategy: Provide accessible, timely information.
Strategy: Present brief, simple facts to the traveling public.
Suggestions: Variable message signs.
Strategy: Document individuals’ pledge to actively participate in the initiative by taking specific actions.
World Wide Web Sites
Strategy: Reach the general public and link to other relevant sites.